Hello and welcome to this teaching from Calvary Albuquerque. We are excited to hear from our special guest speaker, Pastor Nate Heitzig, who serves as the Executive Creative Administrator at Calvary Albuquerque. Our prayer is that this message strengthens your relationship with the Lord. If it does, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. Given. Now we invite you to open your bibles as we join this special service with Nate Heitzig.
You can pre-mark your bibles to Matthew 5. We're going to be versus 13 through 16, for a message that I've entitled How to Change 2016. I'm excited to be here. And I always say this, but I really mean it, I really believe it. I think that church should be fun. Does anyone else agree with that? Can I get an Amen to that?
The front half thinks that church should be fun, the back half isn't quite sure yet. They're still feeling it out. It's kind of like grandma's pudding. They're not quite sure if they want to take a bite of that yet, because they just got to see where it goes.
I believe church should be fun. I think sometimes we come to church, and we think that we need to be really pious. We think that if we give Satan our broccoli face, that he'll know how angry or how disgusted we are with sin, that somehow God will be happier about that.
But I don't think that's the case. I don't believe there's a sliding scale that says, the angrier you are with Satan, the happier God is. As a matter of fact, I think when we're in the house of God, we need to show God that we're excited, that we're joyful to be in his presence. I think it's OK to let out a shout of praise. I think it's OK to rejoice, it's OK to laugh, it's OK to smile. Even if you were born in the Church of the frozen chosen, this morning you're at Calvary, so remind your face that you're happy. And let's have fun today. Amen?
Amen. So today I'm giving you guys permission to get excited. I'm giving you permission to enjoy yourself. If you hear something you agree with, it's OK to shout out an Amen, it's OK to shout out a preach it, it's even OK to shout out a preacher white boy. No judgment here. Do what you gotta do.
We're going to have fun today. Hey, turn to the person next you and say, we're going to have fun today. Now whoever said that say, no I'm a Christian, we don't have fun. No, we do. We're going to have a good time.
Hey, you know, New Year's Eve, I don't get it. I've never been, if I'm really honest, I've never been a huge fan of New Year's Eve. On the scale of holidays, New Year's Eve is probably my least favorite holiday. Because New Year's Eve has so many expectations. Doesn't it? There's so much riding on New Year's Eve.
First of all, you have the expectation that New Year's Eve is going to be the biggest night of the year. And so you have invitations to parties, you have these plans that this is going to be the year I'm going to stay up till midnight. I will count down that time or I'll get there when the clock hits midnight, I'll rejoice, I'll sing, I'll dance, I'll hoot and holler, I'll have a great time with my friends. This is the year. You know what, this year, I might even make it to New York City. I'm going to watch the ball drop. It's going to be the best New Year's Eve ever.
And so we spend all this energy, all this excitement, waiting for a night that is supposed to ring in an entirely new year. Do you realize the entire year is riding on the magnitude of one night. That's a lot of pressure for December 31st. I mean, that's not really fair.
Again, secretly we think we're going to make it to Times Square. We know that this will be the year we'll watch the ball drop. And when the clock hits midnight, and some beautiful serendipitous moment, we'll lock eyes with the love of our lives. And as the clock counts down, and as the crowd counts down, it will be like they're counting down just for us. And as the clock hits midnight, and as the crowd yells out happy new year, you'll give each other a big kiss. And the greatest love story and the greatest year in history will have just begun. Yeah right.
Unfortunately, New Year's Eve doesn't exist in a Hugh Jackman movie. If you're anything like me, New Year's Eve usually consists of sitting on the couch, in sweat pants, eating Christmas leftovers. Now if you have kids, you might get lucky. It might be a little more lively. You'll get exactly what every single parent of young kids wants to have welcoming them to the new year, and that is their kids making even more noise and waking up the neighbors by banging pots and pans. Whoever came up with that idea should be banged with pots and pans. Like seriously, do we really need to give our kids more things to make noise with. Hey kids, why don't you bang those pots and pans for the next 25 minutes and really make everybody happy. Maybe I'm just a grinch. I don't know.
You know, New Year's Eve, if you've had an epic year and then a lackluster New Year's Eve, can feel like the end of Braveheart or Gladiator. You have all this triumphant and glory, only to spend the last 10 minutes crying.
And on top of that, there's all this pressure that literally overnight you're going to change yourself. There's this belief that, somehow magically, when the clock hits midnight you'll make a resolution, and all of a sudden you'll become a new person and start doing something that you haven't done at all over the past year. You'll make a difference, you'll impact the world, or at the very least you'll start working out.
