FOCAL PASSAGE: MATTHEW 5:13 – 15
Haddon Robinson tells the story about the French culture of the early 1700s was in the process of decay. The King had a motto: “After me the deluge.” He was absolutely right, it was a prophetic voice. That is exactly what happened and France was ripped apart by the French Revolution. Just 20 miles across the channel, the English culture had the same rot. Historians have described at length the moral corruption of English culture. And yet, England did not go through a revolution. Why? Why was it spared? Was it their Navy? Was it their suave diplomats? Their politicians? Their police force? No. The country was spared, as historian and President Woodrow Wilson put it, because in 1703 John Wesley was born, he lived out the Beatitudes, and proclaimed the gospel! And the Nation was preserved.
Context of Focal Passage
· Matthew 5 – 7 is the manifesto of the kingdom that Jesus was preaching about. He taught the people who came to him to observe these guidelines, rights and responsibilities as members of this kingdom.
· We can have a good appreciation of the focal text when we are able to relate that verse to his preceding statements (the Beatitudes) as well as the proceeding statements in the sermon. In this lesson, we will examine how the focal passage finds expression in the rest of His teachings on murder, love, divorce, lust and revenge.
Examination of Focal Passage
· Why did Jesus refer to them as salt of the earth?
o Their lives were supposed to play the functions of salt. A Christian becomes the salt of the earth when he lives out the Beatitudes
o Salt was, and still is a very affordable and readily available product used by all
· What was the purpose of salt then?
o As a taste-enhancer in food
o It was mainly for food preservation. Though salt is primarily a taste-enhancing flavour now; given the amount of salt needed to preserve meat without refrigeration, it is not likely that many ancient Jews considered salt as we do now
· If Christians are the salt, what role do we play in the world?
o A moral antibiotic: To preserve moral decay of the society in which they live. The presence of the Christian in his/her neighbourhood, workplace should be enough to stop sin/evil from festering
o As a restraining influence on the society. The presence of the Church or the Christian is to preach about the immoral acts (crime, corruption, abortion, homosexuality, bestiality, etc.) in the world in such a way that they repel these acts
o Christians are to have a sanctifying influence in the relationships they find themselves in. Their lifestyle and conduct should be enough to persuade their unbelieving spouses, friends, neighbours and work colleagues to desire Christianity (1 Corinthians 7:14 / 1 Peter 3).
o Discuss how biblical examples of Noah & Lot depict the above
· Does salt lose its saltiness?
o Chemically, Salt (Sodium Chloride - NaCl) does not lose its chemical properties when stored dry, but dissolves and loses its taste when mixed with water or other impurities as seen in this equation, NaCl (Salt)+ H2O(Water) = NaOH + HCl
o However when heat is applied to the salty water, the water evaporates leaving the salt behind. Does this teach us any lesson
· What is meant by a Christian losing his saltiness?
o Losing the capability to make impact or influence his surroundings
o Losing the Christian testimony, which is the testimony that even unbelievers would have of us that we are still in the faith
o Losing the voice of conviction and conscience, which gives us the courage to speak out boldly against the evils of our society
· Can a Christian lose his saltiness?
o NO, if he keeps himself dry and away from other impurities
o YES, if he allows himself to be mixed up with other particles
· How does/can a Christian lose his saltiness?
o When he fails to live according to the Beatitudes, which is the blueprint for life in the kingdom
§ When they refuse to mourn for their sins and that of their colleagues, neighbours, friends and family
§ When they fail to hunger & thirst after the righteousness of God
§ When they refuse to pursue peace with all men
§ When they shun meekness, purity and mercy
o If Christians become equally bonded to non-Christians and contaminated by the impurities of the world, they lose their influence
o When people rather mock God instead of praising Him because of his/her lifestyle
· How can a Christian maintain his saltiness?
o For effectiveness the Christian must retain his Christlikeness, as salt must retain its saltiness.
o The influence of Christians in and on society depends on their being distinct, not identical.
o ‘The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.’ (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
o If your life is not different in a righteous way, you will have no credibility.
Questions to Ponder
· What could be the reason why Ghana, a country with 72% as Christians still be a place where SIN reigns?
· Examine the impact of your own life on your immediate neighbourhood, workplace, school etc. Less salt means more moral decadence in the society
· Adenta has a branch of every major denomination in Ghana, analyze the saltiness (influence/impact) of these churches on the community
· Can we find any reasons why unbelievers continue to shun the Person of Jesus Christ and His message?
· If we live out the BEATITUDES, then we don’t struggle to become, but we are SALT
· When the salt is worthless, the meat rots
· When there is no Christian moral influence, God gives up people to their own pleasures as seen in Roman 1
· When God has no person to stand in the gap for intercession, he destroys the entire nation (Ezekiel 22:30)
· Would God consider sparing your society because of your influence?