November 20 - 26
Salt of the Earth, Light of the World
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 5:13-16; Mark 9:50; John 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:6.
MEMORY TEXT: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of tight" (Ephesians 5:8, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: What does it mean for the Christian to be salt and light? How do we become such agents?
OUR WORLD'S NEED. Wherever we live, we see around us many empty hearts, many sad faces, and many people without any reason to live. They merely grow, reproduce, suffer, and die. They do not really live, because they are not connected with the Source of life.
"He who seeks to quench his thirst at the fountains of this world will drink only to thirst again. Everywhere men are unsatisfied. They long for something to supply the need of the soul. Only One can meet that want ... Christ."The Desire of Ages, p. 187.
Every one of us can bring people to Christ, "the way and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6, NIV). "The love of Christ, revealed to us, makes us debtors to all who know Him not."Steps to Christ, p. 81. This week, we shall study how, by word and deed, we can add spiritual flavor and light to the blandness and darkness of today's world. Let us remember that Christ is the real salt and ultimate light of this world. We can become the salt and light to people around us only if we allow Christ to "salt" and "brighten" our lives with His life.
A metaphor compares two objects to show how they are alike. What metaphor does Jesus use to explain our Christian mission? Matt. 5:13; Mark 9:50. Why does He use this metaphor?
Jesus used the most common elements of everyday life to illustrate the deepest lessons regarding salvation, and people listened to Him with intense interest (Matt. 7:28, 29). In this particular case, almost at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses this particular metaphor to emphasize the influence of a good Christian life.
Salt is used to purify, preserve, and flavor. How can Christians in a sinful world purify, preserve, and flavor? Put your thoughts regarding this in the chart below.
"The savor of the salt represents the vital power of the Christianthe love of Jesus in the heart, the righteousness of Christ pervading the life.... "Unless the Holy Spirit can use us as agents through whom to communicate to the world the truth as it is in Jesus, we are as salt that has lost its savor and is entirely worthless."Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 36, 37.
How do we become the salt of the earth? Acts 4:13.
|To be an effective flavoring agent, salt must be thoroughly mixed with food. What does this tell us about how we should live as Christians? Does it conflict with the concept of being in the world but not of the world? Explain. How can we mingle with others in order to fulfill our global mission without being negatively affected?|
After referring to salt, what other metaphor did Jesus use to explain our work as a church and as individuals? Matt. 5:14-16. Why are we to "shine before men"? Verse 16.
"As the sun goes forth on its errand of love, dispelling the shades of night and awakening the world to life, so the followers of Christ are to go forth on their mission, diffusing the light of heaven upon those who are in the darkness of error and sin....
"No other light ever has shone or ever will shine upon fallen man save that which emanates from Christ. "Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 39.
Explain what Paul means in Ephesians 5:8 when he counsels us to "walk in the light."
While darkness is a symbol of sin in its various manifestations, light is a symbol that represents the Christian virtues. Only by displaying such virtues are we able to illuminate the world.
"Our profession of faith may proclaim the theory of religion, but it is our practical piety that holds forth the word of truth. The consistent life, the holy conversation, the unswerving integrity, the active, benevolent spirit, the godly example-these are the mediums through which light is conveyed to the world."The Desire of Ages, p. 307.
Since Jesus is the Source of light, what should be our attitude toward Him? John 8:12; 12:35, 36.
The very God who said in the beginning, "Let there be light; and there was light," is equally powerful today to remove any darkness from our hearts and guide us to walk side by side with Jesus, "the light of the world." He promised, "He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12, NKJV).
A light is: (1) meant to be seen, (2) often used as a guide, or (3) used as a warning. Apply each of these to the duty a Christian has as a light to the world.
|How can you be a light in each one of these areas?|
We read about two successful lights in 2 Kings 5:1-15 and Acts 8:26-39. As you study these passages, ask the following questions of each story: Who? What? Where? When? How? and Why? What can you conclude from your answers about being lights to the world?
|2 Kings 5:1-15||Acts 8:26-39|
We do not know the name of the captive girl nor her age. But we know that she had a great faith in the true God and His prophet and that her employers respected her. Because she was a light in the darkness of a pagan home, a miracle occurred. "The parents of that Hebrew maid, as they taught her of God ... were faithful to their trust; and in the home of the captain of the Syrian host, their child bore witness to the God whom she had learned to honor."Prophets and Kings, p. 246.
While traveling back home, the Ethiopian read Isaiah 53. But he could not understand it. So the Lord sent him Philip, who gave him a Bible study right then and there. As a result, the Ethiopian accepted Christ as his Savior.
Because Philip had the Light of the world in his heart, he could share it with others. "There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven.... Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in.The Acts of the Apostles, p. 109.
|Think of at least three ways you can let your light shine in a manner similar to the witness of Philip and the young Israelite woman. Then let it shine!|
Throughout the centuries, God has had human instruments shedding His light in the world. Review Hebrews 11 to see what some of these lights did by faith in Him.
These people did not allow circumstances to dim their lights. They allowed God to let His light shine through them. That is exactly what the Lord wants us to do today. We do not need to subdue kingdoms or harbor "spies" from a foreign nation. But we can meet the needs of the many people around us who live in darkness.
"God calls not only for our gifts for the needy, but for our cheerful countenance, our hopeful words, our kindly handclasp. When Christ healed the sick, He laid His hands upon them. So should we come in close touch with those whom we seek to benefit.
