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Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Salt and Light”

(Matthew 5:13-16)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

September 16, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Have you ever heard the phrase, “that person is a salt of the earth person?” Have you ever wondered what that meant? 

Well, this morning we are going to continue our verse by verse study of the book of Matthew, and we will discover the source of that phrase. 

Last time, we began a look at the most famous sermon in history, the Sermon on the Mountainside. 

Jesus has just finished laying out His blessings for people that demonstrate the qualities that God looks for in His followers.

Now, as Jesus continues talking about how His followers should live, He gives us two metaphors for how His disciples should live: salt and light. 

What a sign of God’s grace that He instructs us how to live for Him!

Let’s look at this passage and study these two metaphors together. 

Read the Passage

Read Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

Jesus is following up His discussion about the beatitudes, or “the blessings,” with this discussion about salt and light. 

Now, remember the behavior that Jesus says brings blessings to the follower of God is radically different from the behavior of the world.

So, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that because Jesus’ followers are to be so different from the world then they should withdraw from the world. 

However, Jesus in this passage teaches the exact opposite of that. 

Jesus wants us to engage the world with God’s love. 

Jesus says first of all that . . . 

I. We are to be salt (v. 13)  [on screen]

Look at verse 13 again. 

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

He says that His followers are salt. 

There’s a lot written about the usefulness of salt in Jesus’ time. 

Some say that it was used for seasoning and taste. 

Some say that it was used as a preservative. 

Some say that it was used as an irritant. 

Some say that it was used to kill plant life. 

Here’s the point: salt was useful in Jesus’ day and age. However, if salt no longer acts like salt, it’s no longer good as salt. 

Does that make sense? We don’t have to make it harder than it is. 

Salt was useful to the people of ancient Palestine for taste, preservation, and other purposes. 

If the salt no longer tasted like salt, or it no longer preserved, or it no longer accomplished whatever purpose it was supposed to accomplish, it was useless, and it would be thrown out as waste. 

Jesus makes it clear that as salt is useful to people, so also Christians must be a blessing to those around them. 

By living a life of godliness, the Christian is a blessing to those around them, as salt is useful to those that use it. 

Jesus will clarify in the next few verses how we can be useful. 

Let’s remember that Jesus has just prescribed a certain behavior for His followers in the beatitudes. He’s saying that if we act that way, we are like salt. We are useful to the world. We have a positive effect. 

However, if we don’t act that way, we are useless to the world. We are not helpful. 

If we live like the world instead of like Jesus commands us to live, we will have a useless effect. 

If we don’t display the image of Jesus, we are no good. 

If we don’t live out the commands of the sermon on the mountainside, we are not what we need to be. We are like non-salty salt. 

Jesus also says that . . .

II. We are to be light (vv. 14-16) [on screen]

Let’s review verses 14-16. 

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Jesus’ next metaphor for His followers is that they are light. 

Jesus says that we, His followers, are the light of the world. 

Of course, most of us know what light does. It eliminates darkness! It allows us to see!

No one ever says, “I’m afraid of the light!” No! They say, “I’m afraid of the dark!” 

The light eliminates darkness, fear, and it allows people to see. 

We should want to shine the light!

The clear implication from the rest of the passage is two-fold. 

First, true light cannot be hidden. Jesus says that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. When it is shining its light, people will see. 

Second, if you have true light, you don’t want to hide it. 

The lights that would have been used by those in Israel at that time would have been a small lamp about the size of your palm. They would set it on a stand to maximize its effect. 

Illustration: Every night when I put my boys to bed I light a small lamp in their room. I don’t light the lamp and then it put inside a drawer and shut it. I light the lamp and let it sit on top of the dresser, so it provides light into the darkness. 

True light should not be hidden, and true light cannot be hidden!

God says to let the light that has been supernaturally placed in us by His Holy Spirit to shine!

If you’ve been changed, let your light shine!

When we let it shine, others will glorify the Father. 

Now, how does that happen?

I don’t think that this is merely the observance of good works by the outside world. 

I think noticing the good works are part of the glorification of the Father, but that is just the beginning. 

Well, what are the good works? God back to the blessings section in verses 1-12! They’re found there!

Here’s how it works: our good works and godly living resulting from our changed lives will impact others and open up the door for their lives to be changed as well and become God glorifying disciples of Jesus. 

Remember the words of Peter in 1 Peter 3:15.

15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. [on screen]

The idea is that the good works that we display will demonstrate that there is hope within us, which will lead people to ask about it and lead them to inquire as to how they can get that hope, and they will become followers of Jesus, and bring glory to God. 

So, the followers of Jesus will display good works, and others will glorify our Father in Heaven. 

Concluding Thoughts:

The aim of all that we do as followers of Jesus Christ is to bring glory to God. We are to make His name great and honor Him by the way that we live our lives. We are to point to Him as the source of excellence, blessing, truth, beauty, justice, and holiness.

By living as salt and light, we can glorify Him and we can bring others along to glorify Him also.

We are to be glorifiers and we are to develop glorifiers.  

We are to be disciples who love God, love the church, and love others; and we are to develop disciples who love God, love the church, and love others.  

Bottom Line: We are to display the goodness of God in the way that we live.  [on screen]

(repeat)

Jesus said just before this passage that there are blessings for those who live the way that He has called us to live. 

In this passage, Jesus says that we will be a blessing to the world when we live as His followers. 

We are to display the goodness of God, so that others may see His goodness, turn to Him, and bring Him glory. 

Challenge yourself this week in the two following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Ask yourself how you’ve displayed the goodness of God so far in 2018.  [on screen]

Spend some time in reflection this week. 

List some ways that you’ve displayed the goodness of God this year. 

Have you been salt and light in our world?

  1. Identify three ways you will display the goodness of God this week.  [on screen]

No matter what you’ve done so far this year, commit this week to display the goodness of God. 

List three practical ways and follow through with it. 

Challenge yourself to live out what you’ve learned from the Word of God. 

Closing:

As followers of Jesus, we are called to live different lives. We are not called to live as the world does, but we are called to live lives that glorify and reflect Jesus. 

At the same time, we are not called to withdraw from the world. We should not be afraid and find a hole that we can hide in until Jesus returns. We are to be world-changers! We are to have a positive impact in our world! We are to speak truth! We are to reveal the life-changing power of the gospel! We are to be salt and light!

Followers of Jesus, commit today to live as salt and light. Make a difference for the glory of God. 

If you’re not a follower of Jesus, your life can be changed. You need to see the light of Jesus Christ, as He can change your life dramatically. 

Read 1 John 1:5-9

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Have Thine Own Way

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Be sure to join us tonight as we dive back into our study, An Expedition in the Bible. We are in the minor prophets, and we hope to finish that up and jump into the New Testament tonight. 

Also, be sure to join us afterward for the reception to honor Kim King. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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