See that's a lot of expectation riding on one stroke of midnight. I think the problem for us, as a culture, is that we spend all year collecting these bad habits like Beanie Babies or Star Wars toys and not doing the things that we should be. And then all of a sudden, for one day, we focus on changing it all.
We say, you know what, over this past year I've become a pretty bad person, well here's the night I'm going to get rid of it. And we go on this cycle of resolutions of trying to make the world a better place through resolutions. Maybe we should reverse it and spend all year doing really good.
Go to the gym, eat right, read your Bible. Do all the things that you're supposed to do. And then on December 31st, for just one night, don't go to the gym, don't read your Bible, don't go to work, eat as much pizza as you want, and go ahead and start smoking cigarettes just for good measure. I'm not actually advocating that, by the way. I don't want to hear it next year, someone's resolution, well, I'm going to start smoking cigarettes because I just started last night.
See the problem is in us thinking that the way to make a difference is to change the world through making resolutions to be better people. 2015 has been a crazy year in the world. I don't know what your year looked like. Maybe you had a really bad year. Maybe it was a really tough year for you, filled with heartache and tragedy. Maybe you had a really good year. Maybe this was an incredibly successful year financially or relationally. Or maybe like most people, your year had good and bad. And somehow you find yourself there in the middle. But either way, whatever your year looked like, when we look at the year of 2015 for the world, it's a pretty crazy year.
We've seen terrorist attacks, we've seen mass shootings, we've seen economic crisis. 2015 was a year where more people were tuned into the news than ever before. And what is it that we were reading about?
Well, I found on USA Today the 10 most read stories of 2015, and it's really a smattering of importance and irrelevance. The number seven most read story of 2015 was, at least 14 are dead in San Bernardino shooting, no motive known. That was a tough day. Number six was what you need to know about the super moon lunar eclipse. Number five was Mayweather Pacquiao was a complete waste of time and money. Preach.
Number two was 10 killed in shooting at Oregon community college. And number one was scores killed in Paris terror attacks at six separate sites. It's a tough year. USA Today says it was an emotional year. Tragedies that now seem all too familiar. Mass shootings, terrorist attacks, celebrities dying much too young, filled our screens with news we couldn't help but read. The story was too big, too sad, too unbelievable to turn away.
And then there was the super moon lunar eclipse. What an awe inspiring break that was. Funny article, basically it's just saying, hey, this year was really tough but the moon was cool, huh? I mean, that's really what the article says. See we fluctuate between importance and irrelevance.
One of the other things I love doing at the end of each year is reading the ballot for the Time Person of the Year. The Time Person of the Year is supposed to be the most influential, impactful person, on not just the United States but on the world. I mean, we're talking revolutionaries. People who come up with cures for incredible diseases, people who truly impacted their culture in a way that we have not yet seen. And this was the list for 2015.
Amy Schumer. Really? Taylor Swift. Caitlyn Jenner. Kim Kardashian West. What does she even do? I'm still trying to figure that out.
And a horse named American Pharaoh. Literally, a horse made it on the Time Person of the Year list for the most influential person. How is that even possible? Well, I guess in a world where Bruce Jenner can win glamorous woman of the year award, anything goes. If you're a horse who dreams to be a person, you can do it if you want to.
Our world fluctuates between the impractical and the practical. We live in a society filled with blurred lines. iPods and ISIS. Republican candidates and refugees. Entertainment and economic crisis.
So my question tonight for you is what are you interested in? What's important to you? Because I believe that as Christians, we should be focusing on God's gift not on T Swift. We should be focusing on Christianity, not Kanye and Kim.
We want to know where the rubber meets the road. The line between the important and the not important seems to be vanishing within our culture. And each year the headlines seem to get darker and darker, so in a world that is so bleak, and looking at a new year, it's easy to ask, how can I make a difference?
How can I impact my surroundings? How can I impact my relationships? How can I impact my family?
Have you ever ask that? How can I make a difference? What can I do to change the world? We have a lot of very unmotivated people.
I think that's a question we should ask. How can I make a difference? Instead of sitting passively on the sidelines and watching the world go down, we should be active agents in the process of change that Jesus Christ called us to be. And we're going to see that tonight.
Tonight, we're going to see in our message how to change 2016. How to change 2016, that seems like a big call. And I think most of us come to a new year, and we don't actually think we could change the world or change a year. And so instead, we want to know how to change in 2016. How can I be a better version of myself?
But I believe that God has called us to weigh more than just losing a few pounds and saving better. God has called us to more than just trying new things. He wants to do new things through us. God has called us to more than just living life to the fullest, and He wants to use you to bring life to the world. God cares way more about your worship routine church than your workout routine.
