A Case Study in Being Salt and Light

June 4, 2023

Guest Speaker: Jeff Adams

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A Case Study in Salt and Light
I.           Our Call:  Matthew 5:13-16
        A.         Salt
                1.         Preserves, prevents rot.  We stand against corruption.
                2.         Makes things taste better.  Things should get better when the Christians arrive.
                3.         Makes thirsty.  Jesus is the Living Water in John 4.  We should live such that we make people long for Jesus.
        B.         Light
                1.         Brings clarity.
                2.         Guides those lost in darkness.
        C.         Notice from the text in Matthew, this is not an imperative, it is an indicative.  Jesus is not commanding us to become salt and light.  Rather He is describing what we are.  As believers, we will always be salt and light.  The question is what quality of salt and light will we be?

II.         An Example:  Acts 24:22-27
        A.         Context
                1.         Felix
                        a.         From a very well-connected Greco Roman family.  His brother Pallas has lots of influence with Nero.
                        b.         Roman Governor (Procurator) from 52-60 AD.  
                                1)         He is remembered by the Jews for his cruelty and corruption.
                                2)         He is remembered by the Romans for incompetence.  The Roman historian Tacitus says he ruled as though he had never been trained for leadership.
                        c.          In this particular case, From Acts 23:29, he knows that Paul is innocent.
                        d.         He has some knowledge of Christianity (24:22).
                        e.         He is hoping to be paid to release Paul (24:26).  This means he does not understand Paul at all.  It means their relationship is built on taking advantage.  Is it possible to leverage an unhealthy relationship into a point of contact for the gospel?
               2.         Paul
                       a.         A very experienced apostle, missionary, preacher and church-planter.
                       b.         Wrongfully accused.
                       c.          A target of assassination (ch 23).
                       d.         Recipient of a promise from Christ to be His witness in Rome (23:11).
        B.         Paul’s presentation:
                1.         Faith in Christ (24:24)
                        a.         Begins with informing him that we all stand guilty before God.  Paul may have told him that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
                       b.         This means salvation is available to anyone who will believe, but only through faith in Jesus.  Works are not capable of saving – not going to synagogue or church, not reading the Bible or tithing or being baptized.  Those things are a result of our salvation, not the source of our salvation.
                 2.         Righteousness (24:25) 
                         a.         The requirement of God.  Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
                         b.         Our righteousness is not sufficient.  Paul tells us that the solution is an alien righteousness.  That is, a righteousness that is not found in us.  2 Corinthians 5:21”He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  We receive the righteousness of Christ, which does surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees.  It is a perfect righteousness.
                         c.          Only found by faith in Christ.  No one else is qualified to give you righteousness.
                 3.         Self-Control (24:25) 
                         a.         This means we are culpable for our behavior.  We are not being driven along by forces to which we are slaves.
                         b.         It also may be touching exactly where Felix is most vulnerable.  Has just divorced his first wife Drusilla in order to marry a second wife also named Drusilla.  She divorced her husband in order to marry Felix.
                         c.          Paul wrote in Galatians that self-control is a gift from the Holy Spirit.  This points to a need for Jesus, because we cannot receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit apart from the work of Christ.  Galatians 5:22-23”22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
                4.         Judgment to come (24:25) 
                        a.         This is part of the gospel.  Romans 2:16  “on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”
                        b.         This is why our gospel presentation is not just advice, it is a commandment.  This is in keeping with Acts 17:30-31.  Paul was speaking in Athens and summed up saying, ““Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
                        c.          Thus, the gospel is not advice.  It is not a suggestion of what you should do.  It is news of what has been done for you, and a commandment on how to respond.
         C.         Outcome
                 1.         Felix is scared and leaves the conversation.
                 2.         Paul languishes in prison.  Remember in this whole interaction that Paul is speaking to a man who determines if he goes free or not.  How tempting would it be to tell him what he wants to hear?  Paul remains faithful to the gospel message – even at personal cost.
                 3.         So looking at the outcome, we might ask, “Was this a fail?”  1 Corinthians 4:1-2.  “Let a man regard us (that is, apostles) in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  2In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”  This is a win.  Paul was faithful to the gospel.  We must learn that God is faithful to the gospel when He saves people by the message of the cross.  He is also faithful to the gospel when He condemns those who rejected the message of the cross.  Anytime we preach the cross, it is a win.

III.        Conclusion
         A.         We are worthy salt and light when we are faithful in presenting the gospel.  To be faithful, we must point them to Christ.  Point them to following Jesus, not church attendance, not wanting to go to heaven, but wanting to follow Christ.
         B.         The certainty of judgment should be a regular part of our gospel.
         C.         Our life must be in concert with our message.  If we are to be good salt and light, both our words and our lives must be faithful to the gospel.