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The Salt and the Light

The Salt and the Light

A Command for Believers

Jesus declared that those who follow him are the “salt” and the “light” of the world. These were not suggestions. These were not options. Jesus did not say, “You can be the salt” or “you have to potential to be the salt.” He is talking about your very being. Christ was describing your nature as a believer living in the world. He said you are the salt and the light. 

We cannot underestimate the value of salt. In the ancient world, the context by which Jesus used the term “salt” metaphorically refers to Roman soldiers who received their wages in salt. The Greeks even considered salt to be divine. God required all offerings presented by the Israelites to contain salt under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 2:13).  

When Jesus called the disciples to be the salt of the earth in Matthew 5:13, they understood the metaphor. They understood their job description as Insiders. Did you know that salt was not readily available in the modern world during that time? In the same way, what you offer as believers is not readily available in your industries. 

The Distinction of Salt

What are the characteristics of the salt that caused Jesus to use this symbol? Salt preserves food. Before people created the refrigerator, they used salt to keep food in ancient times.  

Salt had a property that stopped decay. The disciples were aware of the value of salt. Without salt, the fish they had caught will spoil quickly. They needed to pack it in salt to preserve it. Jesus intended you to work as an Insider in the industry you are in to stop the moral decay in the sin-infected world of that area.  

Salt needs to be lavished on the food to be preserved to stop the decay of this food. Salt, as a preservative, is only helpful if applied to meet that is riding. If you place to fish in one container and salt in another, the salt cannot preserve the fish. We see the pattern here, don’t we?  

Insiders

We see that Jesus intended for us to be Insiders. There needs to be close contact between the believer and the world to impact the world and prevent moral decay. Moreover, the spiritual health and strength of the Christian are to counteract the corruption in the system. As Christians, we were never intended to exist in our own “holy” bubble until the time when Jesus came again. Therefore, we are called to be the salt of the earth. 

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the salt

Excellence-Creates-Your-Influence

Excellence Creates Your Influence

Excellence Creates Your Influence

If you bring value to that field through excellent service in love, you have a right to talk about anything you want to talk about, and they are all going to listen and say, “Yes, please tell me more.” If you storm into your office and say, “Hello, everyone. I’m a Born Again Christian, and it’s about time that somebody heard the word of the Lord up in here,” then you have just made yourself a strong argument against Christianity.   

Are you walking the talk?

Have you ever seen these horrible drivers with a Jesus bumper sticker on their vehicles? There was one time wherein I wanted to stop one guy one time and tell him, “Listen, you can put Satan on the back of your car. Be an adverb for him because you’re not telling me anything about Jesus at all.”  

It’s about understanding a presence you are meant to bring into an industry. That’s the first key to ministry in the marketplace. It’s not a message that you get. Although, we have an important message to plant. You can bring the presence of Christ before you bring the message of Christ. 

Someone said, “I’m going to bring the message.” You say that because you don’t understand covert kingdom operations. You don’t understand that God does not have to be named to be present. He doesn’t have to be announced to arrive. That’s the real message of Esther. Did you know that?  

Esther is the one book in the Bible in the name God doesn’t appear. But God is all over the book because Esther is a covert agent who gives God access to the king’s bedroom. It’s covert and about bringing a presence into a field that establishes your credibility to speak.  

Then, there is Joseph the Dreamer. He brought so much value to the kingdom of Egypt. An archeologist said that they had identified a time, and that seems to match up with the Joseph saga chronologically when Egypt was monotheistic. These are just a few examples that we will go into deeper as we discuss insiders’ accounts in the Bible. 

How can you contribute?

You can add massive value to the people’s lives in your workplace. Once you do this, you can influence a person’s faith. They will be thinking, “You do not add any value to my life. Why do I have to care about you or your faith?” No one cares about why you value your faith until they know how much you care.  

When you approach them without adding value to their lives or showing them that you genuinely care for them, you are just creating a debate about religion. Get out of the business of debating religion.  

If I can feed you and clothe you, I can talk to you. That’s what Jesus did. You see Jesus bringing massive value into people’s lives, and that’s what made His words credible. Without the miracles, who would have listened to Jesus? Think about it. The purpose of the gifts is to give credence to your message. Think about how you are being an Insider to your workplace.  

