“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50
What an amazing gift it is to be able to learn more and more of the love and care that our God has for us sinful mortals! The way in which He sees to our reaching our heavenly home is nothing short of miraculous! Every single aspect of our salvation is so capably taken care of by Him!
This is certainly true when it comes to His care for us throughout our earthly pilgrimage. Not only does He bring us to faith but He also preserves us in it. As Luther explained the Third Petition: “(God’s) will is also done when He gives us strength and keeps us firm in His Word and in faith for as long as we live.”
This preservation in the faith is what Jesus is addressing in the Bible passages before us. And to aid our understanding, Jesus uses the picture of salt with its special properties. In days before refrigeration, you know, if a person wanted to keep food from spoiling, salt was used as a preservative.
The “salt” that God uses to “preserve” us is none other than His Word in Holy Scripture. In that Word we can read God’s many preserving promises. In the psalm David tells us, “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your loving-kindness and Your truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:11). And the Apostle Paul agrees, saying, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).
“Salt is good,” Jesus says. When salt is used, it does exactly what it is supposed to do. The same is true of the “salt” of God’s Word. It too is good – even perfect, serving the exact purpose for which it was given. As the Lord says through the prophet, “My word… shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
God Is At Work …In Our Lives…
Sometimes the Lord’s preserving work in us may seem more like destruction. “For everyone will be seasoned with fire,” says our text. The law of God “burns” as it convicts us of our sin and guilt. But God’s goal is always good, seeking to call us to repentance.
Another purpose may be that we bear more fruit, as Jesus says: “Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). Or God’s intent may be the strengthening of our faith, as Peter wrote: “…that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:7).
And what is the best way, the only way, we as God’s people can remember that God is at work in our lives, preserving us in the way He knows best both for our earthly and eternal well-being? It is for us to continue in His Word! To fail to make His “salt,” the Word, a part of our lives would be to reduce the holy influence or “flavor” that the “salt” of God’sWord—boththe “burning” of the law and the purifying, healing balm of the gospel – is intended to have in our lives.
As God by grace has preserved to us His Holy Word, may we ever use that Word faithfully. For in that way we will “have salt in ourselves” – being “kept by the power of God through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 1:5).
May God ever lead us to do with His Word as Moses encouraged the people of Israel to do when they entered the Promised Land: “You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20).
Then with the “salt” of Holy Scripture in our hearts and on our lips (see Colossians 4:6), God will lead us to “have peace with one another” – a peace founded upon the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” which “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).