The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached Part IX
Reflections on the Sermon on the Mount
(Commentary by Guy Glass and Scott Hescht)
Matthew 5:13-16 “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.”
Scott: Have you noticed what is happening with the current generation? I can sense the skepticism sometimes without words even being spoken. I see young people who were scarcely taught about the Lord, at least in any true theological sense, enter college and come out on the other side transformed into skeptics. It is sad because I experienced this first hand while in my undergrad. Students think that they are being educated in reality, and thus are outgrowing a childish belief system. They are taught to question everything, yet what I have found in my experience is that they aren’t questioning the very ideas they are being taught. While our culture is ever so steadily moving toward a secular worldview, Christians must not stand on the sidelines hoping that something will change.
Christianity was never meant to be a religion simply of blind faith like some type of fairy tale. Sometimes I think that not only do the skeptics not realize this, but many of the 80% of Americans who claim the Christian faith. Our God has become vague in the eyes of a growing majority of biblically and theologically uneducated Christians. Meanwhile God is being lumped in with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny because there are not enough believers in the world who are standing out as salt and light. The Apostle Peter, on the other hand, knew of a God who was rooted in reality and truth when he said, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). And as Peter exhorts in his earlier letter, Christians must always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Being salt should not be an option. Salt preserves. It also adds flavor to that which it comes in contact with. People not only should see Christ in our words, but in our lives as well.
Guy: In the text, Jesus says we are salt and light. This is a Christian’s purpose for existing. The salt that does not preserve and add flavor is not good for anything else. People don’t light the lamp and then hide it away. There would be no reason for lighting the lamp at all. Paul tells the Corinthian Church, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you are a Christian, you are a new creation with a new purpose. If you are not fulfilling this new purpose, then like the salt, you have no real and lasting reason for existing. The writer of Hebrews tells us to leave the elementary teachings about Christ and press on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1). The problem is that the majority of those who profess faith in Christ never move on to maturity. They remain stuck with an elementary understanding of the Bible and are therefore not able to distinguish between right doctrine and false doctrine nor are they prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in them.
When you disregard the Word of God and esteem the Bible lightly, you err in several ways. First of all, you are saying to God that, despite the Bible being God’s revelation of Himself to you, you are not interested enough in Him to get to know Him more intimately through the means that He has provided. Secondly, you remain stagnate and infantile in your walk because your are not benefiting from the Scriptures which, “are given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Thirdly, this lack of guidance prevents you from being salt and light because you remain incomplete and ill equipped for the good work of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Every Christian exists to be a beacon of light that shines out across the pitch dark sea of the world, illuminating the raging waves and warning the lost seafarers of the jagged rocks that threaten to destroy them. The light house provides hope and is a symbol of life and safety and well being. When Jesus was in the world, He was the light of the world. Now he says, “You are the light of the world.” Jesus is at the right hand of power on high and the Christians are His body, His presence on Earth in a sense. We, as salt and light, must be saturated with knowledge of the Scriptures. When we are pricked, we are to bleed the Bible. If we will be faithfully devoted to loving and learning Jesus Christ through our devotion to His Word, we will be able and ready and desirous to shine our light and our love into the lives of everyone around us, preserving life, adding flavor and lighting the way to the cross of Christ where salvation is found.