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Pastor Al, the late-night parson, answers again...

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Before & After Ads
Posted: February 18, 2006

     We've all seen them. You know, the ads featuring before and after pictures touting the advantages of weight loss programs, hair restoration products, exercise machines, or even car finish restorers. Combined with personal testimonials, they are one of the most powerful marketing tools available.

     The pictures and stories grab our attention. We want to know what amazing product made a bald man sprout a head full of hair overnight. If something can melt the pounds away without weeks of intensive exercise and dieting, we want to know!

     It is the noticeable difference that makes before and after picture work. Combined with a powerful testimonial by real people, they are irresistible. People want to know what makes the difference. They are interested in what works not what does not.

     The before and after technique is not new. In fact, God knew about it a long time ago and recognizes its effectiveness in His Word. Born again, evangelical Christians use the same techniques all the time. It is called giving our testimony of how Jesus Christ saved us and has made a difference in our lives.

     The blind man in John chapter 9 had a simple but dramatic testimony. Once he was blind, blind from birth. Then one day, suddenly, he could see!

     The neighbors, in verses 8-10, were astounded and said, "Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?"

     They wanted to know what made the difference! They were interested in finding out what had worked in this man's life.

     He was a living before and after picture. And his answer, in verse 11, was a dramatic testimonial to the life-changing power of Jesus: "A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight."

     The Pharisees also demanded of him in verse 15 how he received his sight. They were interested, too, albeit for different reasons. Again, he testified how Jesus gave him sight.

     Another before and after example is found in the life of the Apostle Paul. In Galatians chapter 1 Paul gives his testimony. He describes himself in verses 13-14 before he met Jesus Christ: "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers."

     In verses 21-24 he gives a description of himself after meeting Christ on the Damascus Road: "Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me."

     What a difference! Even those who never met him heard that the new Paul was completely different than the old Paul. As such, his life-his testimony-was a tremendous advertisement of God's saving grace through Jesus Christ His Son. It got people's attention and they wanted to know what caused the extraordinary difference in his life. His life was a literal before and after picture advertising the life-changing power of Christ.

     That is the power of a testimony. It not only illustrates the power of Jesus to save but also to change all those who come to Him by faith. When you trust Him as your Saviour, "...Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

     When Mel Trotter the alcoholic stole the shoes off the body of his dead little girl to buy another drink, he had sunk about as low as a man could go. Yet, this same Mel Trotter went on to become a renowned preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In doing so he helped lift countless numbers of men and women up from the depths of sin to a new life in Christ.

     A rough baseball player by the name of Billy Sunday played to the crowds across the country. This same ball player later preached to even greater crowds across the country, shaking the hands of a million men, women and children who accepted the same Jesus who had changed his life as their Saviour too.

     A life changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ is a powerful testimony to God's saving grace. When the unsaved world sees the difference that Christ has made in a believer's life they marvel and take note "that they [have] been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)"

     When the world sees no difference they begin to question whether or not the gospel of Jesus Christ really is "the power of God unto salvation. (Romans 1:16)"

     You see, a true born-again, Blood-washed believer should be a changed person. Though the changes may not come all at once; though they may often stumble and fall, they will be a changed person. In fact, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

     As we continue to grow in Christ we will change. In time we will look, act, react, and talk differently than the world. As we allow the Holy Ghost to fill us and conform us to the image of Christ we will not be conformed to this world but rather transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

     If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to change us or are unwilling to humble our will to God's, our spiritual growth becomes stunted and we may even become backslidden. Inwardly we may be saved but outwardly we look, act, react, and talk like the unsaved world. Consequently, when we try to tell others that they need to be saved and that Jesus Christ can change their life, our testimony undercuts our witness.

     Abraham's nephew, Lot, had a similar problem in Genesis chapter 19. When God sent the angels to deliver Lot from the destruction of Sodom his witness was so compromised that the men of the city said, "This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. (vs. 9)" Even his own sons in law did not believe him. "And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. (vs. 14)" He had cozied up to the world for so long that the world no longer saw a difference in Lot's life.

     How is your testimony? Is there a time in your life when you personally asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins by faith in His death, burial and resurrection, according to the Scriptures? If so, can your unsaved neighbor or coworker see that Jesus Christ has made a difference in your life? Or, do you look, act, react, and talk so much like them that they see no evidence of Christ making a difference in your life?

     Remember, before and after pictures, combined with personal testimonials work. People want to know what makes the difference. They are interested in what works, not what doesn't.

-Pastor Al

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