Sermon delivered May 20, 2000

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
NLT - New Living Translation NIV - New International Version

Salty Salt

A little boy was asked: "What is Salt?" "Salt is what spoils the potatoes when you don't have any."

Now, Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. Would this earth be spoiled if we weren't around? That's a serious question.

Matthew 5:13(NLT) is a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is speaking here: You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

Jesus uses a very familiar material to speak of the influence of Christians. Now I don't know about you, but when choosing a metaphor to illustrate a point and show a truth, would you choose common table salt? Why didn't Jesus say:

I'd rather be potatoes than the salt, wouldn't you? But, no, we're not the potatoes. But in a spiritual application salt is what spoils both potatoes and life when we don't have any. You may want to be potatoes rather than salt. But Jesus said we are salt. In other words, the world will be better or worse because of you! So what does Jesus mean? Here is a sketch of what ideal kingdom citizens will be. What is salt used for? I'd like to list ten things.

1)-- Salt adds flavor.

Come back here to the book of Job 6:6,7- Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me sick. That's a good way of saying it isn't it. Salt brings out the best. That is what we who love Christ ought to do. A good coach brings out the best in the team. We should supply zest and flavor to life. That's what Christianity is about. It is a rare person who will spend his life to better the flavor of someone else. Only Christ can help us do that. Are you making others better? Are you doing what good salt should?

Before we go on, let me ask: Just what is salt? NaCl - Sodium Chloride. Salt is composed of two poisonous elements. Sodium is a metal that is so unstable that it bursts into flame when placed in water. This ill tempered substance bubbles furiously like it is constantly upset. Chlorine is a greenish highly poisonous liquefiable gas. When a Railroad Train wrecks and one of the tank cars is carrying chlorine they sometimes evacuate the whole community. It's poisonous!

But when you combine these two evil substances they make beneficial Salt. That's amazing isn't it. Just so, Jesus Christ can take a person with two very bad traits and make something beautiful and beneficial. Put the dangerous elements of your life into the hands of God and He will transform you into something of great use.

2)-- Salt is vital to life. You can live without salt.

I recently read an exciting book about Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery. Those folks must have had the blessing of God, or they wouldn't have made it out to the west coast. And they certainly wouldn't have made it back. When they finally reached the Pacific Ocean they were almost out of salt. No ships were there at the mouth of the Columbia River to resupply them or to take them home. They got to thinking, winter-time was coming. What are we going to do? We're going to have to walk back home. We can't make it back home without salt. They were forced to spend most of the winter there distilling salt from the ocean so they could make it back home. Salt is vital to life. We can't live without Salt. Our body has about eight ounces of salt in it. Enough for a big salt shaker. Salt regulates the water in our cells, it aids muscle contraction, nerve impulses, and heartbeats. Without vital salt, we would go into convulsions and die. (National Geographic Mag. Sept, 1977 p. 381) And Jesus says, "You are the salt of the earth. Christians are vital to this world. You are vital to somebody's life.

3)-- Salt makes things pure. It purifies

Elisha was shown a spring that put out bad water. The water was poisonous. II Kings 2:20-22- Elisha said: "Bring me a new bowl," he said, "and put salt in it...." Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, "This is what the LORD says: 'I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death.... So, Christians, if you want to be pure you need to have salt thrown into you.

Ezekiel 16. The Bible mentions salt a lot. Ezekiel 16:4 KJV, And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed with water to supple thee, thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. We salt babies, don't we. Is that what the bible says? Babies were salted to purify them. In other words, salt is sort of like peroxide. It's an antiseptic. It Kills germs fast. Christians ought to purify the world. The world ought to be a pure place because of you.

Look at Mark 9:49 (NIV)- Everyone will be salted with fire. My family has been salted with fire a lot lately. We feel that. We've been through some very bad misfortunes in our family, the loss of our daughter- in-law. It almost sounds like the Bible is talking about being salted with fire, with Red Hot Pepper! Have you been feeling like God has been pouring Cayenne pepper on your life lately? But we are not the Pepper shaker of the world. Here salt is a symbol of the final Judgment. All humans will pass through trials that will help to purify us so that when the judgment comes, we will stand pure. I think the experience that my wife and I have been through was actually strengthening us. We did not wish it. But this happened. It has helped to purify our character. And I will tell you as your pastor, I need a pure character. I pray for a pure character.

4)-- Salt is a symbol of the righteousness of Jesus!

Leviticus 2:13- Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. Did you know that whenever the Jews offered up a lamb in sacrifice for sin, they would salt it? Why would they do that? What would the purpose of that be? Here salt signified that only the Righteousness of Christ could make the offering acceptable to God. (See Desire of Ages, p. 439 -EG White.) An offering is not acceptable to God unless it has salt in it.

We Christians want to present ourselves a living sacrifice, which is holy and acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1) and to be acceptable we must be salted. Only the Righteousness of Jesus makes us acceptable to God. No amount of works can add anything.

