Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lydia's open heart


Timmy Brister -- a 2008 Southern Seminary graduate and now assistant to Tom Ascol of Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida, and head of the "Flounders" -- evidently failed to get proper teaching in the Seminary about Lydia's conversion (Acts 16:13, 14).

Timmy alleges that when Lydia's heart was opened, this constituted Lydia's new birth or "regeneration." He says, "When the Bible says that 'God opened her heart,' it is saying that God did the miracle of regeneration in the heart of Lydia by sovereign mercy and free grace."

Timmy herein promotes the error of Hybrid Calvinism -- "born again before faith." This would have Lydia a born again person before she had received the Word of God and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, making her a "regenerated unbeliever," which is the Hybrid Calvinist theology on "regeneration."

We much prefer the exposition by C. H. Spurgeon in his sermon, LESSONS FROM THE CONVERSION OF LYDIA, as follows:

Though our Savior, Himself, puts it, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate. Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures unto eternal life,” yet we know that salvation is neither by your striving, nor by your laboring, nor by your reforming and amending, but that all these are the fruit of an inward and mysterious work which the Holy Spirit alone can perform. Give unto God the glory if you have been converted, praise Him alone—“Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” He alone can cut the bands which fasten the heart. He alone can put the key into the hole of the door and open it and get admittance for Himself. He is the heart’s Master as He is the heart’s Maker, and conversion in every case is the Lord’s work, alone.

Yet — because one Truth of God must always march arm in arm with another, and no man gets at correct ideas by merely grasping one Truth — he has two eyes and two hands, so let him be content to use them both. Although the Lord opened the heart, Paul’s words were the instrument of her conversion. The heart may be opened and willing to receive, but then if the Truth of God enters not, what would be the use of an open door? But God always takes care to open the heart at a time when the messenger of mercy shall be going by, that the heart may give him admittance. There shall be the plowed field, but there shall be no cry, “Where is the sower?” for when the plow has done its work, here comes the sower and begins to scatter the seed. Paul speaks the Word as surely as God opens the heart.

Do not decry the ministry. It is a temptation of modern times to be always talking as though the ministry were a magnifying of man, as though to listen to the preacher were a glorification of the creature at the expense of the Maker. Now I believe there is nothing in the world which shows our humility of spirit and tends more to glorify God than a cheerful willingness to receive at His hands the golden treasure of His Grace out of an earthen vessel. The weakness of the preacher becomes a foil to set forth His Glory, and by no means derogates from the honor due to the Lord Himself. God has worked, and always will work, by means—by chosen men upon whom He puts the anointing of His Spirit. And when the men are lacking to serve the Lord, then is the Church always in a weak state. While she has her Pauls to preach, she shall not be without her God to open hearts to receive the Word.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 9, page 689.

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At the Reformed Flyswatter, read "Opening the Heart to Receive Christ."


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