#26 – What the Gospels Teach – Salt of the Earth – Matthew 5:13

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (Matthew 5:13 NASB)

This passage of scripture is one of the most painfully misused passages that I personally can think of.  It seems so typical of dead fundamentalism (not true fundamentalism) to somehow interpret this verse to mean that we are to be like salt in an open wound.  Or, much talk is made about how salt is a preservative and we 

are supposed to preserve the world and keep it from decomposing, or morally degenerating.  A quick honest glance at the passage will show you the attribute of salt that Jesus is concerned with here... ‘if the salt has become tasteless...’ or in the KJV ‘if the salt loses its savor...’ the implication is that of flavor, more than preservation or cleansing, or stinging or whatever else people spin it to be.

Now put this verse in its proper context and you will see it serves as a transition out of the beatitudes and into teachings on being the light of the world.  Unfortunately the majority of teaching on this passage divorces it from the beatitudes that come before it, that should not be.  I contend that the very savor or taste, or saltiness is described in the previous beatitudes.  Where is your saltiness?  In your poverty of spirit, in your mourning, in your meekness... etc.  These things are the very savor of true Christianity the very taste that brings God pleasure and draws people to Christ.

Notice the statement “You are the salt of the earth...” do you realize that is not a command.  Moreover look at every single one of the beatitudes, and you will not find a command anywhere.  In fact the first command you will find in the Sermon on the Mount is ‘let your light so shine before men...” but even that command is the follow up to ‘you are the light of the world’ which is a plain declaration.  Realize that Christ is teaching firmly what a Christian is, not how to become one, and not even how a Christian should be.  I have heard someone say that “the beatitudes should be the attitude of every Christian.”  I think that is a great statement, except for the word ‘should’.  Replace ‘should’ with ‘is’ and you will be all set.  I certainly do not hold to this notion of sinless perfection (though I tread lightly here knowing that God is capable of perfecting a man), but a sovereign God can and does truly regenerate every true believer, and the evidence of that regeneration is that savor of saltiness, which is nothing less than the manifestation of the beatitudes themselves.

Now we cannot pass the verse without addressing the issue of lost salvation.  “if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”  How can salt lose its savor?  Some reformed / Calvinistic teachers would tell you that the salt cannot lose its savor and become good for nothing but to be cast out... to which I would simply ask the question “Why did Jesus give this warning then?”  To maintain a position of ‘the perseverance of the saints’, this passage much be taken out of the context of salvation, I am not sure I would be comfortable in doing that either.  We know the scriptures are not contradictory, but our human minds are certainly conflicted, so as we see in scriptures that all who are saved will remain saved, and yet warnings of salvation lost, I can only sit back and yes to both.  I have blogged extensively on this in the past.  See these posts Peter's Lost Salvation or Losing Salvation or OSAS.

The line of division in biblical evangelical Christianity has been drawn in the wrong place.  It has historically been drawn between Calvinism and Arminianism, where as the line should be drawn at sovereign regeneration vs. works.  You will find Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Ravenhill, Reidhead, and even CS Lewis all on the same page with regard to regeneration.  It is the one doctrine that all true Christianity converges upon.

I realize that this post totally lost its cohesiveness near the end, but it is a blog, not a book, or even an essay so that is OK.



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