Salt and Light
Posted on 10/23/2005 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
Good morning and welcome to CyberChurch. A special welcome to those listening at the new church in Sammamish. If you're listening from another location besides Vine, and it's between 11:30am and 1:30pm Second Life time, instant message Benjamin Psaltery for a teleport so you can join in our time of fellowship which follows every service.
Please hold all questions and comments until after the service. To help you take notes and write down any questions or topics you'd like to discuss after the service, we've made available to you notecards containing this morning's message outline. Simply click-touch the pulpit in front of me.
This morning's message is a very important one. It is about something that touches all of us, and goes deeper than any of us. It's about our purpose, about our calling, and about our destiny.
It's about life; and it's about death. It's about choice, and it's about power.
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.
Lord Jesus, thank you for each one you've brought here this morning, and for everyone who will join us by hearing this message later this week. We ask that you prepare our hearts now to receive your Word, and that you'll cause it to go deep and take root, and bear the fruit of righteousness in our lives.
And it's in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
How many of us know that we live in a politically correct world. Every belief has to be watered down and spoken, or rather squeeked, appologetically, for fear of offending or insulting someone.
Some of us try so hard to blend in, that the only way anyone would know we're a Christian is if they ask.
Jesus tells us to be salt and light, but because we're afraid of being too salty, we lose our taste; and because we're afraid of offending someone by being too bright, we let our light grow dim.
So our salt loses its saltiness, and we hide our lights under a basket, hoping we won't be rejected or scare anyone away.
But the cost is great. The cost is astranomical. The cost is more than you or I or everyone on the planet could even collectively comprehend.
No one can fathom the value of a single life, and the horrendous cost of an eternity in anguish is unspeakably great -- it simply escapes our power of imagination. Unspeakable torment with not one moment of comfort... ever... that lasts forever and ever and ever -- it will never, ever, end.
This is an everlasting tormet created for satan and his angels, and those who follow him by rejecting God's gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Hell was not created for mankind, God's greatest and most dear creation, but for satan and his demons, the enemies of his beloved.
You see, 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.
Sin not only separates us from God, it also brings pain and destruction into our lives.
What about the child molestors? The rapists? The murderers? What about pain and suffering all around the world? What about natural disasters? What about disease? Can God possibly love us and let all these things happen to us? Where is he when we need him the most?
All suffering exists because of one truth, which we can read in Romans 5:12, "...by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon everyone, because all have sinned."
Jesus came to save us from sin, taking all our sin upon himself on the cross, because sin is what causes us pain and suffering.
We have a free will, and the world is full of sin and those who choose to give in to it and even call it "good". Even creation, the elements, groan under the weight of sin committed by those who were put in charge of everything that was created.
And this is why God left his throne in heaven and lived as one of us, so that, in being tempted every way that we are, and by overcoming that temptation and living a blameless life, he could become the sacrifice for our sins, the sacrifice that we rightfully should spend all eternity paying for in eternal judgement; he did that because this same sin, this compromise, this choosing to do things our own way, this is what causes suffering and death.
We read this in John 10:10: "The enemy has come for nothing but to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it in great abundance."
So what does this mean? After we have accepted God's gift of love, after we have accepted his forgiveness, after we have accepted his gift of eternal life and unbroken fellowship with him; then what? What does God want of us?
God has spelled out very clearly what kind of people he wants us to be. We are to be salt. And we are to be light.
Most of us in this room have, at some time in our lives, walked into a dark room, turned on the light, and seen roaches scurry to their dark hiding places. They were exposed by the light, and ran back into hiding as quickly as possible.
The light exposes the darkness -- the darkness in society, the darkness in others, and the darkness in our own hearts and minds.
And so we are tempted to hide our light under a basket so those who love the darkness will not be repelled by us. The problem is, not only will those who love the darkness not run from us, but also those who are seeking the light will not come to us.
It is the Holy Spirit's job to prepare the hearts and draw people to Jesus. It is our job to be salt. And it is our job to be light.
We tend to forget the basics of the Gospel message:
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.
What has happened? Why don't we see these things happening today?
We indeed do. In Africa, for example, it is not unusual for people to be brought back from the dead. Healings take place in great numbers. Multitudes are giving their hearts and lives to Jesus and being forever changed.
The truth is, there are miracles happening all around the world, including the United States, or wherever you call home. But too many of us are bland salt and weak light, and are standing in the way of what God would do if we would only become that salt and light he is calling us to be.
In Second Chronicles 7:14 God says, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sins, and heal their land."
Are we called by his name? Do we name the name of Christ? If so, the destiny of our society rests in our hands. God promised that if we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways, he will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land. Wow!
But it's all up to us. It's all up to you, and it's all up to me. We can choose to change nothing in our lives. We can choose to not humble ourselves. We can choose to not pray. We can choose to not seek God's face. We can choose to not turn away from those things we know don't please God. And if this is our choice, then we cannot and should not expect God to hear us, or forgive us, or heal our land.
I know this is a hard word this morning, but it is the truth, and the Truth will set you free once you know it. I've been guilty of watering down the Gospel, of telling only part of the truth, and of being bland salt and dim light.
But today is a brand new day. And God's mercies are new every morning. So TODAY, I will be a little more salty. TODAY, I will shine a little brighter. TODAY, I will pray, humble myself before God, seek his presence and his face, and I will turn away from my wicked ways, and turn instead to his ways and doing what pleases him.
Jesus said if we're ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of us before his Father; I will not be ashamed of Jesus and of the Truth he has shown us in his Word, and of the life, love, peace, and joy he died to make our own.
What about you? Where do you stand with God? 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, even if 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 to give you a brand new start, making you a brand new creation.
"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 have given your life to Jesus this morning, or if you've rededicated your life to him, please let us know. Send an instant message to Benjamin Psaltery or one of our ministry team, or if you're outside of Second Life, send an e-mail to email@example.com or use our contact form at livingsounds.org.
Now let's go next door to the fellowship room for a time of fellowship and open discussion.
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen.