In Leviticus 2:13 it is said, “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 thine offerings thou shalt offer salt”; and the preservative character of what it signifies is clearly emphasized by the Holy Spirit in the precious words of Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt.”
In this beautiful God-given type, the meat-offering was mainly in view, the salt in it was the seasoning. So now, graciousness of speech is the main thing regarding those who are saved by grace, but it is to be seasoned with salt, with the moral savour of the truth. This must not be lacking, though it be but the seasoning and the grace principal. Grace and truth subsist by Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord; and of His fullness His own have received “grace upon grace.” We can readily see why it reads thus in John 1:16, and not “truth upon truth.” Men wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. To be like Christ, His redeemed ones need to remember that the provision of grace is one thing and the seasoning of salt another. There must be grace in abundance and the powerful salt of the truth, wisely limited, lest it be harmful. A supply of nourishing food may be rendered nauseous by a too abundant supply of the otherwise good and useful salt.
Salt, as we have seen, was to be used with all the offerings of Jehovah’s redeemed people, Israel, and, generally speaking, it was a divinely-given symbol of truth in regard to preservative and moral savour. It was used in the oblation of the meat-offering, and in other offerings (Lev. 2:13), also in connection with covenants (Num. 18:19; 2 Chr. 13:5, etc.); and in judgments (Gen. 14:3; Deut. 29:2; Jud. 9:45; Jer. 17:6). These uses eloquently proclaim the enduring nature of that which is thus strikingly typified.
The words of our Lord Jesus Christ consequently come to us with freshness and forcefulness, making their meaning and connection of teaching pointed and clear. He said, “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” (Mark 9:49-50). Eastern salt was different to that which is commonly used now. It was not pure chloride of sodium, but was mixed with vegetable and earthy substances, and, when exposed to the adverse influences of sun and rain, might become savourless and useless. This gives point therefore to the words of Matthew 5:13, too—“If the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” These words, which speak with such wholesome warning, are similar to those of Luke 14:35, “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”
We do indeed need to use our ears to hear the truth of God in these days of moral corruption, when social, commercial, political, and professedly Christian circles are being invaded with influences, principles and doctrines destructive to the truth. Both Mark and Luke record the Lord’s words, “SALT IS GOOD,” as we have seen. In the former we are exhorted to have salt in ourselves, and “HAVE PEACE ONE WITH ANOTHER.” This is important, and it is what is to characterize us inside—“one with another.” Then what is to mark us outside—“toward them that are without”—is given in Colossians 4:5-6, “Let your speech be with grace seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Among the children of God, self-judgment and peace are to prevail within; while graciousness of speech (preserved by the truth), wisdom and zeal, are to be become them without. The salt of the covenant of our God is needful for the maintenance of peace inside, and for the presentation of divine grace outside. It is to be applied to ourselves individually in the first instance, and it is to give a savour to our speech in the second.
An earthly remnant of Israel will bear testimony before men soon when the heavenly bride of Christ, the assembly, has been translated to be with the Lord. This remnant will take the place that the disciples of Christ had when He was on earth, before the Spirit was sent from Christ on high, forming the one body of which He is the Head. Then, as Matthew 5:13-14, shows, these godly Jews will be the salt of “the earth” and the “light of the world.” Were it not so, all would go to corruption and darkness after the Lord takes up the assembly from the earth; but, as the Word shows, this remnant of the Jews will have the testimony of Jesus, “which is the spirit of prophecy”; and truly those who are then benefited (just before God’s kingdom is established upon earth) will say, The salt is good! and they will glorify their Father who is in the heavens!
It is now, however, before that time, as we await the coming of our Lord, that we are to have salt in ourselves. The truth in self-judgment is to have its right place in us. Not some sort of morbid censoriousness of others, but the wholesomeness of the truth applied individually, for thus peace will be maintained collectively—“the uniting bond of peace”! What a powerful and practical effect results where the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life is truly before us when, self-judged, we sing to Him:
“Learning of Thee to walk in grace
And fellowship with God!”
And when the truth of the offering and sacrifice of Christ deeply affects, us, when the song of faith flows from exercised souls to the Lord Jesus Himself,
“Our sins, our guilt, in love divine,
Confessed and borne by Thee;
The gall, the curse, the wrath were Thine,
To set Thy ransomed free.”
When self-judgment produces such holy harmony, uniting us before the Lord, whose love went under all our judgment, it can be gratefully said, “SALT IS GOOD.” 1 Corinthians 11:31 says, “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” When our risen Lord had left the tomb and death and judgment behind Him, He said to His own, “Peace be unto you.”
Yes, “Salt is good” within, but also without, as we said; for grace and truth bring blessing to men, where the law failed to do so; therefore the glad gospel of God can be told forth to all, with wisdom, zeal, and gracious speech, seasoned with salt.