An Opened Heart
Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:6
“God . . . has shone in our hearts.”
In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus the Pharisee (John 3:1-21, NIV), we see the necessity of the Spirit’s work to give us faith. Jesus said emphatically, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (verse 3). He said, “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (verse 5). And he compared the Spirit’s life-giving action with the sovereign and mysterious action of the wind (verses 7-8).
Notice that Jesus spoke not of permission to enter the kingdom but of inability to enter it apart from a new birth: “no one can . . . ” We cannot—we don’t have the ability to—enter the kingdom unless the Spirit of God gives us life through the new birth. We’re born again, then, by a sovereign, monergistic (that is, the Spirit working alone) act of the Holy Spirit. Then, as a result of that new birth, we exercise the faith given to us and enter the kingdom of God.
In this light we better understand a Scripture such as Acts 16:14: “one who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”
What does it mean that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart? It means he made her spiritually alive, that she was born again. It means he removed the Satan-induced blindness from her mind so she could understand and embrace the Gospel. It means he delivered her from the kingdom of darkness, where she’d been held captive, so she could respond in faith. Note the sequence: she could not respond to Paul’s message until God first opened her heart. (Excerpt taken from The Gospel for Real Life)