And so let this be the year where we don't just seek to become a better version of ourselves. We don't just make a resolution to eat better, but we make a resolution to start a revolution. God wants to impact our culture, and he wants to use you to do it. And he told us how.
Let's read Matthew chapter 5, starting at verse 13. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."
Continue reading verse 16 with me. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven."
Look at verse 13 again. Jesus says, "You are the salt of the earth." And here we see our first point. How to change 2016. Number one, salt the roads.
The first step to changing our culture is to salt the roads. Now the original language here, when he says "you are the salt of the earth" would imply you, and you alone, are the salt of the earth.
I want you to let that sink in. You and you alone are the salt of the earth. So don't look at the person next to you. Don't look at the person behind you. Don't look at the person in front of you. Don't look at the people on stage. Look at yourself.
God has called you, and you alone, to be the salt of the earth. To be the flavor that brings out the God flavors within the world. As the message translation says, I'll read it in a second.
God has called you to be the salt of the earth, to make a difference, to impact your culture. God has called you, Christian.
I think in our culture, we have a lot of blame shifting. I think in our culture we love to blame other people. And it starts very young. My son is a master at this. You come inside, you see all the toys thrown all over the place, and it's immediately, oh, it was sister's fault. Well, Seth, those are all of your toys. I helped her.
That's just blame shifting. You just want to push the blame on someone else. We want to pass the buck to somebody else. We never want to take responsibility for our actions. And it continues when we're adults.
The economy? Oh, it's got to be the government's fault. Oh, the political crisis? Oh, it's got to be this person's fault. ISIS? That's definitely Obama.
You know, we want to put the blame on other people. We want to constantly shift the blame. And we also want to constantly focus on what's not really important.
When it comes to the Christian's role, the buck stops with us. Each and every one of us. You and you alone are the salt of the earth. We see immediately that we have a strategic and important part to play in God's plan of reaching the world.
I want to listen to this passage read in the message version. It says this, let me tell you why you're here. So if you've wondered your purpose in life, you've wondered why you exist, why you were born. Here it is.
Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt seasoning that brings out the God flavoring of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?
You've lost your usefulness, and you'll end up in the garbage. Here's another way to put it, you're here to be light bringing out the God colors of the world. God is not a secret to be kept.
We're going public with this. As public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I put you up there on a hilltop, on a light stand, shine. Keep open house. Be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up to God.
Church, the world is living in a colorless, flavorless culture. The things that they think will taste good, don't. The things that they think will open up their eyes, don't.
It's quickly fading, it's passing. And we are called to be the salt that brings the God flavors out of the world. We're called to be the light that reveals the God colors within the world. And if we don't do it, who's going to?
Again, not the person next to you. Because they're thinking the same thing. They are thinking you're going to do it. If we don't do it, who's going to?
Let's make it practical. If your friends and your family don't hear the gospel, it's not anyone else's responsibility or fault but yours. Because God has called you to be the salt.
Now, something incredible happens though. When each and every one of us take this role and this calling seriously, when each one of us say, yes, I'm going to be the salt. I will be the grain of salt in my neighborhood. I will be the grain of salt in my workplace. I will be the grain of salt in my classroom. I'll be the grain of salt in my family. I'll be the grain of salt in my marriage. I'll be the grain of salt in my friendships.
When each and every one of us does that, and you put us all in a room together, thousands of individual pieces of salt, and you shake us up, what happens when you open the doors to this church? It's like a salt shaker. And the salt is released on the roads of this city, on the streets of this city, on the neighborhoods of this city, in the schools, in the court rooms, in the workplaces, and revival happens church.
That's what happens when individual people take the call of God seriously and unite as the body of Christ. God brings revival.
So stop sitting passively by and saying, man, I hope that these people go out and salt their roads this week. Be a part of it. Be a part of it, and I promise you that this year, 2016, will be a year that we see God change, not just our city, but our country and our world.
You and you alone are the salt of the earth. Jesus is telling us that we as Christians are played a vital and valuable role within our world.
You know, salt does a couple things. Number one, salt stings. Right? Salt stings.
Number two, solve preserves. First, salt stings. Our presence as Christians in a lost and broken world should sting people's conscience. Our presence should wake people up to their condition, and help them realize they need something that they didn't know of.
Who in here has ever gotten a cut that you didn't realize you had until later on during the day? Maybe you cut your foot, you cut your arm, and you didn't realize until you pulled your shoe off, and you saw that your sock had blood on it, it was gross that you had a cut. And you don't know how you got it, but you just found out that you did.
Well, one day when I was surfing in California, I was walking to the beach with my surfboard, and I must have stepped on a rock or on a short piece of shell, and I just slit the bottom of my foot open. A really fine cut, a clean cut. So clean that I didn't feel it, but it was deep enough that it was bleeding.
