Sunday, November 10, 2013

Salted With Fire

Mark 9:1-50 NIV

1And He said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the Kingdom of God has come with power.”

The Transfiguration

2After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There He was transfigured before them. 3His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

5Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

7Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud:

“This is My Son, Whom I Love. Listen to Him!”

8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what  “rising from the dead”  meant.

11And they asked Him, “Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?”

12Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”

Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit

14When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the Law arguing with them. 15As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him.

16“What are you arguing with them about?” He asked.

17A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

19“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to Me.”

20So they brought Him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus,
“Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, He rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 

27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28After Jesus had gone indoors, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

29He replied,  “This kind can come out only by prayer.

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

30They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were,31because He was teaching His disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.” 32But they did not understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it.

33They came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36He took a little child whom He placed among them. Taking the child in His Arms, He said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My Name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but The One Who sent Me.”

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us

38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your Name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in My Name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. 41Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in My Name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Causing to Stumble

42“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in Me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44]b 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46]c 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 

48 where
“ ‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’

49Everyone will be salted with fire. 50“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Verses 42-50

For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

Here, Christ warns all his followers to take heed of ruining their own souls.  The flesh must be mortified, that we may enter into life, into the Kingdom of God. Though, by abandoning sin, we may, for the present, feel ourselves as if we were halt and maimed (it may seem to be a force put upon ourselves, and may create us some uneasiness), yet it is for life; and all that men have, they will give for their lives: it is for the kingdom of God, which we cannot otherwise obtain; these halts and maims will be the marks of the Lord Jesus, will be in that Kingdom scars of honor.

The danger of not doing this. The matter is brought to this issue, that either sin must die, or we must die. If we will lay this Delilah in our bosom, it will betray us; if we be ruled by sin, we shall inevitably be ruined by it; if we must keep our two hands, and two eyes, and two feet, we must with them be cast into hell. Our Savior often pressed our duty upon us, from the consideration of the torments of hell, which we run ourselves into if we continue in sin. With what an emphasis of terror are those words repeated three times here, Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched! 

The words are quoted from Isaiah 66:23-24;

"And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from Sabbath to Sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me," says the LORD. "Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind."

The reflections and reproaches of the sinner’s own conscience are the worm that does not die; which will cleave to the damned soul as the worms do to the dead body, and prey upon it, and never leave it till it is quite devoured. The soul that is food to this worm, does not die; and the worm is bred in it, and one with it, and therefore neither does that die.

Damned sinners will be to eternity accusing, condemning, and upbraiding, themselves with their own follies, which, how much they are now in love with them now, will at the last bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder. The Wrath of God fastening upon a guilty and polluted conscience, is the fire that is not quenched; for it is the Wrath of the Living God, the eternal God, into Whose Hands it is a fearful thing to fall.

There are no operations of the Spirit of Grace upon the souls of the damned sinners, and therefore there is nothing to alter the nature of the fuel, which must remain forever burning; nor is there any application of the Merit of Christ to them, and therefore there is nothing to appease or quench the violence of the fire.  The eternity of the torments of hell was not only the constant faith of the Christian church, but had been so of the Jewish church. Josephus says, The Pharisees held that the souls of the wicked were to be punished with perpetual punishment; and that there was appointed for them a perpetual prison. And Philo says, The punishment of the wicked is to live forever dying, and to be forever in pains and grief that never cease.

The two last verses are somewhat difficult, and interpreters do not agree in the sense of them; for everyone in general, or rather every one of them that are cast into hell, shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Therefore have salt in yourselves;

(1)  It was appointed by the Law of Moses, that every sacrifice should be salted with salt, not to preserve it (for it was to be immediately consumed), but because it was the Food of God’s Table, and no flesh is eaten without salt; it was therefore particularly required in the meat-offerings, Leviticus 2:13.

(2) The nature of man, being corrupt, and as such being called flesh (Genesis 6:3; Psalm 78:39), some way or other must be salted, in order to its being a sacrifice to God. The salting of fish they call the curing of it.

(3) Our chief concern is, to present ourselves living sacrifices to the Grace of God (Romans 12:1), and, in order to our acceptableness, we must be salted with salt, our corrupt affections must be subdued and mortified, and we must have in our souls a savor of grace. Thus the offering up or sacrificing of the Gentiles is said to be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, as the sacrifices were salted, Romans 15:16.

(4) Those who have the salt of grace, must make it appear that they have it; that they have salt in themselves, a living principle of grace in their hearts, which works out all corrupt dispositions, and everything in the soul that tends to putrefaction, and would offend our God, or our own consciences, as unsavory meat does. Our speech must be always with grace seasoned with this salt, that no corrupt communication may proceed out of our mouth, but we may loathe it as much as we would to put rotten meat into our mouths.

(5)  As this gracious salt will keep our own consciences void of offence, so it will keep our conversation with others so, that we may not offend any of Christ’s little ones, but may be at peace one with another.

(6) We must not only have this salt of grace, but we must always retain the relish and savor of it; for if this salt lose its saltiness, if he loses the savor of it, and be no longer under the power and influence of it, what can recover him? This was said Matthew 5:13

(7) Those who do not present themselves living sacrifices to God’s grace, shall be made for ever dying sacrifices to His justice, and since they would not give honor to Him, they would not be salted with the salt of Divine grace, would not admit that to subdue their corrupt affections, no, they would not submit to the operation, could not bear the corrosives that were necessary to eat out the proud flesh, it was to them like cutting off a hand, or plucking out an eye; and therefore in hell they shall be salted with fire; coals of fire shall be scattered upon them (Ezekiel 10:2), as salt upon the meat, and brimstone (Job 18:15), as fire and brimstone were rained on Sodom; the pleasures they have lived in, shall eat their flesh, as it were with fire, James 5:3.               

The pain of mortifying the flesh now is no more to be compared with the punishment for not mortifying it, than salting with burning. And since He had said, that the fire of hell shall not be quenched, but it might be objected, that the fuel will not last always, He here intimates, that by the power of God it shall be made to last always; for those who are cast into hell, will find the fire to have not only the corroding quality of salt, but its preserving quality; whence it is used to signify that which is lasting: a covenant of salt is a perpetual covenant, and Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt, made her a remaining monument of divine vengeance. Now since this will certainly be the doom of those that do not crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, let us, knowing this terror of the Lord, be persuaded to do it.

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