Last night, First Presbyterian Church of Jackson hosted the 29th Annual Mid-South Men’s Rally. With just under 1000 men from all over Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, and beyond, it was a great night full of biblical preaching, thunderous hymn-singing, and warm fellowship. Most significantly, we were treated to two stirring expositions from God’s Word by the Rev. Sandy Willson, Senior Minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, TN.
Here’s a little bullet point break-down and outline sampling of Sandy’s two messages to us last night:
Session 1— For the Glory of God Now; Matthew 5:13-16
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
- What a great theme for this Men’s Rally: For the Glory of God alone!
- Trusting in Christ alone and Sanctification/Christian conduct glorifies God, as we shall see from Matthew 5
- Here Jesus directs our attention to the outside world.
- As important as our other relations are, engagement with the outside world, is part of what it means when we confess that “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
I. Christ clearly calls us to faithful engagement with our culture
a. Jesus says: you are the light of the world and you are the salt of the earth. He’s not saying, “work hard to become these things” he’s saying—as Christians, you are these things, this is a title Christ has given to us
b. Salt, here, was not so much a flavor additive, but a preservative in days before refrigeration.
i. Salt is a preservative that slows down decay. And Jesus is saying to Christians, “You are a preservative that is slowing down the hell-bound decay and direction that this world is heading in.”
c. In engaging with culture, Christians have 1 of 4 options:
i. Accommodate (give in to changing culture and pretend as if it is biblically permissible)
ii. Withdraw (retreat into small, huddled groups distancing themselves from a sinful, unbiblical world)
iii. Imposition (try to take over government and force non-Christians to conform)
iv. To be Faithful and Present in the world
1. Sociologist and professor James Davison Hunter calls for Christians to have a “Faithful Presence” in the world
2. Sandy Wilson tweaks that slightly and calls for “faithful engagement” with the world
II. Our calling is extremely demanding
a. Salt that’s lost its saltiness and a lamp put under a basket are useless. So too are we if we have lost our saltiness and snuffed out our ligh.
i. What does it mean to be salt and light?
1. Salt: we must be holy
2. Light: we must be helpful
b. Why do we lose our saltiness in the first place? It is because we’ve failed to contemplate our Savior and the great salvation he’s wrought for us.
c. How do we accomplish this holy living?
i. Not loving the world or following after the world’s lusts;
ii. Holy living/Being different from the world happens why? By Being in Love with the Savior and the gospel!
d. How do we act as this helpful light?
i. Bringing helpful illumination to the lives of others
ii. How can we be “illuminary” or helpful? 4 ways
a. Lead your family in prayer and worship. Pray for your neighbors. Open a newspaper and let your children see you praying for the needs of your community.
a. Lead by example; you are the world’s only answer
b. Romans 10: 14—How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
3. Social Justice
a. Where the neighbors around us suffer injustice and hurt, we have a calling, as salt, to bear their burdens in ways like:
i. Fighting legal injustice
ii. Fighting public school decay and the rampant number of school children appearing juvenile court
iii. Combating staggering poverty
b. Our Love of neighbor and Christian witness demands this.
i. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jer. 29:7).
a. We are called to be a generous people because our God has been so generous with us
III. Our demanding call glorifies God
a. Verse 16b—our good works glorify our Father in heaven
b. Our hard work of being salt/light and slowing down the direction of this hell-bound world brings glory to our Father
c. And this is the chief end of man: to glorify God and enjoy him forever
Session 2— For the Glory of God Later; Colossians 3:1-4
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
- Regardless of the response, we honor and obey Christ—regardless of the consequences
- And when it’s a gospel issue…we are willing to die for it. Is that not the example of Christ laying down his life for his bride, the church?
- And many gospel issues in our day and age have to do with warring against exclusivism and societal discrimination against our neighbors—neighbors who are created in the image of God.
- Paul calls us to an extraordinary action…which apart from the gospel and the glory of God, we could not fathom how to do it.
- Where does Paul start in motivating us? Setting your mind on heavenly things
- If we are to be faithful in engaging the culture, we will start by setting our minds on heavenly things
I. Be heavenly minded (v. 1)
a. Being heavenly minded reflects simply who we are: a child of God, whose citizenship is in heaven.
i. Remember, your secondary citizenship is in your city or nation. You are raised with Christ and united to Him!
b. The Puritans are one of the most wonderful examples of this. They are among the most godly of people in the history of English speaking Christianity.
i. Why? Because they saw themselves as Pilgrims on this earth. This world was not their home. They were citizens of a heavenly kingdom who were striving not to fall in love with this passing world and its vanities.
ii. What a glorious example of this we have also in John, as he is portrayed in exile in the Book of Revelation
II. Heavenly-mindedness must be cultivated (v. 2)
a. This involves both a positive and negative command
i. Set your minds on things above
ii. Don’t set minds on things on earth
b. Mind set on things Above:
i. Some of the sweetest fellowship with Christ that we hear about these days comes from those whose suffering is most severe (cancer, etc.) Why? Because they are living with the reality of a world without hope, and they are setting their minds on things above—Christ, their hope and glory!
ii. As men, we lead by loving Christ more than we love this world and longing to be with him more than this world
c. Mind set on things Not Below; things which take us off of heavenly-mindedness, i.e.:
iv. Legalism/moralism—a focus on ME
v. Even, bad theology
III. Heavenly-mindedness is actually just a reality (vv.3-4)
a. On the Great Day of Christ’s Return, it shall be revealed before all the world what we really are: that we are in and belong to Christ!
b. Spiritual reality: a great war in the heavenly realms is ongoing. Though it is invisible and scoffed at by skeptics, it is very much a reality.
i. Being heavenly minded is simply living in light of that reality—that there is a war for the souls of men, and Satan and his minions are eager to come and kill, steal, and destroy.
c. We are called to be holy in an un-holy world, to love God’s Word and his laws, knowing that at the end of days our glory and our destiny shall be revealed:
i. That our identity and destiny not in the paltry, passing pleasures of this earth, but is with Christ—with him to experience his glory forever and ever.
ii. To glorify God and enjoy him forever.