The Accepted Time
The Accepted Time
Let’s begin today, by reading 2Cor. 6:1-2. “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” For the most part today, I want us to focus on the parenthetical statement found in v. 2. In these words of the Apostle Paul, we find a phrase that is often referred to in Christianity: “a time accepted”; or, “the accepted time.” Though this may be a common refrain in my preaching, I want to consider the Lord Jesus Christ and the Sovereignty of God in the salvation of men. Time is God’s to do with as He will. Salvation is God’s to dispense when and where and to whom – as He will. But what about man? We are not lords of time or rulers of our own fates. We live our lives subject to many limitations, obstacles, powers, authorities, and even most certainly subject to the passage of time.
And yet, as creatures of time, we do have the opportunity to do something with our lives, and to accomplish something of value, even with the small amount of time that may be ours. But what do we do? Are we responsible and useful? Or are we only wastrels and squanderers of time – derelicts who have not made any good use of the days, months, or years that have been granted unto us?
The Accepted Time to Believe
These verses are most often referred to when someone is stressing the Immediate Need of the Unsaved. So many people in Christianity today, use these verses to emphasize to the Lost that “Today is the Day to be Saved.” Now, I will not deny that there is truth in this statement. Certainly, we don’t want to ever teach that the need for Salvation is not a dire and pressing need. The Bible teaches us plainly, that all men have sinned, and that all men have a need for a Saviour. We read about the publican that prayed to God in Lk. 18:13, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” All men need to cry out to God, and all men need to repent and turn from their sins. The Lord said in Mt. 4:17, “…Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And the Lord said about the sick and dying condition of men, “…They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.” (Lk. 5:31.)
And we also, do not want men to think that we are preaching a Gospel that does not have the Power and Ability to save every individual that we might preach to – if it be the Will and Purpose of God. In other words, just because we believe in the Sovereignty of God in Salvation, it does not mean that we doubt the Authenticity or the Ability of the Salvation Message that we present to men. Remember, the Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28.) And the Lord said through Isaiah, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Is. 55:1.) And we read in Rev. 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
I think that we have the Duty and Obligation, as Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as individual members of those Churches, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And a part of that Gospel is to cry out unto the Lost to “Come!” And I believe that this call is genuine, even as the Command of the Lord Jesus Christ was genuine when He said, “…Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
However, I do want to say this about these verses that we have just read concerning the Call that goes Forth: In each case you will find that there are conditions placed upon those calls. I suppose that there are some among those that hear or read this message, that might perhaps, immediately cry out, and say, “See, I told you that those folks at Indore, and all of those Sovereign Grace Baptists really don’t believe in preaching the Gospel to all people after all. I knew that they didn’t believe that anyone could be saved.” Well, before you get the wrong idea about the True and Biblical Gospel that we preach, let me point out some things in the verses that we have just read.
In Mt. 11:28 the Lord Jesus tells those which labor and are heavy laden to Come unto me. So really, He is calling unto Him those that feel the Burden of their Sins. And perhaps you could make the case that He is calling unto Him those who may be saved, but are Burdened by the sins and trials of this life. But, anyone that doesn’t feel the Burden of sins or trials or the burdens of this life, is not even asked to Come.
In Is. 55:1 where we have also read, we find that the call goes out to the one that thirsteth, and to the one that hath no money. These are the ones that should “…come ye to the waters…” These are the ones that can “…come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” You see, no one will come to Drink of the Waters if they are not first Thirsty. And those that seek to Buy and Eat using the Monies or Works or Righteousnesses of this life, will not be able to Buy the Wine and the Milk that can only be Given Freely through the Grace of God, and the Love of Jesus Christ. So, this call in Is. 55:1 really only goes out to those that know that they have a Need, and to those that know that they are not Qualified in and of themselves, to purchase the Remedy for their Need.
