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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Mark 9:49-50 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

After teaching His apostles lessons about finding greatness through servitude within the kingdom of heaven, and the dire consequences of offending babes in Christ, Jesus now delves into a scriptural lesson that appears to have been extremely complicated and perplexing to many bible scholars. Often the reason for such confusion in understanding God's Word is because the scripture has been taken out of its context and analyzed separate from the biblical application to which it is intended to fully describe and give additional knowledge. However, there are also times when the scripture under consideration, has a different meaning than the topic being discussed in the previous verses. Such seems to be the case with the lesson text. The previous verse is a translation of the meaning found in the last verse of the book of Isaiah, chapter 66, verse 24. In this Old Testament reference, as well as in verses 44, 46, and 48 preceding the lesson, the undying worm and the unquenchable fire refer to the retribution that is awaiting unrepentant sinners. Once death has taken the lives of such sinners, eternal punishment is their reward. This fiery punishment is final and will last eternally. It cannot be changed, altered, or made void.

The "fire" referred to in the lesson text is not the same as the unquenchable fire of eternal punishment. Here its application does not apply only to the sinner. It says that every one shall be salted with fire. Just as salt was used in the preservation and preparation of meat sacrifices (See Lev. 2:13), so it was meant to be symbolically used here. For the apostles to be salted with fire meant that they would be preserved and seasoned similar to that of meat sacrifices. The "salt" referred to here isn't the literal seasoning as we know it to be. Rather it is a symbolic representation of that which seasons all of Jesus' apostles, as well as all of His followers today. This preserving and seasoning agent of Christians is the trials and tribulations that they are sure to face during their spiritual life here on earth. It is the symbolic hands, feet, and eyes referred to in verses 43-48 above. These represent the things that we bring worldly pleasure in our physical lives but are harmful to our spiritual lives. They are the sinful things that present themselves to us in our daily lives that are disguised as joyful and pleasurable. When recognized as Satan's devices to deceive us, and when avoided, they serve as the trials and tribulations that "salt," season, and preserve us, allowing us to follow our Savior and walk righteously in the sight of God. They serve as the "salt" that keeps us from leading others to sin and lose their souls; they are also the "salt" by which we conduct ourselves in a manner that gives us the hope of eternal salvation in heaven.

When applied to the apostles, the "salt" represents the opposition they will receive primarily from the Jewish religious leaders. Bearing up under such violent, verbal, and physical attacks, the apostles will become seasoned and able to endure the harshest criticism and abuse. Doing so, they would have sufficient time on earth to provide the foundation on which the church of Christ was to be constructed, and, being guided by the Holy Spirit of God, they would be able to establish churches of Christ and preach and teach the gospel message of salvation, through Christ Jesus, throughout the known world.

Indeed, salty salt is good. It seasons and preserves many items of food that we eat. But if salt loses its saltness, it becomes valueless - it can neither cause the things we eat to be more savory nor can it preserve foods from decay and spoiling. As a spiritual seasoning and preservative, all followers of Christ need "salt" that still retains its useful "saltness." When we endure the trials and tribulations of life, we learn that we are able to resist and overcome them. The more we continue to do so, the more salty this spiritual salt will become and the easier it will be to remain faithful to the cause for which our Savior gave His life.

From Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" He taught us that His followers werethe salt of the earth that must never lose their savor, or "saltness" (Matt. 5:13). Paul tells all Christians that their speech should always be seasoned with salt in order to teach others about God's plan of eternal salvation through Christ Jesus (Col. 4:6). Just as salt preserves, or saves, food, so should the spiritual salt of a Christian preserve and save men and women of the world that are lost in the state of religious confusion and sin. The fire of trials and temptations purifies Christians, strengthens them, and makes them useful. Indeed, Salty Salt is Good!