Well, I didn't know I had that cut until the second I put my foot into the Pacific Ocean. Oh, I knew really quick that I had a cut, because the salt was yelling at me that I did. The salt was saying, hey, dummy, you stepped on a piece of shell and it hurts and it's painful and you need to fix it.
The salt alerted me to my condition. The salt let me know that something had happened, that something was wrong. A condition, that up to that point I didn't know I had, was revealed by the effects of the salt doing what it was supposed to do, and stinging my flesh.
The world doesn't realize that they have cuts all over. They don't realize that the sins and vices, the heartbreak and the longing, is all an effective sin. They don't realize that they are plagued with this curse from birth.
But our presence, as the salt of the earth, should alert them of their condition. Our presence, just simply who we are and what we do, not by what we say, not by throwing salt in their eyes and rubbing it in the wounds, but simply us being us, being Christians, being the salt of the earth, it should alert them, it should sting their conscience, and make them realize, hey, why are they so different from me? What is it about me and them that brings this difference?
Now how does this practically work? Does this mean that we should be yelling at sinners and saying, hey, you've got some sin. Hey, you're messed up. Hey, you're a bad person.
Should we be, again, throwing that salt and rubbing that salt in their face? Should we be standing on a soapbox? Does this mean that we are a church should concentrate our efforts on bringing about social change? Should our focus be on blogs, on boycotts, and on band wagons? I don't believe so.
In the New Testament you'll find the exact opposite. As individual Christians, we should seek to stop the spread of corruption around us by our individual actions. Again, you and you alone. It's an individual call.
Again, I think sometimes as a culture we can point to the wrong problem. We can focus on political change. And we can say we just need a new president, we just need a new court system, we just need a new Senate, we just need new laws.
We can focus on economic change and say, well, we just need the stocks to go back up, we just need more jobs, we just need an increase in the minimum wage. We can focus on all of these different things, but let me tell you. We don't need political change, we don't need economic change. It's not about who's in the White House or who's in the courtroom. It's not about who your boss is or who your family is. It's about you.
It's about spiritual change. And if Christians taking part in being the salt of the earth will be a part of seeing spiritual change, I promise you will see a cultural change, as well. It's what happens.
Christians, by being Christians, by taking part in the call that God has placed on us, we will naturally see cultural change. In the way we vote, in what we support, and how we act, letting our opinions be made known, it's all good. It's important even.
But the best way, the most important thing, is that we simply be the most effective influence where we are in any given situation. In your workplace, in your classroom, with your friends.
Church, I think it's time that we stop praying for a mission field because God's already given you one. It's where you're at. Stop praying for more opportunities until you've taken the ones that you already have. Don't pray for a bigger platform until you know how to effectively use the small one that you're standing on.
Because guess what, if each one of us took advantage of the small platform that we are on, if you combine that with everybody within this church, everybody, every Christian in this country, if we all took the call of being salt and standing on the small platform, you'd see a bigger revival than a harvest crusade. You'd see a bigger revival than a Billy Graham crusade. You see a revival that turns this nation upside down.
By individual people. Taking part in individual action. And being the salt of the earth. God has called you to it. What's your response going to be? Christians simply by being Christians will influence society automatically.
Look at verse 13. It continues, "Jesus says, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." If a salt loses its flavor what good is it? You know, the very characteristic of salt is that salt makes a difference. That's what it's for. That's what it does.
If salt doesn't make a difference, if it doesn't flavor things, then it's worthless. It should just be tossed out. It's not doing its job. It's not performing the role that it's supposed to perform.
I was amazed to find out that the ocean is only 3.5% salt. Isn't that incredible? Only 3.5% salt.
So let's just pretend that you're really parched, you're really thirsty, and you happen to be by the ocean. And you do the math in your head, and you say, OK, if it's only 3.5% salt that means it's 96.5% water. That's a lot of water. I'm going to take those odds, and I'm going to take a few glasses of that salt water, and I'm going to drink it, I'm going to ingest it.
How much do you think you'd be able to get in your stomach before you threw up? Not a whole lot. Because 3.5% makes a big difference. Just a little bit. Even though it's in an ocean full of water. Even though it's 96.5% water, just a little bit of salt makes a big difference.
Guess what? Just a little bit of Christian makes a big difference in an ocean full of the world.
We can look at the world and say the problem is so big, it's just getting worse and worse, every day things seem to be getting more ungodly, more unholy, more sinful, what kind of a difference can just 3.5% of me make? A really big difference. If you put three dedicated Christians in a group of 100, it's only matter of time until the whole group is saved. Just three out of 100. I'll take those odds when you're talking about the power of the Holy Spirit working through the message of the gospel, speaking into people's lives.
