This Is the Day of Salvation!
“Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.”—2 CORINTHIANS 6:2.
1. What is needed for an approved standing with God and Christ?
JEHOVAH has set a day of judgment for mankind. (Acts 17:31) If it is to be a day of salvation for us, we need an approved standing with him and his appointed Judge, Jesus Christ. (John 5:22) Such a standing calls for conduct in harmony with God’s Word and faith that impels us to help others to be Jesus’ true disciples.
2. Why is the world of mankind alienated from God?
2 Because of inherited sin, the world of mankind is alienated from God. (Romans 5:12; Ephesians 4:17, 18) Therefore, those to whom we preach can gain salvation only if they become reconciled to him. The apostle Paul made this clear when writing to Christians in Corinth. Let us examine 2 Corinthians 5:10–6:10 to see what Paul said about judgment, reconciliation with God, and salvation.
“We Keep Persuading Men”
3. How did Paul “keep persuading men,” and why should we do this today?
3 Paul linked judgment with preaching when he wrote: “We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done through the body, according to the things he has practiced, whether it is good or vile. Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord, we keep persuading men.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, 11) The apostle ‘kept persuading men’ by preaching the good news. What about us? Since we are facing the end of this wicked system of things, we should do our utmost to persuade others to take the steps needed to gain Jesus’ favorable judgment and the approval of the Source of salvation, Jehovah God.
4, 5. (a) Why should we not boast about our accomplishments in Jehovah’s service? (b) How was it that Paul boasted “for God”?
4 If God has blessed our ministry, however, we should not boast. In Corinth some were puffed up with pride in themselves or in other men, thus causing divisions in the congregation. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:3, 4) Alluding to this situation, Paul wrote: “We are not again recommending ourselves to you, but giving you an inducement for boasting in respect to us, that you may have an answer for those who boast over the outward appearance but not over the heart. For if we were out of our mind, it was for God; if we are sound in mind, it is for you.” (2 Corinthians 5:12, 13) The haughty ones were not interested in the congregation’s unity and spiritual welfare. They wanted to boast in outward appearances instead of helping fellow believers to develop good hearts before God. Hence, Paul reproved the congregation and later stated: “He that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.”—2 Corinthians 10:17.
5 Did not Paul himself boast? Some may have thought so because of what he said about being an apostle. But he had to boast “for God.” He boasted about his credentials as an apostle, so that the Corinthians would not be lost to Jehovah. Paul did this to bring them back to God because false apostles were turning them in the wrong direction. (2 Corinthians 11:16-21; 12:11, 12, 19-21; 13:10) Yet, Paul was not constantly trying to impress everyone with his accomplishments.—Proverbs 21:4.
Does Christ’s Love Compel You?
6. How should Christ’s love affect us?
6 As a true apostle, Paul taught others about Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. It had an impact on Paul’s life, for he wrote: “The love the Christ has compels us, because this is what we have judged, that one man died for all; so, then, all had died; and he died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15) What love Jesus showed in giving his life for us! Surely that should be a compelling force in our lives. Gratitude to Jesus for giving his life in our behalf should move us to zealous activity in proclaiming the good news of the salvation provided by Jehovah through his beloved Son. (John 3:16; compare Psalm 96:2.) Is “the love the Christ has” compelling you to have a zealous share in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work?—Matthew 28:19, 20.
7. What does it mean to “know no man according to the flesh”?
7 By using their lives in a way that shows gratitude for what Christ did in their behalf, anointed ones ‘live no longer for themselves, but for him.’ “Consequently,” said Paul, “from now on we know no man according to the flesh. Even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, certainly we now know him so no more.” (2 Corinthians 5:16) Christians must not view people in a fleshly way, perhaps favoring Jews over Gentiles or rich over poor. Anointed ones “know no man according to the flesh,” for it is their spiritual relationship with fellow believers that is important. Those who ‘knew Christ according to the flesh’ were not just the humans who saw Jesus while he was on earth. Even if some hoping in the Messiah once looked at Christ on the basis of his flesh, they were no longer to do so. He gave his body as a ransom and was resurrected as a life-giving spirit. Others raised to heavenly life would give up their fleshly bodies without ever having seen Jesus Christ in the flesh.—1 Corinthians 15:45, 50; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5.