And then, in the last example that I used in Rev. 22:17, we notice again, that though the call goes out to “Come,” still, only those will come that are athirst. And the verse also mentions that those who come are the ones that will. In other words, those that obey the call, and those that do actually “Come,” must be the Thirsty ones, and the ones that have a Desire to do so. In fact, in reference to this Desire to Come, let’s read Ps. 110:3, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power…”
So, though most often, our text verse found in 2Cor. 6:2 is used to call men unto Salvation, I believe that we must beware that we don’t go too far – don’t turn this passage into a call unto salvation, that if left unheeded, will result in someone missing out on salvation, who might have otherwise been saved – if only they hadn’t missed the appointed and accepted time!
Given the verses that we have just read, it must be seen that there are conditions placed upon the Call to Salvation. Now, as before, let me hastily add that these are not our conditions, but rather these are conditions that the Lord God has set forth. He will always, only call those that He has given the Desire and the Will to Come. He will always, only call those to whom He has given a Thirst and a Hunger. Now, we don’t know who those Willing and Thirsty ones are. Therefore, as Rev. 22:17 reminds us, it is our Duty and Responsibility to Call and to Preach unto all. (See also Mk. 16:15.)
However, isn’t it interesting to notice that the Lord Jesus Christ goes about telling every man to Repent, for indeed this is the Commandment of God – that all men are required to Repent; but, whenever He issues a call, it is always a Qualified Call? This is because, if any Man ever knew the hearts and minds of men; and if any Preacher ever knew who it was that would be saved, and who it was that was the Elect child of God – that Person and Preacher was (and is) the Lord Jesus Christ.
Having said all of this, I do agree that it is right and proper to emphasize, from time to time, the fact that 2Cor. 6:2 does remind us that Today is the Best Day to Believe. Why would waiting for tomorrow or another day, be a good thing? What better day to believe, than today? Indeed, we do not know what Tomorrow might bring. James told those that he was writing unto, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is our life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Ja. 4:14.) Certainly, Tomorrow will not be any better than Today, as far as Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, we can use these verses to mention to the lost that certainly their lives could end at any moment. And, who knows what the Lord might have in store for them? If a lost person feels the workings of the Holy Spirit, and he feels a Thirst for the Things of God, and if he has a Desire and a Heaven-sent Will to come to the Lord Jesus Christ – then, by all means, do it Today! However, we should never use 2Cor. 6:2 to instruct the Lost that, “The Lord Jesus may be coming to you today, for Today is the Day of Salvation. And if you do not heed His Call, then He may not ever come to you again. In fact, this may be the last chance that you have of ever being saved!” To me, any preacher or Church that presents a message such as this to the Lost, must also be presenting a God that is not sure of His Abilities and must not even be sure of who it is that He has designed to save.
The Accepted Time to Serve
Now, for just a few moments, let’s look at another way that we might apply 2Cor. 6:2. Let’s read the verse again: “(For he saith, I have hard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” I want to make two more primary points today. And what I want to attempt to make clear first, is that really, if you read the context surrounding this verse, it seems to me that the Apostle Paul is quoting this OT Scripture so that he can cause the Corinthians (and us as well) to understand that they (and we) are living in the Accepted Time to Serve. Remember that our text verse is a parenthetical statement. If you read 2Cor. 6:1, 3 in sequence, you would read it this way: “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain…Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:” Notice that the Apostle Paul talks about being workers in 2Cor. 6:1. And notice that he also, in the same verse, voices a concern, hoping that the Corinthians have not received the grace of God in vain. And then, in vv. 3-10, he goes on to speak of the ministry, and of the ways in which we can show ourselves approved in the Ministry of God.
So, I think that something that the Apostle Paul is teaching us here, is that we are living in the time accepted to serve the Lord. He quotes the OT Scripture to remind the Corinthians that the Lord has promised to Hear His People, and to Succor His People in the Day of their Salvation (or in the Duration of their Salvation). Now, with that OT Promise in mind, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation…” What a wonderful Promise that we have! What a wonderful opportunity has been given to us! The Lord has promised a Day of Salvation in which He will Hear and Succor His People! Now, the Corinthians have that great Privilege! And now, you and I have that same great privilege. We read of God’s command to make wise use of the time that is given us: “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Eph 5:14-21)
Do not go about living in such a way that some might wonder if we are workers together with him, or that others might question that we might have received the grace of God in vain. Instead, live your life in such a way that others will see you as a Worker in the Cause of Christ; and live your life in such a way that others will see the Grace of God in your Life. Do this, because Now is the Accepted Time! Tomorrow will not be a better day to serve the Lord – Now is the Accepted Time.
