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Summary: As Jesus disciples, we are to influencers not the influenced.

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A Messiah of Influence

Text: Matt. 5:13-16

Introduction

1. Illustration: Historian Philip Schaff, described the overwhelming influence which Jesus had on subsequent history and culture of the world: “This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science…he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times” (Schaff, Phillip, "The Person of Christ," American Tract Society, 1913).

2. Jesus was a person of great influence, not only in His time on earth, but on every generation and culture since.

3. As His disciples, Jesus calls us to be people of influence too. He tells us that:

• We are to be influential

• We are to be illuminating

1. Read Matt. 5:13-16

Proposition: As Jesus disciples, we are to influencers not the influenced.

Transition: Jesus tells us...

I. We Are To Be Influential (13)

A. Salt of the Earth

1. In the four verses that we will examine today, Jesus uses "a series of images which explain why it is important that disciples should both be different and be seen as different" (France, 173).

2. Jesus begins by telling us, “You are the salt of the earth."

a. For the most part, salt in Jesus day was very different from the table salt that we think of today. Most salt in ancient times was acquired from evaporated sea water, and would frequently contain other minerals that were fairly useless.

b. There were a number of different uses for salt in the ancient world. References to salt’s positive qualities emphasize its seasoning, preserving and purifying properties (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (electronic ed.), InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL).

c. In the ancient world, salt was a vital, even essential element of life, maybe even as essential as water.

d. What Jesus is trying to get us to see is that we are just as essential to the community in which we live.

e. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth and not Him? The church is what is keeping the world from falling into complete chaos. That’s how influential we are in our world.

3. In what ways are we to be an influence in our world?

a. First, we are to add flavor to our world.

1) Our wisdom and spiritual understanding, based on our relationship with the Lord and our knowledge of Scripture, is a vital element in our world.

2) Our task is not only to tell people that there are far from God, but also to tell them how to get to Him.

b. Second, as salt we preserve the world.

1) Without the church being a source of reason and grace in the world, the human race would self-destruct.

2) 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 (NIV)

And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

c. Third, we are a purifier in our world.

1) As proclaimers of God’s truth, we are to make clear that His standards are higher than that of our societys’ standards.

2) As proclaimers of God’s truth, we are to make clear that there is no one who is "good," no not one!

3) As proclaimers of God’s truth, it is our task to declare that the only way to be right with a Holy God is through the blood of His Son.

4. However, we need to pay close attention to what Jesus says next, “But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless."

a. An inquirer reportedly asked a late first-century rabbi what to salt tasteless salt with; he responded, "The afterbirth of a mule." In that society, everyone knew that mules are sterile; the point is "If you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer" (Keener, 109).

b. The point that Jesus is making here is that if we stop being salt, if we stop being a positive influence on our culture and society, we become worthless.

c. What good is it, if someone confessing to be a follower of Christ, shows no concern for the spiritual well-being of those around them?

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