Salt and Light
Posted on 02/26/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
Good morning, and welcome to the gathering of the Saints in Second Life.
For the past two weeks, we've been in the book of Matthew. Week before last, we read from chapter seven where Jesus tells us if we hear and live by the words he had just spoken, we're like a wise person who builds our house on the rock; and when the rains fall, the floods come, and the winds blow, our house will stand because it is founded upon the rock.
He goes on to tell us that if we hear but do not live by the words he had just spoken, we're like a foolish person who builds our house on the sand; and when the rains fall, the floods come, and the winds blow, our house will fall, and it will be a great fall.
Last week we looked at the first part of Jesus' message which is the first part of that solid rock foundation upon which we should build our lives, if we want something solid and secure. We call this passage of Scripture "The Beattitudes".
If you were unable to attend last Sunday and did not come by the church to listen to the recording of the message, please take a few minutes after the service to visit livingsounds.org and listen to "Being Blessed".
Let's all stand to our feet and go to the Lord in prayer and praise.
Father God, thank you for giving us another day to seek after you on this earth, to make ourselves right before you, to prepare ourselves for that time unknown to us when we will meet you face to face.
Open our minds and our hearts to your Word today. May we be receptive and teachable. We know that all your ways are good, and they bring peace and joy to those who walk in them. May we walk in your ways.
And it's in Jesus' name we pray.
Please remain standing, and click-touch the pulpit for a notecard. If you don't have any worship animations, you can click-touch, or left-click, the first step here and receive some for free.
Let's bless the Lord by lifting our voices to him in praise.
Something beautiful, something good
all my confusion, he understood
All I had to offer him was
brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful
out of my life
'TIS SO SWEET
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
and to take him at his word
Just to rest upon his promise
and to know, "Thus says the Lord"
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him!
How I've proved him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust him more!
O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
just to trust his cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
life, and rest, and joy, and peace
I'm so glad I learned to trust you,
precious Jesus, Savior, friend
And I know that you are with me,
will be with me to the end
Indeed, it IS so sweet to trust in Jesus, to know that we CAN trust in him; he's always good, always true to his Word, and whatever direction he gives us to follow will be right, good, and will end in peace and joy.
You can be seated as we learn from God's Word.
Let's read this morning from the book of Matthew, the fifth chapter, beginning with the thirteenth verse:
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It is then good for nothing except to be cast out and trampled under foot.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither does anyone light a candle, and put it under a basket, but rather on a candlestick, and it gives light unto all who are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Have you ever heard the belief that ANY belief is good as long as you don't "push" it on anyone else, or claim that it is any more true than anyone else's belief?
For Christians, that's the same as saying, "You can believe the Bible if you wish, as long as you don't believe it."
Scripture tells us that there is a heaven, a place of eternal, blissful, unbroken fellowship with God, and that there is a hell, a place of eternal, unspeakable horror of complete separation from God and everything good he now provides for us all in great abundance.
Jesus spoke of both places. He actually spoke of hell more than of heaven. Jesus claimed that the only way to God, and thus heaven, is through him.
Countless prophecies fortold that the Messiah would live a sinless life and then become the spotless lamb, the blameless sacrifice, to pay the price for our sins.
Scripture tells us, "Without the shedding of blood, there is no washing away of sins." It's a spiritual law, blood must be shed for sins. And unless someone who has no spiritual sin debt of his own spills his blood in our place, then our own must be shed, our life must be required, as inadequate payment for those sins.
I've spoken with people who say they are Christians, but they either don't realize the word "Christian" means "Imitator of Christ", or they simply don't know Jesus. And, realizing that salt burns self-inflicted wounds caused by habbitual sin, and knowing that light hurts eyes which have been dwelling in darkness, it would be much easier and more comfortable for me to keep my mouth shut and not expose to them the lie of their own self-dillusion.
But by doing so, I am hiding my light under a basket. By not telling the truth in love, my salt has lost its flavor.
Both salt and light are distinctive. They both stand out from their surroundings. They are easy to identify. They are not easily ignored.
Are we distinctive? Do we stand out from the world? Are we easy to identify as Christians? Or do we blend in with the crowd, trying to be accepted by everyone in the world, and being very careful to never offend or have someone see us as a religious fanatic whose belief system has been antiquated by the great evolutionary mental advances which obviously have passed us by?
