Series: Doers of the Word
Message – Koinonia V: Salt & Light
Salt & Light
We’ve been learning about Koinonia….
- Shared resources
- Shared experience
- Shared life
In order we have addressed this topic of Koinonia in regard to
- Our relationship with God
- Our fellow Christian
- and the world.
This week as I was seeking the Lord about our church, and what I should teach I naturally began with the assumption that we would move on to 1 John 2:1.
However, as I read, I began to realize that I would have a very hard time preaching this for two reasons.
- I was not ready
- you are not ready
Please turn with me to Matt. 5:13, as I explain…
You see 1 John 2 essentially deals with the results of intimacy with God being fruit in our actions. It says,
“This is how we know that we have come to know God intimately – it is because at some point we had a real encounter with Him which began a journey WITH Him. This journey has established an ongoing change in our lives – one of a continual increase in obedience to His Words. If someone says, “Hey, I know God intimately and journey through life with Him, and yet they do not have a pattern of life which accommodates God and is increasingly obedient to Him – they are lying and the truth is not in them.”
Obedience takes on more than one expression. It is not just simple obedience but a heart driven to please God and a deep desire to never do anything displeasing to Him.
To be perfectly honest, I am not always controlled by such passions and I know you well enough to know that in many ways that is even more true of you.
So I began to ask the Lord all my familiar questions…when the phrase came to me, “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its savour how can it be re-seasoned?”
So I looked it up, read it, pondered it and determined to study it when I got home. When I got home, I opened my bible program, clicked on something seemingly unrelated and up pops Matt. 5:13 where I’ve asked you to turn. It reads,
“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.”
So I believe we will start here today!
Now, like I said, we’ve covered Koinonia in relation to God, our siblings in Christ and the world, but today we are going to look at the IMPACT our Koinonia with God HAS on the world. It will also help you further understand why having Koinonia with the world will completely undermine any effect our Koinonia with God could ever have on them.
When looking at this passage in Matthew, naturally my first question was – Who was Jesus talking to? So let’s back up to verse one where Jesus began His teaching.
“(1) And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. (2) Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: (3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (4) Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (5) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. (6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. (7) Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. (8) Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (9) Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. (10) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (12) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (13) “You are the salt of the earth;
So at first I thought, He was addressing His disciples…
Then I thought, “well no He was teaching the entire multitude”…
But this was a mixed multitude. How could He make such abroad, sweeping statement that all of them were the salt of the earth when many of them didn’t even keep the law?
Then it occurred to me – He wasn’t just teaching any crowd… He was teaching His covenant people – the Jews. THEY were the salt and light of the world because they were the ones who knew God.
Then the words of Paul came back to my heart, when he said, “What advantage does the Jew have then? Much in every way, but Most importantly because to them were given the words of God.”
Now, when I went to this passage where Paul was talking about the advantage the Jews had over the Gentiles, I realized that they were in perfect step with the lesson Christ was teaching on the hillside that day about His covenant people being the salt and light of the world.
So now let’s turn to Romans 2 and read what Paul said there and then we will return to Matthew 5 and draw some conclusions about being the salt of the earth and what that has to do with Koinonia.
“(17) Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, (18) and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, (19) and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, (20) an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. (21) You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? (22) You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? (23) You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? “
(24) For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” as it is written.
This is a great point by the way! Like I said last week… the world will complain regardless of what we do because we are a light in there darkness. If we live by the process of God they will call us haters and if we lived as they do they will call us hypocrite blaspheme God on our account.
“(25) For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. (26) Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? (27) And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? (28) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; (29) but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
“(1) What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? (2) Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. (3) For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? (4) Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND MAY OVERCOME WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.” (5) But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) (6) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? (7) For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? (8) And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.”
It goes on to say in verses 21 & 31,
“(21) But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (22) even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. (31) Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”
“You are the salt of the earth“
Jesus uses salt and light as His analogies here.
Commentators are all over the place about the meaning of salt in t his verse, when Jesus Himself made it clear what He meant. Most commentators point to the fact that salt preserves, but that would make no sense in the phrase Jesus used it in. To say that “You are the preservers of the world” would mean that you preserve them in their current condition of being lost. THAT is just silly. Salt also makes thirsty, and in that regard we are the salt of the earth, but that is not what Jesus meant when He said that they were the salt of the earth. No, in Jesus’ analogy He pointed to the savoriness of salt – meaning it’s flavor enhancing quality.
So as salt, the Jews were the ones who were to bring the flavor of God to the world. They were to enhance God or Magnify the Him before the world.
He goes on to ask though,
“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.”
The words “good for nothing” also mean, no longer serve a purpose!
This tells us a lot!
I mean, think about those words…what do they mean? What do they imply?
When I was seeking God about 1Jn.2 and saw that it was teaching about a shared life with God of progressively knowing Him and increasing in our obedience to Him – I felt as if this was a word beyond where we were…that something was missing IN US that needed to be there before moving forward with 1 Jn.2. The Holy Spirit directed me to “You are the salt of the earth” at least in part to cause us to see that if we have lost the flavor of Christ – we have forsaken our purpose and are therefore, “good for nothing”. I don’t know about you, but that is NOT the way my future epitaph will read! This word is for ALL OF US – so PLEASE, I beg you to listen.
This past year several of you have had “times” of reawakening. I sought the Lord on how to stir that flame to keep it alive, even as I watched it dwindle back into a barely perceptible flicker. I knew it would happen, but I wanted it to remain!
Can anyone tell me how it happens – that when the Spirit of God does a sovereign work in your heart – stirring you to a reawakened state that you return again to a small flicker?
- Considerations of self.
They enemy has studied you and he had to give you a wide-birth for a short time following the stirring of the Spirit, but then he comes again with the old lies he knows ALWAYS redirect your attention away from God.
I read a statement on a friends FB page the other day and almost reposted it because it hits home with so MANY people today – especially Christians.
We live out of our emotions. In fact some of the most deceived Christians in the world are those who live on emotional highs which substitute for real intimacy with God. But more than not, Christians tend towards depression and depression is the most unsuitable emotion for any Christian. It is a declaration of not being agnostic – “I believe in God but….” fill in the blank.
The post I almost re-posted essentially said this, “Depression cannot exist without consideration of self.” In other words, “Selfishness and worship of self is the fuel Depression feeds on – if you deprive it of selfishness, depression dies.”
Most Christians are depressed because they have lost their savour – they have lost their “Christ-likeness” by becoming self-focused rather than Christ-focused. This makes them “good for nothing”.
Jesus went on to say…
“(14) You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
This was a cultural reference every Jew understood. The cities on the hilltops were cities of refuge!
A refuge city was located on hilltops so that anyone from miles around could easily see the city and retreat there for safety.
Cities of refuge were for those accused of murder. They could flee to these cities and claim asylum. Upon entering the city the accused had to approach the city elders and tell them the specifics of crime he had been accused of – if found guilty they were to be returned to the city where the crime was committed and handed over to their accuser without mercy. If found innocent they were allowed to live there in safety for the rest of their life.
The Deuteronomic regulations state that roads should be built to the cities of refuge to ease the escape of the accused to them. The roads to these cities were not only marked by signposts saying “Refuge”, but the roads were twice as wide as the regulation width — and were particularly smooth and even, in order that fugitives were as unhindered as possible in arriving safe to the cities.
This has MANY correlations to Christian living. Proverbs tells us that if we will, “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not rely upon our own understanding and submit to Him, He will make our paths straight.” For the Christian, our LIVES are not only the city, but the roads to them!
Now let me ask you, how does Koinonia with God effect our lives as “cities of Refuge” and straight roads to them?
Jesus goes on to say,
“(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.”
What is the statement saying about our lives as lived before the world?
“(16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Remember how Paul mentioned that we do not make void but rather establish the Law through faith. This agrees with Jesus’ words here as He says,
(17) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (18) For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (19) Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What kind of righteousness did the Pharisees and scribes have?
Works of the Law without the ongoing relationship Koinonia – that is of knowing God – yielding greater obedience through heart conformity to Him.
Jesus goes on in His teaching to address how hatred in the heart IS breaking the Law of murder, that lust in the heart IS breaking the Law concerning sexual sin, that Divorce for any reason but unrepentant and sustained adultery IS breaking the Law of Fidelity to you mate…etc.
Notice all of these speak to the heart! Jesus was saying that those who are salt and light don’t reflect outward compliance to rigid laws, but inward compliance to hearts changed.
If we do NOT koinonia with God – we become unfruitful and therefore, “good for nothing”. This is NOT something you can fix by trying harder – it is only fixed through 100% heart surrender and a moving of our attention away from self to Christ.
Let’s end by reading Heb. 12, though much necessary theology is missed in this translation, I am going to read from the Message version because it highlights the relational nature of the lives we share and our roles of Parent for God and children for us and our need to keep our eye on Christ and not on ourselves…
“(1) Do you see what this means–all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running–and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. (2) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed–that exhilarating finish in and with God–he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. (3) When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (4) In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through–all that bloodshed! (5) So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. (6) It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. (7) God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, (8) the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? (9) We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? (10) While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. (11) At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. (12) So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! (13) Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it! (14) Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. (15) Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. (16) Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. (17) You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing–but by then it was too late, tears or no tears. (18) Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai–all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble– (19) to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. (20) When they heard the words–“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”–they were afraid to move. (21) Even Moses was terrified. (22) No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels (23) and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. (24) You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s–a homicide that cried out for vengeance–became a proclamation of grace. (25) So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? (26) His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time–he’s told us this quite plainly–he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” (27) The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. (28) Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. (29) He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!”
We will pick up here next week…Blessings!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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