Hey, are you the only Christian at your job? Are you the only Christian in your class? Are you the only Christian in your family? You're enough.
If you do what you're supposed to do, if you are the salt of the earth and you take that calling seriously, you will make a difference by your very nature. Just by your nature. Just by you doing what you're supposed to do, you will make a difference. You will impact your culture. See the Christian is different or at least we should be. We should make a difference to those we come into contact with.
Another one of salts main functions in the culture is preservation. Salt stings and salt preserves. Salt was rubbed into meat to stop it from rotting, to stop it from being putrefied. They would take the meat, they would cut it into slender strips, and they would soak that meat in a salt solution. They still do it today.
The bottom line is that meat could only be saved from rotting by this process of preservation. Now bring this spiritually. As the result of sin, as a result of the fall, life in the world in general tends to be in a rotting, putrefied state. There is not a tendency, in our day and age, for things to get better but for things to get worse.
Christians today are the preserving influence. Your call to preserve your culture. We look at how bad things are today, imagine if you took every Christian in society, every Christian in the world out of the picture, what would the world look like? Well, we're told what it looks like. It's in Revelation. And let me tell you, it's pretty bleak. Things go downhill really fast. You think they're bad now? They only get worse when you remove the Christians. We will hear more about that in our new series What's Next.
But Christians are called to be the preserving been influenced. We're called to be affecting our culture. Maybe we need to do a better job at it, but that's what we are called to do. Our presence should stop the world from complete putrefaction.
It's believed by most competent historians that the revival that broke out in England, saved it from the bloody revolution that France experienced at the end of the 18th century. The difference between the two was revival. It wasn't because anything was done directly, but because thousands upon thousands of people found Jesus Christ and impacted their society. They brought Jesus into their homes, Jesus into their schools, Jesus into their jobs, Jesus into their court systems. Christians being Christians preserved the society.
So if you want to know how to preserve our society, you look at the moral climate, you look at the way things are going. And you say, what can I do? How can I change it? I've got to get on board and be part of a political campaign this year. I've got to get on board and be a part of economic change. I've got to get on board and be a part of this, this, this, this.
No, what you need to do is be the salt of the earth, be the light of the world. Focus on your individual actions, and when paired with the church globally, that's how we'll see the moral climate change. By being the preserving influence that God has called us to be. That's what God wants for your life.
Many people say if you change the world, you'll get better people. But Jesus says if you change people, you'll get a better world. In every revival in biblical times, as well as modern, the moral climate was changed as a result of revival. As a matter of fact, A.W. Tozer says, "revival is that which affects the moral climate of a community."
But change doesn't come the way we think it does. We think that change is something that can be achieved through outward transformation. And this week the world is obsessed with change. Everybody is making resolutions to change. I read on ABC News that the top five New Year's resolutions of 2016, and maybe you'll find yours on this list, are number one, live life to the fullest. That is the number one resolution for 2016.
I think that's a lazy resolution. Like, hey, what's your resolution? What are you going to do this year? Live life! Really good.
It's like a college answer, right? You don't really want to give any specifics. It's just like, I'm going to set the bar really low, my goal this year is to live life to the fullest. Fullest is a relative term. So it could start out here and end up here, but I'm OK with that. I'm going to live it to the fullest.
Number two is stay fit and healthy. Number three is lose weight. Number four is spend more time with family and friends. And number five is save more and spend less.
Look, those aren't terrible resolutions. As a matter of fact, many of those are biblical, good principles to live by. But the point is that people want to help themselves.
And here we see a showdown of philosophies. Self help versus spirit help. Determination versus deliverance. And here we see that help doesn't come from the gym, a new diet, more money, or living life to the fullest. Help comes from one place and that is the Holy Spirit speaking into lives and changing them.
As a matter of fact, if you really want to help yourself, you'll stop trying to fix the flesh and you'll start submitting to the Spirit. You'll stop the New Year's resolutions and you'll experience a new you revolution. You'll stop screaming at the darkness and instead you'll turn on a flashlight. That's the way to change.
That brings us to our second point. Cue the fireworks. And this is where we're going to close. Number one, salt the roads. Number two, cue the fireworks. If we as believers do these two things we will change 2016.
Verse 14 continues and it says, "you are the light of the world." You are the light of the world. Again, I've titled this cue the fireworks. Fireworks have a couple unique characteristics.
Number one, fireworks are powerful. Fireworks are fueled by gunpowder. If you get too close to a firework, you can feel like a bomb is going off.