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Excellence Creates Your Influence

The Purpose of the Insider

The Purpose of the Insider

The Purpose of the Insider

You’re Working for God

God wants an agent. He wants access to that system. He has placed you in this position to intercept, inspire or influence that workplace. There is nothing secular about anything you do. Everything is all sacred in the eyes of God; then, it must be sacred for you too.  

You shift your eyes from your boss or your employer to God. You work for God, not your employer. I am not saying you should bypass or disregard your boss’ authority.  God is the One who has placed these authorities in their positions. You work for God through those authorities. You are always working for God.  

Why are you there?

The Bible reveals to us why there is a need for an “Insider” in the workplace we are in. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said: “All power is given to me in heaven and in the earth. Go therefore teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, aching them to observe all things whatsoever I’ve told you and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world.” 

This is the Great Commission. These were Jesus’ last words. When someone is dying, the last words they speak are considered important. Jesus commissioned not only those who were present during that time but only the pastors of the local churches. Jesus commissioned every single believer. Yes, that includes you and me. 

Let us zero in on the last part. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world. I am with you always.” Now, why would He say that? Why would He say, “I am with you always? Go into the world, I am with you.” This reveals to us a secret 

 The Insider: 

You are Bringing Jesus Where You Are

Here it is. This is what Jesus is saying. “Wherever you go, I go, and where you are, there I am.” In today’s context, it is like Jesus is saying, “Bus driver, wherever you go, I go, and wherever you are, there I am.”  

Because you are the bus driver, you actually brought Christ into the bus, and also you are a teacher, you actually brought Christ into the classroom. As you work as a doctor, you actually brought Christ into the operating room and the surgery. Because you are a hairdresser, you actually brought Christ into the salon. You bring Christ wherever you go. Jesus was clear about this when he said, “Wherever you go, I go, and wherever you are, there I am.”  

We have always exerted effort to find out where God is. We ask God where we can meet Him. But the answer is plain and simple. He is where we are. God is interested in where you are. Some people are specifically called to go into the nations. The Great Commission is not reserved for them. The Great Commission is for everyone who calls Jesus Lord and Savior. 

 

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The Purpose of the Insider

Challenge in Discipleship

Challenge in Discipleship:

Personal and Private

One major problem revealed by this research is that millions of Christians believe that discipleship is only a personal thing with only personal and private implications. This can be attributed to what the Christians experience in their churches. There is minimal emphasis on the communal and relational nature of spiritual growth. Only one-third of Christian adults report that their church recommends meeting with a spiritual mentor. Half of their churches publically endorse studying the Bible with a group. While half recommend studying the Bible independently. 

One of the compelling findings of the study is that developmental relationships are more common in large or megachurches. Seventy-eight percent or 8 out of 10 church leaders of 500+ member churches report being currently discipled by someone else. When asked about the most eective single method of discipleship. 52% of church leaders prefer small groups and 29% for discipleship by pairs. Therefore, small groups are the disciple-making approach favored by most of today’s church leaders. 

Structure vs. Heart

Aside from prayer and quiet time with God, the pastors believe that spiritual disciplines are also essential to discipleship. such as “personal commitment to grow in Christlikeness.” “Attending a local church,” and “a deep love for God.”

According to pastors, having “a comprehensive discipleship curriculum” is by far the least essential element of eective discipleship. Only 44% of pastors considered the curriculum as crucial.  

Furthermore, when asked how church pastors and leaders will improve their discipleship programs. Most say they would “develop a more clearly articulated plan or approach to discipleship.” Church leaders and congregants need better methods of discipleship approach. They evaluate the effectiveness of their discipleship eorts.

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Free Prophecy for Everyone

Discipleship

The DNA of the Small Groups

The DNA of the Small Groups:

Instead of asking for new small group strategies that are working well, a discipleship pastor or leader should first determine the DNA of the small groups in their church.

Rather than going for effective discipleship curriculums, a pastor or any leader must be first grounded. Pastors must align themselves to God’s calling for their church’s small groups.  

Small group leaders take shortcuts to successful small groups, and they copy and apply another church’s model for discipleship. The problem with this is that they do not take into account their own church’s unique fundamentals.

Every church is different, and this is okay. We should celebrate this difference since other churches can do different things to reach different people.

The discipleship system of simplicity is firmly grounded with the basics and the fundamentals of discipleship.

Sometimes, even the most basic question, “What is a Disciple?” becomes a complicated question to answer. It’s about creating a simple, duplicable discipleship pathway for the church community. 

