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How are believers “salt and light”?

Salt and lightJesus said “salt and light” are pictures or types of believers in Matthew 5:13-16:

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 lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Why would Jesus compare believers with salt?

Salt was once one of the most valuable commodities on earth. It was traded ounce-for-ounce with gold because of its important uses:

  • Preserving foods
  • Serving as an antiseptic
  • Providing flavor
  • Acting as currency. Soldiers were paid in salt (solarium argentum). This is where we derive our word salary and the phrase “worth his salt”.

The comparison with believers:

  1. Salt flavors food, and believers should “flavor” or influence those around them toward Christ. All the while not being influenced by the world themselves.
  2. Salt acts an antiseptic, and believers should help “sterilize” the world they live in.
  3. Salt is a preservative, and believers “preserve” others for eternity through the spread of the Gospel.
  4. When salt is removed food spoils, and when the church is removed the earth will be “spoiled.” Paul describes it in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8:

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

Why would Jesus compare believers with light?

The reason Jesus compares believers with lamps is more obvious. God has “made His light shine in our hearts” (2 Cor 4:6). This is a light that “should shine before men, so they may see and praise our Father in heaven” (Mat 5:16).

Salt that isn’t salty and lamps that don’t put off light “are no longer good for anything” (Mat 5:13). Ouch! One of the main reasons God chose Israel in the Old Testament was to reveal Him to the world. The Church has the same calling today. Compare these verses:

  • Exodus 19:6a You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

As believers we should operate with the understanding God has called us to reach out to a fallen, sinful world. There’s an interesting balance:

  • It’s not so much striving to be salt and light as trusting God wants to use us as salt and light.
  • But many times being salt and light requires stepping out. We have to be like Jonathan saying, “Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf” (1 Sam 14:6).

Be a Jonathan and take that step out. Share your faith. Invite someone to church. See what the Lord will do on your behalf.

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Types reveal Jesus throughout the Old Testament

The Old Testament reveals Jesus through types and shadows
The bronze serpent: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14).

Jesus is revealed throughout the Old Testament two ways. First, there were hundreds of prophecies looking forward to Him. Second, He’s revealed through types and shadows. This is why Jesus could say the Old Testament is about Him:

  • “The Scriptures testify of Me (John 5:39b).
  • “[Moses] wrote about Me (John 5:46b).
  • “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me (Luke 24:44).
  • “Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me (Hebrews 10:7).

The New Testament records:

  • And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).
  • Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).

The New Testament says Jesus is the substance and reality of Old Testament types and shadows

  • For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities (Hebrews 10:1a ESV).
  • A festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:16b-17).

A shadow is a perfect way to describe Old Testament types of Jesus:

  1. Shadows provide an outline without completely revealing the object. The Old Testament gives an idea what to expect in Jesus, but He isn’t fully revealed until the New Testament.
  2. Shadows point to something else. Seeing a shadow means there must be something casting it. That’s Jesus!
  3. People don’t look at shadows and think they’re “the real thing.” Nobody sees the shadow of a tree or car and thinks it’s a tree or car. Shadows have no substance or material themselves. They’re not the reality. But in the language of Hebrews 10:1 and Colossians 2:17 the “reality” and “substance” is found in Christ.

Many types and shadows are identified in the New Testament

Jesus compared Himself with:

  • The Bronze Serpent. John 3:14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
  • The manna. John 6:32-33 “Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Paul said Jesus is the:

  • Second Adam (Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
  • True and greater Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).
  • Rock in the wilderness that provided Israel with water (1 Corinthians 10:4).
  • Provider of the true and greater circumcision, not of putting off physical flesh, but sinful flesh: In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ (Colossians 2:11).

Hebrews says:

  • The Sabbath is only a picture of the true and greater rest found in Christ (3:7-4:11).
  • The veil in the temple revealed access to God when it was torn. In that sense, it is a picture of Christ in that His body was “torn” on the cross, and we were given access to God: Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh (10:19-21).


Do you have any questions about types and shadows? What are your favorite examples? Share below!

Here’s a sermon I preached on Abraham and Isaac, and it begins with a discussion of types.

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Katie LaPierre—my amazing wife

Katie LaPierre—my amazing wife

My wife, Katie LaPierre, left for the Ladies Retreat on Tuesday and she should be back in less than an hour. Aside from a missionary trip I went on a few years ago, I’m pretty sure this is the longest we’ve been apart. As a disclaimer, I know for a lot of couples two nights isn’t very long! Usually the longest we’re apart is the few hours I’m at the office between visits to walk home and see how she and the kids are doing.

Katie LaPierre—the mother

Occasionally Katie has some function that takes her away for a few hours leaving me to watch the kids. Whenever that happens, my appreciation and respect for her always soars. I try to take care of our kids and our house, while constantly asking myself, “How does she do this so well every day?”

Having all three kids the last few days wasn’t that big of a deal considering my dad was with me the entire time, I didn’t have that much food to prepare, I didn’t worry about any laundry, and as opposed to making sure the house was spotless I focused on keeping it “maintained.” To think my wife does all these things every day is really unbelievable…actually, that she does all these things and stays in a good mood is probably the most unbelievable part.