Number two, fireworks are beautiful. Fireworks shine beautiful light through dark skies. And they inspire individuals to hope in ideas that are bigger than themselves. Freedom, new beginnings, fresh starts. They're powerful, they're beautiful.
You know there's something else with the exact same characteristics. The gospel. The light to all men. The gospel, it's powerful. It is fueled by the Holy Spirit. And if you get too close to it, it can break down the walls of your heart.
It's powerful. It's beautiful. It shines a light of hope through the darkness of humanity, and it inspires to hope in something greater than ourselves. And it's not an idea, it's a man. And his name is Jesus Christ. It's beautiful.
God has given us a weapon that's better than a gun, better than a sword, or even a boycott or a protest. Fireworks. The fireworks of the gospel. And Christians, it's our job to set it free. It's our job to cue the fireworks and reveal to the world the beauty and the majesty of God's glory and his gift to mankind, Jesus Christ.
The greatest tool that we have is the gospel. It is light and hope to all men. We need to share the good news of Christ with the young girl who wants to get abortions. Share with her the gospel of hope.
We need to give the gospel message to the person trapped in a homosexual lifestyle. Share with him the gospel of love, of freedom. We should share Christ and the gospel with the gang member. The gospel of peace. We must preach the gospel to the people who are hurting within our society. And as people learn that there is another kingdom, as they see our lives, and as we reveal the light, it will change the way they live in this one.
Once again, we're reminded of the privilege of being a Christian. God has chosen us exclusively to be his light, to be his representatives. So how does this light shine?
Well, for one thing, it exposes the darkness. Light exposes the darkness. Light reveals the darkness.
You know, there's something interesting about being in the dark. You can't see anything, right? You can't see it. And if you are in darkness for long enough, eventually your eyes would adjust, and you wouldn't realize that you're in the darkness. That just became your reality. You wouldn't realize it until the light revealed to you that you were in the darkness.
I want to illustrate this for a second with a visual point. Darkness. Hey, I dare you guys all to stand up at the same and try to run for the exits. It's not going to work.
How can we get rid of this darkness? Let me try yelling at it. Darkness go away! Darkness flee! Be gone with ye! Vanish!
That didn't work. Something incredible happens when you just turn on a light though. The darkness is revealed. We realize where we're at, we realize the reality of our situation, we realize what's really happening, when the light is revealed. The darkness flees.
People have to be aware of their sin before they'll see their need for the Savior. And like a firework in the night sky, the light shines through the darkness. And we see by implication that Jesus is saying that this world is in a state of darkness. If he says, shine the light, this world is dark, as an established fact, in the illustration of salt and light, it means that the world is dark and dirty.
For a person to believe that man is basically good, requires a whole lot of faith today. See the problem of crime and violence is much more than an economic problem. It's happening in every area of our society. Rich and poor, educated and uneducated. It's a sin problem resulting in darkness. And the light reveals the darkness, but the light also shows the way out of the darkness.
When it was dark and I asked you guys all to stand up and at the same time run around and try to find an exit, it would've been difficult because you can't see anything. You can't see where you're going. You can't see which way to go. You can't see the aisles. You can't see the pathways, the doors.
But when the lights revealed, it shows you exactly where to go. It shows you what's around you, it shows you the dangers, and it shows you the exit.
This is important, Jesus uses both the illustration of salt and light. Why did he give us these illustrations of salt and light in this order? You might look at it and say, well, he's just trying to get his point across twice, so he's bringing up two different things, and it's just the same point.
That's not the case. He's really showing us two different ways in which the Christian is to influence our culture. First is salt. I have a preserving affect. My life style and presence stings others. I'm different than others. People notice that about me. People see that I'm different. People see my lifestyle. They wonder about my lifestyle. They're curious about my lifestyle. And it stimulates thirst, they become thirsty because of the salt.
And this is where the light comes in. Having aroused their curiosity by who I am, by the way that I live, by the salt that I am, I earn the right to tell them why and to shine the light. See the salt reflects the way that we act, the light reflects the way that we talk.
Too many Christians today are content with just living a silent Christian life. They live life by the adage, preach the gospel and if necessary use words. Let me tell you, it is necessary to use words.
Don't just salt the roads, cue the fireworks. Don't just be a passive piece of salt on the street, cue the fireworks. Shine the light. When the world looks at your life and they wonder what's different about you, use that opportunity to shine the light.
Not only are some Christians just salty, some Christians are too salty. Because of our actions, some Christians are perceived as being negative in this world, far too often. Many times it's a caricature or misrepresentation, but in a lot of ways we brought it upon ourselves.
