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‘Today’ is the Day of Salvation: The Folly of Waiting for Tomorrow

‘Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.’

- 2 Corinthians 6:2 -


Leonardo da Vinci’s religious convictions are lost to history. Yet Renaissance Italy was Catholic, so historians assume his beliefs matched his times. All we know for sure is that da Vinci was driven and industrious. He writes: “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” And ‘do’ da Vinci did, excelling as an architect, engineer, painter, and inventor. He redeemed the times, as the apostle Paul might say. And like the diligent da Vinci, Scripture calls Christians to the ‘urgency of doing’ when we go into the world and warn the lost to seize ‘today’ as their day of salvation. But why the rush?

 

First off, all people ought to rush to salvation because Jesus Christ commands it. At the launch of His Galilean ministry, Jesus declares: “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Notice how repentance precedes belief. Therefore, the Lord’s apostles ‘went out and preached that men should repent’ (Mark 6:12). Only then could the people truly turn to Christ. The word ‘repent’ sounds archaic to modern ears, but it is always the first step to salvation. GotQuestions.com says repentance is crucial as it means ‘to change your mind from embrace of sin and rejection of Christ to rejection of sin and embrace of Christ.’ Notice the 180-reversal?


Before ascending into heaven, Jesus reminds His own “that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:46-47). Beginning in Genesis 3, Scripture predicts that a suffering substitute would once for all atone for every wrong committed against God. This came to fruition in Christ. Therefore, what begins with Peter telling Jerusalem: “Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19), turns into Paul telling all Athens that “having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now commanding men that everyone everywhere should repent” (17:30). The gospel goal was always salvation for Jew and Gentile alike, and it always begins with the repentance of those who hear and believe.



In his typical fashion, Paul holds nothing back when he preaches to Athens. He says God “has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He determined, having furnished proof to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Paul informs the Gentiles that God has confirmed Christ’s atoning sacrifice by fulfilling Old Testament prophecy i.e. not giving His ‘Holy One over to see corruption’ (Ps. 16:10). Therefore, the saving way is now open to all who turn to Christ, but it will not last forever, as God had appointed a time when history will end.


While exiled in Babylon, Daniel has visions of a final evil world ruler ‘waging war with the saints and overcoming them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was given in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the season arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom’ (7:21-22). The revelation petrifies Daniel, yet he faithfully records it to aid the salvation of the lost in the future. Likewise, while Paul sympathizes with the terror of final judgment, he begs the Roman church ‘to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed’ (13:11). Both then and now, believers safe in Christ are to urgently share the gospel before God shuts the books on redemptive history.


Time and time again, Jesus entreats His disciples to “work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). Having seen mankind’s fall into sin and death in Eden, Christ knows better than anyone that ‘it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment’ (Heb. 9:27). So He tells His followers to ‘proclaim the favorable year of the Lord’ (Luke 4:19) in a world where hope of eternal life ends at the grave. This also explains Paul’s evangelistic urgency when he asks: how will they ‘believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?’ (Rom. 10:14).



The inevitability of death ought to spark an interest in eternity as we are but ‘a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away’ (James 4:14). When a man asks Jesus to arbitrate an inheritance, Jesus responds with the parable of the rich fool. He tells of a wealthy farmer scheming to build bigger barns to hoard his crop. The crowd likely thinks the farmer is blessed of God and wise among men, but the punchline comes when God rebukes the farmer as his life expires: “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you prepared?” (Luke 12:20). You see, the farmer foolishly failed to invest in heaven before death claimed him.


From Peter’s time until today, those enslaved to their own lusts mock gospel urgency. They dismiss Scripture, delay repentance, and lazily delude themselves that ‘since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’ (2 Pet. 3:4). The Pharaoh of Exodus is one such mocker. He dances around repentance during God’s plagues, hardening his heart by rejecting God’s gracious warnings of greater judgment. With this in mind, Paul warns that there is a point of no return when God gives the stubbornly rebellious over ‘to an unfit mind’ (Rom. 1:28) that leads to foolishness now, and, one day, eternal damnation. The tragedy is that when God’s goodness is removed, sinners are stuck with minds incapable of reasoning their way back to salvation.



If we fall prey to false religion or atheism - ‘deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons’ (1 Tim. 4:1) - we risk searing our consciences and growing numb to God. Therefore, the writer of Hebrews warns that “today if you hear [God’s] voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me”’ (3:7-9). And what did the ungrateful, rebellious Israelites gain from their hardness? Only sorrow. God swore in His wrath that they would perish in the desert, forfeiting earthly and eternal rest by dying outside the Promised Land.


Let’s end back at Acts 3. See how Peter promises “times of refreshing” (19) when he calls all Jerusalem to repent and turn to Christ. Having tasted the joy of knowing Christ in this life, Peter’s spirit burns to proclaim God’s redemptive plan for the rest of history. Once the last of God's elect repents, Peter promises, God will “send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouths of His holy prophets from ancient time” (20-21). Then, and only then, will true restoration arrive with Christ’s earthly kingdom. So may we hasten that great and glorious day by preaching God’s gospel of mercy with the urgency it deserves.



All Scripture quotations are from the Legacy Standard Bible


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