The greeting.

Grace and peace Beloved in the name of Jesus Christ. Thank you for joining us in our studies again today. I hope they have been helpful for your walk with Christ.

The Scripture.

Please take out your Bible. Let me read from Matthew 5:1-16. Read. The text under examination today will be Mt.5:13.

Matthew 5:13. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

I will also read two similar statements by Christ found in the gospel of Mark and Luke.

Mark 9:49. For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 “Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Luke 14:34. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The prayer.

Let’s pray and ask God’s help in the study of His word today. Pray.

The beatitudes.

It is always good to remind ourselves what we are looking at with the Beatitudes and now with the Similitudes. 

The Beatitudes do not teach us the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Jesus is about the person of Jesus Christ and the work of Jesus Christ. He pays the penalties of the broken law. He keeps the precepts of the moral law, for us.  I mentioned this the other day, the Bible speaks of the gospel with the shorthand term, the message of the cross. (I Cor.1:17-21, Gal.6:12-14)

But it is true that Christ does perfectly exemplify the traits that He speaks about here.

The Beatitudes do not teach us how a person becomes a Christian, how one appropriates Christ and His benefits.  That is to say, by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, we are not saved by our meekness or our peacemaking or any other thing we do. No one is saved by keeping the law. (Rom.3:20-28, Gal.2:16, 3:11, 24) Only Christ kept the Law of God perfectly. We are saved by His law-keeping.

The characteristics.

Jesus is talking to His disciples. Jesus is saying this is what true Believers will increasingly look like because we are spiritually united to Him by Spirit-gifted faith.

For example, if we have true saving faith in Jesus as our Sin-Bearer we will then produce Christlike fruits. Like meekness, gentleness, a desire for righteousness, a hatred of sin, and so on.  (Gal.2:20) 

Real Christians mourn for sin. Mainly our own. And then sin in the church and sin in the world. (Ps.119:136, 158)

Real Christians are merciful to evil and ungrateful sinners like our heavenly Father and like our holy older brother Christ, because we are in vital living spiritual union with Him. He is the vine and we are the branches. Therefore, we bear His holy and meek and loving fruit.  (Jn.15:1-10, Lk.6:24-36, Mt.12:33, Gal.5:19-26)

Just a quick word of explanation and then I am going to try to stop with my clarifying word.  When I say true or real Christian, I am distinguishing between a person that merely professes to believe in Jesus as their Savior but does not inwardly truly believe from a person that professes and possesses Christ.

Someone who is only in the church but not in Christ by saving faith will not manifest the traits Christ speak of.

If someone objects to Christ and says, well I know many Christians that do not look like anything in Matthew 5:1-16, the conclusion is that they are not truly born again. (Jn.15:6, Heb.12:14)

Or, and this is a big ‘or’, or the person doing the looking hates Christ and Christians and they ‘see’ with spiritual prejudice. (Rom.8:7)  Remember unbelievers looked at perfect Christ and said He was a sinner and a tool of Satan.

The similitude.

Jesus moves from what we call the beatitudes to what is sometimes known as the similitudes. 

Here Christ further describes the Believer as like this and like that.  We are like salt and like sight.  Salt and light are being used as metaphors.  A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used to describe the likeness or the connection between the figurative word and the thing signified.

The holiness.

The idea with the salt (and with the light) is one of holiness.

Because we are joined to God in Christ, the life of Christ comes out of us, we manifest His holiness to the world. (Rom.5:1-10)

First by precept. We say speak about the holy law of God. We speak about the holy Gospel of God.  Then the life of Christ comes out of us in our practice. We live holy lives according to the Law, laboring to live worthy of the holy Gospel.  We are trying to imitate our holy Christ.

This is our saltiness to the world.  Christ’s holiness coming out of us.  We are a holy people and a holy priesthood.

Holy covenant.

We see this idea of salt and holiness even in the OT. It is interesting that the covenant of grace is referred to as the covenant of salt.  (Mk.9:50) Holiness. 

Numbers 18:19  All the offerings of the holy gifts, which the sons of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you, as a perpetual allotment. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD to you and your descendants with you.”

Holy sacrifices.

And God required salt in certain OT sacrifices. (Lev.2:13, Ezek.43:24) Holiness.

Leviticus 2:13   Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

Holy speech.

See how Paul equates salt and holiness, in this case holiness of speech like Christ. 

