The Church the Salt of the Earth
Mark 9:49
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

The first expression demanding our attention is "salt." Salt is an object of external nature, endued with certain properties. It possesses the property of penetration into the masses of animal matter, to which it shall be applied in sufficient abundance and with sufficient perseverance; and it possesses the property of extending a preserving savour as it pervades the mass. Here is the basis of its suitability to represent Christ's church on the earth, a characteristic of the population of this fallen world is, moral corruption. The men of this world, even those who are most advanced in morals and in respectability amongst their fellows, are nevertheless described in the Word of God as being corrupt according to their deceitful lusts and defilements. Selfishness, ostentation, envy, jealousy, taint their boasted morals; and as surely as a mass of animal matter left to its natural tendencies in our atmosphere would proceed from one degree of corruption to another, until it reached the putrefaction of dissolution, so surely would the population of this world, left to its own natural tendency, make progress from one degree of moral corruption to another, until they all reached the putrefaction of damnation. Christ's church is the salt of the earth; it is the Lord's preserve and the Lord's preservative. This brings us to the next word here, which is "fire." Fire is another object of external nature possessing certain properties. It possesses the properties of penetrating and melting, and separating the dross from the pure ore; and so in this respect it becomes suitable as an emblem of sanctified affliction, which separates a man from the common and downward course of a heedless and worldly population, and causes him to pause and meditate, and take himself to task, and look around and look before him, and to fall upon his knees and cry to God to have mercy upon him. I have said sanctified affliction; because affliction itself, considered apart from the special use made of it by the Spirit of God, has no such power over a man's character. "The sorrow of this world worketh death;" mere trouble considered in its natural operation upon man, however it may subdue him for a season, however it may make him pause in his course, does not change him. But this is not all, the Lord says in our text. "Everyone" — not every Christian only, but — "everyone shall be salted with fire." This leads us to remark, that fire possesses other properties, the power of consuming the stubble and all the rubbish; and it is thereby suitable to express those tremendous judgments, which shall overwhelm the adversaries at the second glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus, when, as the apostle sublimely tells us, "The Lord shall be revealed from heaven in flames of fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." Every ungodly man shall, as it were, be salted with fire — shall be seasoned with fire — rendered inconsumable in the fire that burneth — preserved in burning. Salted with fire! This is a tremendous saying, a dreadful thought. Immortalized in endurance! preserved from burning out! Salted with fire! Well, well might He call upon them to cut off right hands, pluck out right eyes, to separate themselves from the dearest lust, from the most fostered and cherished indulgence, rather than be cast into that eternal fire. But how shall this exhortation be obeyed? There is no native power in man, whereby he can rescue himself from what he loves. He must love something; and except he be supplied with something better to love, he must go on to follow what he now loves. It is only the power of something he loves better, that can separate him from what he loves well. What can induce him to part with his sin, which is as precious to his corrupt heart as his eyes are to the enjoyment of his body? What can induce him to do it? Everyone then, both he that believeth and he that believeth not, shall be salted with fire. He that believeth shall be purified by affliction, and he that believeth not shall be immortalized in the endurance of agony. "And every sacrifice shall be salted with fire." Here is another figure, not derived from external nature, but derived from the Mosaic ritual — a sacrifice. A sacrifice is an offering devoted to God. Hence a sacrifice is suitable to represent a member of Christ's Church. He is not separated from the common actions and lawful actions of the world, for that would be to take him out of the world; but he is separated from the common state of mind in which those actions are performed. Instead of withdrawing from the duties of life, it engages him in them for conscience' sake, as well as for convenience or reputation or gum. It makes every action of his life religious; it invests the very drudgeries of the lowest grade of life with a sanctity, as being done in the service of God. So then, a believer becomes a sacrifice, and so the Apostle Paul having enlarged upon the glorious blessings of the gospel, whereby men are so separated, improves the statement thus: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." All the sacrifices of the Jewish ritual were seasoned with salt. In the second chapter of the book of Leviticus and at the thirteenth verse you will find the commandment, "And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt." "Every sacrifice," every true believer, "shall be salted with salt." Now what is the force of this expression, "salted with salt"? We have seen that to be salted with fire signifies to be personally purified; to be salted with salt signifies to be made relatively a blessing. The Christian is salted with fire for his own personal purification, and he is salted with salt for his extended usefulness among others. "He shall be blessed and he shall be a blessing," as was said of the father of the faithful, Abraham. We inherit this blessing of Abraham, to be salted with fire and to be salted with salt. To this our Lord clearly refers, when He calls His church "the salt of the earth."

(H. McNeile, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

WEB: For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.

Salted with Fire
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