Jesus tells us to "let your light shine before others in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Certainly not EVERYONE who sees you walking in the footsteps of Jesus will glorify God. In fact, many of them will utterly despise you. Others will simply think you're out of date.
But it is certain that SOMONE will see you following after Jesus, growing and maturing as a result, and modelling your life after Kingdom principles, and those people, or even that person, will glorify God and will turn their lives over to the Master.
But if you are not salt, and if you are not light, they or he or she just may spend eternity in hell, in torment.
You know, God gave everything for you. He chose to leave the splendor of heaven; he chose to leave the countless multitudes of angels who surround the throne worshiping him and waiting upon him; he chose to leave his limitless power to be one of us; he chose to leave the highest throne in the universe to be born as a helpless baby in a cave; He left his realm of constant bliss to be beaten to the point of death, then to be nailed to a rough, splintered cross; He left his place of complete and radiant life to spill his blood and die; He left his place of righteousness and holiness and lived a life without sin so he could, while in agony, his blood falling to the ground, be blamed for everything you've ever done wrong, for everything I've ever done wrong.
In Romans 5:8 we read, "But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
While we were still rejecting God's love by the way we live, and by not fulfilling the reason he created us, which is to worship him and fellowship with him -- while we were, in essence, spitting in God's face, he suffered unspeakable pain, and then while bleeding and dying in agony, he willingly took the blame for all your sins. And in the middle of it all, he said, "Father, forgive them; for they don't know what they're doing."
After all Jesus has done for us, what does God ask in return? Only that we accept his gift, that we lay our sins on Jesus and take on ourselves HIS righteousness instead. Only that we walk in his ways and stay away from sin, because sin is what creates that wall between us and him, that wall he came to destroy.
Is it too much to ask that we be salt? Is it too much to ask that we be light?
Why are we so ashamed to shine our light for Jesus? To stand up for what's right? Why do we feel ashamed when we speak the name of Jesus and admit that we do believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, and those who reject him will spend eternity in hell? Why do we feel ashamed to stand up for the truth?
It is those who are walking in darkness, who are spiritually naked and blind, who are wallowing in garbage and in their own spiritual vomit; it is they who should be ashamed, not us.
How did the tables get turned? Why do WE feel ashamed of walking in the light? Why do WE feel ashamed of fulfilling our purpose of having sweet fellowship with our Creator? Why do WE feel ashamed of being clean, of having our shameful acts forgiven, and then being set free from them so we can walk tall, see where we are going, have a purpose for our lives with clear direction, and become royalty, with royal blood flowing through our veins?
It's time to stop looking at everyone else around us, and put our eyes where they should be, and where they will steer us in the right direction.
When we fix our attention on Jesus, and when he becomes central to our lives around which everything else revolves, our shame to live shameless lives will begin to melt away, and a boldness and love we never knew before will begin to take its place.
Jesus is inseperable from his Word. We read in John 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God..." and "...and the Word became flesh and lived among us."
If we say we believe Jesus but do not believe the Word of God, the Bible, we are only deceiving ourselves, and hurting those God put us on this earth to help.
So let's embrace and proclaim the basics of the Gospel, around which all of Scripture revolves, for it is eternal life, to all who hear and believe.
1. We are created in the image of God for the purpose of having intimate fellowship with God.
2. Man sinned against God, breaking that fellowship with a holy God, and we have inherited that nature of sin, those desires to do things that are against God and his laws.
3. Because our fellowship with God was broken by sin, we cannot come into his presence, and since we are following satan by doing things our own way, we will spend eternity in his hell.
4. In spite of our depravity, God loved us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, who came willingly to die in our place so that our sins can be washed away, having been blamed on Jesus, and so we can have that fellowship with God restored, be at peace with God, and spend eternity in his presence.
5. Jesus rose bodily from the dead and ascended to heaven, where he is seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting for the time when he will come to make things right on the earth and establish his Kingdom forever.
6. By confessing to ourselves and to God that we are a sinner, by asking for God's forgiveness for our sins, and by choosing to follow Jesus making him the Lord and master of our lives, we are spiritually born into God's family and can have an unbroken fellowship with him.
