The Author and Finisher of Our Faith
We turn now to the devotional diary of David Brainerd, the Presbyterian missionary of the middle eighteenth century. What could account for the zeal which this early missionary showed as he traveled, not by modern conveyance but on horseback? His travels did not take him by established thoroughfares, but rather on frontier trails through forests and across swollen rivers. These areas were safe, when you stop to think of it, as hostile forces and wild animals were sure to block his way. What could prompt an individual to undertake such an arduous journey?
As we look at his diary for February 3, 1744,
we ascertain at least several strong reasons for his constant ministry. Read his words and see if you can glean the answer. He wrote:
“Enjoyed more freedom and comfort than of late; was engaged in meditation upon the different whispers of the various powers and affections of a pious mind exercised with a great variety of dispensations, and could not but write, as well as meditate on so entertaining a subject. I hope the Lord gave me some true sense of divine things this day, but alas, how great and pressing are the remains of indwelling corruption! I am now more sensible than ever, that God alone is ‘the author and finisher of faith,’ i.e. that the whole and every part of sanctification, and every good word, works, or thought, found in me, is the effect of his power and grace, that ‘without him I can do nothing,’ in the strictest sense, and that ‘he works in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure,’ and from no other motives. Oh! how amazing it is that people can talk so much about men’s power and goodness, when if God did not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate! This is my bitter experience, for several days last past, and has abundantly taught me concerning myself.”
If you carefully meditate on this diary entry, you cannot help but see the place of Scripture permeating his thoughts. He quotes portions of Hebrews 12:2
, John 15:5
, and Philippians 2:13
in this section. In other words, he lived and breathed Scripture!
David Brainerd also had a practical understanding of the work of sanctification in his soul, and understood the remnants of sin within himself. Thus, with a true sense of himself, but more importantly, a true understanding of his God, he could move forward each day to do the work of evangelism and discipleship among the native population to whom God had called him.
Words to Live By: “How amazing it is that people can talk so much about men’s power and goodness, when if God did not hold us back every moment, we should be devil’s incarnate.” — David Brainerd