Colossians 4:6   Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. 

Deuteronomy 33:2.  He said, “The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.  3 “Indeed, He loves the people; All Your holy ones are in Your hand, And they followed in Your steps; Everyone receives of Your words. (Ps.89:5-7, Zech.14:5, Jude 1:14)

Holy persons.

In Christ, we are God’s holy ones. We are saints. We are salt. (Ps.16:3, Rom.1:7)

The fact.

However, though Christ uses metaphorical language He says something objective about His disciples and not essentially subjective.  You are salt.  You are light.

Not, you feel like salt and light. Faith in Christ makes us salt in light.  Christ in us is our saltiness.  Christ’s light in us is our light that comes out of us.

Galatians 2:20.  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Of course, Christ by this is encouraging us as His followers to live up to our high calling, to live according to our new nature. To live as meek and gentle Christians. To live like salt and light.

The affects.

And by doing so, Jesus is saying with by these similitudes that Christians will have a religious affect on themselves and others.  The Believer has religious, spiritual, and moral affects upon himself or herself and other people.  In the family. In the church. And in the larger society.

We are like salt to fellow lovers of Christ. But we are especially like salt to those still in their sins apart from Christ.

The world.

And I would say that the group or the people to whom we are salt and light especially in view here is the unbeliever in his or her sin. Taken corporately, we are salt and light to a dying and dark world in their sin.

By which we learn there are two people and two communities of people in the world and two only. In Christ. Or apart from Christ. Believer. Unbeliever.  Those on the narrow road of Christ. And those on the broad road to perdition. (Mt.7:13-14) 

Jesus indicates the influence for spiritual good that Christians have upon the world.

This is so contrary to what the unbeliever thinks.  They think if they could just take the church out of society, just cause the Christians to quit Biblical Christianity and then all their problems would be over once they rid themselves of narrow-minded Believers.  Jesus Christ says the exact opposite.

Think of this, who else would bring the gospel of Christ if there were no Christians?  Who else would declare God’s standard for morality (Ten Commandments) if Christians were gone? (Rom.10:17)

The salt.

Today I want us to examine in more detail what it means for us to be salt. 

Salt is common but necessary.

Salt is often dug out of the earth or harvested out of the sea.  We might call salt a lowly thing or a common thing.  Certainly, men at least after a fashion do not value salt as much as they value gold.  The price of each will indicate the perceived worth of each.

But what is interesting is that God takes something lowly, relatively un-regarded as salt and makes it something quite necessary, even we might say vital.  Think of Christ, He has no outward form of pomp or glory, just the opposite, coming in the form of a lowly servant. (Isa.53:1-12, Phil.2:1-11)

So too, God takes us sinners and saves us in Christ and now takes a small handful of people who are meek and lowly and hunger and thirst for righteousness and He uses us as necessary salt, as good for others. (I Cor.1:18-31)

Whereas the world may not acknowledge the good of the church, Jesus Christ clearly does.  Of course, we must not forget our saltiness is all of free grace in Christ and none in and or ourselves as if by our own doing we are salt.

Salt preserves from decay.

Salt has a number of different characteristics, whiteness, flavor, pungency, and it acts as a preservative.  Most likely Christ refers to the later, salt acts as an antiseptic, it prevents and retards decay.

Ezekiel 16:4 As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths.

Christ says Christians individually and the Church corporately combat religious and moral decay.  The unbelieving world is a rotten and rotting carcass.

Lloyd-Jones put it stated the meaning thusly, Christ clearly implies (spiritual) rottenness in the earth.

This morally rotting world the needs the Believer in Jesus Christ to give them Christ and the word of God to preserve it from further (moral and religious) corruption.

One man put it this way, disciples are to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing, or non-existent.

Christ thus refutes the view of natural man by natural man. Natural Man says of himself; I am basically good. Christ says natural man is dead and dying and rotting in sin. (Rom.3:9-18)

Galatians 1:4  who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (Jn.2:15-19)

The world and the worldly are not only evil, they are ignorant of the truth of Christ and of God’s view on life and all that it contains.

Look around and see of this is not exactly so.  Our world is a mass of paganism.  Leave man alone without the Bible, without Christians proclaiming and living out this word and what do you get?  Moral and religious filth beyond description.  Moral rottenness everywhere.

