Salted With Fire
July 8, 2009
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
What do you want Jesus to be and do? In Jesus' day, people wanted a Messiah that would lead them in a political uprising against the Romans. The crowds wanted miracles. Religious leaders wanted the status quo. The disciples wanted high positions when Jesus came into His glory.
Jesus began to unfold the plan of God, that He would be going to Jerusalem where He would die on a cross. That didn't sit well with Peter, who rebuked Jesus. Jesus called him a satan, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men." (Mark 8.33) Jesus was saying to Peter, Your thoughts, your phroneo, the way you think and plan, are not of God. You think like a human being, with human wisdom, not God's wisdom.
Arguing with God's words opens us to the lies of Satan and the world's system of thought. Peter was a stumbling block, an offense. He was opposing the plan. Jesus had called these men to follow Him. The Cross was in His future--suffering and death before glory. Satan would have us know glory without suffering, but God's way is suffering transformed into glory.
So maybe a better question would be, "What does Jesus want of me?" Jesus further prepared His disciples for God's plan. He told them the cost: denial of self, loss of temporal life for eternal life, and unabashed obedience to the will of the Father. Some standing there, Jesus said, will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God having come with power. Some will see the Son of Man vindicated and glorified. Any ambiguity as to Jesus' earthly humiliation will be resolved.
In Mark 9, Jesus took three, Peter, James, and John, James' brother, up to a high mountain, where Jesus prayed. Most believe this mountain to be Mt. Hermon, the highest mountain in Syria. "Hermon" means sanctuary, or consecrated place. This gigantic mountain barrier divided Jewish and Gentile lands. In the midst of the majestic grandeur of the mount, the Father reveals the Majesty of Christ.
Is there any value in forsaking all to follow Jesus Christ? Is there any worth in sharing Jesus' glory? What revelation do we need to persevere through the fiery trial, the suffering, and the call to obedience?
They took the long ascent into this high mountain…apart…to pray. The mountain air would have been strong. It was night, and these men of simple habits fell heavy with sleep. What passed between Moses, Elijah, and Christ was witnessed in a semi-stupor. They spoke of Christ's exodus, His outgoing, His departure, what He was about to fulfill, to accomplish at Jerusalem. Then the disciples awoke fully to see Jesus transfigured. They saw His Glory and the two men who stood with Him. Moses…the Law. Elijah…the Prophet calling Israel back to God, preparing the way for the Kingdom of God. Christ…the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. God had revealed to Moses and Elijah His goodness, a revelation that enabled them to overcome evil in their day. And now…
Jesus is transfigured before them. The word here is metamorphoow, from which we get metamorphosis. It describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside. It is the opposite of masquerade; a change of form took place. Jesus, being in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Phil. 2.6, 7) In His incarnation, Jesus had come to earth concealed. But now, on the mount, His face shined as the sun in an altered countenance. His raiment became white as the light, shining exceeding white as snow, whiter than white, white and glistening. Now, He reveals His Majesty, a revelation that will enable His disciples to overcome the entire realm of evil supernaturalism.
You must see the glory in order to be changed by the Holy Spirit into that image. Romans 12.1, 2; 2 Cor. 3.18 Peter says, "This is good for us to be here. If you desire, let us make three tabernacles." (Mark 9.5) Peter didn't know what to say. He was afraid.
The Father interrupts Peter as he spouts off a desire to set up tabernacles. A bright cloud overshadows them. They fear as they enter into the cloud. A voice out of the cloud says, "This is My Son, My Beloved whom I love, agapatos, the Son of My love, the One in whom I have found delight, the One who pleases Me, who blesses Me, My Elect Son, the One I have chosen. Hear Him." (Mark 9.7)
The disciples hear and fall on their faces in terror. Jesus comes and touches them and says, "Arise and don't be afraid." (Mt. 17.7) When they lift up their eyes, they only see Jesus. (cf 2 Peter 1.16ff) What was concealed in incarnate deity was revealed as Jesus appeared to them. Disciples need to see the power and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
With the vision before you of the glory of heaven, you are ready for the attacks of hell. Unlike with Moses, the people are amazed and run to Jesus as He approaches the multitude and the father of the boy who could not be healed by the disciples that had remained in the valley. As the boy is healed, the people wonder at the mighty power of God. The power of faith overcomes the enemy. (Mark 9.19) Faith, however, must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion.