"There are many from whom hope has departed. Bring back the sunshine to them. Many have lost their courage. Speak to them words of cheer. Pray for them. There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the word of God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no earthly balm can reach nor physician heal. Pray for these souls, bring them to Jesus. "Christ's Object Lessons, p. 418.
How was Daniel's experience a light in Babylon and Medo-Persia? Dan. 2:48; chap. 6. Consider how you can imitate him.
How great is the example Daniel left us! How much we need to be like him in humility, wisdom, fidelity, and trust. These are the virtues that help make us lights in the world.
As the Light of the world, what "job description" did Christ proclaim was His? Luke 4:16-21.
"When those who profess to serve God follow Christ's example, ... then will the church have power to move the world. "Christ's Object Lessons, p. 340.
|Make a list of the people you deal with every day. Even if they profess to be Christians, ask yourself how you can be a light to them. The sun shines on us all, the good and bad alike. How does this fact help you to understand your job description as a light to the world?|
What did the Pharisees and scribes say regarding Christ's attitude toward sinners? Why did He answer with a series of three parables? Luke 15:1-24 (compare Matt. 9:9-13).
Christ's enemies criticized and condemned His behavior. "If Jesus were the Messiah," they muttered amongst themselves, "He should not receive sinners, eat with them, or be friends with them." Yet Christ did all these things. And the criticism of His enemies actually became the best commendation of His love for humanity. That was precisely the reason He came to this fallen world: to seek and save the lost, the ones who saw their need for Him.
The fact that Jesus received sinners, ate with them, and befriended them shows His love for even the most despised person. What Jesus did in the past, He does today. He loves each and every one of us with an eternal love. He gives us His company when we feel alone. He cures our inner wounds when we are spiritually sick. He brings us back when we are lost in sin. And He fulfills each and every one of our true needs.
As He sheds His light on us and we receive His abundant mercy, we accept the sacred privilege to do the same for our neighbor. Otherwise, how could we be the salt and the light of this world?
What was the highest manifestation of Christ's love and light for sinners? Isa. 53:4, 5; Rom. 5:7-9.
In giving His life for us, Jesus revealed the depth of His divine love. Certainly He was with sinners at the table eating with them. But He also was with them at the cross offering them eternal life. Where could we find a greater Light that at the cross? He is the true Light "which enlightens everyone" (John 1:9, NRSV). He launched His ministry by giving of Himself to others, and He continued such giving of His life until He finally gave all at Calvary. Doesn't this move us to give of ourselves in love and service to others?
|Take time to read carefully Isaiah 53. As you do, involve yourself as a saved sinner in this description of how Christ became the Light of the world. Then give thanks to Him for such a bright light shed in your life. In what ways can He help you reflect His light in your daily life and witness to others?|
FURTHER STUDY: Read the following texts, How do they shed light on Matthew 5:14-16? Ps. 18:28; 27:1; 37:6; 119:105; Prov. 4:18; Luke 1:76, 79; John 8:12; Eph. 5:14; 2 Pet. 1:19.
Read Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 33-40; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 454-467; and Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 273-280.
The moral and spiritual darkness of this time demands our consecration to God. What people need today is the Light of the world. We can reflect Him by means of our Christian character.
"Trials patiently borne, blessings gratefully received, temptations manfully resisted, meekness, kindness, mercy, and love habitually revealed, are the lights that shine forth in the character in contrast with the darkness of the selfish heart, into which the light of life has never shone. "Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 44.
SUMMARY: We have the privilege of being the salt of this insipid earth and the light in this dark world. But we cannot have true spiritual flavor or brilliant light by ourselves. Jesus is the Source. He is the One who enables us to penetrate people's hearts so they will see and accept Him as their Savior.
The sun was just coming up over the horizon as the fishing boat neared the point of land where the sheltered sea met the open ocean. Gary Bauer* leaned against the rail and studied the line of waves breaking on the shore. The smell of the sea reminded him of his teenage years working as a deck hand on a deep-sea fishing boat and of surfing every chance he could.
He reached for his surfboard. Who would have thought that his love for surfing would ever bring him an opportunity to share Jesus Christ with people who had never heard the name before?
Bauer was a "tentmaker" (a self-supporting missionary) in a closed Middle-Eastern country. He had been studying the language for months and was eager to try speaking without an interpreter. When he heard that the waves along this stretch of ocean were a surfer's delight, he decided to try them out for himself. This little vacation adventure would provide an opportunity to surf as well as practice his new language skills on people who almost never saw outsiders.
He found a fishing boat captain who was willing to take him to the area, but the captain pointed out that there were no ports where he could dock. When Gary indicated that he planned to jump ship and surf to shore, the captain insisted on being paid in advance. Gary smiled as he pondered what the captain must have thought about him right then.
The boat slowed as it neared the point where Bauer would take his leave. As he studied the shoreline, he noticed a few masonry homes framed by a row of mountains. But no city was in sight.
The captain signaled that he was turning around. Suddenly Bauer wondered if it was such a great idea to jump off the boat and surf to shore. But he could not back down now. He tightened the straps on his backpack and checked the strap that tethered his surfboard to his ankle. The sea seemed so much farther down than when he had boarded the ship, and the water was rougher than he had anticipated. But the captain held the gate open, so he took a running leap and sailed into the water.
(continued next week)
Lynn Rose is an accounting clerk at the General Conference. *Gary Bauer is a pseudonym; for security reasons his exact location is not identified.
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