Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
August 21, 2016
Central Passage
Matthew 5:13-16
Description

SALT AND LIGHT

You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

          Jesus referred to His followers as salt and light.  Salt, obviously, flavors and preserves food.  And it definitely influences the taste of food.  So like salt…Jesus intended that Christians flavor and preserve the society in which they live…the entire world for that matter.  So, are we doing that?  Are we salting the world with the blessing of salvation that we received from God with what Jesus did for us on the Cross?

          Light, of course, illuminates a course of direction and keeps people from stumbling over otherwise unseen hazards.  Christians are supposed to be such a light…which in a spiritual sense means that they’re to be a visible manifestation of Jesus Christ and His teachings.  So, are we helping light up the world for all to see both the Jesus teaching and the Holy Spirit that resides within us?

          Satan and evil can’t stand the kind of Holy Spirit-endowed salt and light that Jesus spoke about.  When the weakest Christian on the planet becomes a fiery flame for God…he or she can torch Satan to the point where he has nowhere to run to…and nowhere to hide.  So break out the salt and the light in the sense Jesus was talking about…and there’s no obstacle or barricade Satan can build or throw up that will stop you.

          With His reference to salt and light…Jesus actually gave us a formula for turning this world upside down for Him.

          In His Sermon on the Mount…the Beatitudes provided us the elements necessary for a truly Christian life.  In the next section Jesus dealt with the influence that can be exerted by a Christian…such pureness of heart and so forth.  And salt was…and is an example of such influence.

          In ancient times salt was seen as a necessity of life.  Because of its seasoning and preservative qualities… it was one of the most highly prized minerals.  In fact, in many societies it was so highly valued that it was used for money.  The English word salary is derived from the Latin word solarium…which refers payments of salt made to Roman soldiers.

          Herod’s temple had a chamber of salt for ceremonial use…such as for the kosher practices of Jews.  And ancient armies often sprinkled salt throughout a conquered city as a curse against it being re-inhabited.  It meant the city had been separated from its past.

          Elisha used salt to purify the water of Jericho.  In 2 Kings 2:19-22 we’re told that “…the people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”  “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.  So they brought it to him.  Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water.  Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’”  And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.

          In the ancient world it was also customary to rub a child with salt when he or she was born.  The prophet, speaking for God and comparing Israel to being an adulterous wife, said the following in Ezekiel 16:4: “On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.”

          These ancient texts…and knowledge of them by His audience…was the reason why Jesus used them in making symbolic comments to His followers.  We’re told in Leviticus 2:13 and Ezekiel 43:24 that salt was used to flavor the offerings and sacrifices to God.  So is it any wonder that in Romans 12:1, Paul wrote: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”

          In other words, Paul was saying that to become a Christian a person must receive the saving salt…which is the righteousness of our Savior.  In order for a life to be a living sacrifice for God…it must be preserved by…and seasoned with the righteousness of Christ.

          Salt also represents friendship…a covenant relationship.  In Numbers 18:19, God said to Aaron: “Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings sent to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share.  It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD for both you and your offspring.”

          When Jesus told His followers they were the salt of the earth…He was telling them that their witness of Him would influence the lives of other people for the kingdom…and that it would season and preserve them for eternal life.

          Salt changes things…adds flavor to things.  So if you use the salt of influence that Jesus spoke of…it will flavor another person…a community…a state…a nation and a world.  But salt is of no value if it never leaves the shaker…if that salt shaker on the table is simply used for decoration.

          The church is God’s table…and Christians are the salt shakers that can be used to either decorate the table or flavor the food of salvation being offered through Jesus Christ.  So is your shaker still full…or are you, hopefully, using it to flavor your spheres of influence?

          We actually deny the Christian salt function when we fail to mingle with people who are lost.  To deny the Christian salt function to others is to deny the principles of the kingdom of God…because, although we’re not to embrace the evils of the society in which we live…we’re not to draw away from the culture either.  We’re not of the world…but we live in the world.  And if we don’t flavor it with the aroma of Christ for those who are perishing…who will?

          Jesus said to His followers...”You are the salt.”  It was an emphatic statement.  He didn’t say you ought to be…and He didn’t say you might be.  He said you are…the implication being that you’re either the salt or you’re the world.

          When Christians see the corruption in the world…the disintegration of life at every point…they truly understand that the only way to arrest that corruption is with the salt of God’s love and His word.

