Study 9 LYDIA OF THYATIRA
TEN NEW TESTAMENT CONVERSIONS
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Acts 16:1-15)
The story of Lydia’s conversion is contained in two verses only – Acts 16:14-15. It is told with simplicity and there is a beauty about it. Paul evidently felt just as happy in ministering to a few God-fearing women as to a great crowd in the synagogue. In all probability there would have been no synagogue in Philippi, a gentile city, so here by the riverside these women met for prayer at regular times. Paul recognised a God-given opportunity for preaching the gospel to them. One of these women who met for prayer was Lydia; of her we read “the Lord opened her heart”. When the jailer was converted there was an earthquake; when Lydia came to know the Lord it was a silent, unemotional movement of the Holy Spirit in her heart. God works very differently; He understands our background and our temperament, and He knows just how to meet our deep need and the way to approach us in our need. Some people are converted suddenly, others come gradually; some come publicly and others privately; some come with great emotion and others without much. The important thing is to know that we have been converted even if we do not remember the time or the place when this happened. Are you trusting the Lord Jesus and are you able to say now – 2 Timothy 1:12? Has the Lord opened your heart and entered in? – look up 2 Corinthians 13:5. Consider these points:
1. Although Lydia was an obscure and humble woman, it was through her opened heart that God passed into Europe
She was a native of Thyatira and a seller of purple (cloth of a certain colour). She was a business-woman but her name would not have hit the headlines in Holy Scripture had it not been for God’s gracious dealings with her (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-29). God delights to choose ordinary people and use them for His glory. The significant thing for us to notice here is that when God wanted to enter into a new continent so that multitudes of people in that continent might be saved, He chose Lydia as the channel through whom He would work, just as He chose William Carey when He wanted the message of the gospel in India, or David Livingstone when He wanted to demonstrate His power in Africa. Lydia’s opened heart was the vantage point for a forward movement for the gospel in Europe. Think what God can do through one life when He gains complete control of it and it is yielded to Him!
2. Lydia was a worshipper of God before the Lord Jesus entered her heart
We read that she was at the prayer meeting. She was obviously sincere in her religious observances but was not born again (John 3:3); she had not been saved through faith in Jesus Christ (John 5:24); her heart had not yet been opened to welcome the Saviour (John 1:11-12). How many people there are just like this! – they are described in 2 Timothy 3:5. They are sincere and regularly attend church but they are not Christians; for the one thing which makes a man a Christian is the presence of the Lord Jesus in his heart and life (Revelation 3:20). Look up John 14:1.
3. Lydia listened to the gospel and the Lord saved her
This is an illustration of Romans 10:17 in action – Lydia hearing the gospel and faith becoming operative in her heart. This is how the sovereign God works in the salvation of a soul and Lydia had given her full attention to Paul’s presentation of the gospel. He was declaring the truth of John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Romans 1:16. She heard about the Person and work of Christ, and her mind was opened as well as her heart. Compare Romans 10:9-10.
4. Lydia lost no time in confessing her Lord
We read that she was baptised along with all the members of her household. So here again we have the scriptural order – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptised; receive Him as Saviour and confess Him openly as Lord – look up and compare Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:41. Here is God’s ordained method for confessing openly that we have trusted Christ as our Saviour. What a wonderful baptismal service this must have been, in the river just near to the spot where she was converted. What a testimony to other people!
5. Lydia’s testimony was blessed to those in her own home
She was not the only one to be baptised. The members of her household were baptised also – which means of course that they also believed on the Lord Jesus and their hearts were opened to receive Him as their Saviour. In Psalm 68:6 we read that “God sets the lonely in families.” What does this mean? Lydia is a fine example of this statement.
6. Lydia’s faith showed itself in good deeds
She was not saved by good deeds, because no-one is saved in that way (see Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5). It is true, however, that faith without deeds is dead (James 2:20), and where there is true faith there will be deeds to demonstrate the reality of that faith. Lydia’s open home was the evidence of her opened heart. Zacchaeus’ restitution was the evidence of his conversion (Luke 19:8); the jailer also gave evidence of his conversion (Acts 16:33-34); compare 1 John 3:14.
7. Lydia’s one desire was to be faithful to her Lord
This is clearly stated in verse 15. She longed to be true to the One who had done so much for her. Is this our consuming desire – just to be faithful to Him, at all costs? – look up Revelation 2:10.