You (already) are the salt of the earth

In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Douthwaite made an important grammatical point.  You know in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” and “you are the light of the world”?  The verb is an indicative:

It’s not an imperative, a command. Jesus is not saying you have to, must be, or should be this – it is what you ARE.

It is what your Saviour has worked in you and made you by His grace.The challenge is to BE who you ARE. To live as a spiritual being and not just an animal who lives and eats and procreates. To live in the image of God and not try to be the image of others in the world – sports stars or celebrities or others we think successful. To live as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. That is a challenge because satan is constantly tempting you to BE something else, something less than you are, and making that less look like more.

But do not be fooled. You are more than all that. You are a child of God who has been illuminated in Holy Baptism. You are a child of God who has been salted by the Holy Spirit. That is who you ARE.

And so you are that which salts the earth.You are that which gives light to the world.That is your identity – and, your calling. It is part and parcel of your life in Christ. No one else has this calling. Only children of God in Christ Jesus.

And so enlightened by Him, Jesus says, BE who you ARE. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

These words of Jesus today reveal that God has vested you with an incredible honor and purpose in life. That your life is not pointless or useless. That to be a child of God is not like standing on the corner waiting for the bus to heaven, but to be living, breathing Gospel.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church.

How do we salt the earth?  How are we already serving and having an influence by “being” rather than “doing”?  Similarly, Christians often talk about winning the world for Christ and that sort of thing.  But if He is Lord, isn’t He already reigning over the world?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Sounds like Pastor D gets a “Correctly Discerning Law & Gospel” merit badge. How many times have I heard that passage explained as law rather than gospel?

    Ties in well also with the preservative function of salt – more common in Jesus’ day than in ours. Everything around us is, in a certain sense, rotting and our actions and very existence counters that.

  • Pete

    Sounds like Pastor D gets a “Correctly Discerning Law & Gospel” merit badge. How many times have I heard that passage explained as law rather than gospel?

    Ties in well also with the preservative function of salt – more common in Jesus’ day than in ours. Everything around us is, in a certain sense, rotting and our actions and very existence counters that.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    It’s really a natural by-product of our conversion in one sense. We’ve talked about this before in my Bible study, that this is a passage about our witness, both in our words and deeds, as Christians.

    When we undergo a true conversion, experiencing true saving faith, we are changed-not to earn salvation, but as a result of salvation. We cannot help but be different in our attitude and behavior than the world around us. Yes, we still wrestle with the Old Adam, but the Old Adam no longer has the blinding power upon us that it once did. We are different than the unbelievers around us, not in a Pharisaical way, but in our worldview and our priorities, and ultimately in our final destination. That will be reflected in our lives if we are truly saved.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    It’s really a natural by-product of our conversion in one sense. We’ve talked about this before in my Bible study, that this is a passage about our witness, both in our words and deeds, as Christians.

    When we undergo a true conversion, experiencing true saving faith, we are changed-not to earn salvation, but as a result of salvation. We cannot help but be different in our attitude and behavior than the world around us. Yes, we still wrestle with the Old Adam, but the Old Adam no longer has the blinding power upon us that it once did. We are different than the unbelievers around us, not in a Pharisaical way, but in our worldview and our priorities, and ultimately in our final destination. That will be reflected in our lives if we are truly saved.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Excellent. I derived great benefit from an introduction to the gospels class with Mark Seifrid, in which we discussed some of these things, including the kingdom tension and the “already/not yet” theme of the gospels. Seifrid objects to the term “building the kingdom”, and I tend to agree. Good conversation.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Excellent. I derived great benefit from an introduction to the gospels class with Mark Seifrid, in which we discussed some of these things, including the kingdom tension and the “already/not yet” theme of the gospels. Seifrid objects to the term “building the kingdom”, and I tend to agree. Good conversation.

  • Jonathan

    How do we salt and light? Hmm. Throughout our vocation, perhaps?

  • Jonathan

    How do we salt and light? Hmm. Throughout our vocation, perhaps?

  • LAJ

    And our prayers.

  • LAJ

    And our prayers.

  • mark†

    WHO IS DOING THE DOING?

    Philippians 2:13, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

    It is the ordinary life of faith. We live a sacramental life: the Word, the Sacraments, devotions, prayer.

    “This article (as I have said) I cannot relate better than to Sanctification, that through the same the Holy Ghost, with His office, is declared and depicted, namely, that He makes holy. Therefore we must take our stand upon the word Holy Ghost, because it is so precise and comprehensive that we cannot find another. For there are, besides, many kinds of spirits mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, as, the spirit of man, heavenly spirits, and evil spirits. But the Spirit of God alone is called Holy Ghost, that is, He who has sanctified and still sanctifies us. For as the Father is called Creator, the Son Redeemer, so the Holy Ghost, from His work, must be called Sanctifier, or One that makes holy. But how is such sanctifying done? Answer: Just as the Son obtains dominion, whereby He wins us, through His birth, death, resurrection, etc., so also the Holy Ghost effects our sanctification by the following parts, namely, by the communion of saints or the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting; that is, He first leads us into His holy congregation, and places us in the bosom of the Church, whereby He preaches to us and brings us to Christ.”
    ~ Large Catechism. The Apostles Creed III, Line 35.

  • mark†

    WHO IS DOING THE DOING?

    Philippians 2:13, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

    It is the ordinary life of faith. We live a sacramental life: the Word, the Sacraments, devotions, prayer.

    “This article (as I have said) I cannot relate better than to Sanctification, that through the same the Holy Ghost, with His office, is declared and depicted, namely, that He makes holy. Therefore we must take our stand upon the word Holy Ghost, because it is so precise and comprehensive that we cannot find another. For there are, besides, many kinds of spirits mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, as, the spirit of man, heavenly spirits, and evil spirits. But the Spirit of God alone is called Holy Ghost, that is, He who has sanctified and still sanctifies us. For as the Father is called Creator, the Son Redeemer, so the Holy Ghost, from His work, must be called Sanctifier, or One that makes holy. But how is such sanctifying done? Answer: Just as the Son obtains dominion, whereby He wins us, through His birth, death, resurrection, etc., so also the Holy Ghost effects our sanctification by the following parts, namely, by the communion of saints or the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting; that is, He first leads us into His holy congregation, and places us in the bosom of the Church, whereby He preaches to us and brings us to Christ.”
    ~ Large Catechism. The Apostles Creed III, Line 35.

  • Helen F

    Although the author of this article below does not bring up “salt” as referenced in Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon, I think it shows how wrong-headed one can be about what it means to be “salt.”

  • Helen F

    Although the author of this article below does not bring up “salt” as referenced in Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon, I think it shows how wrong-headed one can be about what it means to be “salt.”

  • Helen F

    Although the author of this article below does not bring up “salt” as referenced in Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon, I think it shows how wrong-headed one can be about what it means to be “salt.”
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/januaryweb-only/whyopenchurchmuslims.html?start=1

  • Helen F

    Although the author of this article below does not bring up “salt” as referenced in Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon, I think it shows how wrong-headed one can be about what it means to be “salt.”
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/januaryweb-only/whyopenchurchmuslims.html?start=1

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “If we are truly saved….”

    How does one know? Are you doing and being all you can be?

    I’ll borrow a page from Luther. Here’s how he knew. And here’s how I know.

    “I’m Baptized.”

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “If we are truly saved….”

    How does one know? Are you doing and being all you can be?

    I’ll borrow a page from Luther. Here’s how he knew. And here’s how I know.

    “I’m Baptized.”

  • utahrainbow

    The CPH Sunday School curriculum directed us to tell the story of Dorcas as an illustration for salt and light. I thought it worked out pretty well. She is the woman who made clothes for widows and Peter raised (to the glory of God) to life.

    So I think Jonathan @ 4 said it well.

  • utahrainbow

    The CPH Sunday School curriculum directed us to tell the story of Dorcas as an illustration for salt and light. I thought it worked out pretty well. She is the woman who made clothes for widows and Peter raised (to the glory of God) to life.

