FBR Identity Light from Salt
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The passages that we read last week and this week go together. We cannot fully understand the light with having an understanding of salt.
So if you missed last week, this week will be difficult for you. So let me recap the best I can for us this morning.
Let’s ask the Lord for His help and His blessing first, to be upon us, as His word is unfolded into our hearts.
Let’s lift up our heart to the Lord in prayer, and as we pray together intentionally set ourselves before the Lord, settle ourselves to hear the Word. “Our God and Father in heaven, once again we come before Thee and we enter in Thy presence, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We pray for help, that You will come and minister to us, as we take the Word and come to the message of God. Bless us we ask and continue with us, we ask in Jesus name and for His sake, AMEN.
We’ll be reading from verse 13, This is the Word of the Almighty Christ:
— 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Amen, we thank God that He has spoken in His holy Word.
Last week we mentioned some of characteristics of salt and the parallel given to us as the church. We said:
Salt is a preservative.
So then, we are as the church a preservative against moral decay in society.…
And we’ve said, “Salt flavors stuff, and so we add zest & flavor to the world as the church. We give life vitality and meaning.…
Salt brings flavor,
And salt is a fertilizer, and so we fertilize stuff. We make the ground fertile to grow.… Salt creates thirst, and so we create a thirst for God when people are around us.”
so we as the church zest & flavor society.…
Salt is a fertilizer,
so we as the church create fertile ground where spiritual growth can occur.…
When you eat salt, you become thirsty,
so we as the church, when people are around us see our lives and how we live,
they become thirsty for the things of God.
And as we thought about the church being those things, we went a step deeper and saw what’s underneath it all.
What is more foundational to being the salt, which is what happens when the Holy Spirit begins to
work in us,
chisel on us,
shape us and
into the type of men and women
who do preserve against moral decay,
who do make others thirst for God,
who do make the ground able to support growth.
That ultimately it’s the work of the Holy Spirit that leads us to become salt and
we acknowledged our deep need to submit to God the Holy Spirit
as He speaks and shapes us through His Word.
We also spent time on the second part of verse 13 which says that salt, if it’s lost its saltiness is worthless.
And that we can go and possibly are going to the direction of losing our saltiness,
by way of gaining information and having the right beliefs, but not actually changing and being transformed.
This is the path way to losing our saltiness.
We spoke of the larger evangelical church as a whole in America. Then we spoke specifically to us.
We are currently on information melt down. Piles and piles of biblical truth gets heaped on you every week.
But there’s nothing built into our structure that will lead us into having accountability, as to whether we’re actually living this stuff out.
So if we become masters of information, but not masters of life, then we lose our saltiness.
So we spoke of our need for a healthy, balanced change in our diet.
So as we move now from salt (becoming salty by submitting to God’s word in obedience) to light.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
I think a lot of us, when we think of light and in terms of light, we think of evangelism.
We think, “Okay, light. (knock on the door) If you were to die today, …” which almost sounds threatening, a stranger on your porch.
It just sounds a little scary. “I’m a stranger on your porch. If I were to kill you right now, …” So, I don’t think evangelism is bad.
In fact, we need to do it, we need to get better at it, we need to more fully understand what the gospel is.
Honestly, I think this salt problem is why evangelism dies pretty quickly in our lives
because we feel like our lives don’t match up to the gospel we proclaim.
So we keep our mouths shut because we know everyone around us will call us out on it.
But that’s another sermon.
So then, although I do believe that we should
share the gospel and
share with our neighbors and
share with our coworkers,
I don’t believe that that is what this text is talking about at all,
but rather something different.
So let me try to unpack this.
The word “You” in v14 isn’t applied to the world at large, but to committed followers of Christ.
When the Lord says that we are the light to the world, the implication is, is that the world is a world of darkness despite its claim on enlightenment!
Just as last Lord’s day evening a title for Jesus is “the Living Stone” and then Peter calls us, “living stones”.
So to Jesus ascribes to us a title that He claims for Himself. He calls us the light of the world.
So Christ is Himself the light and then, as His followers we become pointers to that light. As says, that we are light in the Lord.
Or as says, ‘we shine as lights in the world’.
And if we be who we really are, as laid out in the previous verses, then light bearing is inevitable.
It’s as impossible that the city of Chicago can be set on a hill and be hidden.
Its situation makes concealment impossible. The same is true when we be what we are in Christ.
In Scripture the obvious symbolism of light is: holiness and truth, in opposition to every kind of darkness ().
However, the stress here is not on the intrinsic nature of the light, though that is
presupposed in the goodness of the ‘good deeds’ (5:16),
but on its shining forth to enlighten others.
God’s light is received in Christ and then sent out into the darkness to bring light and salvation.
Thus David rejoices, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation’ (),
while the prophesied Servant of the Lord is described as ‘a light for the Gentiles’ ().
