Salt and Light

From the Sermon on the Mount

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:13-20)

Salt and Light as Symbols

Jesus used the concepts of salt and light a number of different times to refer to the role of His followers in the world. One example is found in Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Salt had two purposes in the Middle East of the first century. Because of the lack of refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food, especially meat, which would quickly spoil in the desert environment. Believers in Christ are preservatives to the world, preserving it from the evil inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin (Psalm 14:3Romans 8:8). 

Second, salt was used then, as now, as a flavor enhancer. In the same way that salt enhances the flavor of the food it seasons, the followers of Christ stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. Where there is strife, we are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, we are to be the ministers of Christ, binding up wounds, and where there is hatred, we are to exemplify the love of God in Christ, returning good for evil (Luke 6:35).

In the analogy of light to the world, the good works of Christ’s followers are to shine for all to see. The following verses in Matthew 5highlight this truth: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, 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 5:14-16, NASB). The idea here is similar—the presence of light in darkness is something that is unmistakable. The presence of Christians in the world must be like a light in the darkness, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkened hearts of sinful man (John 1:1-10), but also in the sense that our good deeds must be evident for all to see. And indeed, our deeds will be evident if they are performed in accordance with the other principles that Jesus mentions in this passage, such as the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Notice especially that the concern is not that Christians would stand out for their own sake, but that those who looked on might “glorify your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16, KJV).

In view of these verses, what sorts of things can hinder or prevent the Christian from fulfilling his or her role as salt and light in the world? The passage clearly states that the difference between the Christian and the world must be preserved; therefore, any choice on our part that blurs the distinction between us and the rest of the world is a step in the wrong direction. This can happen either through a choice to accept the ways of the world for the sake of comfort or convenience or to contravene the law of obedience to Christ.

Mark 9:50 suggests that saltiness can be lost specifically through a lack of peace with one another; this follows from the command to “have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” And in Luke 14:34-35, we find a reference to the metaphor of salt once again, this time in the context of obedient discipleship to Jesus Christ. The loss of saltiness occurs in the failure of the Christian to daily take up the cross and follow Christ wholeheartedly.

It seems, then, that the role of the Christian as salt and light in the world may be hindered or prevented through any choice to compromise or settle for that which is more convenient or comfortable, rather than that which is truly best and pleasing to the Lord. Moreover, the status of salt and light is something that follows naturally from the Christian’s humble obedience to the commandments of Christ. It is when we depart from the Spirit-led lifestyle of genuine discipleship that the distinctions between ourselves and the rest of the world become blurred and our testimony is hindered. Only by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world. --Salt and Light from Got Questions.

How many people in the world today have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? 5%, 10%, more? Some nations are at home to a good many Christians, other nations are home to very few.

A Great Polarization

God changes His way of dealing with the nations. These discontinuities in history are known as "Dispensations." They are, in one sense, "Joints in Time." Surely we are about to enter a new dispensation! God acts in maximum mercy when He intervenes in history.

God never changes as a Person, but how He manages the universe is not always the same. The dispensation just ending has been in place for two millennia This grand move known as "the rapture of the church" takes the salt and light out of the world plunging everyone into the "end-time," so no wonder the transition to a new way of management is upsetting for many.

The current move of God separates true believers out of the 200 nations on earth, taking us all to safe heaven in the orbiting satellite city of New Jerusalem. Without salt to to arrest decay, and light to point the way, the vast majority will be consigned to the period the Bible calls "the Tribulation.

For the sake of completeness, God the Holy Spirit plays a special role in the history of the true church. He will depart with the true church at the time of the Rapture. Please see The Restrainer. As a member of the godhead, the Holy Spirit is, of course, also omnipresent.

The Near Future as it Looks Like Today from Observation Room In Heaven

Chuck Missler often spoke of the departure of the true church to heaven (New Jerusalem), before the final seven years of earth history, before the second coming of Jesus to the planet to rule over all the nations. Chuck said we could watch the final seven years unfold--from the Mezzanine! 

No longer will we live in flesh and blood bodies in heaven but in entirely new, immortal bodies. There will be no more sickness, disease, death. We will be selectively able to turn on our cloaking device, but to be recognizable as our Lord was after His resurrection. Our new bodies will apparently have time travel and space travel capabilities. (Ray Stedman said that we could probably visit the past but not change it).

But there will be no marriage in heaven. Sexual reproduction will have been phased out. But everyone: men, women and children will know Jesus intimately. The differences between the two sexes will be preserved. No more idolatry. Lots of angels. Animals of all kinds. Wildflowers and gardens. Oceans with waves and surf, rivers, waterfalls and lakes. Birds of course. Food and banquets. Music and much singing. Healing fruits and herbs. Tree of Life Access. Schools. Museums. Art Galleries, Concert Halls. Artist Colonies—-surely. A glorious wedding up there is to happen soon.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever." (Revelation 22:1-5)

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:1-4)

Entering a New Dispensation

“In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:4-12)

The Greek word translated here, "dispensation," is οἰκονομία which literally means "the management, or the economy of a household." Ray Stedman's discussion of the "history this term as used by Bible scholars is very helpful. All signs point to a sudden intervention of history now by God as He orchestrates and directs the story of mankind and the history of the world. (For more on the Greek see Footnote.) 