8. How have individuals come to be “in union with Christ”?
8 Still addressing anointed ones, Paul adds: “If anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, look! new things have come into existence.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) To be “in union with Christ” means to enjoy a oneness with him. (John 17:21) This relationship came into existence for the person when Jehovah drew him to his Son and begot that person with holy spirit. As a spirit-begotten son of God, he was “a new creation” with the prospect of sharing with Christ in the heavenly Kingdom. (John 3:3-8; 6:44; Galatians 4:6, 7) Such anointed Christians have been given a grand privilege of service.
“Become Reconciled to God”
9. What has God done to make reconciliation with him possible?
9 How Jehovah has favored the “new creation”! Says Paul: “All things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of the reconciliation, namely, that God was by means of Christ reconciling a world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and he committed the word of the reconciliation to us.” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) Mankind has been alienated from God since Adam sinned. But Jehovah lovingly took the initiative in opening the way of reconciliation through Jesus’ sacrifice.—Romans 5:6-12.
10. To whom did Jehovah commit the ministry of reconciliation, and what have they done to carry it out?
10 Jehovah has committed the ministry of reconciliation to the anointed, so Paul could say: “We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’” (2 Corinthians 5:20) In ancient times, ambassadors were dispatched mainly during periods of hostility to see if warfare could be averted. (Luke 14:31, 32) Since the sinful world of mankind is alienated from God, he has sent his anointed ambassadors forth to inform people of his terms for reconciliation. As substitutes for Christ, anointed ones beg: “Become reconciled to God.” This entreaty is a merciful urging to seek peace with God and accept the salvation he makes possible through Christ.
11. Through faith in the ransom, who ultimately attain a righteous standing before God?
11 All humans who exercise faith in the ransom can become reconciled to God. (John 3:36) Paul says: “The one [Jesus] who did not know sin he [Jehovah] made to be sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness by means of him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) The perfect man Jesus was the sin offering for all of Adam’s offspring who are delivered from inherent sinfulness. They become “God’s righteousness” by means of Jesus. This righteousness, or righteous standing before God, comes first to Christ’s 144,000 joint heirs. During his Thousand Year Reign, a righteous standing as perfect humans will come to the earthly children of the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ. He will uplift them to a righteous standing in perfection so that they may prove faithful to God and receive the gift of everlasting life.—Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 14:1; 20:4-6, 11-15.
“The Especially Acceptable Time”
12. What important ministry is being carried out by Jehovah’s ambassadors and envoys?
12 For salvation, we must act in harmony with Paul’s words: “Working together with him [Jehovah], we also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose. For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.’ Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1, 2) Jehovah’s anointed ambassadors and his envoys, the “other sheep,” do not accept their heavenly Father’s undeserved kindness and miss its purpose. (John 10:16) By their upright conduct and zealous ministry in this “acceptable time,” they seek divine favor and are informing earth’s inhabitants that this is “the day of salvation.”
13. What is the substance of Isaiah 49:8, and how was it first fulfilled?
13 Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8, which reads: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘In a time of goodwill I have answered you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you; and I kept safeguarding you that I might give you as a covenant for the people, to rehabilitate the land, to bring about the repossessing of the desolated hereditary possessions.’” This prophecy was first fulfilled when the people of Israel were freed from captivity in Babylon and later returned to their desolate homeland.—Isaiah 49:3, 9.
14. How was Isaiah 49:8 fulfilled in the case of Jesus?
14 In further fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jehovah gave his “servant” Jesus as “a light of the nations, that [God’s] salvation may come to be to the extremity of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6, 8; compare Isaiah 42:1-4, 6, 7; Matthew 12:18-21.) The “time of goodwill,” or “acceptable time,” evidently applied to Jesus while he was on earth. He prayed, and God “answered” him. That proved to be “a day of salvation” for Jesus because he maintained perfect integrity and thus “became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.”—Hebrews 5:7, 9; John 12:27, 28.
15. Since when have spiritual Israelites endeavored to prove worthy of God’s undeserved kindness, and with what objective?
15 Paul applies Isaiah 49:8 to anointed Christians, entreating them ‘not to miss the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness’ by failing to seek his goodwill during the “acceptable time” and the “day of salvation” that he provides. Paul adds: “Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) Since Pentecost 33 C.E., spiritual Israelites have endeavored to prove worthy of God’s undeserved kindness so that the “acceptable time” would be “a day of salvation” for them.
