One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. (Acts 16:14 NIV)
About the intimate workings of the Holy Spirit in the human heart there is a highly personal relationship in which no third person can share. The sacred work of redemption was wrought in darkness. No strange eye could see what was taking place when the sins of the world entered the holy soul of Christ that He might die under their weight and thus make ìhis life a guilt offeringî (Isaiah 53:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 27:46).
That there is a deep mystery about the new birth is plainly stated by our Lord.
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." "How can this be?î Nicodemus asked. ìYou are Israelís teacher,î said Jesus, ìand do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?î (John 3:8-12).
It is bordering on the irreverent to suggest that this sovereign work of the Spirit can be induced at the will of a personal worker by means of a textual recipe. The moment this is attempted, the Spirit withholds His illumination and leaves the worker and the seeker to their own designs. And the tragic consequences are all about us.
All any Christian worker can do is to point the inquirer to ìthe Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the worldî (1:29). That was all John the Baptist did. He did not attempt to create faith in any of his hearers. The Spirit alone can open the heart, as John well knew. It is our task to arrest the sinnerís attention, give him the message of the cross, urge him to receive it and meet its conditions. After that the seeker is on his own. The individual is out of the hands of the instructors and helpers and in the hands of the God with whom he has to do.
Lord, it is You who opens the hearts of people to respond to the Good News. Forgive me for trying to act as the heart opener.
Let's be extremely careful that, in our zeal, we do not attempt to do what only God can do--that is, to open the hearts of people. Our part is to present the Good News as clearly as we are able, faithfully praying that God will open hearts. Are we so praying?
Used with Permission