Sometimes it seems like all we as Christians are known for is what we're against. If we don't approve of a certain movie, we boycott it. If we don't like a certain store, we picket it. If we don't agree with what's happening in society, we organize a march. If a certain coffee shop starts using red cups, we blog about it.
We're way too known for what we're against and not what we're for. Because we're never opening our mouths and sharing with people the love and the truth and the message of the light. We're not cueing the fireworks. I'm not saying that all of this is wrong, because we do need to exercise, as Americans, our rights, and seek to stop corruption. But we have to balance trying to make an outward change in this world, with focus on what's really important, and bringing a spiritual change, as well.
As we close, I just want to recap. Jesus has given us a blueprint for making a real difference in the world. And again, it's not found in who we vote for Although, that's good. It's not found in economic change. Although, that's helpful. It's not found in who your boss is or what school you go to. Although, those things can be helpful, as well.
True change is found in Christians being Christians. In lives being transformed. In lives being changed. That is where true change happens.
The Christian is like salt and light. Salting the roads and cueing the fireworks. Both speaking of affecting what they come into contact with. Reduced to one word, they both speak of this, influence. Christians are, and should be, different than those who do not know the Lord. Not because of bizarre oddities or obnoxious antics, but rather because of their priorities, their outlook, and their lifestyle. We must live and walk in the light if we want others to follow.
I'm going to close with this verse. First John, one five says, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with him."
Christian, my question for you is this year, approaching 2016, what's different about you than the world? Are you walking in the light? If so, you have fellowship with him. Use the salt, use the light, and impact your culture. Use your job as a platform. Use your family as a platform. Use your classroom as a plan.
But if the only thing that's different between you and the world is that you go to church on Sundays, that's not very different. Because most of the world does, as well.
What is different about you? Are you walking in the light or are you walking in the darkness? Have you lost your flavor? Are you hiding your light under a basket? It's time to kick up that flavor , it's time to pull that basket off, and be what God has called us to be. If I, as a believer, ever feel reluctance to let my light shine, I should recognize that as a ploy from Satan to render me useless.
The only way that we can be salt and light is to let him, who is the salt and the light, work within us. And if you haven't experienced that change, if you haven't let the salt and the light work within you, you cannot change your culture. You're useless. And you'll be thrown out.
We can't sting the world's conscience if we continually go against our own. And so as we close, I want to go back to the resolutions. Perhaps there's some very real resolutions that you can make this year. Perhaps your resolution needs to be that you're going to go out, and you're going to use your salt, you're going to use your light, and you're going to impact your world. Perhaps your resolution is that you're going to invite the salt and the light into your life. Perhaps the resolution is that you need to become the salt and the light.
Do you claim to be a Christian and yet have sex outside of marriage? Do you claim to be a Christian and yet lie on your taxes? Just like the world. Do you claim to be a Christian and yet show up to work late, just like the world? Do you claim to be a Christian and yet get drunk like the world? Do you claim to be a Christian and yet cuss every day like the world?
What is different about you and the world? It's time to step out of the mediocrity of cardinality and into the dynamic Christian life as it was meant to be lived. It's time for us to be salt and light. And if you are not yet a believer--
--if you're here today and you're trying to help yourself, today is the date to give up. I ask you, in all of your searching for pleasure and satisfaction, are you truly satisfied today? Are you really satisfied, are you really happy? All the resolutions, all the parties, all the things that you think would make you happy, are you satisfied?
If you really want to help yourself, stop trying to fix the flesh, and start submitting to the Spirit. The gym isn't going to help you, a diet won't help you, relationships won't help you. The only thing that will help you is the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Have you experienced it?
Lord, we thank you for this time and this opportunity that we've had to study your word. We thank you for the encouragement that it brings us, to those believers who are salt and light. God, I pray that you would help us to impact our culture even more this year.
Lord, for the conviction that it brings, to those believers who are in here who are not being the salt and the light. Maybe they're just salt, maybe they're just light, whatever it is, God, I pray that you would encourage them to join the ranks. And that we would turn this city upside down.
And, Lord, to those in here this morning, Lord, who do not have a relationship with you, those who have either lost their flavor, Lord, they once had a relationship, but they have slid into cardinality, they no longer are living the life that they are called to live. They have a basket over their light. They're not shining the light anymore. Instead they're just a dull, faint glimmer.
And to those in here, who have come this morning for the first time, who do not have a relationship with you at all, who have never asked you to come into their lives, Lord, they can't be salt and light, until they receive the salt and the light.
And as we're praying, I want to ask you a really serious question, if you were to die today and stand before Jesus Christ on Judgment Day, would you go to heaven or hell? If you don't know or if the answer is hell, it's time for you to leave here knowing that when you die, you're going to go to heaven. It's time to leave here knowing that you're forgiven for your sins. It's time to leave here knowing that as long as you tried to help yourself, all the resolutions, all the gym, all the diets, all the things that you think would make you happy, more money, better relationships, it hasn't worked yet.
