Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Exceptional Salty Saints Matthew 5:13

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16 NASB)
A Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, "Guess what,
Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal's office. It was your fault, Chuck." He said, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?" She said,
"You're my friend, aren't you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me."
While Peppermint Patty was seeking to pass the buck, she was in a very real sense right. We should be a good influence on our friends. We certainly do have an influence, for good or for bad.

I heard of a minister who was making a wooden trellis to support a climbing vine. As he was pounding away, he noticed that a little boy was watching him.
The youngster didn't say a word, so the preacher kept on working, thinking the lad would leave. But he didn't. Pleased at the thought that his work was being admired, the pastor finally said, "Well, son, trying to pick up some pointers on gardening?" "No," he replied. "I'm just waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer."
People are watching you! What do they see? What they see has an influence on them. And it should. You see, Jesus told us that we would have an influence in this world.

The Romans believed, for instance, that there was nothing as valuable as salt, except for the sun. Many Roman soldiers received their pay in salt. Some have said that it was from this practice that the phrase "not worth his salt" originated.

Did you know that salt is a miracle? It’s composed of 2 poisons: chloride and sodium. If you ingest either by itself, you’ll die. But put them together and you have common, ordinary salt, and that which used to bring death somehow comes together to bring life, and that’s a miracle!
So it is w/ the Christian life, poisoned by sin, w/ death looming in the shadows, but it’s confronted by the grace of God in His death, and those 2 negatives merge to form a positive redemption!
“It took a miracle to put the stars in place; It took a miracle to hang the world in space.
But when He saved my soul, Cleansed and made me whole, It took a miracle of love and grace!”
So, what does Jesus mean by calling us salt in His illustration?
1. The Dynamic Power Of Salt
· Salt irritates. [in a wound]
And Christianity rubs many the wrong way, because it’s irritating to their wounds of sin. We shouldn’t purposefully try to be irritating, but also not surprised when it happens.
· Salt seasons.
Before I got married I loved salt so much, that I may or may not decide to add some food under it sometimes! But getting married, Lorelle weaned me off salt. I’m the opposite.
But Christians ought to add zest and tang and some good flavour wherever they go. Your workplace should be better because you’re present. You may be the only Christian in your house, but you should be having a positive effect. Kids, your public school needs some salt, and you can be the one!
Everywhere Jesus went on this earth a good spirit followed, and overtook those in attendance, which always grew, and even some had to enter thru the roof!
Some Christians think they have to be bland to be right w/ God, but no, we should be like salt!
· Salt creates thirst.
And our job as Christians is to make others thirsty for God. In John 4 Jesus compared Himself to a drink of living water.
But we won’t create thirst unless we are a salty saint…walking to the beat of a different drum. We also have to be ‘out there’…in other words, not just hiding in here in church, which is the ‘shaker’, but getting the salt out of the shaker, and living it even when it’s not as popular!
Like a zebra in a herd of horses…a salty saint will stand out, and get noticed, and make others long for something different as well.
· Salt cleanses and heals.
Salt in a "Water Softener" cleans the lime deposits out.
And a salty gospel will convict and cleanse people of the deposits of sin.
These things are all true in application, but I believe the primary interpretation to be different:
Jesus is speaking to the original disciples, many of whom were fishermen in the Sea of Galilee. And how did they keep it from spoiling when ready for transport? They would salt it down!
As newsman Clarence W. Hall followed American troops through Okinawa in 1945, he and his jeep driver came upon a small town that stood out as a beautiful example of a Christian community. He wrote, "We had seen other Okinawa villages... down at the heels and despairing; by contrast, this one shone like a diamond in a dung heap. Everywhere we were greeted by smiles and dignified bows. Proudly the old men showed us their spotless homes, their terraced fields... their storehouses and granaries, their prized sugar mill." Hall said that he saw no jails and no drunkenness, and that divorce was unknown in this village. He was told that an American missionary had come there some 30 years earlier. While he was in the village, he had led two elderly townspeople to Christ and left them with a Japanese Bible. These new believers studied the Scriptures and started leading their fellow villagers to Jesus. Hall's jeep driver said he was amazed at the difference between this village and the others around it. He remarked, "So this is what comes out of only a Bible and a couple of old guys who wanted to live like Jesus. The missionary probably never knew the extent of his influence."

