2 Corinthians 6
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
This is from a sermon by a British preacher, Charles Spurgeon. I modernized the English.
The great fault of most men is that they put things off until ‘tomorrow’. It’s not that they are determined to be damned, but that they are determined to be saved tomorrow. It’s not that they reject Christ forever, but that they reject Christ today; and really they might as well reject him forever, as to continue to always reject him “now.” Sinner, let me put your “now” before you as a man, that is, as it actually is. You must soon pass away and will be forgotten, like the flowers that withered in autumn, and the insects that flitted through the summer hours. Now, then, is your time to think about eternity, and to prepare yourself to meet your God. “Get an education first, Jim,” said a careful father—”settle on a career – there’s plenty of time to think about religion.” Spoken like a fool who didn’t know that infinite wisdom has commanded us to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Would you give God the last little bit of your life? Beware! You may not live to old age, for many candles are blown out as soon as they’re lit. Would you, as a lamb, be Satan’s? and when you are withered and wornout, will you bring the lean skeleton of your doddering weakness and lay it on God’s altar? May this never be! Let the flower of life be picked in the bud and placed in the hand of Jesus. God grant you grace to seek him in the days of your youth, for the promise is, “They that seek me early shall find me.” As a man, I charge you since there is only a “day of salvation” before the sun goes down and the black night of eternal ruin shall come down on you, take hold of the hope that is now put before you.
As a sinner, I also address you concerning this “now.” “Now is the day of salvation: you need it now. God is angry with you now. You’re condemned already. It is not only the torment of hell that you have to dread, but if you had your senses, you would tremble at your present situation. Now you are without God, now without hope, now a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, now dead in your trespasses and sins, now in danger of the wrath to come, you need a Savior this morning, young man. Young woman, I’m not urging you to store medicine for the disease of twenty years from now, it is the cancer of today of which I would have you cured this morning. It is not about a danger down the road, which shall run you down when you grow old, that I warn you, but that now you stumble on the brink of a precipice. Now, therefore, you need to be saved!
But here comes the beauty of the text I’ve chosen. As a sinner under the preaching of the gospel, I urge you to recall that “Now is the acceptable time.” The majority of my unconverted hearers do not believe this. I know what you are saying. You say that, “I’ve had many thoughts about religion,” but why don’t you believe in Christ now? “Well,” you will say, “I will try to think seriously about it.” But what will be the result of your serious thinking? After you have thought and thought, do you really imagine that you will think yourself into salvation? If the gospel command were “Think, and be saved,” I would cheerfully give you a month of thinking; but the command is, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and “Now is the acceptable time.” You will say, “But, preacher, I don’t think such things should be done in a hurry.” A hurry! What did King David say? “I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.” A hurry? when a man is on the brink of damnation and the edge of the grave! Do not talk of hurry, preacher? When it is a case of life and death, let us run as swiftly as a flash of lightning. “Well, but I don’t feel prepared yet.” Do you think that disobeying God will make you more prepared? If you’ve lived a month without believing, you have lived a month in sin; do you think when you have sinned even more, you will be better prepared to obey the command which comes to you, “Believe now in the Lord Jesus Christ”? “Yes, but my heart feels so hard.” Dear friend, do you think you will be able to soften it between this week and next week, or next month, or next year? Is there anything in the Word of God which leads you to believe that you can in any way soften your own heart? Is not that a mighty work of grace? and when the text says, “Now is the acceptable time,” doesn’t this mean that even if you do have a hard heart, that it is still true that now is the acceptable time? “Well, but,” someone will say, “I don’t feel convinced enough.” That is to say, dear friend, you really do not think that “now is the acceptable time.” You think that another time, when you get more convinced, will be the acceptable time. This is the quarrel between God and you. He says “Now;” you say, “No, no, it can’t be true; when I am more convinced, then will be the time.” My dear friend, aren’t you altogether mistaken? The likelihood is that you will never be more convinced than now, if you have been brought to think about these things now. Your heart will certainly grow harder over time; but softer, never. I never heard the case of a man whose heart was made softer by delaying. “Yes, but I would like to go home and pray about it.” The text does not say it will be the acceptable time when you go home and pray; it says, “Now,” and as I find that you are “now” in your seat here, then “now is the acceptable time.” If you trust Christ now, you will be accepted: if right now you are enabled to throw yourself simply into the hands of Christ, then now is the acceptable time between God and you. “Well,” someone else will say, “it seems strange to think that I will be saved this morning: really, it must take a little more time than that?” The text says, “Now is the acceptable time;” it does not say, “There is an acceptable time lasting for a period of weeks, and months, in which we work ourselves up into a state of grace,” but “now,” in a moment, acceptance is given. “But do you really mean it,” someone says, “that I, as I am, trusting Christ this morning, without any previous preparation whatever, will be accepted?” My dear friend, it is not what I mean; it is what the Scripture means. “Now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” The moment a sinner trusts in Christ, he is saved, and if you trust him now, it is the day of salvation for you.
Will you kindly look at the text—just open your Bibles right now, and look at it—you, especially, who are unconverted, whether my hearers or readers? There are two signposts pointing to it: two beholds. “Behold, now is the acceptable time.” Now, stop and look at that. Do you believe it? Say “Yes,” or “No.” There is another “Behold”—”Behold, now is the day of salvation.” Do you believe that? I’ve asked you to look at the text because I want you to look it in the face, and, if you dare, say “That is a lie.” No, you do not dare to say that. Then if you do not dare to say that, then in a single moment all those excuses you make about a hard heart, about not being convinced enough, about praying, reading, preparing, and so on, must go away. Now, just as the clock ticks – not as an event to take place over a quarter of an hour – but in one moment the whole thing is done: “Now is the day of salvation.” And what do you say to this? Does God the Holy Spirit now lead your soul to say, “Gracious Lord, I trust my soul with You now”? Oh! it is all done. Fly up to heaven, angels! bear the tidings, tell the spirits who look down anxiously watching for the spreading kingdom of the Savior, that another heir of glory is born, another prodigal son or daughter has returned to their Father’s house. Now! now! now! O God, let conquering grace get the victory! How my soul has longed over this text! and now when I get at it, I can’t handle it as well as I would like to; but, if I could, I would take some of you by the hand—imagine that I have your hand now—and I would say this to you, I may never have another opportunity of preaching this text in your hearing, because you may be gone before there is another season to hear. “Will you be made whole?” “Can you believe?” “If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” Old Nabal said to David, “There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master.” Though a bad man, Nabal spoke a good word here without knowing it. Are there not some here who will break away from their old master? Are there not some who would rather be servants of Christ and no longer servants of the devil? O souls, if God has made you willing to break with Satan, to lay hold on Christ, this is not a day in which Christ will deny you, for he has expressly said, now he will accept you, for “Now is the acceptable time.” “But, preacher, I’m a prostitute, deep in sin.” Still “Now is the acceptable time.” “Ah! but I’ve grown grey, sir, I am seventy or eighty, and have lived in sin all these years.” Yes, but “Now is the acceptable time.” Do you believe it or not? “Oh! I have refused the invitation a thousand times!” Yes, but still, still the abundant grace of God says, “Now, is the acceptable time.” I would to God that some of you would decide this very morning, this very morning in the seat where you’re now sitting. Now, O Spirit of the living God, awaken those whom you have chosen and set apart for eternal life.