Matthew 5:1-16 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Verse 16 is one of my favorite verses. There is no way to over emphasize the importance of letting our light shine in this dark world. It is not enough to your light shine in church. It must shine outside the four walls of the church.
I think that it is interesting when Jesus declares that the manner in which our light shines is through our good works. And then He makes it clear that even though it is our good works, they must glorify God and not our selves.
But in this message, I want to focus on verse 13. I have preached on this verse before but not in this context. Jesus told us in this verse that we are the “…salt of the earth…” And then, in the next verse, He told us that we are the “…light of the world…” Both of those messages are so important in the life of the Christian.
When you look at the context of these two statements, you have to realize the real meaning of these declarations for the Christian. Jesus has just listed the characteristics of the “blessed” or happy man. When you look at that list, it is not what most people believe is necessary to make someone happy. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those hungry and thirsty for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted (as long as it is for righteousness sake), and those who are reviled, tortured, and slandered.
Isn’t it amazing that more money, more time off, newer cars, bigger houses, a boat, etc. are not found on the list of things that Jesus says will make us happy. And how is it possible that persecution and slander and all of those terrible things can make us happy? Verse 12 says that we should even rejoice in those times of being mistreated. The reason Jesus gave us is a wonderful promise that has been the comfort and encouragement that many martyrs for the cause of Christ have rested their faith upon; “…for great is your reward in heaven…”
If you look at the things that Jesus listed, the things that make us “blessed,” you will notice that the Beatitudes are an explanation of the progression of natural growth of the Christian. From realizing our poverty of spirit (the bankruptcy of our souls) to the place where we can rejoice in persecution, each step causes the world to take notice. They will want to know the reason for the peace and the hope and the joy in our life.
If we are depressed and down and discouraged when we go through trials, we are no different than those in the world. It is when we have joy in the time of trouble and peace in the middle of the storm that will make them want to know, “Why?” That is part of being the salt of the earth and the light of the earth.
However, for the first time, I noticed that verse 13 says more about salt that is not fulfilling its purpose or salt that has lost it’s savour than it does about good salt. That intrigued me and caused me to start meditating on the reason for such a warning
In the past, I have preached about salt and its function in life. It doesn’t matter who you are, salt is a part of your life. Salt is a seasoning that makes things taste better and more interesting. It is a preservative that can keep meat from spoiling for extended storage without refrigeration. It is also a de-icer that melts ice and makes the pathway much safer. And there are spiritual application for each of those functions of salt.
If the salt has lost it’s saltiness; it’s savour, it cannot fulfill any of those purposes. And in the life of a Christian; if we are the salt of the earth, it is of the utmost importance that we do not lose our savour.
In my lifetime and in many of yours, you would have to concede the point that we, as the salt, have lost much of our savour. The church has become so wrapped up in itself that we are not affecting the world in the positive manner that God intended. God wants to season and preserve and melt the hearts of the world through His church but that cannot happen if we have lost our savour.
Jesus said that if that happened, the salt is “…good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” It is not even worth it’s existence.
In the natural, I am not aware of any process by which salt that has lost it’s saltiness can be repaired or revived. There is nothing that can be done to make it salt again. And yet, as it pertains to the church having lost it’s savour, I believe it can be revived. It is my belief that it doesn’t take some great complicated strategy. The salt can be revived if we take 3 simple steps.
Paul told the Thessalonians in 1 Thes. 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” In other words, there is no time to stop praying. We used to sing a song that encouraged us that we should pray no matter how we felt.
When you don’t feel like praying, pray. When you think you just can’t get through, pray. Precious to the Father’s ears are three words, Lord I’m here. When you don’t feel like praying, pray. (Pray written by Kyla Rowland)
There are some very important reasons why we need to “Pray without ceasing.”
The world is depending on our prayers. I mentioned earlier that salt is a preservative. I feel very strongly that one of the main reasons America has avoided the full impact of the judgment of God is because of a praying church. If God would spare Sodom and Gomorrah for 10 righteous, I choose to believe that our prayers and righteous living are essential if America is to be spared.
Our families are depending on our prayers. Recently, I witnessed a change in a 69 year old man whose wife had been praying for his salvation for over 50 years. Last summer, he surrendered his life to Christ. I have to believe that his salvation was a result of his wife’s and our church’s prayers. If there had been no family to pray or request prayer for him, things could have been so different.
Our brothers and sisters in Christ are depending on our prayers. There have been more times than I could enumerate that someone has walked up to me and told me that they were praying for me and it gave me the strength to hold on a little longer. And there have also been times when I could feel the prayers of the saints as I was going through a difficult time. Most of you know what I am talking about. We depend on the prayers of our brothers and sisters.
It is only when we start interceding for our friends and families and neighbors and brothers and sisters that we will be fulfilling the purpose God intended for us as salt. We must stand in the gap and make up the hedge. That is what salt does.
