Word and Spirit
“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.” Acts 16:14
Let us examine the passage and seek to uncover the profound truths embedded within the inspired text:
This passage narrates the divine work of God in the heart of Lydia, a devout woman from Thyatira. As we delve into the text, we are reminded of the sovereignty of God in salvation, the necessity of regeneration for the reception of faith, and the vital role of the Holy Spirit in illuminating the hearts and minds of the elect.
Luke, the author of Acts, does not attribute Lydia's teachable spirit to her intellect, wisdom, or humility. Instead, he emphasizes that the Lord opened her heart so that she could understand and receive Paul's message. This account testifies to the fact that human beings are incapable of comprehending the gospel without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Our natural state is one of spiritual blindness and dullness; it is only through God's grace that we are given new ears and new eyes to perceive the truth (Deut. 29:4; 30:6).
Furthermore, this passage highlights the indispensable role of the inward calling of God in the preaching ministry of pastors. It is not merely the spoken word that brings about conversion; rather, it is the work of the Holy Spirit accompanying the proclamation of the gospel that gives life to the message. Without the divine intervention of God, preaching remains a dead letter, incapable of penetrating the hardened hearts of sinful humanity.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that the secret illumination of the Spirit does not lead us away from the external Word, but rather towards it. The Spirit and the Word are inseparable in the work of salvation, for the former instills confidence in the latter and writes it upon our hearts. The grace of the Spirit does not render the Word obsolete; on the contrary, it enables us to grasp and embrace its eternal truths.
In conclusion, the story of Lydia in Acts 16:14 offers a rich exposition on the interplay between the sovereignty of God, the necessity of regeneration, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the importance of the preached Word in the process of salvation. We are guided to appreciate the divine work in our own lives and the lives of others, leading us to a deeper understanding of the boundless grace and love of our Heavenly Father. This passage serves as a reminder for all believers of the transformative power of God's Spirit and the Word, and the crucial role they play in the journey of faith.
"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake." 1 Thess 1:4-5