The world left to itself will only further decay.  Something must be done to the world; something must be applied to it to stop the decay.  The something is the influence of the Christian and of the Christian Church. We bring the gospel and the law. We bring Christ.

The service.

Herein is the power of God using His church.  Do we actually believe that the Gospel has power? (Rom.1:16)  Do we believe that actually trying to live for Christ has power and influence? 

We are the salt of the earth.  Herein we learn something very important which is contrary to our flesh, even as Believers.  That as Christians we have a calling from Jesus Christ to serve this evil and Christ-persecuting world.

Christians do not live in isolation. We are IN the world, but we are not OF the world. (I Jn.2:15-17, Jn.17:16-26, Jn.15:18-27, Rom.12:2)

John 13:1  Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

John 14:17   that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

John 15:19   If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

Here Jesus reminds us as Christians that we are different than the world.

The examples.

We are to act different than the world.  We are to be unlike the world.  In our thinking, speaking and behaving.  We are not to ‘get along’ with the world as far as their sin is involved.  (2 Cor.6:14-18)

Listen to this quote by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

To have fellowship with men that deny the truth, is to deny the truth by implying that the truth does not matter.

Let’s look at some example of how a holy, separated people unto God lived radically differently than the unbeliever.

Remember when Abraham ‘bargained’ or better pleaded with God to spare Sodom?  (Gen.18:26-32)

Think of Christ. He prayed for those that persecuted Him. He died for those that murdered Him. That is salt. That is what we are to imitate.

Think of this. Christians give love and truth in return for the world’s (and often the church’s) hatred and lies.

This is what it means to overcome evil with good. (Rom.12:21) This is what it means to pray for those that persecute you. (Mt.5:44)

This is salt. To be salty is to live for Christ, to live a Christ-like life before others.

Some more practical examples of being holy salt in Christ before the world.

As Christian husbands remain faithful to the wife of their youth, this is salt to the earth.

As Christian fathers instruct their children in the things of the Lord, this is salt.  As Christian fathers guard their daughters for marriage, this is salt.  As Christian fathers raise their sons to be men and not women, raise then to work, to marry and to love and protect their future wives and children, this is salt.

As Christians flee from sinful entertainment, this is salt.  As Christians are faithful with God’s means of grace this is salt to the world.

The isolation.

By this we find that Christ rejects all forms of isolationism, and it is contra-scriptural.  So no real communes. No going off to start the “perfect” Christian utopia in West Virginia. 😊

But it is true God did used monasticism to save our scriptures, and to keep alive scholarship in the Biblical languages – Hebrews, Greek, and especially the copy and study of the ancient church fathers.  However, monasticism as a movement, Christians separating from the world is not Biblical.

The engagement.

The Christian life is an active life and an engaged life. Think of Christ’s life, He was not monk or hermit.  Think of the apostles and the early disciples. (Mt.28:18-20) Beloved we are not called to live for self. We are called to live for Christ as we serve Christ to others.

Matthew 28:18. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Mk.16:15, Acts 1:8) 

The warning.

Just like Christ gave a promised blessing to those that manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit, blessed are the meek for you shall inherit the earth, so too does Christ give a promised curse for those that evidence that they are not joined to Him.

If you do not have salt and light in yourself, if the holiness of Christ is not in you, then God will through you out. Unholy branches will be broken off and thrown into the fire. (Jn.15:6, Ezek.47:11) 

Matthew 5:13   but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

Luke 14:34. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Hebrews 6:7. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

John 15:2. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit…6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Jesus indicts religious blandness, a Christ-less Christianity, a secular form or worldly form of Christianity. (Mt.5:20)  Nominal Christianity Christ calls useless.  Not a little good, or somewhat helpful, but utterly useless.

Christ is not teaching a true Christian can lose his or her faith, that a true Christian can ever fall away from Christ eternally.  This is not possible.

Part of the people Christ is rebuking are the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the Scribes (lawyers). They are formal, legal religionists. Their “faith” was the equivalent of dirt under God’s feet.

These are the sons of the kingdom that WILL be cast out of heaven.

Matthew 8:11.  I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;  12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Counterfeit, un-salty un-holy Christians want a form of religion, but they don’t want the reality of Christ.  (2 Tim.3:5) This is why counterfeit Christianity is more deadly that open unbelief or open rival religions.  Christ says, I wish you were either hot or cold, but lukewarm bland Christianity Christ will spit out. (Rev.3:16)

Matthew Henry wrote this, a wicked man is a wicked creature, a wicked Christian is worse, and a wicked minister is the worst yet.  So, not only is a bland Christian “unprofitable”, he or she is downright counterproductive, not just neutral, but actively working against Christ.