Katie LaPierre—the pastor’s wife

When I was thinking really seriously about marrying Katie, I had a pretty good idea at the time that I would be a pastor in the future, which meant I really needed to marry a woman who could be a pastor’s wife. I thought that was the case with Katie and she even told me she’d been told she should marry a pastor someday. When I worked part-time and then full-time in ministry at Grace Baptist in Lemoore, CA I don’t think Katie really occupied the position of “pastor’s wife” (at least not in the traditional sense), because I wasn’t the senior pastor. We had a number of Bible studies at our house each week (three to be exact: youth group, young adults’ group and an adult home fellowship), and she did a great job with hospitality, but she wasn’t really involved with counseling or planning events.

When we got to Woodland, she really had the opportunity to invest in the church and the women in the church instead of only our kids, our home and me. I’ve really been amazed by the job I’ve seen her do. I guess I would say that while I was able to see her excel as a wife and mother, now I was able to see her in an entirely new capacity and she did a better job than I could have imagined. Occasionally I’ve walked in the house and observed the quarterly women’s meeting, pleasantly surprised by her leadership skills. She planned a ladies’ conference, and now this ladies’ retreat better than I could have imagined. Each function she’s been involved with has seemed to go so well.

If I wasn’t a pastor, I really feel like there would be some church that would miss out on being able to have her as their “pastor’s wife.” Part of it has to do with the women she’s surrounded with as well. Every time someone steps out in putting on a ministry event like she’s done, it’s a risky move, because you’re setting yourself up for criticism. This is the case with people behind almost any ministry in the church: VBS, Christmas programs, outreaches, nursery, etc. There will always be people who feel like something should have been done differently. “It would have been better if we would have planned it for these days instead.” “Why did she choose that _______.” “Why did she decide to do it that way?” “Why didn’t she have enough ______.” “We should have left at this time instead.”

Fortunately, the women at WCC are really supportive, encouraging, helpful and understanding. They don’t complain or criticize which I think makes my wife’s ministry much easier and emotionally safer. I invited Katie to write the letter on the back of this week’s bulletin and her conclusion really summed up what I’ve observed, “When I moved away from California I prayed the Lord would bring girlfriends into my life that challenged me and loved me. He has definitely answered that prayer.”

If you read all the way to here, thanks for letting me share my heart for my wife.

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Why did Jesus call a woman a dog?

Why did Jesus call a woman a dog?

An interesting – and possibly confusing – account took place between Jesus and a woman He called a “little dog.” Matthew 15:21-22:

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

The woman is a Canaanite, which makes her one of the Jews’ ancient enemies and a surprising person to seek Jesus’ help. When Israel entered the Promised Land they were supposed to destroy these people, because of their wickedness.

Matthew 15:23-24:

But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Why did Jesus call the woman a dog?

  • God told Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3). Primarily this referred to the Messiah coming from Israel, but it also referred to Israel being the witness nation. The Jews would receive the Gospel first and spread it to the surrounding world.
  • Romans 1:16 says, “the gospel is…for the Jew first.”
  • When Jesus sent out the Twelve He said, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 10:5a-6). Jesus didn’t forbid the disciples from preaching to Gentiles if they encountered them along the way, but they were to go first to Israel.

Jesus told the Canaanite woman the Jews had to have the first opportunity to accept Him. Matthew 15:25-26:

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

The “children” are the Jews, and the “bread” is the spiritual food or Gospel.

The Greek word for “dog” is kyōn, and it is a derogatory term the Jews used for Gentiles. The word Jesus used for “little dogs” is kynarion, and it’s not derogatory or cruel. It can be used affectionately, even of a family pet.

Matthew 15:27-28:

And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

The woman accepted the situation, including who she was.

She couldn’t stop the Gospel from going to the Jews first, and she couldn’t change her ethnicity. But she could be persistent and demonstrate her faith. She even says, “I’m not asking for the portion that belongs to the Jews. I just want some of the crumbs.”

Jesus rewarded the woman. The irony is many Jews would miss out on God’s salvation, because they didn’t have this woman’s faith, persistence, or humility. Many Gentiles would find salvation. They received the crumbs the Gentiles rejected, or that “fell from the table.”

Consider the progression:

  1. Jesus ignores her in verse 23.
  2. Jesus tells her, “No,” in verse 24.
  3. She asks again in verse 25.
  4. Jesus says, “No,” again in verse 26.
  5. She asks again in verse 27.
  6. Jesus helps her in verse 28.

This is a great illustration of the persistence needed in prayer. See also (Luke 11:5-13 and 18:1-8).

C. H. Spurgeon said, “Dear friend, possibly someone has whispered in your ear, ‘Suppose you are not one of the elect.’ Well, that was very much what our Lord’s expression meant to her. She was not one of the chosen people, and she had heard Christ say, ‘I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ Notice that this woman does not battle with that truth at all, she does not raise any question about it; she wisely waives it, and she just goes on praying, ‘Lord, help me! Lord, have mercy upon me!’ I invite you, dear friend, to do just the same.