7. If we do not accept this payment for our sins that God has gone to every measure imaginable to offer to us, we will not be able to come into God's presence and will spend eternity in hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched, where there is no rest day or night, and where we forever will bemoan the day we last heard the truth and turned and walked away.
When we water down the Truth, we are sending people to Hell. A watered-down Gospel is weak -- it is not the whole truth.
On the other hand, an undiluted Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation as Romans 1:16 tells us: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..."
So the question I would like us to ask ourselves this morning is this: "What kind of Gospel am I living?"
"What kind of Gospel am I living?"
Are we walking in the light as He is in the light?
Are we dying daily to our carnal, fleshly desires, and walking instead in the Holy Spirit?
Are we starting each day in God's presence, reading his Word, speaking with him, worshipping him, and seeking his presence in all we do, say, and think?
If not, then we are living a weak Gospel, and we are bland salt and a dim light.
In the days of the early Church, people were getting healed; the dead were rising again; multitudes were repenting of their sins and turning to the True and Living God; those who would lie to the Holy Spirit were falling dead; the Holy Spirit was falling upon believers with very visible, undeniable manifestations.
Let's seek God, his kingdom order and authority to be established in our lives, his way of thinking and living to be all we know, and his Spirit and Word to be our daily and moment-by-moment spiritual food and drink; and we will begin to see God, once again, do things we can now hardly dare to imagine.
At this time I will ask the ministry team to come stand accross the front for prayer and ministry.
Where do you stand with God today? Is there anything in your life that does not please him? Are you watering down the Truth of the Gospel of Christ? Are you ashamed of openly proclaiming Jesus? Are you salty salt? Are you radiant light?
If not, today is the day to start walking in the right direction. Today is a brand new day, and God's mercies toward you are brand new every morning.
As Philippians 2:13 says, "It is God who works in you both to will and to do that which pleases him." So let's pray for that desire, and for the power to fulfil that desire, to do what pleases him, and to show us what pleases him so we will know we haven't arrived and there is so much journey yet before us.
Pray with me from your heart:
"Jesus, I know I don't always please you, sometimes even when think I do. I'm not always salt, and I'm not always light. Forgive me for watering down the Gospel, with my words with my attitudes, with my thoughts, and with my life. Change me Lord, into your image; from Glory to Glory, make me more and more like you. Put that burning desire inside me, to do only that which pleases you. And then fill me with your Holy Spirit, so I will have the power to do those things. And it's in your holy name I pray. Amen."
Perhaps you have not yet accepted God's gift of life. Today is the day to stop rejecting Jesus and the abundant life he suffered and died so you could have peace, joy, and a future and a hope.
His call to you this morning is simple: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if you will hear my voice, and open your door, I will come in and feast with you; and together, we will have great joy."
Today is your day to accept God's gift of love; today is your day to stop running away from God, to stop running away from the good things he has prepared for you, and to instead turn and run into his arms, and let him heal you, give you peace, and give you a brand new start, making you a brand new creation.
You're not here by accident; God has a purpose and a plan for your life, and he wants to be your best friend, to fill you up with everlasting peace and joy, wiping your slate clean and giving you a brand new start.
"Behold, those who are in Christ are a brand new creation; Old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new."
Pray this prayer with me, from your heart, and today will be the day you experience God's love in a way you never thought love could be. Pray with me:
"God, I've been running from you for too long, and today I'm coming home. Forgive me for my sins against you, and for rejecting the gift of the blood you shed for me. I repent of my sins, of doing things my own way, and I choose your righteousness, and to do things your way. I want to have that personal relationship with you, to feel your presence in my life, and to know that you are mine, and I am yours. Come in to my heart Lord Jesus! Clean me out, and make me your own. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and set my feet on your paths of life. Thank you Jesus! Amen."
If you want someone to pray with you, come to the front for prayer. This altar is open. Feel free to just come kneel for a time of prayer and rededication. Perhaps there's something you need to settle between you and God. Let's spend a little while in his presence.
Come up front to pray, go to the Lord right where you are, or if you wish to go next door to the fellowship room, we'll all join you after this time of ministry, prayer, and rededication.
May you go in the grace of the Lord. Amen.