· Salt preserves.
That says something about our society…it is rotting and decaying as there is less and less salt being shaken on it.
Just look at music over the last 50 years. It used to be that Brian Henderson’s Bandstand was considered the music of rebellion. But look at RAGE on the ABC and you’ll think Mr. Henderson was a s.s. teacher!
Just look at television. 1 swear word brought people up in arms at the end of Gone With The Wind, but today’s kids cartoons have more than that!
President Woodrow Wilson told the story of one such encounter. He said: "I was in a very common place, I was sitting in a barber chair, when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through with what was being done to me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. D.L. Moody was in that chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones. They didn't know his name but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship."
Our lives should be lives that reflect something more than the world has, because we have more than they have, we have Jesus. He has saved us, forgiven us, changed our hearts, given us hope, put His love in us, given us joy, set our feet on the rock which cannot be shaken. If He does not make a difference in your life, then you either need to be born again or you need to repent of sin and allow Him to rekindle the fire of your first love.

2. The Dissipated Presence Of Salt

George Barna's research has shown that the average Christian in the average evangelical church is almost indistinguishable from the rest of society. He is not talking about being different in some artificial and outward way that you might see in some legalistic churches. Rather, he is talking about the fundamental moral and ethical difference that Christ can make in how we live. When our teens, supposedly saved, get pregnant and do drugs at the same rate as the general teenage population - when our marriages end in divorce at the same rate as the rest of society - when we cheat in business, or lie, steal, and cheat on our spouses at the same statistical level as those who say they are not Christians - something is wrong. Perhaps that is the reason why our influence has not been felt in a way that points people to Jesus.
The Roman Emperor Julian described Christians in this way: "They brood all their lives away, unspurred by ambition; the sun shines for them but they do not see it; the earth offers them its fulness, but they desire it not; all their desire is to renounce and to suffer that they may come to die."

Now, what is this losing of the savour? It’s the tang, the zip, it doesn’t mean losing salvation…it’s still salt, but it’s lost it’s influence / testimony. This happens when you stop trying to influence the world and the world starts influencing you!
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. --Ephesians 5:3-4
It's impossible to be a man or woman of honor unless you heed the call to moral purity and make a commitment to stay sexually pure. And while many followers of Christ aren't engaged in adultery or in overt acts of sexual immorality, many times we often settle for less than holiness when it comes to purity of mind, purity of heart, and purity of body.
Remember, your private world is your real world with God! And if you want to enjoy the fellowship and power of God, this is an area you must radically deal with, according to the Scripture.
“BUT I’M AN EXCEPTION!” Bill Hybels April 1, 1988
One evening I stopped by the church just to encourage those who were there rehearsing for the spring musical. I didn't intend to stay long, so I parked my car next to the entrance. After a few minutes, I ran back to my car and drove home. The next morning I found a note in my office mailbox. It read: A small thing, but Tuesday night when you came to rehearsal, you parked in the "No Parking" area. A reaction from one of my crew (who did not recognize you until after you got out of the car) was, "There's another jerk parking in the 'No Parking' area!" We try hard not to allow people-even workers-to park anywhere other than the parking lots. I would appreciate your cooperation, too. It was signed by a member of our maintenance staff. I'm sorry to report this staff member is no longer with us. He was late coming back for lunch the next day, and we had to let him go. You have to draw the line somewhere . . .
No, I'm kidding. Actually he's still very much with us, and his stock went up in my book because he had the courage to write me about what could have been a slippage in my character. And he was right on the mark. As I drove up that night, I had thought, I shouldn't park here, but after all, I am the pastor. That translates: I'm an exception to the rules. But that employee wouldn't allow me to sneak down the road labeled "I'm an exception." I'm not the exception to church rules, nor am I the exception to sexual rules or financial rules or any of God's rules. As a leader, I am not an exception; I'm to be the example. According to Scripture, I am to live in such a way that I can say, "Follow me. Park where I park. Live as I live."
“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 on by men.
And one blueprint to perfect holiness in your life is found in the acronym PURE:

Prepare for spiritual attack. No one is above this, including me and including you! First Corinthians 10:12 says, "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall."

Unfasten defiling associations. Biblical separation is positive. It's not simply not doing something or isolating yourself from the world. It means we turn from sin and turn to God and receive His power for living.

Remember the consequences of fatal attractions. Yes, as believers, Christ has taken our sin. But our God is a God of holiness and purity and righteousness. Sexual sin can create such a bondage in our life.