‘Recommending Ourselves as God’s Ministers’
16. Under what trying circumstances did Paul recommend himself as God’s minister?
16 Some men associated with the Corinthian congregation were not proving worthy of God’s undeserved kindness. They slandered Paul in an effort to destroy his apostolic authority, although he avoided “giving any cause for stumbling.” He certainly recommended himself as God’s minister “by the endurance of much, by tribulations, by cases of need, by difficulties, by beatings, by prisons, by disorders, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times without food.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-5) Later, Paul reasoned that if his opponents were ministers, he was “more outstandingly one” because of suffering more imprisonments, beatings, dangers, and privations.—2 Corinthians 11:23-27.
17. (a) By displaying what qualities can we recommend ourselves as ministers of God? (b) What are “the weapons of righteousness”?
17 Like Paul and his companions, we can recommend ourselves as God’s ministers. How? “By purity,” or chasteness, and by acting in harmony with accurate Bible knowledge. We can recommend ourselves “by long-suffering,” patiently enduring wrong or provocation, and “by kindness” as we do helpful things for others. Moreover, we can recommend ourselves as ministers of God by accepting guidance by his spirit, displaying “love free from hypocrisy,” speaking truthfully, and relying on him for power to carry out the ministry. Interestingly, Paul also proved his ministerial status “through the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” In ancient warfare, the right hand usually wielded the sword while the left held the shield. In waging spiritual warfare against false teachers, Paul did not employ weapons of the sinful flesh—deviousness, trickery, deceit. (2 Corinthians 6:6, 7; 11:12-14; Proverbs 3:32) He used righteous “weapons,” or means, for furthering true worship. So should we.
18. If we are God’s ministers, how will we comport ourselves?
18 If we are God’s ministers, we will comport ourselves as did Paul and his coworkers. We will act like Christians whether honored or disrespected. Bad reports about us will not stop our preaching work, nor will we become haughty if reported on favorably. We will speak the truth and may gain recognition for godly works. When in deadly peril under enemy assault, we will trust in Jehovah. And we will accept discipline with gratitude.—2 Corinthians 6:8, 9.
19. How is it possible to ‘make many rich’ spiritually?
19 Ending his discussion about the ministry of reconciliation, Paul spoke of himself and his associates “as sorrowing but ever rejoicing, as poor but making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:10) While those ministers had reason to sorrow over their afflictions, they had inner joy. They were materially poor, but they ‘made many rich’ spiritually. In fact, they ‘possessed all things’ because their faith brought them spiritual riches—even the prospect of becoming heavenly sons of God. And they had a rich and happy life as Christian ministers. (Acts 20:35) Like them, we can ‘make many rich’ by sharing in the ministry of reconciliation right now—in this day of salvation!
Trust in Salvation by Jehovah
20. (a) What was Paul’s earnest desire, and why was there no time to waste? (b) What marks the day of salvation in which we are now living?
20 When Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians in about 55 C.E., only some 15 years remained for the Jewish system of things. The apostle earnestly wanted Jews and Gentiles to become reconciled to God through Christ. That was a day of salvation, and there was no time to waste. Well, we have been in a corresponding conclusion of a system of things since 1914. The global work of Kingdom preaching now under way marks this as the day of salvation.
21. (a) What yeartext has been chosen for 1999? (b) What should we be doing in this day of salvation?
21 People of all nations need to hear about God’s provision for salvation through Jesus Christ. There is no time for delay. Paul wrote: “Look! Now is the day of salvation.” Those words of 2 Corinthians 6:2 will be the 1999 yeartext of Jehovah’s Witnesses. How fitting, for we face something far worse than the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple! Just ahead is the end of this entire system of things, involving everyone on earth. Now—not tomorrow—is the time to act. If we believe that salvation belongs to Jehovah, if we love him, and if we value eternal life, we will not miss the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness. With a heartfelt desire to honor Jehovah, we will prove by word and deed that we really mean it when we exclaim: “Look! Now is the day of salvation.”
How Would You Answer?
□ Why is reconciliation with God vitally important?
□ Who are the ambassadors and the envoys engaged in the ministry of reconciliation?
□ How can we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers?
□ What does the 1999 yeartext of Jehovah’s Witnesses mean to you?
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Like Paul, are you zealously preaching and helping others to become reconciled to God?
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In this day of salvation, are you among the multitudes becoming reconciled to Jehovah God?