It is noteworthy, in connection with the present verses, that in
Paul can apply the prophecy of to his own ministry of the gospel:
‘I have made you [singular] a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’
The light of which Jesus speaks is, therefore, a light that brings salvation, not just
preservation from corruption, although, as we have seen, the two are connected.
We might expect him to be speaking of evangelism, the preaching of the gospel of light, but in fact he refers to their ‘good deeds’, their lives lived ‘before men’ (5:16).
In the same way, in Paul explains shining ‘like stars in the universe’ as doing ‘everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation’.
This is not to exclude witness from the picture, verse 16 as ‘holding fast the word of life’.
However, Jesus’ main point here is clearly the life that the disciples live.
Often in the New Testament ‘good deeds’ or ‘works’ mean acts of loving care for the poor and needy.
This aspect must not be ignored here, but the main content for these good deeds is seen in the preceding verses:
meekness and holiness,
concern for the kingdom of heaven,
creating peaceful relationships, as well as
being merciful to the needy.
Because of this, there is this glorifying of ‘your Father in heaven’—
willing praise of the God whose light they have seen.
Peter makes the same point: — 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
And as with the salt, the beneficial effect of Christian living does not come automatically.
The salt must keep its saltiness; the light must shine.
Just as ‘a city on a hill cannot be hidden’ and a ‘a lamp’ is not ‘put … under a basket’,
but displayed ‘on its stand’,
so that ‘it gives light to everyone in the house’,
so the disciples must ensure that men see their light.
Do you think this sounds too much like showing off to men, ‘living to be seen of them’,
which Jesus condemns in the following chapter,
but this is clearly not his intention here.
In the first place, the deeds will not be truly good unless they are done to please God,
rather than men; and
secondly, since they embody the righteousness described in the Beatitudes,
they will often incur the wrath of men and provoke persecution.
It is common for Christians to ‘admit’ that they are no better than anyone else.
In the sense that we are not justified or accepted by God because we are better than others, this is true.
In the more obvious sense, however, it must not be true.
We have God’s light and salvation;
we have been born again and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit;
God’s ‘divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness’ ().
We must not make excuses for our sin. Which is what some do. “I’m no better than you” is said
because you’re still dabbling with your favorite darling sin and you’re not willing to give it up.
So you hide behind statements like that.
It should be obvious to all that we are better than others, even though they may not recognize this
because they have a different set of values.
Otherwise our light will not shine out;
we shall be as dark as our surroundings,
and that will bring no praise to our heavenly Father.
Most churches, this one included, want the people who come here to be obedient and
to grow in their knowledge of what obedience is.
We know how to do that.
We look where people are, point A, and we draw a map to Point B.
And we point out systems and programs to move you from point A to point B.
And although it definitely has some value, in the end, it has a wicked step-brother
that enables you to compartmentalize so well
that you end up having no shot at really being salt,
which in the end, give you no chance at being light.
Let me explain what I’m talking about. Biblically, God has a heart for the poor. So we say, let’s have a heart for the poor to and get on mission with God.
So say we came up with some project that we call “Reconstruct”. I know churches that do this exact type of thing.
It will consist of us painting, rebuilding, hammering, the whole nine yards and we want to do all those things. Let’s do it.
And so, I get up here and I preach a message on it, a good one. I mean, the earth is just trembling; that’s how good it was.
And then I say go, and everyone herds out and you sign your name on the Reconstruct list.
And then sure enough, Saturday morning rolls around, and we head to Reconstruct.
So we walk into a poor neighborhood and we paint and we hammer and
maybe we interact with people who live down there, probably not.
But we hammer and paint and we do all that we’re supposed to do.
And then we get back in our car and we leave and we were obedient, biblically.
No real transformation,
no real heart for the poor,
no real “my life serves a bigger purpose than this.”
Simply, “Let me go to Reconstruct.” We can compartmentalize.
Parents are going, “Hmm, okay I’ve got to impart the wonders of God to my children, which is supposed to be when?
God’s design is that we talk of them when I sit in my house, when I walk by the way, when I lie down, and when I rise up.
Parents in America says, “I can’t be molding and shaping them all day long. I’m busy! I know.
Let’s find Awanas! We’re going to get them in Awanas, they’ll put on their little para-military organization outfit …”
And they’re going to learn the books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus and a little song and it’s going to be great.”
And then, “I’ve got it. “Train my kids? I did it.” Check. That’s it.” I’ve trained my children in the ways of the Lord.
And what ends up happening, instead of there being any real transformation that creates a life, there’s programs that create a form of life or a substitute.
How about this. At my old church, many of you will remember this too. We had it here too.
Remember the Sunday School Cards?
Did you bring your bible? (Check).
Did you study your lesson? (Check)
Did you read your bible and pray? (Check).
So whether it’s caring for the poor, training our children, or practicing the spiritual disciplines of reading Scripture and praying,
we can reduce much of the Christian life to checking boxes.