          Salt witnessing is about showing true friendship…the friendship of Jesus…and love is the main ingredient in what is a true and lasting friendship.  When love fills the heart of a Christian…it will flow out to others.  A true Christian’s love is as broad as the universe…and it’s in harmony with that of the God’s angel workers.  Love…and only love…makes a Christian’s influence the salt of the earth.

          Lot’s wife she became a pillar of salt because she wanted to be part of the world.  Christians are definitely not called to be pillars of salt.  They are, instead, called to be the salt of the earth.

          Light as a form of energy is always moving.  When light energy ceases to move…it has been absorbed by matter and is no longer light.  Light is also symbolic of divine presence…which is why Jesus said He was…and is the light of the world.

          In John 8:12, Jesus said the following: “He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  And in Psalm 27:1, the psalmist wrote: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

          People are living in fear today because of what is happening in the world…which gives Christians the opportunity to shine the light of Jesus Christ…which will dispel their fear.  In 1 John 1:7, we read these inspiring words: “…if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

          Obviously, Jesus is the true Light and Christians are only reflectors of the Light.  So what does it mean when we say that Jesus is the Light…not simply a light?  The answer is found in John 1:4, which tells us: “In him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  Then verses 6-9 tell us, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

           Like John, all Christians are called to be reflectors of the true Light.  That calls for exposing what’s in the darkness…not necessarily a pleasant job.  Most people, unfortunately, don’t know…or don’t care what’s in the darkness in which they live.  In Matthew 4:16, we’re told “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light.”

          The majority of people in America…in the world for that matter…have not seen that great light.  Christians are called to show it to them.

          We’re talking about God’s truth here…which Satan and his minions try to keep covered up in darkness.  And we’re also talking about Christians who shine the light of God’s love into that darkness…penetrating the blackness of sin and evil in the world…which the majority of people think is normal.

          If you’re a Christian in today’s world…you must be questioning whether the light of your witness is penetrating the darkness of the world?

          Believe me…it is.  And if you’re one of those people who think there’s such a thing as a secret Christian…you’re sadly mistaken.  All Christians are lights that can’t be put out…and the light they emit is not for the purpose of drawing people to themselves.  Their purpose is to draw people to Jesus.

          The homes of those to whom Jesus spoke were generally dark…most having only one small window.  Their light was a bowl filled with oil that had a wick…which was placed on a lampstand.  They tried to ensure that the light never went out because it was hard to get the wick lit again.

          There’s great symbolic truth here.  When someone lets the wick of faith go out in their life…it’s hard to get it lit again.  So when a person trades church attendance for something the world offers…they risk not being able to relight that wick of faith.  Or maybe it was never lit in the first place.

          Protecting light was very important to people in the ancient world.  When people left home they would place their lamp under an earthen vessel for safety reasons.  So the people readily understood what Jesus was talking about when He told them that they shouldn’t leave their light covered…but should put it back on a stand so it could give light to everyone in the house.

          Using the same logic, God didn’t put His light into a Christian so they could hide it.  The light of His Holy Spirit has been plugged into every Christian…and if you can’t see it…maybe it’s because the connection with the power source has never been made.

          Those of us who are Christians have been called to dispel the darkness.  In a prophecy about Jesus, Isaiah 60:1-3 has told us, “Arise; shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.  The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

          And in Revelation 14:6, we also find these prophetic words: “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people.

          But what happens when a light fails to give its light?  Revelation 2:1, 5 tells us.  “These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands…Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.  If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

          We are the light…and it’s visible to the human eye.  The people need to see the message from God that comes in and through that light.

          Salt witnessing works and expands itself quietly…but you can definitely see it operating.  It only takes one grain of salt witnessing to get things going in the right direction.  God is asking you for just one grain…and with it He will affect the lives of many people.  In fact, if you truly knew how much influence you have…it would probably frighten you.

          Light witnessing is different than salt witnessing…in that light is visible and works openly, whereas salt works behind the scene.  Light witnessing, of course, is when you openly share your faith with others.

          People need to experience both the salt and light witness in a Christian.  They need to become aware of how being acquainted with a Christian adds seasoning to their life…and they need to witness how Christ is reflected in the life of a Christian.  Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

          When Christians are truly ready to become salt and light…the Word of God will spread like a wildfire across the entire earth.

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