    So I think Jonathan @ 4 said it well.

  • DonS

    Indeed, we are salt. We don’t <do salt. Of course, we are also admonished in the same passage about losing our saltiness. So there would seem to be at least an implied imperative.

    “Similarly, Christians often talk about winning the world for Christ and that sort of thing. But if He is Lord, isn’t He already reigning over the world?” — Well, I don’t think so. Not yet. Christ is on the right-hand of God and it is the Holy Spirit moving in this world at the present time, as I understand Scripture. The prince of this world, until the Second Coming of Christ, is Satan (John 14:30).

    The Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19-20) is pretty clear as to our responsibilities as believers. We are the Body of Christ, and we are blessed that God has privileged the Body to do His work here on earth.

  • DonS

    Indeed, we are salt. We don’t <do salt. Of course, we are also admonished in the same passage about losing our saltiness. So there would seem to be at least an implied imperative.

    “Similarly, Christians often talk about winning the world for Christ and that sort of thing. But if He is Lord, isn’t He already reigning over the world?” — Well, I don’t think so. Not yet. Christ is on the right-hand of God and it is the Holy Spirit moving in this world at the present time, as I understand Scripture. The prince of this world, until the Second Coming of Christ, is Satan (John 14:30).

    The Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19-20) is pretty clear as to our responsibilities as believers. We are the Body of Christ, and we are blessed that God has privileged the Body to do His work here on earth.

  • Joe

    “Christ is on the right-hand of God and it is the Holy Spirit moving in this world at the present time …”

    Don – the right hand of God is not a location, but a descriptor of authority and power. It is not only the Spirit that is present in the world. Christ is not sitting it out until judgment day. He is truly present in the bread and wine, where ever people gather in his name.

  • Joe

    “Christ is on the right-hand of God and it is the Holy Spirit moving in this world at the present time …”

    Don – the right hand of God is not a location, but a descriptor of authority and power. It is not only the Spirit that is present in the world. Christ is not sitting it out until judgment day. He is truly present in the bread and wine, where ever people gather in his name.

  • George A. Marquart

    “You are a child of God who has been salted by the Holy Spirit.”

    Have we been salted “by” the Holy Spirit or “with” the Holy Spirit. I don’t know why we Lutherans avoid the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in each one of the people of God. Even when the Small Catechism deals with Baptism, it is “water and the word.” For some reason Luther avoids the Holy Spirit. Yes, he speaks of a “washing” and “regeneration,” but not of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, actually coming to dwell in each one of us.

    Our Lord, on the night He was betrayed, was very precise in the use of prepositions, John 14: 16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

    So He who was with them would be in them, as He was, beginning on Easter Sunday.

    St. Paul makes it a mark of being a Christian: (Romans 8) “9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

    Indeed we are salted “with” the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we would not be able to be “salt” or ‘light”.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    “You are a child of God who has been salted by the Holy Spirit.”

    Have we been salted “by” the Holy Spirit or “with” the Holy Spirit. I don’t know why we Lutherans avoid the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in each one of the people of God. Even when the Small Catechism deals with Baptism, it is “water and the word.” For some reason Luther avoids the Holy Spirit. Yes, he speaks of a “washing” and “regeneration,” but not of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, actually coming to dwell in each one of us.

    Our Lord, on the night He was betrayed, was very precise in the use of prepositions, John 14: 16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

    So He who was with them would be in them, as He was, beginning on Easter Sunday.

    St. Paul makes it a mark of being a Christian: (Romans 8) “9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

    Indeed we are salted “with” the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we would not be able to be “salt” or ‘light”.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • DonS

    Joe @ 12: Yes, of course, I understand that the right hand of God is not a geographical reference. However, the point I was making is that He is not reigning over this world right now. His kingdom is not of this world. That time will be in the future, after the Second Coming. It is the Holy Spirit Who indwells each of us now and is our promised Helper (John 14:16–as George references above).

  • DonS

    Joe @ 12: Yes, of course, I understand that the right hand of God is not a geographical reference. However, the point I was making is that He is not reigning over this world right now. His kingdom is not of this world. That time will be in the future, after the Second Coming. It is the Holy Spirit Who indwells each of us now and is our promised Helper (John 14:16–as George references above).

