The one conversion invokes a near suicide, a falling and trembling in desperation, and an after-midnight seeking; the other speaks of a heart being opened to attend to the words of the gospel. How do these two examples show clear differences in emotional accompaniment?
3. Personal conversions vary according to outward impressiveness. Generally, the more a sinner has been involved in open, public sins, the more outwardly impressive his conversion is. Paul's conversion, as a public persecutor of God's Church, is a more outwardly impressive conversion story than Timothy's, a believer from his youth. Manasseh's conversion story is more impressive to us than Hezekiah's for the same reason.
While conversions of notorious, public sinners may be more impressive to us, and therefore these types of dramatic conversion stories are more frequently published, this is not true in the sight of God who sees and knows the heart of each person. While being spared from many outward sins, the heart of an unregenerated, outwardly civil church attender is as sinful and depraved as the public sinner's. Both require the same almighty regenerating and converting power of the Holy Spirit.
The following stories speak of true conversions, but one contains more outward impressiveness than the other:
Rev. William Burns was preaching one evening in the open air to a large crowd. When he had finished, a man came up to him in deep distress and asked if he would come to visit his dying wife. Burns consented.
After walking together, the man turned to Burns and said, "I'm afraid you will not see her when you know where she is."
"Sir, she's in the worst bar in town." Then struggling with deep emotions, he confessed, "But, Sir, I cannot keep it. Your preaching has hit me right here!" pointing to his heart. "When my bank loan term is up, I'm getting rid of the business."
"Sin is sin. There are no terms with God," Burns replied.
Impressiveness - Condition of making an impression upon others; creating special attention and feeling
Notorious - Widely known for evil; publicly regarded with disapproval
Dramatic - Filled with remarkable, attention-getting feelings and events
While conversions vary in outward impressiveness to others, why are they always impressive to God, angels, and the persons involved?