Prayer has all but been eliminated out of the lives of most Christians. The prayer life of many consists of altar service of services that they attend. In other words, the salt is losing it’s savour. We are in danger of failing to fulfill God’s will for our lives
There is a parable at the beginning of Luke 18 that Luke introduces in this manner:
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
The parable was about the widow who kept coming back to the judge time after time. The point of the parable was that God is not an impersonal judge and if we will continue to pray, we will not faint. If we continue to pray, we will not fail in our purpose. If we pray, our saltiness, our savour, will be revived in us.
That brings us to the second simple step to reviving the salt.
It is my belief that fasting is one of the most misunderstood teachings of the Bible. There are so many who fast to get God to do something for them. They use fasting to get the attention of God. I can say with certainty that this is not the purpose of fasting.
Fasting is much more about crucifying our flesh than it is about getting God’s attention. Because, if God loves us so much that He gave His only Son, and if Jesus was willing to give His life for us, and was willing to suffer all of the torture and shame of the cross, doesn’t it stand to reason that we already have God’s attention. If God sees every time a sparrow falls, how much more do we have God’s attention?
When we fast, we are humbling ourselves before God. We are crucifying our flesh to natural desires and giving God more access to us. We are making ourselves available for His use.
We all are familiar with the account where Jesus told the disciples about the power to cast out evil spirits was only attained through prayer and fasting. It was because that when we pray and fast, we give God access to use us. We are making ourselves available to Him
And when Jesus was teaching about fasting, he was very specific as to how we are to approach fasting. We shouldn’t fast to gain the honor or respect or attention of others.
Matthew 6:16-18 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Notice in verse 16 that it is not, “…If ye fast…,” it is “…when ye fast…” Jesus spoke to them concerning fasting as if it was an accepted and expected part of the life of His followers.
And when we fast, it shouldn’t be apparent to those around us. We shouldn’t mope around and look like we lost our best friend. We should have the appearance that all is well because we don’t fast for the purpose of impressing anyone. If we are humble in our fasting, God sees our sacrifice. He sees our efforts to surrender more of our life to Him and He rewards us by working in and through our lives.
He is better able to utilize us to bring about His will in our families and community. He revives the savour of the “…salt of the earth…” and we will have a greater impact on our world.
In addition to prayer and fasting, there is another element that is necessary if the salt is to be revived.
III. God’s Word
Paul wrote to young Timothy and gave him wonderful advice that has been counsel and encouragement for ministers young and old alike from that time until now. He told Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:15,
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
If we are ever going to restore to the salt it’s savour, we are going to have to study and know the Word of God. If we don’t know what God’s Word says, we will be making major life decisions with incomplete information.
There are some that are reading this message that never open your Bible except when you are in God’s house. It is not my intent to browbeat or scold but let’s think about this. Don’t you think that there is something terribly wrong when we have trouble paying attention to a 20 or 30 minute message and yet we can sit and be entertained for hours without losing interest.
I’m afraid that our salt has lost it’s savour. We have become “…lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God…” and the result of this condition is “…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…”
We have got to realize the state of the salt in our generation. We need to get down to business with God and realize the seriousness of our situation. If we are going to revive the salt in our generation, we are going to have to pray, we are going to have to be fasting, and we are going to have to be studying God’s Word.
Peter told us the importance of studying God’s Word. In 1 Peter 3:15, he said,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
The world is longing and seeking for hope. They try every avenue available to them but find emptiness at the end of every road. The truth is that we have the hope that they are seeking for. We need to study and know God’s Word so that we will be able to give an answer to anybody that asks us the question, “Why are you so happy even when things are so bad?”
Some quick-witted answer is not going to be good enough. We need to know why we have hope and we need to be able to show them in scripture where our hope comes from.
I want to challenge you, please don’t let the salt lose any more of it’s savour in your life. And let’s work together and do everything in our power to bring about a revival of the salt.
I believe with all of my heart that the church of Jesus Christ is under attack. Sickness is affecting some of the great current day heroes of the faith. The laws are changing and evolving in such a way that the church may very soon face persecution and harassment from the government. This is not a coincidence. It is not just the way of life. We are under attack.
The enemy would like to keep us from making a difference in our communities. If he can keep us weighted down with our own conflicts, he has accomplished his mission in sidelining us from being the salt that the world so desperately needs us to be. The salt is losing it’s savour.
But if we rise up and come together, in other words, if we close ranks…,
We can pray. We can pray for one another. We can intercede for our families and friends and our country.
We can fast. We can crucify our flesh and make ourselves available to be used by God.
We can dig deep in God’s Word and let our affections be on God and not the pleasures of this world. Be sure we can tell others about our hope
If we do those things, the salt will be revived and we cannot help but make a difference in our world.
Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.