  • Grace

    DonS is right –

    What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
    1 Corinthians 6:19

    In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
    2 Corinthians 4:4

    3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

    4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
    1 John 4

  • Grace

    DonS is right –

    What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
    1 Corinthians 6:19

    In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
    2 Corinthians 4:4

    3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

    4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
    1 John 4

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Don @ 14

    I am not responding to argue with you so much as to clarify where the Lutheran confessions do not agree with you. This is the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms.

    First what is NOT the lutheran teaching, but is the common understanding:

    Not lutheran:
    there are two kingdoms. they line up according to the first and second table of the 10 commandments. God rules with his right hand in the church and with his left hand in civil matters.

    This is really the view of roman catholics and reformed are comfortable with this as well.

    Lutheran:
    There are two kingdoms. This can be divided in the 10 commandments as the invisible faith that alone can keep the 1st commandment, versus the visible keeping of the 10 commandments that any pagan can know and do because the exact same law of God is divinely revealed in his conscience.

    This earthly kingdom where the legal tender is visible works that are the doing of fatherly goodness and mercy, is where God rules by the visible keeping of the Law and visible righteousness. In this kingdom God´s will is that everyone tend to his own business, and stay out of the personal life , business and property of others. The point is to let everyone enjoy his earthly life in peace. This is is God´s will on earth simply because god is father full of goodness and mercy. it is not to allow the gospel free course, although that is one part of it, and it is not because of what christ did and will happen regardless of whether anyone prays for this to happen or not.

    God makes this goodness and mercy happen by the holy spirit extorting it out of all old adams of christian and pagan in exactly the same way. using the law in mortification. when you hear the word mortification, think “the -law -in-action. ” this is where st paul tells us to take the sword of the spirit, the law, and kill the old adam. This is not sanctification. this is not salt and yeast.

    The reason that we should learn to do this goodness and mercy eagerly is so that God does not have to send to us punishment and plague to make us do this goodness and mercy.

    the way to teach this is neatly summarized in the 10 commandments. Pagans can do all this as well as any christian can.

    The point is that we dont do the law. the law does us. It extorts goodness and mercy out of every old adam of christian and pagan alike.

    It is important to totally include everything we do in church in this earthly kingdom of the law. this is because old adam is very religous and will turn even the lords supper and baptism into some way to deal with God apart from christ.

    then there is the heavenly kingdom. this is alone invisible faith in christ alone. this Righeousness doesnt include anything at all we can see and do in our bodies. not even baptism or the lords supper. why not? all that stuff is already fully included in the earthly kingdom. the legal tender of this kingdom is invisible faith in christ. alone.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Don @ 14

    I am not responding to argue with you so much as to clarify where the Lutheran confessions do not agree with you. This is the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms.

    First what is NOT the lutheran teaching, but is the common understanding:

    Not lutheran:
    there are two kingdoms. they line up according to the first and second table of the 10 commandments. God rules with his right hand in the church and with his left hand in civil matters.

    This is really the view of roman catholics and reformed are comfortable with this as well.

    Lutheran:
    There are two kingdoms. This can be divided in the 10 commandments as the invisible faith that alone can keep the 1st commandment, versus the visible keeping of the 10 commandments that any pagan can know and do because the exact same law of God is divinely revealed in his conscience.

    This earthly kingdom where the legal tender is visible works that are the doing of fatherly goodness and mercy, is where God rules by the visible keeping of the Law and visible righteousness. In this kingdom God´s will is that everyone tend to his own business, and stay out of the personal life , business and property of others. The point is to let everyone enjoy his earthly life in peace. This is is God´s will on earth simply because god is father full of goodness and mercy. it is not to allow the gospel free course, although that is one part of it, and it is not because of what christ did and will happen regardless of whether anyone prays for this to happen or not.