In whatever language we have, discipleship remains the core designated task for the church, as we call it the Great Commission.  

And Jesus came and said to them,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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The DNA of the Small Groups

Personal & Relational

A Personal Invite

Discipleship must first and foremost begin with an acceptance to a personal invitation to a life with Jesus. It is this simple. One cannot say he is a disciple of Jesus without having an intimate relationship with him. Discipleship must have an element of life on life. People are nurtured in relationships, not in the transference of knowledge or any content. Moreover, Stevenson enumerated vital principles that influence effective discipleship in the 21st Century.  

Aside from being relational, discipleship must also be biblical, applicable, accountable, and reproducible. The word of God should remain to be the central basis for making disciples. There is no better way to follow Jesus than to read about who he was, how he thought, and what he did. Discipleship must bring impact to others. If not, then it is merely a religious practice. Discipleship also holds the followers of Christ accountable to a life of faith in their daily lives. Lastly, genuine discipleship can only happen when disciples make disciples. It’s a multiplication process.

Movement across generations

In the article “Twenty-first Century Discipleship: A Biblical Theology for Changing Times,” written by Dr. Michael J. Wilkins, he described the changing waves of discipleship across different eras. Like the ocean waves, he noted that the waves of church movements that impact us today are usually generated by far away and long ago.

And, to ride them effectively, we need to know as much as possible about the forces that have brought them about and how they impact us today. Moreover, Dr. Wilkins noted that discipleship is not a recent or unique phenomenon. More than 2,000 years ago,  Jesus Christ entered human history and called out to men and women, “Follow Me!”  

Just like what Phil Stevenson has emphasized, Dr. Wilkins considers discipleship as one that originates with a gracious call from Jesus to enter into an intimate relationship with Him. It begins with intentional evangelism that challenges people to count the cost of accepting Jesus’ call to life in the kingdom of God. Across forces and times, discipleship is simply living in this world with Jesus Christ. It’s about conforming to his image through the Holy Spirit’s power. Moreover, it would help if you allowed yourself to be nurtured by a community of believers. You also need to fulfill your purpose to make disciples.

Moreover, Dr. Wilkins considers other essentials of discipleship in the present Century aside from being generated by Jesus. The Holy Spirit initiated and empowered people for discipleship. God’s Word continually guides. They are also nurtured in communities of faith. Christians must carry it out by sojourning in our everyday, watching world.

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An Effective Model for 21st Century Discipleship

Jesus showed us how to do church and small groups

Jesus modeled discipleship in a very personal and relational way without any sign of complexity. The Messiah called each disciple through a personal invitation. He only used simple words that opened the doors to a transformed life to everyone whom he invited.  

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him

 “Follow Me” are two simple words that are very clear and personal. Jesus did not say, “come to me and follow me only if you do this thing or if you know that doctrine.” He did not invite people to come and join his causes or the principles he believed in. Rather, Jesus said, “Follow ‘Me.’” Jesus called out his first disciples to a relationship with him. This simple invitation of Jesus should remain the same for all generations.  

21st Century Church

Discipleship in the 21st Century should follow the way Jesus modeled it. It must first and foremost begin with a clear and compelling invitation. Moreover, there is something more to discipleship than just the invitation. Phil Stevenson describes the invitation of Jesus as clear, consistent, and challenging.  

When Jesus invited Peter and Andrew, they left their nets at once and immediately followed Jesus. They had to let go of what they already had to discover what could be there in Jesus. In contrast, Jesus extended the same invitation to a wealthy man who had so many possessions to let go of, so he responded to the invitation by holding on to what he owns and knows at the expense of living the unknown with Jesus.

As it was in the 1st Century, so it is in the 21st Century; Jesus is inviting us to respond to the opportunity extended by Jesus to follow him. Those who respond set out on the path of discipleship, following the way Jesus modeled it to them.    

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An Effective Model for 21st Century Discipleship

Why Your Church Needs a Small Group Ministry?

Reasons for Establishing a Small Group Ministry

In his article, “10 Reasons Why Your Church Should Have Small Groups”, Daniel Threlfall identifies the importance of small groups. First on his list is that small groups foster close relationships and basic community. A small group atmosphere is good for establishing friendships since individuals tend to talk more in small groups.  

The second is that small groups provide a comfortable environment to welcome nonbelievers to the Christian faith.

A natural and understandable fear common among us is fear in forming relationships, especially if it involves sharing our faith and beliefs with other people.