So salt is a symbol of Christ and His righteousness. When Jesus says we are the salt of the earth He is not asking us to be something that He isn't. He is also the salt of the earth. When Christ the salt of the earth comes in to our heart, sin goes out the window.

5)-- Salt preserves.

I grew up in Hartford City, Indiana. I remember my grandmother had a big crock (we still have that crock, about for or five gallons) and she would fill that thing up with cucumbers and add a lot of salt, and pretty soon those things would be transformed into pickles. She covered it with a white cloth and tied a string around it. She always did this according to the moon. I don't understand that. We don't do that anymore. I can't remember if it was in the dark of the moon or the light of the moon. Whatever! Maybe you could help me. But that's what she did.

I think that we as Christians ought to make sure we are preserving. Christians are God's chosen agents to preserve the world from getting rotten. Numbers 18:19 talks about a special agreement: It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord. In other words, that which makes it eternal, preserves it forever, is the salt. It's a salt covenant. This is a contract that will never deteriorate. It is incorruptible. An unbreakable agreement to be preserved forever. A salt covenant would be in perpetuity. I believe that is a symbol of preservation. It's going to last. If we are the salt of the earth and salt is a preservation material, you think about this, Christians are God's chosen agents to preserve the world from getting rotten. Right? This would be rotten place without us. If you go into lands where there are no Christians is a mess. Many of our contracts deteriorate, they 're corruptible, but the Bible talks about an incorruptible, an unbreakable agreement. It will be preserved forever.

Is it true that salt preserves? In the old days before refrigerators some food had to be salted to be preserved. I remember my Grandmother's large crock that she used to place cucumbers in to make pickles. She only did it in certain phases of the moon. I remember her using lots of salt.

Someday soon our God will come with fire. Everything will be consumed before Him. The only thing that will preserve us in that day is the presence of the Salt, the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.

But keep in mind that the salt cannot preserve unless it mingles with the substance which is to be kept. The salt must penetrate. Could my grandmother make cucumbers into pickles by leaving the salt outside of the crock? It's got to come into contact, it's got to penetrate. Unless Jesus penetrates clear through to your heart you will rot. Surface religion will not work. It has to get on the inside. Until true Christianity penetrates society and penetrates the world, the world will rot down. We are the penetrating salt of the earth.

An age old quandary asks if it is best for Christians to live as hermits, aloof and separate from the world... or whether it is best to mingle with the world. What good is salt until it gets out of the shaker? Is it any good? Now, I have a salt shaker here. Have you ever used one of these things? What good is salt if it always stays in the shaker and never gets out? Is it any good? Now, I have a salt shaker here. Have you ever used one of these things? Some people when they use one of these they sort of tap it, you know. Others make a gusher out of it. I plugged it up here, I think. What good is salt if it always stays in the shaker and never gets out? Is it any good? Has it done anything? It has the potential. If it stays in here long enough in Tennessee in the summertime, the humidity will get in there and it won't come out of the shaker. Sometimes we put rice in there. What good is salt until it gets out of the shaker?

And what good are Christians unless they mingle with the world a little bit? Now, you don't want to mingle with the world so much that you become like the world. But if you're ever going to add flavor to the world you've got to get out and be around those people. "You are to abide among men, that the savor of the divine love may be as salt to preserve the world from corruption." - Desire of Ages, p. 306- EG White. I believe that if all Christians were removed from this world this world would self-destruct. That's a heavy thought. It is the presence of Christ in His saints that prevents the world from disintegrating. What good is the salt if it just sits there in it's own denominational clique. It's got to get out of the shaker.

6)-- Salt melts and softens.

Do you have hard water at home? What do you use to soften that water? Salt. Salt will make the hardest water soft. If you have ice on your steps this winter, salt will melt the coldest ice.

Colossians 4:6 says: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt... Here, the Bible is telling us to have salty conversations. Right? No, not exactly. Are your words soft or hard? Paul is not saying we are to put out salty remarks or have salty speech. The speech of Christians is not to be disagreeably provocative. Now, you may think "I'm supposed to be the salt of the earth. I'm going to rub myself in other people's wounds and make it hurt." Well. Our words should be soft and tender. We should say things that never cut but that heal. Each word should be seasoned with Jesus. That's what it's talking about. Our conversations should be seasoned with Jesus Christ. That's the salt. Allow Christ to soften and melt those hard cold blasts that too often flow out of our mouth. If you yell at the kids all the time, you will raise a bunch of hooligans.

7)-- Salt can lose its savor. Mark 9:50 NLT- Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other. So, can salt lose it savor? Yes, it can. What does that mean? You know, the Christian world has a very hard time with this text because most people believe, "Once saved, always saved." Can the salt lose its savor? Yes, it can. Can you lose Jesus? That's a heavy question. How does salt lose its savor? If you dig down below Detroit, Michigan, in those big salt mines, they go down for thousands of feet. And that salt has been there for how many years? I don't know. Thousands of years. Where did all that stuff come from? And is it losing its savor? Oh, no. It's as fresh as the day it was placed there. So, how does salt lose its savor? Is this really possible. Is this what the bible is saying? Yes, it loses its flavor by being diluted or contaminated. Now, think about this as Christians. In the Palestinian homes in Jesus day, the baking oven was located outdoors. An oven was stone, with a floor of tiles. Under the tiles was a layer of salt, to retain the heat from the fire. This layer would eventually loose its savor and no longer do its job. So the tiles would be taken up, and the old salt removed. Then a new layer would be poured in and the tiles replaced. Now, why did it lose its savor?