The Accepted Time to Save
The last point that I want to make concerns the Accepted Time of the Day of Salvation. You know, Solomon said, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…” (Eccl. 3:1-2.) I think that in reality, a better application of our text verse (instead of emphasizing the imminent doom that faces lost men and women if they don’t Repent and Believe) would be to Emphasize that the Lord is no Uncertain God; and as a Certain God, and as a Sovereign God, He has determined the Day of Salvation, and the Accepted Time to Save every one of His Elect. The Accepted Time of the Day of Salvation is actually dependent upon our Sovereign God, and not upon the fickle fancies of any of His created beings.
In fact, I think that this is very important to Emphasize to even the Lost. When you were Quickened by the Holy Spirit, and when you were first coming to the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, didn’t you rejoice in the knowledge that your Saviour and your God was Completely Capable and in Control? Isn’t it a good thing to teach the Lost that God is a Sovereign God and that He is in Control of the Day of your Salvation? Won’t the Lost feel in that declaration (if the Lord has decreed that they should be saved) a burning desire to Come to the Lord, for He must have certainly called them this very day!
I am sure that any application of 2Cor. 6:2 that serves to Exalt God and His Son Jesus Christ, while at the same time Debasing man and his abilities, is a good and proper application of the verse. For this reason, I believe that it is right and proper to see in this verse the facts that it is the Lord that has heard us in His time accepted. And it is the Lord that has succored us in the day of salvation. Therefore, it is the Lord’s Salvation, administered by the Lord, in the Time that is Appointed of the Lord. This is what we should be emphasizing to the Lost. God will save you, even today, because this is His Day, and Salvation is accomplished on His timetable!
Remember what the Lord told Zaccheus, “…This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Lk. 19:9-10.) Zaccheus would be saved that particular day, because that particular day, was the Accepted Time – not accepted or appointed by man, but by God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, we often times refer to the Samaritan Woman at the Well, and we often mention how that the Lord “…must needs go through Samaria.” (Jn. 4:4) We do this because we know, without a doubt, that that Woman at the Well could not have been saved without Jesus Christ. You see, Salvation comes when the Lord Comes – and only then. And when salvation comes, Jesus Christ comes without fail, and no force on earth or in Heaven can prevent Him and His salvation! We read in Zech. 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” So many people today, take 2Cor. 6:2 and present Jesus Christ to an individual as a Last-Chance Choice that they must make – now, before it’s too late! However, when our Saviour comes to us in the Day of His Salvation, He will come as our King cometh unto thee. And, He will come having salvation for us. There will be no Choice to make – He will Call, and we will Come. This will happen in His Appointed and Accepted time.
There is much that we can learn from studying 2Cor. 6:2. And there is much that we can teach others from this verse. But let us not be hasty and ascribe meaning to this verse only because so many others use it in a certain way. Religious men have often misused verses of the Bible to further their own misunderstandings and the way that they teach the Bible itself. Just because it makes a good emotional plea, and just because it can be used to incite a response from the Lost, is not cause for us to limit our understanding of 2Cor. 6:2. There is much to be learned here, for all of us, both the Saved and the Unsaved. We that are Saved can see that the Salvation that we have is Now, and that Now is the Accepted Time to Serve God, and to make Full Proof of our Service to Christ (see 2Tim. 4:5). And those that are Unsaved, need to hear that Salvation comes at the Time and the Discretion, and indeed at the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. No man can thwart Him when He comes – for He is sovereign over time and space and in all of the ways and powers of men and angels. And when He comes in the Accepted Time, no man can or would deny Him – for, indeed, what man that is Thirsty would turn from the Fountain of Living Waters?