(Article for publication week of September 4, AD 2014)
"And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things spoken of Paul" (Acts 16:14).
Not every conversion is as dramatic as that of Saul of Tarsus as we wrote about last week. Some of the Lord's people are converted as Lydia was in a very quiet manner. Occasionally the Lord converts children who are raised in Christian homes under strict parents and therefore have been restrained from open and gross sins. They may not be able to relate the profound experience of some others, but they are still saved if they truly repent of their sins, trust in Christ Alone for salvation, and pursue holiness. We write and preach much on experimental salvation, and cry out against false profession and "easy believism" (and the Lord being our Helper we shall continue so to do), but let none suppose that we mean to belittle true faith wherever it is found. We want none to misunderstand us and to lose assurance because they cannot relate some dramatic experience of their conversion. I repeat, if you truly repent of your sins; if you are trusting in Christ Alone for salvation; if you are pursuing holiness; then you may be assured that you are truly saved. But the fact remains that it is better for us to preach in such a way as to set a true saint to searching than to put a false convert at ease. May the Lord deliver us from both presumption and despair.
The first thing we notice about the conversion of Lydia was that the Lord opened her heart. Now, as I say the scriptures describe this dear saint's conversion in a somewhat quiet way, yet this conversion was still a powerful thing as every conversion is. Dear reader, you cannot open your own heart. Preacher, you cannot open the hearts of any of your hearers. No human power can open the heart of a poor lost sinner. The human heart is bolted by original sin and human depravity. Only the effectual working of God's mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead can open a sinner's heart (Ephesians 1:19-20). Unless the Lord opens your heart dear reader you will continue in unbelief and go on to hell when you die. Those of us who are believers in Christ can claim no good thing in ourselves as to why we believe and others do not. We are believers in Christ for one reason and one reason alone, the Lord opened our hearts.
Lydia's heart being opened by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit, she attended to the gospel that Paul preached. Here is the evidence of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, that one attends to the preaching of the gospel. A child of God loves the gospel of God's sovereign grace. It is food for his hungry soul. He cannot live without it. The gospel is good news to the poor sinner who sees that he is a spiritual bankrupt, for the gospel tells him that the price has been paid in Full by the Eternal Son of God. Lydia was evidently saved for she believed the gospel and the next verse says she submitted to the ordinance of baptism and openly declared herself a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord open many hearts.