The Salt "lost" it's saltiness by being diluted, by having impurities in it. The impurities looked white like sodium chloride, but did not have the qualities of salt. Salt is soluble. Insoluble salts, dirt, sand, especially dampness can leach away the salt leaving other minerals behind.

When you lose Jesus you lose your saltiness. You can lose Jesus by being corrupted with enough watered-down with enough of the things of the world that where Jesus just isn't there anymore. So, be careful what you watch on TV. Be careful what you log on to on the internet. Don't allow something to sever you connection with Jesus. Keep up your wholehearted devotions to Jesus. If you lose your saltiness, you only have a profession of godliness, you have lost Jesus Christ. You cannot exert a saving influence upon the world.

Remember Sodom and Gomorrah. -- God destroyed those wicked cities. Let's look at Genesis 19:26. This describe the wife of one of the pillars of the church. And it says, But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. I wonder if anyone ever got any use from that monument to half-hearted righteous procrastination? Probably not much value there. Lot's wife became a pillar of salt. Now, if we become a pillar of Jesus Christ, that's what it's talking about, but she lost her life.

If salt loses its saltiness, can you re-season it? Human beings can't, but God can. If you are on the verge of losing your walk with Jesus, you're about to lose Jesus, you no longer possess what you profess, you look pure and glistening and white, but you're not, you need to pray top God that He would re-create in you a new heart, that he will make you into what you can be. If you are falling deeper and deeper into sin. Spiritual things are less appetizing. Your life is more and more corrupt. You are becoming a tasteless "Christian." You are becoming crystallized into a block of granulated substance. You are becoming more and more like the world. Instead of seasoning the world, they are seasoning you. You need to get on your knees and ask God to come back into your life. Maybe you were baptized and you've fallen far from that. Get on your knees and ask God to give you that Savor again, and He can.

8)-- Salt's value is in its use.

Or let's say you are pure salt. You have a vibrant Christian walk with Jesus. But you stay in the shaker, you do not witness. Salt's only value is in its use.

Christians are to be the seasoning, adding flavor to this World. And we need to get out of our shaker. Are we good salt? Are we white, pure, clean and uncontaminated? Are we being spent for Jesus? What are we saving the salt for? Let's be used. If we are not active, could it be that someone else will be the salt of the earth? There are so many in need of Christ. Let's get the world off their Salt Free Diet! Let's give them a diet of Jesus. Salt that stays in the shaker and never comes out is not doing any good. I think Christians need to get out of their containers and get into what Jesus would have them to do. They must make contact with the potatoes. Enhance the flavor of the world. What good are Christians who do not Christianize? Salt has no substitute. God has no other plan. God depends totally on us to transform the world.

Salt does not make a show or blow a trumpet to announce its presence. Good salt like good Christians simply and silently perform their function.

Is there any salt in the shaker? If there's any salt in the shaker of your life then sprinkle it upon the world around you. I want to be the salt of God. I want to enhance somebody's perception of God.

We never offer someone a bowl of salt like we do a bowl of ice cream. Salt's purpose is to enhance the flavor of food. Popcorn without salt is rather bland. When you salt popcorn just right, you say, "Mmmm, now that is great popcorn!"

In similar way, we want to be salt of God. We want to enhance people's perception of God through His life in us. Others should come to see through our lives how savory, how delicious, God really is! Psalms 34:8 NIV. Taste and see that the Lord is good...

9)-- Salt creates thirst!

As Christians, we ought to create thirst for the Living Water of Jesus Christ. If we as God's people are not good salt, then how will the wicked really thirst for the water of life and for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit? A good congregation will create thirst for the living water found only in Jesus Christ.

10)-- Salt is valuable!

In Jesus' time people living away from the salt water of the sea often had to barter to obtain salt. In fact part of the Roman soldier's pay was given to him in salt. It was called "Salarium." From this Latin word comes our word Salary. As Christians we are valuable in God's kingdom.

Friends, are you worth your salt? You know, I want to tell you that a great and final shaking is coming. We are entering that shaking time, and good salt goes through the shaking time. I want to tell you that that is when good salt excels during the shaking. That shaking time is coming, and it's coming soon. We need to be ready. No salt salts like good salt salts. Allow God to make you into the best salt. What a wonderful Savior we have that can make us into the salt of the earth.

Hymn of Praise: #1, Praise to the Lord
Scripture: Matthew 5:13
Hymn of Response: #335, What a Wonderful Saviour

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