However, inviting someone to a small group meeting provides a way to involve a nonbeliever in the church. A nonbeliever is more likely to ask questions, get answers, and form relationships with a small group of believers. Thus, small groups can be a powerful missional tool, allowing for the greater spread of the gospel among nonbelievers in the community.  

Third, small groups provide a good way to care for the needs of people within the church.

When a small group member is struggling, it is much easier for the other group members to notice. They can already provide assistance. The structure of a small group is essentially a community of friends of the same faith. As a result, friends are meant to help one another, especially if they are friends in Christ.  

Fourth, small groups allow Christians to live out their faith instead of becoming churchgoers and mere Gospel listeners.

Since members discuss the Sunday preaching, talk about their personal and spiritual battles, and/or pray for one another during meetings, small groups provide a setting for Christians to live out their faith.  

Fifth on Threlfall’s list is that small groups provide focused prayer for one another.

Threlfall noted that in a small group meeting, each of the present people took a few minutes to tell others about their particular challenges or concerns. Then, as soon as one is finished, the person next to him will take some time to pray for him. Small groups are a great place for prayer meetings.  

Sixth, small groups offer a comfortable atmosphere for openness.

One admirable thing about small groups is that members often meet in the comfort of their homes, where people can open up, listen, learn, and grow. Threlfall pointed out that this is the same with the first disciples of Jesus who are meeting in houses or being part of a household.  

Seventh, small groups allow for mutual edification among believers.

Believers tend to depend upon the leaders for spiritual food and nourishment easily. However, the Scripture states otherwise, for God also gives spiritual gifts to all believers, not just to the preachers and leaders. The whole church benefits from it.

Every Christian should minister to other Christians with their gifts, and this happens most naturally, effectively, and purposefully within small groups.   

Eight, small groups encourage better learning.

Listening to a Sunday preaching is a great way to learn the Word, but it is easy to become detached from the message, making us passive listeners. This is not the case within a small group. As a few people gather together, every individual is expected to be involved and to participate. Active involvement is an effective way to learn better.  

Ninth, small groups are a source of encouragement and accountability.

It is easy to go in and out of the church and not be noticed. This is common with megachurches, but it also happens in an average-sized church of 100 or 150 attendees.

People come for each Sunday service but do not get themselves involved. These individuals need accountability in their lives, encouragement in their walk with God, and/or help in some way in which small groups can provide.  

Lastly, small groups cultivate leadership within the church.

Someone is necessary to lead a small group meeting or at least facilitate the discussion. Thus, there is a need for leaders other than the pastor. Small groups provide opportunities for leadership development among members within the church.

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Why Your Church Needs a Small Group Ministry?

why the megachurch is criticized

Why The Megachurch is Criticized

The Risk of Disengagement

Despite these efforts, the megachurch has been constantly criticized for the sheer number of attendees per service would mean that there will be people who won’t get engaged or given enough attention.

Additionally, the setup of the worship service with a high stage and a large number of congregants can give off the impression of a concert.

Consequently, the attendees are mere spectators and faces in a crowd. Thousands more choose to attend for the thousands of people who choose to commit to the megachurch and get involved. They do so simply because they get to live in some anonymity. They cannot do that if they join a smaller church.

A large number of attendees attend each service. Therefore, some locations can host more than 5,000 people at a time. The multiple services run each weekend.

The majority of the people are scrambling out of the venue even before the service has ended. There isn’t really time to talk with friends afterward, nor can people loiter inside the hall because everyone has to be cleared out, and the room must be re-done completely within 15 minutes.

 Some consider megachurches’ worship time as mere experiential performances. Similar to rock concerts, the music team leads worship with fog machines and synchronized lights.

We are guilty of pointing a lot of fingers in the way of megachurches for their strict programs. The traditional churches would claim that these megachurches leave no room for the Holy Spirit.

Moreover,  they would accuse the megachurch of the “specularization” of something that is supposed to be sacred.

Is it too personality-driven?

A harsher criticism is that megachurches follow a largely questionable ideology. 

For instance,  megachurches are largely leader-driven, with one specific point person that most churches look up to.

This can be the senior pastor or the president of an organization of ministries. But while this leader is almost certainly of ministerial position, this leader is a minister who cannot attend to everything. Most attendees have probably never met the leader in person.

