Salvation title
©Douglas Beyer 2000


2 Corinthians 6:1-2

First Procrastinarian Church: Everyone's late!The services at First Procrastinarian Church begin when everybody gets there — sometimes at 8:30, but on good Sundays at 11:25. Next month the church has scheduled revival services with evangelist Billy Sunday. The church has over a thousand inactive members, but most of them haven't gotten around to joining. All they have to do to join is fill out an information form that arrives in the mail marked "open later." Right now the 1988 membership drive is in full swing.

The beauty of kicking the habit of punctuality is that you get to see how things turn out before you commit yourself. First Procrastinarian Church always has their New Year's Eve party sometime in June to see if the year was worth celebrating.

Their social action committee is currently protesting the war of 1812and demanding equal rights for women to vote. Their motto is never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. They are so good at procrastinating they don't have time to be good at anything else.

If I were preaching at First Procrastinarian Church I would choose as my text Ecclesiastes 11:4. "Do it now… Don't delay for better circumstances" (Living Bible).

Trying to get his workers to be more prompt, the Boss posted signs throughout his business with the slogan from Ecclesiastes: "Do it now!" A few weeks later his friends asked him how it was going. "Don't ask!" he groaned. "I don't even like to talk about it. The cashier skipped with five thousand dollars, the head accountant eloped the secretary and three typists asked for a raise."

"Do it now" is the right slogan only if you do right thing at right time. Correct timing of a decision is just as important as the decision itself. A farmer discovered that when his favorite mule became ill. He called the vet who prescribed some very large pills. The farmer looked at the pills and asked, "How can I possibly get those huge things down that mule's throat?" The vet replied, "That's easy. Just find a piece of pipe large enough for the pill to go through. Put one end of the pipe in the mule's mouth. Put the pill in the other end and blow. Before the mule knows what's happening, he'll swallow it. Seemed like a good idea. But the next day the farmer appeared at the vet's office looking very sick. The vet said, "You look awful. What happened?" The farmer said, "The mule blew first!"

Some things you have to do on time or not at all. Paul warned the people in Corinth: "As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8 to remind people of the opportunity they will miss if they don't do something now. God's favor and salvation are available not just "while supplies last," but only as long as the store is open. The day will come when his favor and salvation will be out of reach (See Luke 13:9; John 15:4-6; Romans 1:24, 26, 28). That's why Paul says, "we urge you." The word he used (parakaleo) is one of the names of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16,26). It means to beseech, exhort, comfort, entreat, invite, invoke. Paul strongly urges them to not to receive God's grace in vain because, like supermarket coupons, it has an expiration date. That's the bad news. The good news is that it has not yet expired. Now is…

The Time Of God's Favor

I can understand why people put off something bad, but why put off something good? If you were on death row, you might want to delay the day of execution; but why would you want to delay the day of pardon?

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. How can you turn your back on his favor? You have already won the lottery — the only lottery that really matters. Your debts of sin have been paid and canceled by the precious blood of Jesus. He freely offers you abundant and eternal life right now.

Do you think his favor is too good to be true? Take Jesus' word for it: it is true and it is good. All that God is, is available to the one who is available to all that God is. Friend, don't put it off another day or another hour. Now is the time of God's favor.

This text is often used to warn unbelievers of the danger of delaying a decision for Christ. A closer look, however, shows that Paul directed it to those he called "fellow workers" whom he urged, "not to receive God's grace in vain." The grace of God is not something you receive once and then forget. It is something to be used every day of your life. To neglect it is to receive God's grace in vain. Grace is not just being born again. Grace is living a new life. If grace does not make you gracious, then you have received it in vain. As God's fellow workers I urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. Now is the time of God's favor. And now is…

The Time Of God's Salvation

Time for action!It was Saturday morning and the family was sleeping in — everyone except little David, who was playing in the living room. Suddenly the stillness was broken by the striking of the clock: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. At the stroke of 15 it was too much for little David. Running to his family, he called, "Wake up! Wake up! It's later than it's ever been before."  In the words of Paul to the church at Rome, "Another reason for right living is this: you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of the Lord is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is far gone, the day of his return will soon be here. So quit the evil deeds of darkness and put on the armor of right living, as we who live in the daylight should!" (Romans 13:11-12 LB).

Some of you are saying, "Someday I will accept Christ as my Savior and follow him in baptism, but not today. I'm not ready. I've got to make some changes in my life first." Friend, you are making a terrible mistake. You are trying to do for God the very thing God wants to do for you. On your own you can never put your life together in a way that pleases him. Stop trying on your own. Start relying on him.

"Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of him."
(Joseph Hart, "Come, Ye Sinners")

For some of you it is not just that you don't feel you're good enough to be saved, but that you don't want to be good enough. Like Augustine you pray, in effect, "Lord, make me pure and caste and good but not yet." You would like God to save you just before you die. Meanwhile, you say, "I'm not ready." In effect, you are telling the Lord of heaven and earth to wait for you to make up your mind.

A man dreamed he attended a meeting where evil spirits were discussing the best way to bring about the damnation of human beings. One suggested they go forth and tell people that the Bible is false.

"A better way," argued another, "is to tell them that Jesus is not the Son of God but only a great teacher."

"No, let us tell them there is no God, no Savior, no heaven, no hell," insisted a third.

"My plan," declared the next, "is to tell them that the Bible is true, that Jesus is the Son of God, that there is a heaven and a hell but there is no hurry about believing this — and living it — tomorrow will do."

It is clear which of the plans Satan now finds most useful. "Boast not about tomorrow," says the ancient proverb, "for you know not what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).

"There is a time, we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.
There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God's patience and his wrath.
To pass that limit is to die--
To die as if by stealth;
It does not quench the beaming eye
Or pale the glow of health.
The conscience may be still at ease,
The spirit lithe and gay;
That which pleases still may please,
And care be thrust away.
But on that forehead God has set,
Indelibly a mark
Unseen by men, for men as yet
Are blind and in the dark.
Oh, where is this mysterious bourn
By which each path is crossed?
Beyond which God himself hath sworn
That he who goes is lost?
How far may we go on in sin?
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end, and where begin
The confines of despair?
The answer from the skies is sent,
'Ye that from God depart,
While it is called today, repent,
And harden not your heart!'"
(J. A. Alexander)

The saddest verse in the Bible was written by the weeping prophet Jeremiah who cried, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20 KJV). There is a time for everything and a time when time runs out. Friend, you can never come to Christ too soon because you don't know how soon it will be too late. Many who wait to be saved at the eleventh hour die at ten-thirty.

Friend, if you can find one place in the Bible that says, "Repent tomorrow," I'll eat it! It is always "Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your heart" (Hebrews 3:7-8). "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." To put off repentance till tomorrow means one less day to repent in and one more day to repent of.

"Come NOW, and let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).

If the walls and pews of the church sanctuary could speak, they would tell sad stories of countless souls now far, far from the Kingdom of God. God said, "Now!" They answered, "Later." And later became never.

If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, who? If not, why not? "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Now, Now, Now, NOW!

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