I hope you had a restful Monday. On Sunday July 31, I preached to 41 people about Lydia’s success story found in Acts 16:11-15. Here is that source text and 4 life lessons from Lydia’s life to help us share our faith in the God who opens hearts. In Lydia’s day and age, purple dye for regal outfits came from Mediterranean seas shells! She dressed majestic men in purple, but then she feel in love with King Jesus and became the first European convert to Christianity. Here is the story:
The Conversion of Lydia – ACTS 16:11-15
So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
4 Life Lessons from Lydia’s Success Story.
1. God opens our hearts to hear the Gospel.
See verse 14. John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. He changes hearts, not us. That is a relief because it is not up to our clever and convincing lifestyles to make someone see God and live for him. Also, he will open hearts to know him. We can trust him to do that. He is the God who opens hearts, like Lydia’s!
2. Preaching of the Gospel changes people into Christians.
See verse 13 and surrounding chapters. God sends people, like you and me, to preach the Gospel to new people in new places. I can have confidence, as a preacher sent to the HIgh Park neighbourhoods, that God will open hearts to pay attention to what I have to say about Jesus Christ’s saving work and ongoing ministry. The power to save people is in God and his gospel, and has chosen to use human instruments – like us. Lydia became a Christian through the gospel Paul preached. Believe the gospel and preach it!
Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,…”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
3. The Gospel is a few propositions about God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:1-6 explains the facts of the gospel. Do you share this with people very often?
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep
4. After people believe the gospel, the next normal step is to get baptized and join a local church.
Normally, after you get converted to Christ, the next thing that happens is your baptism and belonging in a local church community. Believer’s baptism and participation in church life (exemplified by hospitality in Lydia) are normative outcomes of conversion (See Acts 16:15). Here is a verse about baptism in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” You will be a success story when God opens your heart and you join his work of evangelism, church building and hospitality. The early church was build this we and so too will your church be!
How is your personal evangelism going this summer?
Are you confident that God opens hearts to hear the gospel you preach?
People become converted when the sovereign God opens their heart to respond to the gospel. Normative expressions of saving faith are baptism, evangelism and fellowship/hospitality, all exemplified by Lydia. That is why she is a success story. I can have confidence in my evangelistic efforts because I know that God opens hearts.
Colossians 4: 2-6 is a Scripture to pray as you take these 4 life lessons and seek out the next Lydia.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Lydia’s Life: Past and Present.
Lydia was a spiritually active , but non-Christian who was the first European convert to Christianity because of Paul travelling to preach to her unreached area. The result was that Lydia believed, was baptized, influenced her household to do the same, showed much needed hospitality to the church starters and likely leveraged her profitable business status in the fashion and trade industry to advance the Gospel for others. Acts is not a body spray, but a sequel companion to Luke’s Gospel. Together they records the work of the Kindgom through Jesus and then Holy Spirit through the Apostles as the gospel expands from Jerusalem to the nations for Christ’s fame. In fact, Lydia’s story is at the cutting edge of pioneering the gospel into Europe. As the Gospel advances into Europe from the Middle East, we see this one woman, named Lydia, whom God sent Paul and Silas to save and then use to be the first success story of a convert to Christianity in Europe. She was the first convert in the pioneering work of the gospel in Europe. Cutting edge business woman! She is a good example to us today of following Christ in a big, secular city – like Toronto.