The purpose then of the leader is to embody a vision and get the members to act on this. The criticism for Christian celebrities is present. It adds to the seemingly impersonal setup of megachurch services. 

Opening Doors for More People

At the end of the day, megachurches have done their part in making ministries and discipleship available for all who attend. To balance out the distance between the senior minister and the general attendee, they have employed small groups, also known as Bible studies, care groups, or fellowship groups.

As a solution to the increasing number of attendees, the megachurch has chosen to empower its leaders and allow them the authority to shepherd and disciple their communities within these groups. In this context, they really get to build relationships with each other and discuss their personal problems, along with Biblical truths. Those who attend small groups are active members. Most megachurches make it a foundational requirement for volunteers and leaders. In this scenario, the small group leader then takes on the role of being a minister to his or her members.  

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SACRIFICE

SACRIFICE

SACRIFICE: 

Restitution or reformation does not cancel out sin. It is only a substation sacrifice that can atone for our sins for us to be reconciled to God. Our submission to the Lord in confession and restitution must flow from the acceptability of the sacrifice. At the end of the day, Jesus was our substitute.

Our response to His sacrifice must be complete obedience.

The sinner must render acceptable obedience which is the evidence of a saving relationship with the Lord. Authentic faith is backed up by action. People who do not bring in their tithes and offering cannot back up their faith that God is the Source of everything, because they are not generous with whatever material wealth they have.

Suppose we say that we share life with God  but still walk in the darkness. Then we are lying. We are not living out the truth. 

But suppose we walk in the light, just as he is in the light. Then we share life with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his Son, makes us pure from all sin. (1 John 6-7)

 

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THE REQUIRED AMOUNT OF THE TÂRUMAH

THE REQUIRED AMOUNT OF THE TÂRUMAH:

When a person steals, restitution must be in full. The loss must be made good. The criminal must give back what was taken, or its equivalent. In today’s world, people go to jail as a means of “paying one’s debt to society.” However, it is the exact opposite or the avoidance of proper biblical restitution.

The principle of restitution is essential to the just resolution of the responsibility of criminals for their victims’ injuries. Return of victims by the guilty is the basic biblical principle, which dates back to ancient times.

Restitution is paid in full plus one-fifth (Num. 5:7). A fifth is given as târumah to the priest if the party is not alive. Târumah is legally a fifth; this is why the fair man (in the three kinds of givers) pays 2%. This is what is just. Someone who is generous pays more (2.5%), while someone who is stingy pays less.

They must pay in full for what they did wrong. And they must add a fifth of the value to it. (Numbers 5:7b, emphasis added)

Târumah is legally a fifth; this is why the fair man (in the three kinds of givers) pays 2%.

The 20% penalty is disciplinary, but it is neither excessive, greedy, nor destructive. Justice must be proportional and keep the emphasis on responsibility for the restoration and, ultimately, reconciliation. In this way, the righteousness of God is served.

 

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RESTITUTION

THE LEGAL RIGHT TO RECEIVE RESTITUTION

THE LEGAL RIGHT TO RECEIVE RESTITUTION:

Priests had a legal right to receive restitution. When it comes to this restitution payment in the Numbers 5 passage, it is an additional payment on top of their ram of atonement offering.

The ram offering is given to the injured party or his relatives. However, if the injured party died and has no near relative, the restitution is given to the priest. The restitution is in addition to the sacrificial ram that the priest performs a purification ritual for.

It’s not to add to what Jesus did on the cross. However, additional restitution is to make amends for something one has done to contribute to the liveliness of the priests.

In the modern-day, the blood of Jesus Christ is enough restitution for our sins.

However, as in Number 5, the penalty to be paid is in addition to the sacrificial lamb of Christ. It’s not to add to what Jesus did on the cross. However, additional restitution is to make amends for something one has done to contribute to the liveliness of the priests.

Numbers 5:9-10 underscore that the priests play a vital role in reestablishing the ceremonial purity of the people. In this way, the livelihood of the priests is also upheld. In the verse, special offerings to the Lord belong to the priest. Târumah or offering is translated as a gift or donation that goes to the priest. Holy things are holy in the sense that they are offered to the Lord. When they are offered to the Lord, they go to the priest for their provision and portion.

When they are offered to the Lord, they go to the priest for their provision and portion.

The Hebrew practice is this: “When someone makes an offering to the Lord, he hands it over to the priest. Whatever someone gives to a priest belongs to the priest.”

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RESTITUTION