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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Preserve and Light the Way: On Being Salt and Light (Pt. 1)

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." -
Mark 9:49-50 ESV

"No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness." - Luke 11:33-35 ESV

At the beginning of the Jesus' sermon, we have learned through the beatitudes what the characteristics of his followers should be. Now as we start to move further into Matthew 5, the verses following begin to give a picture of what they are to accomplish in the world in which they live. In other words, they have learned how they are to be--now they are going to learn what they are to do...

These two elements, Salt and Light are not two different metaphors for the same function. As John Stott states in his commentary on the Message of Sermon on the Mount:

"In fact their effects are complementary. The function of salt is largely negative: it prevents decay. The function of light is positive: it illuminates the darkness...For it is one thing to stop the spread of evil; it is another to promote the spread of truth, beauty and goodness."

Salt of the Earth

Salt in the time of Jesus and the apostles was not as we know it today; we use refined salt. But they used an unrefined salt--a sort of sea salt, if you will--collected from deposits on the Dead Sea Coast. The only reason that I bring this up is because it can matter in the interpretation of the verses above. The sodium chloride in which we use pure. Because of this it cannot lose its "saltiness". However, because the sea salt was unrefined, this meant that if it was mingled with other elements and that it could indeed lose its saltiness over a period of time. The point of pointing this out is that it adds weight to the warning that Jesus gives them. If we misunderstand the context of the salt, we may be led to believe that Jesus is merely speaking in hypothetical terms. We may also be led to believe that we as Christians in the world are to be "savory"--simply appealing to others because we "taste good". But be assured that the threat of losing saltiness is very real and we as followers of Christ are not simply left here in the world to be the spice of life.

The salt in those times was used as a preservative due to a lack of refrigeration. Things such as raw meat and fish would spoil rapidly (especially considering the climate) if they weren't salted. Seeing as how these things were already dead, the decaying process can be slowed through a preservative, but not stopped. So it is with the human race. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, all of the created order has been degenerating; in particular--Man--who was made in the image of God, while he still retains that image, it is a broken and decaying one (Genesis 6:5-7, 11-12; Isaiah 53:6; John 3:18-19; Romans 1:18-32, 3:10-18; 1 Corinthians 7:31; 1 John 2:17). Therefore the Christian's first role in this world is to act as a slowing agent to the retrograde process that has been brought about by man's disobedience and hostility toward God. To quote Stott again:

"What does it mean to be Christian? To begin with, we Christian people should be more courageous, more outspoken in condemning evil. Condemnation is negative, to be sure, but the action of salt is negative. Sometimes standards slip and slide in a community for want of a clear Christian protest."

As we salt ourselves in Christ-likeness, it should have an overflowing effect. We preserve by being in our communities. As I said earlier, the salt of their day was mingled with other things. This is much like Christians in the world; we too are together with non-believers. This is an act of grace by God who sends us out into all of creation that the influence of the gospel may saturate the cultures of the world in order to hold back the destructive effects of evil. But when we fail to do our job, it leaves us and them worse for the wear. John Calvin states eloquently on the admonition of Christ to his disciples,

"There is nothing better than to receive this seasoning, by which alone our tastelessness is corrected. But, at the same time, let those whose business it is to salt it beware lest they encourage the world in their own folly, and still more, that they do not infect it with a depraved and vicious taste."

To say it another way, if we allow ourselves to become too saturated with the desires of this world, we lose our effectiveness. Christ leaves no wiggle room here. To be anything less than salt is to be worthless (Hebrews 6:1-8; Revelation 2:4-5). We become nothing more than something to be trampled upon.

"I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." - John 17:15-16 ESV

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. -
Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. - 1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria,


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Evangel Lies: Come Thou UNACCEPTED Jesus...?!

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. - John 1: 14-18 ESV

"I don't target Jewish People for conversion." - John Hagee

So let's take the verse we just read above into consideration as we watch and listen to this clip by Pastor John Hagee.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does!! John Hagee releases a new book that makes outlandish claims as to who Jesus Christ "really" is and how that relates to the Jewish Nation (Israel). Here are a few thoughts that I wanted to share...enjoy!!

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14 ESV

For to us a child is born,to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peacethere will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousnessfrom this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. - Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). - Matthew 1:18-23 ESV

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” - Luke 7:18-23 ESV

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. - Romans 9:6-8 ESV

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.” Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me;I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” - Romans 10:1-21 ESV

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” - John 4:25-26 ESV

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. - John 20:30-31 ESV

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum,


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