My teacher and mentor, Ray C. Stedman wrote in July 1967:

"All around us in the world today men are doing things, and it is right and proper that they should. Men are to work and to plan, they are to dream and to hope, and they are to try to accomplish things. It is right for the government to try to govern and for statesmen to try to accomplish their goals. All of us have something to do. 

But what our age has tragically forgotten is that the only activity which will change anyone ultimately is what God does, not what man does. That is where we need to focus our thoughts. And we need to see what it is that God is doing. One of these days, we all recognize and know, even though we hate to admit it, all the vaunted, proud, symbols of our civilization as we know it today are going to be brought low, to crumble into dust, to be lost in the debris of the ages. All the knowledge on which we pride ourselves today will be lost in some forgotten tomb. Man's glory shall fade. All the accomplishments of our present day which give us such self-satisfaction will become nothing but obscure references in some future history, if anything at all. And what will endure in that day is the work of God. 

These great facts, revealed in this letter (to the Ephesian Church), will still be as brilliant and untarnished in their reality as they are today. Rudyard Kipling once wrote about the British Empire, Far flung, our navies melt away, on dune and headland sinks the fire. Lo, all our pomp of yesterday is one with Nineveh and Tyre. 

America's greatness is going to fade, as is Russia's, and as is that of all the nations of the earth. But one day, when that day comes, the things which will be true are these great facts. Therefore, if we want to endure, if we want to lift our eyes above the plodding, puny circumstances of our own present experience to the greatness of what God is doing, we must give our attention to these great thoughts -- planned before the foundation of the world, begun even before there was an earth, designed to reveal the greatness of God's grace, his compassion, his tenderhearted love, his forgiving ability, his power restore, available through the one Person who in all the scope of history is able to accomplish what no other man could do, Jesus Christ himself, and resulting at last in the healing of all division and the breaking down of every barrier. That is what Ephesians is all about. It is a story of how God is breaking down division.

We are so aware of division, aren't we? We are divided within our homes, divided in our work, divided into cliques and camps and nations, all against one another, with all the consequent hurt and injury and malice and hate and prejudice. God is at work to remedy that. He is healing it. He has already begun. He is breaking down the barriers, removing the hate and enmity, restoring and bringing together.

Remember what Jesus said: "All those who are with me gather, and all those who are against me scatter," (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23). You can tell whose side you are on by the effect of your life. Are you gathering, or scattering? Are you healing, or hurting? Are you bringing together, or breaking up? Which is the direction of your life? Well, God's great movement in our lives, as individuals, and in history at large, is to heal and make whole, to bring together all things in Christ, to restore harmony once again in his universe.

The exciting thing about that, according to this letter to the Ephesians, is that it has begun already. It has begun in us. We are the first ones to set it forth. We, the church, have felt the force of this great movement of God. We have found it in our homes -- the barriers are beginning to break down there, the divisions are beginning to be healed. The harmony is beginning to emerge in our church life. And the more visibly it is evident, the more the world will see God at work. That is what this letter is all about -- how to allow this healing flow from the great God behind all things, through his Son Jesus Christ, to touch our individual lives and heal us of all our illness and injury. No wonder this great apostle cries out, 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies." God at Work

Therefore: What God is Doing

God announces His plans well in advance! About a third of Scripture is about future plans God announces ahead of time. When the early Christians gathered in Jerusalem for a summing up of events, James addressed this first church council:

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He  did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon (Peter) has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’ “Known to God from eternity are all His works. (Acts 15:6-18)

God has been calling out a Bride for His Son, a church without spot or wrinkle, since AD 30. When the last chosen member has been added to this "gentile Bride" she will be removed in the event called the Rapture. The salt-and-light functions of the true church will be taken up with the church. God removes restraints against sin when He needs to get our attention. A time period of at least seven years will follow. The church and the Lord with watch events down on earth "from the Mezzanine." Jesus Himself will orchestrate everything which will then unfold on earth. Paramount will be Jesus sending directing of 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will bring millions into a personal relationship with Himself. The present population of earth, 8000 million persons, will drop at least ten fold as God's angels are dispatched to judge the earth.

Homework

The Meaning of Repentance

The Returning of the Lord Jesus Christ 

The Hidden of the Lord

Day of Man / Day of God  

The Day of the Lord 

The Denial of Death

Daniel, Noah and Job

The Coming Intervention by Jesus

The Last Church Before the Rapture

The Philadelphia Church

Rapture Prep

Citizens of New Jerusalem

The Seven Churches in New Jerusalem

Hierarchy in New Jerusalem

Proclamation to Prospective Citizens

City Life

Birds Eye View

Twelve Gates to the City

It's About Time

Jerusalem City Limits

City in Space

New Jerusalem Citizens

City Living in New Jerusalem

The Excluded Ones

 

 


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September18, 2022.