Jonathan Edwards provided a thought-provoking understanding of conversion. He argues that the “precise time” of one’s conversion fluctuates from person to person. He also provides a pithy definition of conversion. Good stuff.
Conversion is a great and glorious work of God’s power, at once changing the heart, and infusing life into the dead soul; though the grace then implanted more gradually displays itself in some than in others. But as to fixing on the precise time when they put forth the very first act of grace, there is a great deal of difference in different persons; in some it seems to be very discernable when the very time was; but others are more at a loss. In this respect, there are very many who do not know, even when they have it, that it is the grace of conversion, and sometimes do not think it to be so till a long time after. Many, even when they come to entertain great hopes that they are converted, if they remember what they experienced in the first exercises of grace, they are at a loss whether it was any more than a common illumination; or whether some other more clear and remarkable experience which they had afterwards, was not the first of a saving nature. The manner of God’s work is very mysterious; and it is with the kingdom of God as to its manifestation in the heart of a convert, as is said in Mark iv. 26, 27, 28, “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how; for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear” (Jonathan Edwards in Jonathan Edwards on Revival [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995], 40, italics his).