2 Corinthians 6:2, “For [God] says, ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the acceptable time! Behold now is the day of salvation.” (LITV)

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Paul here quotes from Isaiah 49:8. It would certainly be beneficial to us to refer to this verse in Isaiah, and the previous one, so that we might understand what the acceptable time means.

Isaiah 49:7-8, “The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the One who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the One who is the servant of rulers: ‘Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen You. At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as My covenant with them. Through You I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.”

This chapter in Isaiah is a prelude, foreshadowing or prophecy of what would eventually come to pass. Israel would be in state of enmity against God and His Holy Servant Jesus Christ. Verse 7 gives us insight into this strife, which is extant on man’s part alone, but despite the presence of unbelief and outright hostility against God and God’s Holy One, God sought it fit to impart grace upon mankind.

I would ask the reader to reflect upon the sublimity of these facts, that at one of the most hostile times in history towards God and His Holy One, that God somehow, in accordance with a grace and love far surpassing that of human-kind, purposed a time of His favor through that same Holy One, Jesus Christ. As William MacDonald mentions, the “day of salvation” mentioned, as it pertains to Jesus, “refers to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

"Resurrection of Christ," by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

“Resurrection of Christ,” by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

Therefore, this “time of favor” can be said to be situated between the resurrection and Christ’s return. Philip E. Hughes, of the NIV Study Bible, says:

“[This is] an affirmation that is true in a general sense of all God’s saving acts in the history of His people, but that finds its particular fulfillment in this present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Hughes correctly points out that throughout history there have been manifest times of God’s favor. However, there is an innovative originality concerning the particular age we live in now, where this hallowed salvation is made available to all mankind. Yet, we say this in a general sense, for there is also an individualistic sense in which, by Paul’s words, is not only suggested this blessed grace or salvation, but also it serves as a warning. For we are told that it is a time of God’s favor, but one necessary condition of time is that it passes. The direct consequent, then, is that this time of “acceptability” will pass. Henceforth, we understand the urgency of Paul’s message, that ‘now is the day of salvation.’

Now-Time

The NIV Study Bible points this out when it states:

“[‘Now’] underscores the urgency of the divine invitation.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Time is somewhat of a relative term as it is used here. We should realize that time can mean, this moment, today, this week, fifty years from now, a hundred, or, indeed, eons from now. Of course, the verse applies its message for today. Paul does this in probably the full understanding that mankind, when it comes to salvation and holiness are the greatest of procrastinators. We tend to put off these things like obedience and faith because we fool ourselves into thinking that we will always have tomorrow, the next day, or the next, and so on, to come under the grace of our Lord. However, nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, nor ten minutes from now. This strikes me as a rather prideful assertion and delusional assurance, for all evidence points to the contrary. Rather than putting these things off, let us today put on the full armor of God, with its helmet of salvation, shield of faith, shoes to spread the gospel of peace, breastplate of righteousness and belt of truth. Let us put on the shining armor of right living, as the Scriptures tells us:

Romans 13:12, “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.”

Ephesians 6:11, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

Ephesians 6:13-14, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

Let us again consider the general and specific application regarding this “time of salvation” as it pertains to both mankind as a whole (general) and the individual (specific). We find the generality of the time of God’s favor to pertain to all man in this age between the appearances of Christ. It is in this age we are offered salvation by and through faith (in which obedience becomes an integral part) in Jesus Christ. Yet, as we have said, since it is mentioned in the context of time, it will not carry on indefinitely. Rather, this time supposes an end, so, let us run in haste and endurance that race marked out before us, while we still exist within this state or time, for we do not know the time when it will come to an abrupt end.

End

Here is our chance. Here is our opportunity. Let no man suppose that this opportunity will always be there, for if it was the case the Scriptures would not emphasize us coming to the Lord, or obeying His statues, “as long as it is still today.” The Scriptures say:

Hebrews 3:7-8, “That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness.’”

Hebrews 3:13, “You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

Hebrews 4:7, “So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.’”

Psalm 69:13, “But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of Your favor, in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.”

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”

Psalm 32:6, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach Him.”

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No, we must run for the goal, which is Christ Jesus, in all due haste. How I cringe when I hear Christians suggest by their words that they can always ask for forgiveness later. How I cringe when I realize I too have done this very thing. Now I am not one to put limits on the grace of the Lord, for this is beyond my scope of knowledge, but this attitude speaks loudly in a resounding tone of arrogance and disrespectful presuppositions. For it supposes God will always forgive us and that He is always willing to forgive. Frightfully enough, the Scriptures, though Jesus tells us if we seek we shall find (Matthew 7:7), Proverbs makes it clear:

Proverbs 1:24-28, “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored My advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for Me, they will not find Me.”

Therefore, let us not suppose we are always fit to be found under the grace of the Lord our God. However, those of us who have been forgiven for our past sins let us rejoice and take a firm hold of the faith. For the Lord has granted us favor, and not by our own works, but by His grace which transcends all understanding of man.

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