Jesus then speaks again of His death and resurrection, of the plan of God, but the disciples don't understand. Instead, they want to know who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Who? Not the more exalted in knowledge, merit or worth, but the simpler, the more receptive and the least self-conscious comes nearer to God. If anyone desires to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. Greatness comes through serving others, not with a zeal that separates "our" group from "their" group in the Kingdom of God, or in a masquerade of service that hides selfish ambition, but in an attitude of loyalty to God alone. Division should not occur save the division which occurs between those loyal to God and those not. Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come to Me, says Jesus. (Mark 9. 33-41)
Woe to the one that offends, who counters the plan of God, the thoughts, the thinking process of God. God's desire is that little ones, those entering the KOG live and not perish. If your hand (what you do), your foot (where you walk, where you go), your eye (what you see, perceive, understand) does not align with God's thoughts...cut it out, cut it off. Enter into life, and don't perish apart from God. Consider the relative value of physical life versus the absolute value of imperishable life. Sin, like cancer, requires radical measures of eradication to preserve life. Whatever causes us to be a stumbling block, whatever is an offense to God and to His plan, must be dealt with in a life or death paradigm. (Mark 9.42, 43)
God has a plan. Anyone working against that plan is an offense, an anti-Christ, a satanos. Watch out for entrapments. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. Hell is that place where the fire is never quenched, where the worm never dies. Bodies go to the grave, but the whole person can suffer hell. Cf Isaiah 66.24 Hell is like the eternally smoldering rubbish dump outside Jerusalem, Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnon, a place once desecrated by sacrifices of children to Molech. (Mark 9.42-48) Everyone with fire shall be salted. Every sacrifice will be salted with salt. Fire will be the test, the place of purification, of purging. Put off the corruptible in the furnace of affliction. Fire gives us the passionate zeal that sees only Jesus, that keeps us loyal and true to Jesus. Zeal forged in the furnace of affliction will season us, will make us tasty, will preserve us. Our speech will be seasoned with grace. (Mark 9.49, 50; Lev. 2.13; Ezekiel 43.24; Colossians 4.6; 1 Peter 3.15)
All is to be tested and purified by fire. (1 Cor. 3.13, Malachi 3.2) A choice of destiny is made in the body. As the salt of the earth we were designed as the children of God:
1. to bring savor, taste, to life, in order to season it, and to stop it from becoming corrupt. We are to add zest to the lives of others around us. What is consecrated to God cannot make another holy, but what is corrupted can contaminate others. Do not cause someone else to fall away, to become an unsavory character. If salt loses its ability to season, to make things taste good, then how will something taste good?
2. to act as a preservative, preserving truth. Col. 4.6 says to let our speech be with grace, seasoned with salt. If we do not perform our function, we are useless.
3. to serve others with unfeigned love. Burn off the dross of members of our body that sin; purge away everything contrary to God's will, having no mixture in the salt, no additives of corruption so as to live at peace with one another. (1 Peter 1.6, 7) [In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;]
4. to live peaceably with others. In the covenant of salt, hospitality was shown in the sharing of salt at a meal.
5. to be a living sacrifice. Scoffers will come; but so also the fire is coming. The Day of the Lord will come. Live holy and godly lives. Be a sacrifice unto God, one true to God in a hostile world. Leviticus 2.13 says every sacrifice burned on the altar will be salted with salt. cf Numbers 18.19; Ezekiel 43.24. Jerusalem was not salted with salt at its birth (Ezekiel 16.4) and so God provides atonement. Being covered with salt symbolized being covered with the incorruptible. Salt was the emblem of the covenant, the emblem of holiness.
6. to be the emblem of God's covenant, the salt of the earth. We are to be holy as God is holy. The meat or grain offering represents offering the body and property. It followed the burnt offering, where the fire on the altar never went out. The burnt offering satisfied divine justice, the wrath of God. Offer your body and property only after the divine justice, the wrath of God, has been satisfied on the basis of the Blood of Jesus Christ.
7. to endure persecution, to fight the good fight of faith, to overcome evil. The fire of the Holy Spirit, the revelation of Jesus coming in power, enables us.
Being salted with fire is the distinguishing mark of the disciple who passes through the fire of God preserved, purged, purified, incorruptible. Every believer can remain true to God by embracing the following eight essentials:
1. Embrace the plan of God. It pleased the Father to bruise the Son. Peter opposed the cross and thus opposed the plan. The disciples were leery of others not in their little group.
2. Embrace the cross. Follow Jesus there. Identify with Him. Do not shrink back.
3. Embrace the fire of separation. Judge yourself, not others. To find fellowship with God, give up the old nature to judgment by denying yourself. Otherwise, you will face the eschatological judgment of wrath. Let the fire purge, purify, and "salt" you.
4. Embrace the fire of testing. Sufferings are a burning to test, as gold refined by fire. True Christian faith is forged in the fire of testing. (1 Peter 4.7, 12, 1.7; Rev. 3.18)
5. Embrace the fire as the emblem of God's presence, as a sign of His grace, as a means of divine guidance. God's word is a devouring fire. (Jer. 23.29)
6. Embrace the fire of sacrifice. Offering sacrifices to God is a privilege. In Joel's day they had nothing to present to God and therefore no joy. God's grace enables abundance of opportunity to sacrifice to Him, to come with our offerings, our gifts, our labors of love. The fire on the altar is never to go out. Have salt in yourself, that incorruptible word, that incorruptible seed of life.
7. Embrace the fire, the passion of Jesus to do the Father's will. Consider His faith, His loyalty. For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12.1-4)
8. Embrace the heavenly vision, the kingdom coming in glory and in power, the revelation of the majesty of Jesus Christ. Hear the heavenly voice. "Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12.28, 29)
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Serving the Lord of Glory,
P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.
For 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 you season it?
Have salt in yourselves, and
Have peace with one another. Mark 9.49, 50
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