INTRODUCTION: The term "salt," when applied to a person, has quite
different meanings. If you say a person is "the salt of the
earth," you are calling him a good and ordinary person. On the
other hand, if you say someone has "salty" language, or is a
"salty" person, you suggest he uses crude or salacious language. If
you take what someone says with a "grain of salt," it means that
you do not completely believe that person. Adding a "grain of salt"
means you are adding common sense to the story to interpret it in
a reasonable way. Let's discover what the Bible means when it
refers to people as being salt!
I. YOU ARE SALT
A. Turn with me to Matthew 5:13. Read.
Would you rather be
called "salt" or "gold?" Would you rather own ten pounds of
salt or ten pounds of gold?
1. How valuable is salt? (Not very.)
2. Is Jesus talking
about the value of salt in this
3. In terms of
value, what is Jesus saying about us if we
claim to be salt? (He starts out calling us something
that has low economic value. He then says if we lose our
"saltiness," we have no economic value!)
4. Is it a compliment
for someone to say, "You have low
value, and you could be completely worthless?"
a. Why would Jesus say such a thing?
b. Wouldn't it be better if He had said, "You are
the gold of the earth." (See, Job 23:10)
c. Why not follow the Proverbs which says (25:11) "A
word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in
settings of silver?" Now that puts a high value on
what we say!
B. When someone says something bad about us,
we tend to say,
"Are you talking about me?" Let's ask that question. Do you
think Jesus is calling you salt? Or is He talking to someone
1. Remember last
week we discovered in our study of the
vineyard parable of Matthew 21:33-41 that it was the
special ambassadors of God and not the ordinary "vines"
that suffered persecution? Remember that we discussed
that Jesus in Matthew 5:12 says "the prophets who were
before you" and not "all the faithful who were before
you" were persecuted? In Matthew 5:11 Jesus changes the
verb form so that it appears He is speaking specifically
to His disciples instead of the entire crowd. Do you
think it is possible that Jesus is just calling His
special disciples, and not all His followers, "salt?"
2. As you review
in your mind our study of the
Beatitudes, do they reflect a progression in our
a. If so, do verses 11 and following apply
especially to those with an "advanced" spiritual
understanding? (I think there is a very strong
argument to be made that the Beatitudes are like a
funnel. They start out on the wide end of the
funnel by telling us that those who see their need
of God are blessed (Matthew 5:3-6), then they
progress to those whose spiritual life has advanced
to reflect a change in their actions (Matthew 5:7-
9), then on to those who are on the "front lines"
of the spiritual battle (the modern day "prophets")
who are suffering persecution. Those who are
suffering persecution because of their
righteousness are at the small end of the funnel in
terms of numbers of believers.)
3. If you accept
this argument that Jesus is speaking
about a small number of leaders, can you think of a
reason why He would want to call them "salt" instead of
"gold?" (Leaders are more likely to get a "big head."
More likely to be tempted by pride. For this reason
Jesus would compare them with something that is cheap and
common to help keep them humble.)
a. For those of you who are troubled by my
suggestion that perhaps just a small number of
believers are described as "salt," isn't the fact
that salt is so common directly at odds with my
(1) However, can you name a single thing that
is rare and yet has little value? (I cannot.
It may be that Jesus could not use an analogy
that would keep them humble and yet be rare.)
II. THE NATURE OF SALT
A. What is it about salt that you think causes
God to use it
as an analogy here? (What it does for food. What it does for
1. What does
salt do for wounds? (Hurts! Actually, salt
in water has been thought to draw out infection. It helps
2. What does
salt do for food? (It improves it. It
3. If I said
that you are salt, and you are supposed to
figure out what you should do based on what you know
about salting your food, how would you write your job
description? Let's look at the "where" and "what" of your
(1) Would you be a "hermit" and retreat to a
(2) Would you mingle?
(3) Would you live in a "Christian center?"
(a) What happens when you have too much
salt in your food?
(b) Is there a lesson here? Or have we
extended this analogy too far?
(1) Once you "mingled," what would you do to be
(2) Using our analogy, what should you do to
"preserve" the world? (The gospel message.)
(3) What would do to make the world "taste
better?" (The gospel has a refining effect on
a person. They act better, and therefore you
could say they "taste better.")
B. Does that fact that salt is seasoning which
has to mingle
to be helpful support or undercut the idea that a believer has
to be "advanced" to perform the role of salt?
1. Have you ever
seen a potential believer "turned off"
to God by a poorly thought out witness?
2. Have you ever
seen a potential believer "turned off"
by bad theology?
3. On the other
hand, is it not the new members who are
"on fire" and who tend to bring more new people to
4. Should a church
organize, and train people to become
a. Do we call those people "missionaries?"
b. Should we have "missionaries" to reach our local
c. In 1 Corinthians 12:14-21, 27-31 the church is
compared to a body. Does that affect your thinking
on whether we should have special people within the
church who are designated and trained as "salters?"
5. What about
a role for you at your place of work?
Should you just start "salting" away or should you have
a. Is it possible that you are not sufficiently
advanced in your Christian walk to be "salt?"
III. TURNING A DEMONIAC INTO SALT
A. Turn with me to Luke 8:26-28. Read. Assume
this happened to
1. How do you
believe this man looked (aside from being
2. How would
you feel when confronted by a person like
3. This man acknowledges
the divinity of Christ. Is he a
a. What does that say about what it takes to be a
4. When your
children were young, did they ever say
something in public that made you appear to be a child
beater? ("Daddy, when you going to stop hitting me with
a sword?" Dad: "We don't own a sword!")
a. Is the wild man doing that to Jesus here? (v.28:
"Don't torture me!")
B. Read vv. 29. What does this suggest is torture
Devil? (For man to refuse to let him into the heart.)
1. Did the demon torture the man? (Yes! v.29)
2. Did the demon
torture others? (It appears that this
man was a danger to others. Otherwise, why would they
chain him hand and foot?)
C. Read vv. 30-33. Where did the demons fear
they would go?
1. How does it
make any sense to kill their new "hosts?"
(When the Devil takes control of your life, you cannot
depend on anything making any sense!)
D. Let's skip down and read vv. 35-37. We started
out with you
telling me that you feared wild-looking people. Now we find
that the people fear (v.35) a man "dressed and in his right
E. Read vv. 38-39. What did Jesus tell the
man to do? (Be
1. Did he have "salter" training? (No.)
2. Had he gone
through the stages described in the
3. Does this
"blow up" the theory that we have to be
experienced to be "salt?" (There is a way to reconcile
this with our earlier discussion. The healed demoniac was
only telling what he knew: "How much God had done for
him." (v.39) While I think it is helpful for a church to
organize along the talents and gifts of the members, and
thus have special "soul winners," we can all be "salt" if
we just stick to telling others what God has done for us.
The witnesses that do harm are those that go beyond that
into areas in which they are not prepared or do not have
the necessary spiritual gift.)
IV. NEXT WEEK: "YOU ARE THE LIGHT." Study!
SUMMER BREAK UPDATE: A little while ago I mentioned that the lesson
outline would be suspended for a few weeks this summer. It is my
hope to get a lesson outline to you for next week. However, the
lessons will probably be suspended until July 23, 1998 (You can
expect a new posting on the web site on that day.) Will see you
again then! Study the Bible in the meantime!