2 Corinthians 6:2
(For he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored you: behold, now is the accepted time…
Before Christ came, religious privileges were with Israel. The Gentiles walked in darkness through "times of ignorance." But with Christ came tidings of great joy to all people. And when the Holy Spirit fell on Gentiles as well as on Jews who heard the gospel, it was evident that a new age had come. This is the "acceptable year of the Lord," and is the dispensation of grace intended to continue till the second coming of Christ. It is the world's great opportunity. So it is on the large scale; but when we take groups of men and individuals, the scale of time is proportionally reduced. Nations miss opportunities which may never return. Congregations have a bright season, a time of visitation, which may come to a lamentable end. The Lord may withdraw his favour; may even fight against an unfaithful Church with the sword of his mouth. Shorter still is the day of salvation for the individual.
1. THE VALUE OF OPPORTUNITY. In affairs of this life it is fully recognized. It is the dictate of worldly wisdom to wait for and to seize the fit occasion. Does a speculator watch for a rising market? or a capitalist look out for a good investment, or a politician aspire to office? Such men keenly watch their opportunities and must not let them slip.
"There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries;
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures." All this is quite as true of spiritual advantage. There is an opportunity to be seized, a tide to be taken at the flood. There is a day which must become the birthday of the soul, the peace day of the conscience, or loss will be suffered - eternal loss. There is an emergency on which all the future secretly depends, and which, if one let slip, he may wring his hands and curse his folly, but will never find a remedy.
II. INDICATIONS OF OPPORTUNITY. The favourable day for spiritual life is not so easily recognized as that of worldly advantage. In external aspect it is as other days. A preacher may speak to you whom you have often heard and not heeded. The view of truth which is to carry you captive may be one which has often been pressed on you to little purpose. But somehow you are moved; you catch the urgency of now; and you listen and believe as you never listened or believed before. So that common day becomes a beginning of days and a spiritual epoch to you. There are, however, indications or hints of a critical time which watchful spirits may perceive. Often it is preceded by sickness, sorrow, or disappointment, making one more thoughtful and more wistful about the things unseen. Or there springs up, one hardly knows how, a sense of inward weariness and want. Conscience is uneasy, and the heart cannot rest. Then some word in season falls on the ear, or looks out of a book or a friend's letter. These things indicate opportunity. Miss it not. Embrace the gospel at once. Receive not the grace of God in vain.
III. PENALTY OF MISSING OPPORTUNITY. The wasted day can never be recalled. Lost property may be recovered; lost friendships regained; but the lost year never comes back. It was a sign of wisdom in the young Roman emperor that he grieved when a day had been wasted. Perdidi diem! But such tasks as he had in hand might still be accomplished by redoubled diligence on the morrow. Not so with him who wastes the day of salvation, Perdidi vitam! The day of grace neglected is followed by the night of doom.
IV. THE APPEAL FOR IMMEDIATE COMPLIANCE WITH THE GOSPEL.
1. Let gratitude move you. The God of grace calls you to him; not exacting his rights and dues from you as his creature and his subject, but with open hands extending pardon and countless benefits for time and eternity, freely. "Now then," exclaimed an old English preacher, "what is more suitable to ingenuous gratitude than to embrace the season of God's bestowing so free a favour? Surely the least we can do is to accept of that God that accepteth of us; of him who is fall of beauty and rewards, while we have nothing to bring to him but deformity and beggary."
2. Let a proper self-regard move you. Why should you lose your own soul? Why will ye die? It is more pleasant for the preacher to speak as from the gate of heaven; but it is necessary to cry aloud sometimes as from the mouth of hell. Turn ye! Get you back! Seek the Lord, and do it now! - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: (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.)