Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 June 12, 2022
“Glorify the Lord, That Others May”
Welcome to Scholarship Sunday 2022 at Cornerstone EPC. Today we honor our scholarship winners: both present and past. Today, we honor, and recall, our major donor—whose vision and generosity made, humanly speaking, the Cornerstone/Patricia B. Scott Scholarship a reality. Today we, the people of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, rejoice in the privilege of being used by God to bless students as they seek to obtain a collegiate education.
We also come today, and we come primarily today, to hear a word from the Lord. We long to hear a word from God both appropriate for the day and beneficial all our remaining days. We have such a word today. Let’s hear the Word of God read and proclaimed once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Our passage today occurs within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29). It occurs just after the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the…,” 5:3-12), and it occurs not long before the goes-to-motive passages (“Ye have heard it said…, but I say to you…,” 5:21-48). Jesus uses two metaphors in today’s text to tell us what we are. The emphasis is on we. When we read the word you in verses thirteen and fourteen, each of us, almost always, understand it as applying to our individual self alone. This is understandable—after all, we American Christians tend to read the Bible in individualistic, rather than corporate, terms. Each of us must apply today’s text to his own soul. However, the verbs throughout this passage are plural—and we must consider this passage principally in corporate, rather than individual, terms.
Hence, Jesus says to His disciples in every age, “Y’all are the salt of the earth.” Salt, in Jesus’ day and in our day, has many functions. It is useful as an electrolyte, it provides flavor that might not exist otherwise, and it preserves food from spoilage. We, being salt of the earth, have usefulness—doing the good in this world. Our lives give this world a good savor—a good flavor, that it otherwise would not have. We also offset to some degree the prevailing decay around us. If, however, we lose saltiness, then—unless renewed from on high—we are good only for tossing and from trampling. May the Lord indeed make us His salt of the earth.
Moreover, Jesus says to His disciples in every age, “Y’all are the light of the world.” Both we, and our works, are to be visible. They are to be visible as a city set on a hill—a city seen from afar. They are also to be a lamp on a lampstand, thus lighting all the house—or, at least, all the room whose walls surround the lamp. Conversely, we and our works must not be hidden—either under a bushel or by any other means. Much in our culture tempts us to hide ourselves and our works—we recoil from shunning, from persecution, and from pain generally. Let us not, even in the face of this, dim our light—whether due to fear of the aforementioned or something else, or due to introversion, or, alas, due to misanthropy (in which we dislike humanity, in toto and in many specific examples).
Let us, by God’s grace, let our salt work and our light shine—and let us do these with respect to the world (Greek kosmos [kosmoV]). The world, as used in much of the New Testament, is a system, and those ensnared by it, both estranged from God and hostile toward Him. The world desperately needs some good news—in its ears, to be sure, but also before its eyes, that it may see our good works and glorify our Father, Who is in Heaven.
– We must glorify God—and this stands prerequisite to others glorifying Him. There are a number of New Testament images that align with this. We must, as in today’s text, let our light shine—shining as stars in the universe amid a crooked and twisted generation (cf. Philippians 2:15). We must live good lives in front of those outside saving relationship with Jesus Christ, in order that they too may glorify Him (cf. 1 Peter 2:12). We seek, as branches tapped into the true Vine, Jesus Christ, to bear much fruit (John 15:8) in every good work. We aim, as Paul encouraged the Corinthians, for God’s glory in all we do, say, think, and intend (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31).
These images are striking, even motivational—but how, practically, do we do this? We can do this only by God’s powerful grace—but, in reliance upon Him, we shall find the grace necessary to comply with His directive. First, we believe in Him, through Jesus Christ, God incarnate, Who opened a new and living way to Him (Hebrews 10:20). After all, this is the work of God: to believe in Him Whom He has sent (John 6:29). We are to believe both that He exists and that He rewards those seeking Him (Hebrews 11:6). Let us believe in our three-in-one God, and let us continue to do this—even more ardently over time.
We also glorify the Lord when we worship Him. We worship Him in all things, at all times, to be sure, but we do this especially in public worship. There’s just something about corporate worship of the living God that cannot be reproduced anywhere else—and, when we forsake not the assembling of ourselves in public worship (cf. Hebrews 10:25), then God receives glory from His redeemed creatures. We glorify the Lord, furthermore, when we devote ourselves to Him. We do this, among other ways, by getting Scripture into us (by reading, by hearing Scripture read, etc.), by prayer, and by giving of self and of substance. We also glorify the Lord when we obey Him—and this an under-emphasized, even neglected, thing in the American evangelical church. Let us, by God’s grace, both do what He enjoins and shun what He forbids. None of this glorifying of Him should be construed as works righteousness. God saves us, by grace, through faith, and He prepares good works in advance for us to do (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10)—and it is only by grace, through faith, that we walk in the works God prepared for us beforehand.
Therefore, may God the Father make our lives—as grounded and secured in God, the Son, and as animated by God, the Holy Spirit—useful, flavorful, preservative, and brilliant. May He do this for His own glory, for the encouragement of His Church, and for the blessing of the world—in order that some may renounce the world and cling to Christ.