Scripture Notes.


Mark 9:49-50.

The general meaning of this somewhat difficult scripture is soon apprehended. It was no longer a question now of following a Messiah on earth, or of the present establishment of His kingdom. Christ was in fact already rejected, and the cross was in full prospect. (See vv. 9-11, 30-32.) Rejection, therefore, would be the portion of His disciples; and, consequently, the constant and unsparing application of the cross. Everything was to be sacrificed rather than lose entry "into life," and incur the penalty of "the fire that never shall be quenched." It was thus eternity that was now in view, instead of the glory of Messiah's kingdom on earth; and hence there was no alternative between eternal gain and eternal loss. This will account for the distinction between the two clauses of verse 49: the first comprises all men, the second only the true followers of Christ. "Every one" - there is no exception "shall be salted with fire." That is to say, God will test, and search in order to test, every soul of man by His holiness as applied in judgment; for it is of this that fire is a symbol. Even Christ Himself was so tested, as shown out in the holy fire that fed upon the sacrifices offered to God under the old dispensation. The effect for the sinner will be the eternal fire; while for the believer who is in Christ nothing is lost save the dross. But whether for the saint or the sinner the standard is the same; the former finds the answer to it in Christ, the latter being without Christ will perish. Then, secondly, "every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." None but real disciples of Christ are here contemplated, their lives being looked upon as a sacrifice to God. (Compare Ephesians 5:1-2; Philippians 2:17.) This will be the more readily seen if it is recalled, that it is especially in connection with the meat-offering, type of the perfect devotedness of Christ to the glory of God in all His pathway (including, no doubt, His death, as in Philippians 2), that salt is mentioned. (Lev. 2:13.) Now, salt is the energy of grace in the soul, linking it in all its activities with God, and preserving it from the contamination of evil. To borrow words: "Salt is not the gentleness that pleases (which grace produces without doubt), but that energy of God within us which connects everything in us with God, and dedicates the heart to Him, binding it to Him in the sense of obligation and of desire, rejecting all in oneself that is contrary to Him … Thus, practically, it was distinctive grace, the energy of holiness, which separates from all evil, but by setting apart for God." A life without the "salt" would degenerate into human grace and amiability, and would thus be characterized by "honey" - that which was absolutely forbidden "in any offering of the Lord made by fire." (Lev. 2:11.) We are next told that "salt is good;" that is, "the condition of soul" which is produced by the energy of grace. The activity of grace within begets a state corresponding to its character. (See 2 Tim. 2:1.) But if the salt, through the lack of watchfulness and of self-judgment, have lost its saltness, wherewith shall ye season it? "It is used for seasoning other things; but if the salt needs it for itself, there is nothing left that can salt it." When we have lost devotedness to God, together with our Nazariteship, separation from evil, our state is hopeless, unless indeed God once more come in with His powerful grace to restore the soul. The remedy against the danger is to have salt in ourselves, and to have peace one with another. The more we cultivate true holiness, the more we are apart from all evil, the more we shall be in peace with our fellowChristians; for it is then that the Spirit of God, being ungrieved, works mightily in us, and enables us also to use all diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.


Colossians 3:2.

In this scripture the word "affection" scarcely represents the meaning of the original. It refers to the mind and thoughts rather than to the affections. Some examples of its use will make this apparent. When the Lord rebuked Peter, saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan," He added; "for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men" (Mark 8:33); that is, to give two other translations, "thou mindest not," or, "thy mind is not on the things that be of God." So in Philippians 2:5, where we read, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (See also Phil. 3:15-16, 19, etc.) It is thus evident that the apostle's exhortation refers to our minds and thoughts; and the connection of the passage will explain its force. In Colossians 2:20 we are seen associated with Christ in His death, whereby we have died out "from the rudiments of the world," and have, as a consequence, only the place of dead men in this world. Through death with Christ, if through grace we have entered into it, we are morally outside of man, religious or otherwise, and man's world. But we are also "risen with Christ," and thereby are introduced into a new scene. We belong, through association with Him in resurrection, to the place where "Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." (Col. 3:1.) Consequently all our objects and interests are there; our "life is hid with Christ in God." It is on this basis, on the foundation of what is true of us as associated with Christ in death and in resurrection, that the exhortation is given, "Seek those things which are above," etc.; and again, "Have your mind on things above, not on things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Our minds therefore should be conversant with the things that belong to that new place into which we have already been introduced. If it be asked, What are these things?' the answer is easily given. All the glories of Christ, the various glories of His person and offices, unfolded as they are by His personal and relative names; all the Father's things, which are also the Son's (John 16:14-15), the manifold displays of glory connected with the Father's counsels for the exaltation of His beloved Son; and also all the spiritual blessings with which we are already blessed in heavenly places in Christ. (Eph. 1:3.) All these wondrous things are to fill and occupy the mind of Christians; and hence, as in Philippians 3, to "mind earthly things" is to contradict the truth of our profession, as being a practical denial of having died, and having been raised, with Christ. But if Christ possesses our hearts, our "minds" will always be engaged with Him and His things in the place where He is. E. D.