Lydia is a good friend of mine.
SEPTEMBER 8, 2022
Lydia is a good friend of mine. And I’ll introduce her to you, on this edition of Key Life.
That was Steve Brown, and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching, that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you open your Bible, open it to the 16th chapter of Acts, as we continue with our study in Acts. Now, if you’ve been listening for the last few days, you know we’ve been talking about the will of God from Acts 16:6 through 10. And I’ve told you everything I know about the will of God, everything that I know that the Bible teaches about the will of God. A friend of mine had a saying one time, told me this about Columbus. If you think you’re confused, consider poor Columbus. He didn’t know where he was going. When he got there, he didn’t know where he was. And when he got back, he didn’t know where he had been. Do you feel like that sometime? Well, if you listen to all that I taught you over the last few days, you can relax because God is God and God is sovereign and he knows what he’s doing. Okay, let’s move on to another text and we’ll start at the 11th verse and we’ll go through the 15th verse, where Luke writes in his story of the early church.
Setting sail, therefore from Troas we made a direct voyage to Samothrace and following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the leading city in the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 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. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from Thyratira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
Boy, in that vignette, we see some things that are really important. As I said, Lydia is a friend of mine, and I want to take some time, to introduce her to you. If you have ever studied Paul’s letter to the Philippians, you’re aware that that letter was written to Paul’s favorite church. Of all the churches he founded, his heart was in Philippi. As you read through that particular letter in the New Testament, over 17 times, the apostle Paul uses the word joy or rejoice. Why does he do that? Because he’s living in the joy of the church that he loved very much. When other churches he founded turned their back on him, and it happened sometimes. Philippi was faithful. When other churches refused to support Paul. Philippi stood by him. When Paul was in prison and nobody wanted to admit even knowing him. Philippi let Paul know that they were his brothers and sisters in Christ, even when he was in prison. I don’t know that Paul had a favorite people, but I would be willing to bet that while Philippi I was his favorite church, Lydia was his favorite person in that church. And so, when we read this particular passage in Acts, we meet Lydia and the reason for that. Now, let me show you some things that are really important. The first thing you ought to note is that my friend Lydia, had an open heart to the Lord. Look at the 14th verse, the second part of it.
The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul.
And earlier, Luke says that she was a worshiper of God. In other words, this is not a pagan lady who just doesn’t care and is doing her own thing, she knows there’s a God, she just doesn’t know his name. She knows there’s a God and that she should be worshiping him, she just doesn’t know his name. She knows there’s a God who is sovereign, the sovereign Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of everything, she just doesn’t know his name. And, Paul in his message to the people at Philippi, told Lydia his name and her heart leapt up and sang the Hallelujah chorus, Matthew 11:27.
All things have been delivered to me by my Father, no one knows the Father except the Son and any to which the Son chooses to reveal him.
And this was Lydia’s time. And before she was ever born, God knew that was Lydia’s time. Now, I’m going to say a little bit about election, but I don’t want to make it confusing. And I don’t want you going down a road, you shouldn’t go down. When you say that God is sovereign over salvation, that is absolutely true. The Bible teaches it. It teaches it from Genesis to Revelation, that it wasn’t you, it was Him who came after you. And when it was your time, it was His time and He knows what he’s doing and he knows the names of His own. That’s called election. But the Bible on the other hand teaches human freedom and responsibility. The Bible assumes that your decisions make a difference. The Bible assumes that you are responsible and when you say yes or no to Jesus, that has eternal consequences. And you say, wait, wait, wait just a second here. God, can’t be that sovereign and me that free. It just won’t work that way. That’s called the principle of non-contradiction, two plus two can’t be four and five or three at the same time. And so, what is happening, that’s from Aristotle, by the way. What is happening is that when we read this text that God had prepared and elected Lydia, and then we see her response and her free actions and her responsibility, we say, look, that doesn’t mean anything cause she was chosen from the beginning of time. Yes she was. But her, now, no, I can’t explain that. The reason I can’t explain that is because I’m a Greek. And you remember what Paul said in the first chapter of I Corinthians. The Jews demand signs and the Greeks seek wisdom and we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to the Greeks, to the Gentiles. In other words, if you had, if you thought in a Hebraic way, if you were Jewish, you would see the contradiction and you would say, God is God, I don’t have to understand, but if you’re Greek and you’ve been reading Aristotle, you’ve got to make it fit into your little system. Well, this doesn’t fit into your little system. But it’s important to know, and it’s a family secret and it is a great comfort. Let me suggest a good book to you by my great friend, J.I. Packer. Dr. Packer, and I miss him a lot. Dr. Packer wrote Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. And in that book, he talked about something he said was antinomy. Now, a paradox are two contradictory statements that if you think about, you understand. If you’re going to lose your life, you can find it. Jesus said that, and it doesn’t make sense until you think about it. But an antinomy are true truths that you know are absolutely true beyond a shadow of a doubt. And yet, they can’t both be true because they contradict each other. Well, when you talk about election and God’s sovereignty over every molecule in the universe and our freedom and our responsibility, and the fact that our decisions make a difference, you’re dealing with an antinomy. Two truths that won’t reconcile. So, what are you supposed to do about it? You can’t do anything about it, unless you’re God. And so, you have to live as my friend Fred Smith said, with a high tolerance for ambiguity, but in this passage about Lydia, we see something very important and don’t miss it. God knew your name before you were ever born and loved you. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. Wow. Is it Thursday already? That was a fast and fun week spent here in Acts 16. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And if you’re not already otherwise engaged hope you’ll join us here tomorrow for Friday Q&A with Steve and Pete. So, if you were to ask me if my love language is gifts, I’d probably say no, but you know, like if you already had something you really wanted to give me, there’s no harm in putting that theory to the test, you know. Well, we have a gift we’d like to give you, it’s our latest digital only magazine. We bring you a new edition every summer. And this year is, may I say I, our best yet. It features an article from Steve called The Problem with Prayer. Plus there’s pieces from Kendra Fletcher, Alex Early, and Barry Smith. Check it out right now at key life.org/magazines. And listen, if you haven’t grabbed your copy of our 2022 print magazine. You’re in luck, we still have copies available. Claim yours right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. If you like to mail your request, send it to
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