Jesus Christ is the only one who can bring you fulfillment and joy. If that's you this morning, you want to give your life to Jesus Christ. Either for the first time or for a second time, I just want you to raise your hand up. And you're saying, Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus Christ.
Perhaps your religious person over here to my left, religion doesn't save you. Only Jesus Christ can save you. Don't hang your head on religion. Amen. Don't hang your head on who you once were. Who are you today?
Did you need to rededicate your life to God? Do you need to turn back to him? Raise your hand up. Don't let this moment slip away. Hands all over the room. Lord, I thank you for all these hands. Hands acknowledging a need for you.
Will you guys stand with me? As we close, we're going to sing this final song. And as we do, I'm going to ask everybody that raised your hand up. Maybe you raised your hand up to acknowledge that you need to accept Christ for the first time. Or perhaps you raised your hand up to acknowledge that you need to receive Christ for a second time, you need to rededicate your life. It's the same commitment. I'm going to ask you to get up from wherever you are, and come down here to the front, and say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ.
I know what you're thinking. You're saying, Nate, I'm all about the hand up in a dark room, when no one's looking. But you want me to actually take a step and have people see me? I do. You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. A light that is hidden under a basket does no good at all.
So stop hiding. It doesn't matter what your friends think, it doesn't matter what your family thinks, all that matters is what Jesus Christ thinks. So as we sing this song, you get up, and you come down here and make your life right with Jesus Christ. You come now. We will wait for you. You come.
We'll give you just a second longer. If you're in the hub or in the balcony, you keep coming. We'll keep clapping for you. We're excited for the life change that is happening right now.
And if you're on the edge of you seat, but something is holding you back, what is it that's holding you back from a relationship with Jesus Christ? What is it that's holding you back from receiving the gift of eternal life? Don't let anything hold you back from this decision.
Maybe you think time is your friend. Maybe you think that you've got a little more time. That you'll do it when you're older, you'll do it once you've sown your wild oats, you'll do it once you've had your fun, you don't know how much time you have.
If you were to die in a car accident, tonight on your way home, where would you go? To heaven or hell? This is your moment. This is your chance. This is your opportunity. You leave here knowing that when you die, you're going to go to heaven. You leave here knowing that you have a purpose, that God has a plan for your life. You don't have to wake up in the morning, despairing of life, despairing of having to go out the doors, and put on a mask, put on a facade. You leave here finding your identity in Jesus Christ.
Is there anyone else who wants to receive this free gift of eternal life? Who wants to know that when they die they're going to go to heaven. We're going to sing this through one more time, and if that's you, you come.
Amen. In just a second, I'm going to pray with those who've come forward to receive Jesus Christ. And we're not going to sing this anymore, we're not going to drag this out into the late afternoon, but before we close in prayer, I always like to throw out the net one more time. Jesus told the disciples to take the net off, and throw it to other side, and they thought it was useless. They'd thrown the net out enough. But they didn't.
And I believe there's always those people who wait for the last second. You're a last minute kind of person. You're late to everything. You're late to class, you're late to work, you're late to file your taxes. Hey, you've got a new year to get that one right. Don't be late for this appointment.
If there's anyone else, don't leave here with the guilt. Don't leave here saying, I should have done it, I should have done it, I'll do it next week. You're not promised next week, but you are promised right now.
Is there anyone else, before we pray, that right now in this moment, as God is speaking to your heart, you feel Him talking to you, you feel the tug of the Holy Spirit, this is your time. Amen.
Anyone else? Don't just be the one clapping, be the one walking, if God is speaking to you. Anyone else?
You can't be too bad to get into heaven, but you can be too good to get into heaven. Don't let your righteousness or your good works get in the way of this decision.
Amen. Well, right now I'm going to lead those of you who are here in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. And it's a simple prayer. Whether this is the first time or the second time, it's the same prayer. You're just asking Jesus to come into your life, to forgive you of your sins, acknowledging that you believe He died on the cross and rose from the dead, and asking Him to help you with a new life through His power, the power of the Holy Spirit. So as I say this prayer with you, I'm going to ask that you say it out loud after me and mean it from your heart.
Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But, Lord, I believe that you died for those things. And I believe that you rose from the dead.
So, Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. And help me to live a new life through you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
We hope you've enjoyed this special service from Calvary Albuquerque featuring our guest speaker, Pastor Nate Heitzig. How will you put these principles that you've learned into action? We would love to know.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for listening to this special message from Calvary Albuquerque.