As an illustration of the revelaton of the glory of God being instrumental in conversion and subsequent exuberant ministry, read David Brainerd’s story below. Our view of revival is the same as our view of conversion. God can break in to reveal himself any time he wishes in order to glorify himself, the only one deserving glory. This is what I hope is happening now in some lives related to the current stirring work in the colleges and seminaries and churches. A vision of God will not only convert, but will launch many into a lifetime of sacrificial ministry.
THE FORGOTTEN BRAINERD. The author, Mack Tomlinson, is not principally telling the story of David Brainerd, who is not at all forgotten, but about his brother John who served in many ways with equal passion among the Indians following David’s death. It is a fascinating story.
The author allowed me to quote this section concerning the conversion of David in the first part of the book. What I want us to see is what spiritual sight has to do with David Brainerd’s conversion. We must think of this when we consider the nature of conversion to Christ:
As to their spiritual condition, any actual date of John’s conversion or public profession of faith in Christ was lost when the records of his home church were destroyed by fire. David, even though he envisioned himself becoming a pastor, was not yet a true Christian. But God’s providence was working to bring him to the place of experiencing the new birth before his entrance at Yale College.
After a year on the farm in 1739 at age 20, David began to prepare to enter Yale in the coming summer. During the year on the farm, he made a commitment to God to enter the ministry, even though he still was not yet a believer. He read the Bible through more than once that year, and he began to see more clearly that all his religious hopes were based on his own efforts. As his diary states, ‘He had great quarreling with God within his soul.’ He hated the idea of original sin and the teaching of God’s absolute sovereignty. He was struggling with the fact that he could do nothing to commend himself to God.
David came to the point of being able to say, ‘All my good frames were but self-righteousness, and not based on a desire for the glory of God; there was no more goodness in my praying than there would be in my paddling with my hands in the water because my prayers were not performed from any love or regard to God. I never once prayed for the glory of God. I never once intended his honor and glory. I had never once acted for God in all my devotions . . . . I never had any regard in them to the glory of God.’
A Legacy Begins
But then the miracle of the day of his new birth came. At sunset, at the age of 21, he was alone praying—
“As I was walking in a dark thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul; it was a new inward apprehension that I had of God, such as I never had before nor anything that I had the least remembrance of in the past. I stood still and wondered and admired; I had now no particular apprehension of any one person of the Trinity, either the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, but it appeared to be divine glory and splendor that I then beheld. And my soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a God, such a glorious divine being, and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he should be God over all forever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, the loveliness, the greatness and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in Him, at least to that degree that I had no thought about my own salvation or scarce that there was such a creature as I.
“Thus the Lord, I trust, brought me to a hearty desire to exalt Him, to set Him on the throne and to seek first His kingdom, principally and ultimately to aim at His honor and glory as the King and Sovereign of the universe, which is the foundation of the religion of Jesus; I felt myself in a new world.”
It was the middle of the summer in 1739, two months later as a new believer, that David entered Yale as a freshman, still with the desire to enter the ministry. John would follow him there two years later. Now David had the most important qualification for the ministry—he was a true Christian. (Visit ccwtoday.org for more articles)