SOTM – THE SALT OF THE EARTH

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

As Disciples of Christ we should be His disciples. First let us look at what a disciple is. The basic definition for this word is a student of a teacher. One who learns the teachings of their teacher. Disciple also has a broader definition in that the disciple is one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of their teacher. As a Disciple of Christ we are not only learners of His teachings but we are also to assist in the spread of His teachings. So the disciple also teaches what he has learned. Therefore we have a responsibility to participate in the commission that every Christian has been given “to go”. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Jesus has chosen to use salt in this metaphor. Let us first look at the properties of salt. Looking at the usefulness of salt in the world in which Jesus lived in we find that there were eleven different functions for salt in that day. Salt in that day had such a high value that at this time the Romans paid their soldiers with salt. Perhaps this is where the praise was created that one was not “worth their salt.” If one was paid with salt and did not perform, then he was not worth the salt he was paid. On the other hand one who was exceptional would be referred to as the “salt of the earth.” In Jesus’ day salt was a preservative, a fire catalyst, and a fertilizer. I think primarily the usage here is the seasoning value of salt. If that is the case then the Christian should season the life around him. A Christian should become salty. To become salty the Christian should live his life according to the previous eight beatitudes we have discussed. This would certainly bring flavor to the lives around us.

If we live according to the beatitudes that Jesus has just taught us, then we will be living Christ like lives. In doing so we would make Christ more attractive to the people around us. In my younger days one of the highest compliments that a person could receive was that they were a good Christian person. I have not heard this recently and perhaps it is because too many Christians are not salty enough. If the Christian would live a Christ like live then the people around them would develop a taste for Jesus.

Another function of salt is that it makes one thirsty. By the testimony of our word and deed we should be making those who do not know Jesus Christ thirsty to know more about Him. The Christian should showcase the love that Jesus has for them and that His sacrifice for them is the only way that they can have eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. If the Christian is salty then he should create a hunger and thirst for the non-believer to want to know more about Jesus.

When people put salt on their food they do not say how great the salt taste they say how great the food taste. It is never about us the Christians but about the bread of life, Jesus Christ. As Christians we need to sprinkle our salt all throughout the society we live in that people will see through us how great our Lord and Savior is. This is the tragedy of Christianity today in that we have not been worth our salt. The Christians have retreated to the side lines and allowed our society to be ruled by the unrighteous. We have taken God out of our society, we have taken God out of the fundamental education of our children by removing Him from our schools of thought, government and public places.

We have been called to make disciples of all the nations. The Christian is to penetrate every part of society. Our families, our neighborhood, the work place, and everywhere we trod our feet. In all that we do we are to glorify the name of the Father. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) The Christian is to the spice of everyone’s life and to give them a vision of who Jesus is.

One more function of salt is that it is an antiseptic. We live in a world that is infected with sin. Sin is the root of all the trials and tribulations of this world. Before sin entered into the world it was paradise and then sin brought death. The world has been dying ever sense. Sin is a disease that is fatal to the spirit of a person. The tariff of sin is death. This is the message of the antiseptic salt of the Christian, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) The wages of sin is death, man cannot pay that wage and live, Jesus paid the wage on the cross, and if you accept that truth and follow Him as Lord of your life you will receive eternal life.

I know it is true that many will not accept our salty nature for Jesus Christ. They may feel that we should be tolerant of their way of life. Or they may say we are being judgmental of them and are just as hypocritical ourselves. But do not be discouraged as we are not able to save one soul from eternal damnation any way. That is the work of Jesus, only He paid the price and only He can forgive sin. All we do is provide the true example and share the truth of His Word. The choice they make will be what they are accountable for. The point is we gave them the gospel that they could make that choice. This is our mission that we should offer them an opportunity for reconciliation to God. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) As that is our ministry.

Often we may offend but that is not because we are offensive but because the guilty hate to be revealed. The Christian must remember that we are called to be the salt of the earth and not the sugar of the earth. The truth is truth and cannot be bartered. “But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:25) We are just sowers of His Word. Salt on an open wound does sting and is painful. But salt the antiseptic heals the wound and if this is the result it brings glory to our Lord and joy to our heart.

Pure salt cannot lose its saltiness, Sodium Chloride is a stable compound. The word for tasteless is translated from the word moraine which means to become a fool or foolish. The point then may be that Jesus is saying that if His disciples lose their saltiness that will be making fools of themselves. From a Christian’s point of view then if a Christian loses his saltiness he is no longer flavoring the society but polluting the society. Many people reject Christianity today because of the un-saltiness of foolish Christians.

Disciples that have lost their saltiness are no longer good for the Kingdom business they have been called to. In Jesus’ day salt that had lost its flavor was thrown to the ground along the paths of the way. There it was trampled into the ground and hardened the path. This metaphor of Jesus of the throwing of the salt to the ground does not mean that a Christian will lose his salvation. It means that they will be cast aside by the true ministers of the faith. It is a direct result that a Christian has to protect his testimony against bad behavior. The Christian’s life is to be lived in a way that honors the Father and if the world sees the adverse that testimony is destroyed. People who do not walk their talk are seldom followed, seldom taken seriously, and never trusted to be speaking the truth. Jesus came to testify to the truth, He is the truth, and His disciples can be no less.

The consequences of such a loss of stature goes even further in the loss of future reward in the Kingdom. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:1-8)

This is not only a word to the disciple but also to the Church, as the Church is made of disciples. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:19-20)

If a Church becomes tasteless and ineffective in preaching and witnessing to the Word of God it will eventually be taken away. We can see this truth in the testimony of Church history. The seven Churches of Asia Minor in the book of Revelation are non-existent today. The Churches of Ephesus and Corinth are near nonexistent. We have seen many Churches in our neighborhoods emptied over the years. If the Churches fail to teach the Word of God, equip the saints to do the good work, and to be a restraining light in a darkened world, that light will be removed. “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)

The Church is not to focus on growing its numbers in the congregation but to grow the congregation in spiritual maturity. The Church is to bring the babes in Christ into a full partnership with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is a Holy Priesthood of followers of Jesus Christ and a restraining light that shutters the evil forces of the world. The Church ministers the gospel to the community, the nation, and to the world. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Do we need to go to Church to be saved? No. Do we need to go to Church to fulfill the Great Commission we have been given? Yes. We are to season our society with the flavor of the gospel truth, heal a broken world from its downward spiral into the depths of sinful living, and by our witness we are to cause a hunger and thirst for others to know Jesus. Let us not forsake our Lord, let us not forsake our Christian Family, and let us keep the everlasting light before us. “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, March 6, 2016

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