When we begin the Care Groups, from time to time we’ll hear messages about real authentic community and fellowship.
(Check) I went to Care Groups.
So in the end, you have this mechanical action that creates little to no depth. It’s a tough spot, isn’t it?
You’ve got to create paths for people to walk, but in the end, they just walk the path and they think the path is the point.
The path isn’t the point beloved church.
Bible reading and prayer isn’t the point but transformation on the path to the point is the whole point.
And listen, that’s why you have church conflict that breaks all the time,
because all of a sudden, paths become sacred.
“You ain’t touching this. You cannot put your finger on Awana.
How will people ever grow in Christ if you cancel this?”
Life was never meant to be lived in a compartment.
That is light that will not penetrate darkness.
What if light looked like this:
Some business owners, men, get together on Saturday’s and use their own money go to McDonald’s and by 50 cheeseburgers … $7.00.
And then, to a Super Wal-Mart and bought socks and underwear and toiletries.
And they go and take about an hour and a half, and they go down to one of the slums.
And they just handed out cheeseburgers and they handed out toiletries and they prayed with people.
They just pray with them and share Christ with them.
And when they don’t get go out on Saturday’s, they get together and they pray for those people.
When they don’t go out on the streets, they get together and they pray for those people. And they know them by name, and they know them by situation.
And they get to know them by name, and they know them by situation.
Businessmen, who didn’t go to seminary or nothing.
Businessmen, they didn’t go to seminary or nothing. I wonder what the other boys in the office must think.
I wonder what the other business owners must think.
There’s this couple that Niki and I know in Valpo. They had some really bad marriage issues and some adultery, and it broke the marriage apart.
There’s this couple that Niki and I know in Valpo. They had some really bad marriage issues and some adultery, and it broke the marriage apart and they divorced.
And then, the gospel started saturating one of their hearts, and the wanted it restored so badly.
Another one, the gospel started penetrating their heart, so they had to start working through those issues.
And God brought their marriage back together.
And you know what they do now?
They minister to married couples all the time.
But it’s not, “Hey, here’s a book to read,” it’s like,
“Hey, come to my house.”
And their house is open every night. The husband told me that monthly, there’s men crying
because they just lost their wives or
wives crying because their husband just left.
And they’re just like, “Stay and pray.
Just come over and eat dinner.
Just come over and have dessert with my family.
Just come over and drink a cup of coffee.”
That’s the kind of light that penetrates the darkness. No boxes to check. Just being transformed as we walk the narrow path.
People (hence our culture at large) doesn’t change or get impacted because we bring people here.
Compared to the culture, what God perscribes us to do, I believe is deliberately unattractive.
There’s nothing cutting edge. We’ve got a wonderful building, sister Joyce on the piano as we sing songs, and me yelling!
But those business owners. They run with other business owners and engage their customers every day.
And the gospel penetrated their hearts and now it’s deepening them.
And as it deepens them, they begin to see things that they never saw before.
Now all of a sudden, within that realm, within that domain, they begin engage the culture.
They begin to feed poor, homeless men and women
with their dime and
with their money,
with their creativity.
They’re doing it, and now the light of the gospel is shining in that area.
And whether the customers that they serve, come to know Christ or not
doesn’t change the fact that
they could boldly proclaim Him without shame.
Because their very lives exude the light.
What light does the godly couple in Valpo exude?
Or if mom’s and dad’s really did talk of Christ when they sit in their house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up.
How much light would shine? Read your bible and pray everyday, not to check a box on a card but for transformation, that you may glorify your Father in heaven.
But we can talk about light ‘til kingdom come,
but if we’re not being transformed from one degree of glory to the next,
as 1 Corinthians lays out, light is just a pipe dream.
You can talk about light all you want;
if you haven’t been moved by the Holy Spirit of God and acted on it with obedience,
then it’s mechanical.
And if it’s mechanical, you’re doing a form of the Christian life rather than being Christians.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
But if you’ll be fiercely committed to salt (to submitting to the Holy Spirit as He leads us in the Word),
to deepening, then you will be the light of the world and you will be seen,
you will be impossible to hid against the backdrop of a broken world.
So let me ask this and we’ll end.
If Jesus said we could actually be this, do you think He can be trusted to lead us there?
Let’s pray. “Father I thank You for how You reveal Yourself to us. I thank You for doctrine and theology. I thank You for thick, deep truths that force us to wrestle and cry out and even maybe walk with a limp. But I pray that You might do something in our hearts in here today.
Matt Chandler Sermon Archive, 2006–2015 Part 2: Light from Salt
Let’s pray. “Father I thank You for how You reveal Yourself to us. I thank You for doctrine and theology. I thank You for thick, deep truths that force us to wrestle and cry out and even maybe walk with a limp. But I pray that You might do something in our hearts in here today