As Paul was traveling around during his second missionary journey, he found some women praying by the river. Paul would speak about the Good News found in Jesus Christ. One woman, named Lydia, intently listened to what Paul had to say. From the scriptures, we know she was a merchant who sold nice fabric; see Acts 16:14. We also learn that she worshiped God.
As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to receive what Paul was telling her and her friends. She accepted his words and was baptized along with her household. We do not know from this passage, Acts 16:11-15, if she ran home to gather her household or were they with her at the river. She wanted Paul and his missionary team to be her guests in her home. Notice what she tells Paul, “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home.”
Wasn’t Lydia a true believer when she simply worshiped God? Why did God have to open her heart?
To help answer this, it is good to study who Paul focused on when traveling from town to town sharing the Gospel. When you study the book of Acts, he went to the synagogues where religious people were rather than find unbelievers. God used Paul to help Old Testament believers, the Jews who worshipped God before Christ, to now follow Jesus Christ. God was bringing about His redemption plan of salvation. Christ became the cornerstone for faith in God; see Acts 4:11-12.
Wouldn’t you think Paul would go to secular places where non-believers hung out and share about Jesus rather than go to the local church where people already believed God?
He met up with opposition from many Jews so the Spirit would lead him to share truth with Gentiles instead. Through Christ, God opened the door of faith to all people. Through Christ, one is able to come into God’s presence and experience the fullness of all that God has to offer. Through Christ, a true believer is changed.
Christ is the key to walking the narrow path to heaven as a true believer.
The Bible does say in Matthew 7:13-14 that the “gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult and only a few every find it.”14 This is still true today. There are Jews who have received Christ, and there are Jews who still refuse to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. There are Gentiles who have come to believe Christ and walk as true believers, and there are Gentiles who worship God and Christ but ignore the Spirit. They are religious. Then you have those who want nothing to do with God at all. They live for themselves. To help with this, read Matthew 13:1-23. It helps explains how people’s faith varies and what God is looking for from us.
Here is a quote from J.C. Ryle that explains why Paul met up with so much opposition from people who supposedly followed God, and if Paul came today, he would start out speaking in the church to awaken people from their religious slumber: “Hell is truth known too late. I fear that thousands of professing Christians in this day will find this out by sad experience. They will discover the value of their souls – when it is too late to obtain mercy and see the beauty of the Gospel – when they can derive no benefit from it.”
I believe if God sent Paul to the United States, he would visit churches and tell congregations to wake up!
As a true believer, you (and I) are called just like Paul to tell the world that while its dying from sin, Jesus Christ came to save everyone from hell. As a true believer, you are God’s vessel He uses to bring about Kingdom living. Those lost in sin cannot see clearly nor hear well. They need the touch of Christ and the hope of His salvation to remove the blinders of disbelief. God uses His children, those who follow Christ and are led by the Spirit, to bring light into their darkness.
God is accomplishing great things through His children. Be open to following His lead.
Are you like Lydia and have become a true believer? Study these passages of scripture and ask God to remove any blinders of disbelief: John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:9, John 5:24, John 1:12, and Mark 16:16. Be open to what God has for you. Wherever He takes you is better than where you can take yourself. His ways take you into eternity. While your ways may be great in the moment, you will not experience eternity with God.
Allow God to open your heart and receive Christ like Lydia did and live like you have never lived before.