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Are You The Salt Of The Earth?

Many people miss what Jesus meant when He said we were the salt of the earth.  They think from a Western/English point-of-view.  Look carefully at what Jesus said.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world…” Matt. 5:13-14, NIV

Salt does four major things, and we will look at them. But first, notice that Jesus said His followers were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  To our modern way of thinking, earth and world are synonyms.  However, Jesus used two different words with two different implications.

Common Sense Promo

When Jesus said we are the light of the world, He used the Greek word ‘Kosmos,’ which means the world as a whole or even the universe. We’ll look at this next month.

When Jesus said, we are the salt of the earth; He used the Greek word Ge [ghay].  This word can mean the entire earth, but that is not how the Israelites normally used this word which is better understood as ‘land’ or ‘ground.’  Jesus used this word in the parable of the sower [Matt. 13] to mean the ground where the seeds were planted.  Often, when this word is used, it refers to a specific country.  When the Jews used the word Ge most often they were referring to the land of Israel.  For example,

I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.  Luke 4:25, NIV

Cross In The Clouds

The word ‘land’ is the same word translated as ‘earth’ in Matt. 5:13. In Luke, Jesus refers specifically to the land of Israel, not the whole world.

How does this apply to Jesus’s words about being the salt of the earth? He was telling His disciples that they needed to be salt in the land of Israel. As we apply His words today in the New Covenant, we would say that Christians need to be salt to those in the Church and Light to those outside the Church. Let that idea sink in for a minute or two.  Now, let’s look at what this means.

Salt Gives Flavour

Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow? Job 6:6, NIV

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Col. 4:6, NIV

What does it mean if all Christians are to be salt in the church? There are a couple of different ways to interpret this.  

First, We are all members of the body of Christ.  We all have a different flavour.  We all have something unique to contribute.  We need each other.  Flavourless Christians warm chairs.  That’s not God’s plan for your life or mine.  We are to develop and contribute what He has given us for the benefit of all.

Second, Christians are human. I know that comes as a startling revelation. Some Christians leave a bad taste behind them, both in and out of the Church. We are to be salt, showing Christ’s true love and compassion, adding flavour where others have destroyed it.  Some people are petty.  You may know some Christians who get upset if someone sets in “their” seat at church.  Be salt, be good flavour, be courteous.  Leave good impressions.

Salt Preserves

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.  Lev. 2:13, NIV

Salt preserves. This was especially important before the invention of refrigeration. Good food can decay, become corrupt, and cause sickness and even death. Again, let’s look at a couple of areas within the church where we can see this.

First, Churches may start well, but over time, traditions, programs, and priorities may replace the Word of God as the centre of church life.  “We’ve never done it that way before,” is the cry of a dying church.  As preserving salt, we need to make sure that the Word of God remains the unchanging standard.  Without the preserving salt of Christians constantly challenging the church to remain faithful to God’s Word, it is easy to drift.  The church then becomes flavourless, indistinguishable from the world and useless.

Second, division within churches is tragic. I’m not talking about division because God’s Word is being compromised, but division caused by disagreements over procedures. Do we disagree with the direction of the church, the music, or even the colour of the new rug? Anger and bitterness can quickly spring up. Preserving salt Christians work within the Word of God to bring healing and unity.

Salt Prevents Growth

Ancient soldier

All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.  Judges 9:45, NIV

He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there. Ps. 107:33-34, NIV

In the old days, an invading army would destroy farmland by salting it so that nothing could grow there.  

This is a difficult one.  How can this use of salt have any application in the church?

Satan loves to deceive and destroy.  He wants to turn the church into the world.  He wants the church confused about what is right and wrong.  There are entire denominations that are so compromised with evil that they don’t know the Bible teaches that murdering babies is wrong or that marriage is between one man and one woman.  

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”  1 Cor. 5:11-13, NIV

As Christians, we can disagree on many things and still remain in love and unity around the cross of Christ.  But when it comes to core doctrinal issues or basic Biblical moral standards, there can be no compromise.   People outside the church answer to God for their lifestyle choices, but when people or entire churches claim to be Christian but live or promote lifestyles that are in flagrant disobedience to basic Biblical teaching and standards, they must be disassociated from Christianity.  If you are in such a church, it is not time to flavour or preserve but to leave.  The ground must be salted so that the growing evil is not seen as an expression of Christianity.  If when the world looks at Christianity and then in a mirror and can’t tell the difference, the ground needs to be salted.

As I said before, we do not judge and condemn those outside the church for their lifestyle choices. We love them and pray for them; however, self-identifying Christians and churches are to be held to basic Biblical standards and beliefs.

Salt Is Rubbed On Babies

Woman With Newborn Baby

On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.  Ez. 16:4, NIV

I don’t know if this is medically sound; however, in ancient societies and even in some communities today, newborn babies are rubbed with salt. The idea is that it cleanses them and prepares their skin for the world outside the womb.  

This cleansing and preparation idea shows that new Christians need to be treated with special care and grace.  They are learning a new world, a new way of doing things and a new relationship with God.  They can’t be simply left to themselves.  They need teaching, guidance, and fellowship.  If you are a new Christian, find a good local Christian Church and get involved.  You will not get what you need to grow off of the TV or Internet.  Get connected and stay connected.  

Older Christians must be ready to help the young ones in the faith.  If the Holy Spirit sent in massive numbers of new converts, would we be prepared to help them learn their new faith, or would they be left to find their own way?  Think about it.  If your church wants revival and conversions, are you ready to handle it?

Salt Of The Earth

One final note: Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.”  Salt is something we are, not something we become.  Are you salt or have you lost your saltiness?  If you feel you have lost it, only Jesus can restore your usefulness if you ask Him and yield to Him.

For more information about Glenn Davis, see our About Glenn page or visit Glenn Davis Books.

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Please note: We no longer have the commenting feature [maybe again in the future].  Joshua Institute students who have questions or comments on their courses can use the contact button and mention the course name and lesson number in the email.  Thank you.  Glenn

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