    God makes this goodness and mercy happen by the holy spirit extorting it out of all old adams of christian and pagan in exactly the same way. using the law in mortification. when you hear the word mortification, think “the -law -in-action. ” this is where st paul tells us to take the sword of the spirit, the law, and kill the old adam. This is not sanctification. this is not salt and yeast.

    The reason that we should learn to do this goodness and mercy eagerly is so that God does not have to send to us punishment and plague to make us do this goodness and mercy.

    the way to teach this is neatly summarized in the 10 commandments. Pagans can do all this as well as any christian can.

    The point is that we dont do the law. the law does us. It extorts goodness and mercy out of every old adam of christian and pagan alike.

    It is important to totally include everything we do in church in this earthly kingdom of the law. this is because old adam is very religous and will turn even the lords supper and baptism into some way to deal with God apart from christ.

    then there is the heavenly kingdom. this is alone invisible faith in christ alone. this Righeousness doesnt include anything at all we can see and do in our bodies. not even baptism or the lords supper. why not? all that stuff is already fully included in the earthly kingdom. the legal tender of this kingdom is invisible faith in christ. alone.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    baptism shows us how this all works:

    small catechism:

    what does baptism give or profit?

    It …
    works forgiveness of sins
    delivers from sin death and the power of the devil
    it gives eternal salvation to all who believe [who have faith in the promise of christ located in the water]

    Baptism also SIGNIFIES something more…
    it signifies that the old adam is to daily drown/die. how? by baptism? no. “by daily contrition and repentence!” law, mortification!

    Luther: “life is mortification”. this is especially true for the baptismal life of christians. so believers live totally in the law in this life. and then, in with and under that life-is-death-and-law is what
    ?

    Faith in christ! invisible faith in christ.

    so God reigns in the earthly kingdom in and outside the church with the law in everything at all we can see and do in our higher powers of reason and emotion and in our lower powers of our actions.

    and in with and under all this that we can see and do, all that matters on earth, is gods heavenly kingdom. and he is here and now in our earthly kingdom in with and under all believers, ruling also in his heavenly kingdom. and he is redeeming matter, because matter matters evidenced by the blessed incarnation.

    so here right how God is present with his goodness and mercy in all we can see and do which is 100% dead body of dead old adam. and he ruling in with and under the divinely revealed law that is hidden in earthly things like poop scoop ordinances, speed laws and tax laws, and your mama telling you to sweep da floor.

    and he is here with his heavenly kingdom, invisibly in with and under the word and sacrament, in with and under sinful pastors and synods and in with and under the old adams of believers to bring us to the fatherly goodness and mercy that is fully and only revealed in Christ and not in the Law.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    baptism shows us how this all works:

    small catechism:

    what does baptism give or profit?

    It …
    works forgiveness of sins
    delivers from sin death and the power of the devil
    it gives eternal salvation to all who believe [who have faith in the promise of christ located in the water]

    Baptism also SIGNIFIES something more…
    it signifies that the old adam is to daily drown/die. how? by baptism? no. “by daily contrition and repentence!” law, mortification!

    Luther: “life is mortification”. this is especially true for the baptismal life of christians. so believers live totally in the law in this life. and then, in with and under that life-is-death-and-law is what
    ?

    Faith in christ! invisible faith in christ.

    so God reigns in the earthly kingdom in and outside the church with the law in everything at all we can see and do in our higher powers of reason and emotion and in our lower powers of our actions.

    and in with and under all this that we can see and do, all that matters on earth, is gods heavenly kingdom. and he is here and now in our earthly kingdom in with and under all believers, ruling also in his heavenly kingdom. and he is redeeming matter, because matter matters evidenced by the blessed incarnation.

    so here right how God is present with his goodness and mercy in all we can see and do which is 100% dead body of dead old adam. and he ruling in with and under the divinely revealed law that is hidden in earthly things like poop scoop ordinances, speed laws and tax laws, and your mama telling you to sweep da floor.

    and he is here with his heavenly kingdom, invisibly in with and under the word and sacrament, in with and under sinful pastors and synods and in with and under the old adams of believers to bring us to the fatherly goodness and mercy that is fully and only revealed in Christ and not in the Law.


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