Matthew 12:30  He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

The encouragement.

Beloved, I do not want to end with a word of warning.  Let me end with a word of encouragement.

Christ Himself is encouraging His disciples, His church.  Though we are the Little Flock and the despised, we are necessary and useful and effective!  (Lk.12:32) We have the law. We have the gospel. We have Christ.  Let’s salt the world!

Though we often do not think we are influencing anyone, we are!

Like salt, we usually cannot see the benefit of the salt working immediately but rather it works imperceptibly like leaven. (Mt.13:33)

Beloved in Christ you are the salt of the earth.  Say this with the apostle Paul…

Galatians 2:20.  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Amen

Study Questions.

  1. What is the gospel? Why are the Beatitudes not the Gospel of salvation? (Jn.3:16, Rom.5:10, I Cor.1:17-21, Gal.6:12-14)
  1. How does the gospel change people from those that produce evil deeds to people that manifest the traits of Matthew 5:1-16? (Rom.3:10-18, 3:20-28, Gal.2:16, 3:11, 24, Gal.2:20, Eph.2:1-9, 2 Cor.5:13-21, Jn.15:1-10, Lk.6:24-36, Mt.12:33, Gal.5:19-26)
  1. What is a similitude? Why and how are Christians like salt and light?  What is the main truth behind the word salt?  What is a Christian’s saltiness? What does saint mean?  (Rom.5:1-10, Mk.9:50, Num.18:19, Lev.2:13, Ezek.43:24, Col.4:6, I Pt.1:15-17, Lev.11:44-45, Lev.20:26, 2 Cor.7:1, Heb.12:14, 2 Tim.1:9, Phil.2:14-16, Eph.5:3, Rom.12:1, Rom.6:22, Mt.5:48)
  1. To what people individually and to what body corporately are we most expressly salt to? What does the Scripture say about these people? Why do these people need salt? (Mt.7:13-14, Gal.1:1-5, I Cor.1:2-, Rom.3:10-18, 1 Cor.2:6-8, 2.Cor.4:1-4, Eph.2:1-10, Titus 2:12, Lk.19:1-10, Mt.28:18-20, Isa.61:1-3)
  1. If the Believer did not share the law of God and or the gospel of Christ what would be the effect on the world? What would not occur?  (Rom.10:1-17, Jn.17:1-17, James 1:18, I Pt.1:10-25, 2 Cor.5:13-21, Gal.3:8-29, I Cor.1:17-31, I Cor.15:1-6, WCF 1.1, WLC 155, WSC 89)
  1. If our words are to be holy (salty) how are our lives likewise to be holy (salty) before the world? In what ways are Christians to think, speak, and act differently than the world? How does this help the unbeliever?  What does our holy living do for the unbelieving world? 
  1. Are monasteries or nunneries Biblical? Are Christian communes Biblical? Explain your answer.  Use Scripture. Did Jesus live on a commune?  Did Jesus isolate from sinners?  Related to this, is separation from the corporate church Biblical?  Explain your answer?  (Mt.5:1-16, I Cor.12:1-31, Jn.1:1-18, Heb.10:25-31, 2 Cor.6:14-18, Jn.13:1, Jn.17:1-17, 15:17-27, Mt.28:18-20, Acts 1:8-26)
  1. Explain Christ’s words of warning in Matthew 5:13. Can true Christians lose their salvation in Christ? (Mk.9:50, Jn.15:6, Ezek.47:11, Mt.8:11-12, Mt.5:20, Mt.12:32, Heb.6:4-6, 2 Tim.3:5, Rev.3:16, Mt.12:30, Mt.7:2w1-23, Mt.25:32-46)
  1. Interact with this quote by Matthew Henry, a wicked man is a wicked creature, a wicked Christian is worse, and a wicked minister is the worst yet.
  1. The unbeliever wants Christ and His church to go away. One way they accomplish this is to convince the church to dispense sugar and not salt. Interact with this idea. How do Christians lose their saltiness by trying to be ‘relevant’ to the unbelieving world?  What can we do to prevent this?  How do you retain your saltiness?

 

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