THE CONVERSION OF LYDIA

This entry is part of 50 in the series article 26

(Acts 16:12-15.) 

PAUL hears the Macedonian call, and crosses the 
Aegean, landing at Neapolis. He is accompanied 
on this second missionary journey by Silas, Luke and 
Timothy. From Neapolis, the company proceeds to 
Philippi (vs. 9-12). 

Verse 13. It was the custom of Paul to go where 
he could find the most people assembled. Frequently 
he went into the synagogues on the Sabbath, because 
he would always find the Jews assembled at that time, 
and consequently could obtain a better hearing (Acts 
13:42; 18:4). ' 

Again, it was always his custom to preach first to 
the worshipers of the true God. It was just as neces- 
sary for them to be cleansed by the blood of Christ 
as the most ignorant heathen. He knew they were 
accustomed to congregate along the river-side at 
Philippi, on the Sabbath, for the purpose of worshiping 
God. So he proceeded to this place of prayer. 

With characteristic zeal, he proceeded at once to 
tell them the story of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 
Paul never waited for a more convenient season. 
He always found the harvest waiting, and proceeded 
to the task of gathering in the sheaves. 

Verse 14. Among the women to whom they 
preached was one named Lydia, who was a native of 
Thyatira, some three hundred miles distant, and who 
was in Philippi at the time, on a mercantile mission. 

This woman worshiped God, but not in the true 
way. She had heard nothing of Jesus Christ. No 
doubt she prayed directly to God, without any thought 
of the mediation of Christ. Hence, she needed to be 
saved by the blood of Christ through obedience to the 
gospel. No man or woman has ever reached such a 
standard of morality that he or she, whichever the 
case might be, could be saved without the blood of 
Christ (Heb. 9:11-15; 9:22; Col. 1:14). 

As Paul preached unto Lydia and her household, the 
Lord opened her heart. How? Quite a great deal of 
controversy has been waged over this particular phrase. 
How does the Lord reach the hearts of men? In some 
mysterious way that they can not understand? Cer- 
tainly not. Let these passages explain the question: 
Rom. 1 : 16 ; 1 Cor. 1 : 21. The gospel is the power of 
God unto salvation. Through preaching of the gos- 
pel on the part of Paul, the Lord opened the heart of 
Lydia so that she became obedient to the faith. 

Verse 15. The usual thing occurred. There is no 
mention of repentance. But we know that Lydia and 
her household believed and turned to God, else they 
never would have been baptized. Faith and repent- 
ance must precede baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). 

Lydia and her household were baptized. She at 
once invited the company to abide in her house. Hos- 
pitality is always a Christian work. 

Here the way of salvation is just as clear as in all 
other cases of conversion: Belief in Jesus Christ, turn- 
ing to God, and baptism into Christ. The way is indeed 
plain. 

Many have attempted to get infant sprinkling out 
of this conversion. But, in order to do so, we must 
assume that Lydia was married; we must assume that 
she had children; we must assume that she had brought 
them all the way from Thyatira with her; we must 
assume that some of these children were infants. Thus 
we see that such a theory would be based on assump- 
tions, and nothing more. 

In fact, the indications are that Lydia was not 
even a married woman, for several reasons: 1. Had 
she had been married, she would not likely have been 
in business for herself. 2. Had she been married, 
she would not likely have been making mercantile trips 
herself. 3. Had she been married, she would not 
likely have been regarded as the head of the household. 
It would have been considered crude and unwomanly 
in the custom of that day for a woman to have been 
the head of the house when the husband was living. 
Lydia speaks of the household as "my house" (Acts 
16:15). The writer also speaks of her as the head 
of the house (Acts 16:40). 

Thus we can see that there is no authority what- 
ever for infant sprinkling, as all who were baptized 
in the household of Lydia were old enough to be 
comforted by the words of the apostle (Acts 16 : 40) . 

The story of the conversion of Lydia and her 
household fully illustrates the glory of small begin- 
nings. People, as a rule, do not appreciate the value 
of little things. Benjamin Franklin's discovery of 
lightning was ridiculed by the people, who asked: 

"Of what use will it be ? " To which Franklin replied : 
"Of what use is a child? It may become a man." 

The cackling of a goose is fabled to have saved 
Rome from destruction by the Gauls. Gunpowder was 
discovered from the falling of a spark in some materials 
mixed in a mortar. Galileo noticed a lamp swinging 
to and fro in a church, went away, and made a pen- 
dulum. Galvani noticed that a frog's leg would twitch 
when brought in contact with certain metals; and in 
that discovery was contained the germ of the telegraph, 
which has already put a girdle around the globe. 
Sir Isaac Newton propounded the law of gravitation 
from the falling of an apple. 

Trifles are not to be despised. Drops make up 
the sea. Every pea helps to fill the peck. He who 
travels over a continent must go step by step and 
mile by mile. He who writes a book must write sen- 
tence by sentence. Acorns cover the earth with oaks, 
and the oceans with navies. Little things in youth 
accumulate into character in time, and destiny in 
eternity. 

To the good apostle Paul, the vision of the man 
from Macedonia meant the calling of a great continent; 
yet when he had crossed the Aegean and come to 
Philippi, he was content to sit down by the river- 
bank and preach to a handful of women. The work 
of Christianizing a continent began with a few women 
— Lydia and her household. Paul, perhaps, did not 
appreciate it at the time, but undoubtedly that was 
the mightiest thing ever done in Europe when he 
sat down by the bank of the river and talked to 
that small assembly of women; it was mightier even 
than the marches of Caesar, Charlemagne or Napoleon 
— mightier than Verdun of to-day. It meant the 
introduction of Christianity upon a new continent. 
And, strange to say, that woman was the first to 
embrace the true faith and follow in the Way. The 
religion of Christ is for all, regardless of sex; it 
knows no caste; it stipulates no conditions but obedi- 
ence to the gospel.
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