“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 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.” 2 Corinthians 6:1–2

Most people I know do not like to be late to an appointment. I am sure those who are left waiting for you do not like it either. There is always a nagging sense that when you are late you rob the other person of their valuable time. Conscience dictates an effusive apology is in order. But there are some who have no compunctions about being late and pass it off as merely “unavoidable.” In the extreme, the very thought of being “fashionably late” is actually being arrogant.

In the context of our witnessing, there are some sinners who are apt to voice a rather common objection, “I am afraid I cannot get saved because it is too late for me.” There are all kinds of thoughts that can prompt such a response. Perhaps, for the first time, the sinner is seeing his sin in all its vile, soul-fouling reality and he cannot possibly conceive that God’s mercy is still extended to him. Perhaps he has heard tell of “the unpardonable sin” and thinks he must have committed it, whatever it is. Maybe he knows himself all too well and cannot trust his sin-hardened heart. Then again, maybe he is merely being arrogant by self-congratulatorily pronouncing his supercilious lateness to any Gospel benefits. Are there Bible verses which speak to any of these responses?

Paul’s words to the Corinthians are a good starting place as you encounter this objection. He is concerned about the purity of the Gospel among them. Some had brought in a different “gospel” by mixing the truths of grace with some form of works for salvation. This was a doctrinal issue that is extremely significant. Only by grace are you saved, not of works. Mixing the Gospel with error makes it an alien gospel and anything but the good news God has ordained.

Paul goes on to quote Isaiah 49:8, in verse 2, as applicable to their situation. Essentially he admonishes them to get the doctrine of the Gospel straight because there is a window of time in which God is declaring the day of salvation. They need to grasp the truth and they need to be bearers of this truth to a lost world, because this is the day of grace. Isaiah was encouraging God’s people to trust in His mercy and covenant loyalty. Paul is applying this same truth to all who will hear the Gospel and all those who will tell forth the Gospel. Be busy while it is yet “day.”

His last words stand out, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” God knows the limits He has placed on this Church Age, this Age of Grace. He also knows the limits that fall upon all men; our days are in His hands. When God declares that it is the “day of salvation” who are we to declare it is not?

Other verses back up the claim that while you still have life and breath you still have the opportunity to repent. Our Lord tells the parable of the laborers in Matthew 20:1ff, “And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’” Also, in John 6:37, Jesus declares, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Romans 10:13 reads, “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Even in the Old Testament there are verses of gracious invitation from our Lord. Isaiah 55:6 advises, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah’s advice is to repent in faith and obey God’s command to call on Him while He is near! Do not delay repentance. Do not continue in sin. Do not defy God! God’s patience will not always be. There will come a day of judgment (Genesis 6:3) as days have come before. The author of Hebrews reminds us that “it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). While you have breath you have hope.

There are some who have heard of the “unpardonable sin.” They have a real fear that they may have committed it, whatever “it” is. Even some misguided Christians worry whether they have committed a sin that God will not forgive. Matthew 12:22ff and Mark 3:28f are where the unpardonable sin is brought up. The unforgiveable sin was a very unique sin which could only be committed while Christ was ministering during His earthly life. The sin was attributing the Holy Spirit’s power by which Jesus wrought His miracles to Satan. It was blasphemy, and “it shall not be forgiven.” The only “unpardonable sin” one can commit today is dying without faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:7f, 4:7). Trust and obey.