Engage in positive spiritual activities. It's not just no, no, no, no, no! But rather if you really want to defeat the power of sin in your life, then engage in positive spiritual activities like Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.
Remember Lot? He was saved, but not living it. He was supposed to be salt, but he lost his savour, and instead of influencing he was influenced, and couldn’t even win his own family over to the truth in the end! They laughed at him. God spared that city for a long time for his sake, but eventually the sky fell, tho’ Lot was delivered.
Remember Lot’s wife? The Bible says to! She was so influenced that she looked back, and became salt herself! And that pillar stands to this day as a reminder of the fact that we are salt, but we need to hold onto that savour, and get it out of the shaker!
3. The Demand For Preserving Salt
Have you seen this formula? No its not the formula for salt! HP + CP + CC = MI
High Potency plus Close Proximity plus Clear Communication equals Maximum Impact. Okay, fellow multipliers, let’s use the remainder of our time together this morning to study this formula so that when we leave here we will have a very clear understanding of how to share our faith in a way that will make it possible for us to fulfill this GREAT Commission.
1. “H.P.” which stands for HIGH POTENCY.
By H.P. we mean that in order to fulfill the Great Commission, we must have a highly potent relationship with Christ, a vibrant walk with our Lord that is obvious to all who know us. That’s why Jesus described us as SALT in this text. When salt is salty, it’s presence is always recognizable. In Paul said, “...Let your conversation...your LIFE...be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” In other words, to have an impact on the lost world around us we must have a relationship with Jesus that is so deep and real that every moment of our lives, even our daily conversation, is “salted” with the love of God. Verse 16 of our text says that this relationship must flavor everything we do so that people watching us “see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.” They see the way we live and recognize us as God’s children. So, this portion of the formula states that to lead others to follow Christ, we must convince them that we follow Him. We must spend so much time with Jesus, communicating with Him through regular prayer and Bible study, that the result is a life that is clearly recognizable as being one of an authentic disciple. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “If a man abides in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” Maybe that is why Jesus was so critical of Christians who were not authentic....He described them as salt that lost it’s savor... “no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by men.” Do you remember His words to the flavorless Christians who made up the church in Laodicea? To these bland, lukewarm followers He said, “I wish you were cold or hot....because you are lukewarm...neither hot nor cold...I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” In other words Jesus said he would rather they were not followers at all than to be inconsistent, lukewarm followers. You see Christians who have a shallow faith---Christians who are halfhearted and inconsistent do more harm to the kingdom of God than would be done by non-Christians.
2. ...CLOSE PROXIMITY.... You see, it doesn’t matter how POTENT our relationship with Christ is if we never get close to people who don’t know Christ themselves. Salt does no good if it is left in the shaker. So if we are going to impact our world for Christ, the most effective approach will be through friendships with those who need to be reached. You know statistics show that within 2 years of becoming a Christian most people have no significant relationship with a lost person. They get so involved in the church that they center nearly every free moment of their lives within the church and have no time left to develop relationships with lost people---the salt stays in the shaker. And many evangelistic efforts are not fruitful is because they end up being focused around inviting lost people to come into the church building. But to really influence the lost in our community we must leave the church and go out there, making friendships with people through which we can share our faith.
A recent study asked 10,000 Christians how they came to Christ and their church....
.5% said they did so as a result of a revival service... 2% said they went because they had a special need...
3% went because liked the church programs 5% liked the Sunday School
6% liked the minister.... 79% came to Christ because they were invited to do so by a friend!
This means that almost 80% of the people who respond to Christ do so through an already established relationship. And here’s some more pertinent info. A recent article in LEADERSHIP JOURNAL revealed that 80% of the people won to Christ through relationships become actively involved in a local church...they become multipliers themselves! On the other hand 80% of those won in a one-time witnessing encounter (say on a street corner or in a door-to-door witnessing campaign) 80% of these people never become actively involved in a church. So, how do we win the world to Christ? One life at a time by putting ourselves in CLOSE PROXIMITY to lost people!
3. ...which stands for CLEAR COMMUNICATION. In our text for today Jesus says that if light is to have it’s intended effect, it must not be covered up or obscured in any way. And in order for us to have the powerful influence on this world that God desires, we must know the gospel message cold and be ready to communicate it concisely and clearly. It only makes sense that any time we have a message to communicate we must do so in a way that it is clearly understood by the people with whom we are communicating.
Don’t be like the professor that was talking to a man whose car had evidently broken down beside the road. The professor said, “Your tubular air container has lost most of its rotundity.” The motorist replied, “What did you say?” The professor restated, “The cylindrical apparatus which supports your vehicle is not longer inflated.” The motorist answered, “I beg your pardon?” The professor tried one more time, saying, “The elastic fabric surrounding the circular frame whose successive revolutions bear you onward in space has failed to retain its pristine roundness.” Finally a little boy came to the rescue and said, “Hey mister, you have a flat tire!”
Keep your message simple and clear. In Paul wrote, “When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Paul was saying that his message was not fancy or complicated. It was simple and he explained it concisely and to the point. And if we are to do our part to win the world to Christ we must know how to verbalize the central truth of the Gospel simply and clearly.

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