Palms Baptist Church Bible Study
Matthew 5: Be Worth Your Salt
August 24, 2021

Matthew 5: Be Worth Your Salt

August 24, 2021

  • Preliminary thoughts on tonight’s study:
    • The Gospel is not simply a message, nor is it wrapped up in a single event on the cross. The Gospel is a SYSTEM!
      • Sermon on the Mount highlights the underpinning principles of the kingdom system i.e. the Gospel

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

  • Jesus did not abolish but fulfilled the Law (Romans 10:4)
    • Ceremonial
    • Civil
    • Moral

*Hebrews 10:1 states that the law was shadow of good things, not the good things themselves

Purpose of the Law 1: To show the and of God

Purpose of the Law: To lead us to (Law acted as a guardian- Galatians 3:23-25)

    • We are no longer under the Law but by faith and the grace of Jesus (Galatians 2:16)
    • The Law is written on the heart of every man (Romans 2:14-15)
    • Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly because He IS the law. The law is a manifestation of His own character (Hebrews 9:10, Hebrews 9:24, Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 10:8-14)
      • Example: I need everyone to act and emulate Ryan Brown perfectly. Its impossible unless your Ryan Brown
      • When Jesus sees a perversion of the Law, He see’s a perverse emulation of Himself.

Question: Have you ever had someone misrepresent you?

    • Jesus’ main problem with teachers of the Law in His day was that they mis-interpreted and vastly misapplied the law i.e. Misrepresented HIM!
      • Example: Healing on Sabbath was “against the law,” yet the law was always meant for mercy, love, compassion so NOT working for compassion was truly against the law
  • Common Question: Is the Law still Active?

ANSWER: Yes, Jesus said there will be a day when its not: “Until heaven and earth pass away” (vs. 18)

  • Common Question: Should Christians still follow the law?

ANSWER: Yes, but not how you think. We follow the Law although we are not measured against the Law. Because Jesus was a complete fulfillment of the Law, then we are measured against faith in Jesus. If you learn to follow and be obedient to Jesus you are following and remaining obedient to the law. We are not “under” the law because we are justified by the one to which the law derives from. If we are still under it, then Jesus was wrong when He said He fulfilled it.

Jesus Gives a Great with a Great

*Note: Jesus does not say, “we need to become the salt or light of the world” rather that we ARE the salt and light of the world. All we do is either fulfilling or failing at that

13 “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. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Disciples who carry the gospel are

      • In the 1st century, salt was a precious and valuable commodity
      • Roman soldiers were often paid in salt giving rise to the saying “worth his salt” – 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • Religious context – Rabbi Yohanan VS. Rabbi Jesus
        • Rabbi Yohanan was the most prolific contributor to the Mishnah (Interpretation of the Law)
          • Jesus was the full revelation/interpretation of the law (Note the very next verses 17-20 address exactly that)
        • Considered the father of Rabbinical Judaism
          • Jesus is called “Rabbi” and belongs to this tradition but fervently attacks it
        • Rabbi Yohanan was a contemporary of both Jesus and Matthew
          • Jesus, Matthew, Matthew’s audience was aware of him and vice versa
        • Rabbi Yohanan adamantly opposed the Sadducees and was the leader of the Pharisees
          • Jesus was opposed to the Sadducees and Pharisees in His ministry
          • He escaped the siege of Jerusalem

This is how Pharisees took power after destruction of Jerusalem

        • Rabbi Yohanan was from a town called Arav in Galilee but felt Galileans “hated the Torah” and moved to Jerusalem
          • Jesus grew up in Galilee and anchored His ministry there
        • Rabbi Yohanan quoted as saying, “If you are holding a sapling in your hand and someone tells you, ‘Come quickly, the Messiah is here!’, first finish planting the tree and then go to greet the Messiah
          • See the calling of disciples in Matthew 4:18-22 was exactly opposite of this teaching
        • Rabbi Yohanan was said to live AS long as Moses associating him as the “Second Moses”
          • Matthew paints Jesus in Gospel as the “Second Moses”
        • Lastly, Rabbi Yohanan was called “the lamp of the universe” and “light of the world” by the Pharisee disciples

Jesus called Himself the “Light of the world” in John 8:12; John 9:5

Here, he teaches His own disciples are the “Light of the world” and a “lamp”

