Acts 16:14 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 which were spoken of Paul.
Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
I wish to call your attention to the clear presentation in Acts 16.14 that it is the Lord that opens the heart of the unbeliever. This in no way removes the choice that man makes in order to be saved, but it does make it perfectly clear that before I can respond, I need God to open my heart.
It is in this way that God gets all the glory for man’s salvation. If He were not the one who opens man’s heart to hear and receive the truth, it would be difficult to understand how Phil 1.6 is in fact true.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
I submit to you that Acts 16:14 describes the beginning of that good work. What is the first step in man’s salvation? According to Lydia’s conversion it is God opening the heart.
We must recognize that salvation is a heart issue. In Mark 16.14, hard hearts do not believe. In Acts 8.37, Philip believes with his heart. In Romans 10.9, man believes in his heart that God raised Christ from the dead.
In Romans 10.9, confession is presented prior to belief in the order of the verse, but this does not speak to the chronological order of what happens when man is saved. It is the heart that believes before the mouth speaks, and it is this belief that changes man from a condition of being spiritually dead to eternally alive. Jesus was very clear in Matthew 15.18 when He stated that what proceeds out of the mouth is a reflection or a product of what the heart believes.
Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
The oral articulation of words to God is a reflection of a heart that God changed. God opens the heart, God changes the heart, and He makes it new.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
It is this heart that now desires to call out to God for salvation, which in essence is the articulation of what has already occurred in that portion of man that makes him a spiritual being.
A stony heart rejects the gospel, but when God opens my heart, I can hear the truth and I believe. I choose, and I now love what was once foolishness to me.
Instead of saying, “Wouldn’t you like to pray with me,” the soul-winner should be saying, “Wouldn’t you like to turn from a life of serving yourself and believe that God has raised Jesus Christ, the sinless Savior, from the dead so that your sins could be forgiven because of the payment Christ made for all on the cross.”
When God opens the heart to hear the truth, the new creature in Christ will desire to pray to the God he or she now loves. You see, with this new heart repentance is now possible because God’s grace is sufficient to not only forgive my sins, but it is now enabling to conquer besetting sins of the past and my life will give evidence of being different. Often the first difference that will be seen is a desire and willingness to pray to a God I previously rejected with a closed heart.
Finally, let me draw your attention to a parallel between the Lord opening the Lydia’s heart and John 6:44:
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
I love him because He first loved me (1 John 4.19). I believe because He opened my heart. This type of an understanding of my conversion is very compatible to what Paul states in Galatians 2.20 “I live, yet not I but Christ.” God’s sovereignty and Paul’s human responsibility are knit together perfectly in this verse.
Was Jeremiah the only human being God knew before He formed him in the womb of his mother? Was Jeremiah the only prophet God sanctified and ordained before he came forth into the world? I praise God the answer is certainly not. Furthermore, I thank God He knew me before I knew Him.
How about yourself? Do you have a correct understanding of how God saved your soul? Does God get all the credit, glory and honor when you testify of how you came to know the Lord Jesus as your Savior?
Is He your Savior? Examine yourself and see if you are in the faith. Perhaps today is the day God is opening your heart to repent and believe the truth.