  • Here, Jesus sets a comparison not simply in contrast to the prophets, but against the most formidable Torah teacher of the day i.e. Disciples of Jesus and handlers of the gospel possess more light than the father of Rabbinical Judaism
    • Matthew 11:11-13 – We are greater than John the Baptist
    • 1 Peter 1:10-12 – We possess knowledge prophets and angels long for

Disciples who carry the gospel what is rotting

      • Salt served as a preserving function of meat to prevent or slow decay
      • Similarly, we are to act as preserving action to the things of God to a rotting world
        • (vs. 15) It has always been a temptation to be a “closet Christian,” but Christ states light is not meant to be hidden under a basket but illuminating

Disciples who carry the gospel make the world

      • True disciples make bad circumstances palpable
        • Our light should attract the world, not repel it
      • True disciples give light where there is dark
        • Darkness cannot suppress light, rather is an absence of it (vs. 14 – City on hill cannot be hidden)
        • When living in light, stop chasing the shadows (vs. 15- we don’t put a lamp under a basket)
        • (vs. 14) The Light (of the beatitudes) is not meant to be lived in isolation. Jesus charges that it is illogical Christianity i.e. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Disciples who carry the agent for the World

      • Sacrificed meat must be salted (Leviticus 2:13)
      • Go back to Matthew 2, John the Baptist says Jesus will baptize with “fire”
        • We possess the Spirit that acts as the purifying element to the world
  • “if the salt loses its saltiness”
    • Salt is only beneficial to the purpose of its essence of saltiness. If we too, lose our flavor. Purifying, and preserving function, then we are no longer precious
      • Most salt in ancient world came from salt marshes, not evaporation of salt water. Often, the salt was more soluble than the impurities therein leaving the salt worthless (vs. 15)

*If the Gospel in our life dilutes faster than the impure sin in our life, we become worthless i.e. “good for nothing” to the Kingdom

*Many Christians try to preserve the wrong things in the right way or try to preserve the right things the wrong way just as they try to make bad situations palpable by different systems then what Christ laid out in the gospel.

  • To belong to the Kingdom of Heaven requires a kingdom distinctive:
    • So many feel convicted simply by your presence or position because it exposes the decay within them

Questions for Guided Discussion

  1. Read Verse 13 – How does the context of salt, light, and Rabbi Yohanan help you understand Jesus’ teaching?
  2. What does it mean to be precious like salt? Do we take the Gospel for granted? Are we to flippant with our mission as carriers of the gospel?
  3. What does it mean to preserve the world like salt? How does that speak to our role as disciples of Jesus?
  4. Read verse 15- What does it mean to for Christians to make things palpable like salt? What does it mean that our light should light the household? Is our light in our life that obvious to the world?
  5. What does purifying the world like salt look like practically? Where do we start? What does it look like?
  6. Read verse 14 and 15- If a city on a hill cannot be hidden, then what does it mean to hide that light under a basket? What does it mean to be a closet Christian in our culture? If we live in the light, then when or why do we chase the shadows of the light we cast?
  7. Read verse 13 again, what does Jesus mean that if “salt loses its saltiness then how can it be made salty again”? If our witness and value is based on our flavor, preservation, and purification and we fail at that mission, then how do we gain that witness back?
  8. Twice Jesus uses the phrase, “You are.” It’s not a “you will be,” “you were,” or “you should be,” rather YOU ARE. Therefore, we are either succeeding in our “saltiness,” or we are failing at it now. Are you succeeding or failing as salt?
  9. Jesus says that if we lose our “saltiness” then we have no other use then being “tossed to the ground and trampled underfoot.” Are you worth your weight in salt for the gospel? As a citizen/employee of heaven, are you worth the measure to which Christ purchased you?
  10. How do you view the teaching that Christ did not come to destroy but fulfill the law? What is the gentile’s obligation to the law? How do you approach it?
  11. Paul writes in Romans 2 that the law of God is written on the hearts of every man. Christ said He fulfilled this law, and similarly, Paul and the writer of Hebrews state Christ was the culmination of this law that ultimately leads us to Christ. How has this heart written law led you to Jesus? How do you see Jesus as that fulfillment and completion in you?


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