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You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savor, 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 about salt are the very words of the Lord Jesus. It is our great joy to be able to read the actual words that Jesus said when He was on the earth. And we must remember, when we read them, who is speaking. Of course, it is the Lord Jesus; but it is the Creator talking. It’s the Logos. It’s the Word of God. “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). There can be no scientific inaccuracy in what the Lord Jesus said, for He is the Author and the Creator of all science, of all matter, of all scientific laws, of everything on the earth. So if the Lord Jesus tells us something about matter, we can believe it, for not only did He create it, He also sustains it. “By Him all things consist [hold together]” (Colossians 1:3). It’s almost amusing, if it was not so solemn, to realize that if it were not for the existence of the Christ, atheists would be “non-ists”—nothing! gone! having no being! All things hold together by Him. That means you, and matter, and all things are held together by Him. So this is the One, this glorious One, Who is telling us something about salt, and something about us in association with salt.
Jesus is the Founder of our Christianity, the supreme Teacher. No one teaches like Him. The Lord warned you to call no man Teacher on earth; for one is your teacher, even Christ (Matthew 23:8-10).3 So do not believe what I say unless you take it to the Lord, and He confirms it by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. He is the supreme Teacher. The Bible alone cannot lead you into truth. If the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit could lead you into truth, everyone who believes the Bible would be in agreement. But far from it; they are poles apart. What one believes the Bible says, another believes is just the opposite. There wouldn’t be so many jarring sects if the Bible could lead you into truth. There’s only one person who can lead you into truth, and that is the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not the truth; the Bible is a book about the Truth. It’s about the Lord Jesus, Who is the Truth. And the Lord Jesus will willingly give you His own blessed Holy Spirit to dwell in you, even the Spirit of Truth. As the Master has said, “He will lead you into all truth.” Do you know, friends, it’s an amazing thing that if I say a thing like that, some people immediately suspect me of false doctrine and almost of blasphemy, to think that the Bible can’t lead you into the truth. Their attitude is, “Ah, if you rely upon the Bible, you’re sure to go right. It’s no good relying on the Holy Spirit; you’re sure to go wrong.” That puts you on the spot, doesn’t it? Can’t you trust the Holy Spirit? If you can’t trust the Holy Spirit, you can’t trust the Bible. Which version of the Bible are you guaranteeing? There are no “versions” of the Holy Spirit; He’s One, one glorious Person, the same in me as in you. He is the One who is the Anointing. He is the one about whom John says, “Ye have an anointing.” And that Anointing teaches you. “You need not that any man teach you, for the anointing teaches you” (1 John 2:27). You see, that’s exactly what Jesus said: “When He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). The only way you or I can understand the Bible is by the Holy Spirit who gave it forth opening it to us and showing us what it means. We cannot rely upon teachers.
We must listen to the true Teacher. The danger today is that the Church of God is being pulled all upside down and backwards and forwards and round about by different teachers who all come and say they are teaching the truth. The Holy Spirit alone is the true Teacher. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the Master. He alone is the supreme Teacher, and He’ll teach you by His indwelling Spirit, and the Spirit will bear witness to the truth. That is, He will teach you if you know Him, if you listen to Him, if you are willing to walk in the truth.
If you walk in the truth, it always brings you under the cross. Some folks come to me and say, “What is my cross?” And I humorously say, “Well, I’m sorry, I don’t know your husband.” But really, he’s not your cross. Your wife isn’t your cross, though she may make you cross. But that’s not the cross. The cross is just simply you walking in the light. Nothing more, nothing less—walking in the light. As you walk in the light, He will bring you under the cross. And as you walk in truth, you will come under the cross. You will come under condemnation from others, you’ll be criticized by others, you’ll be condemned by others. As Jesus put it here, “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you and say all of manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice!” (Matthew 5:11-12). That’s coming under the cross. You don’t make your own cross, and no human being is your cross. Walking in the light is cross enough for you. That will bring you into tribulation, for it’s impossible to get into the Kingdom except you go through tribulation: “We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). That is why the eternal city, the glorious New Jerusalem, has twelve gates, each one of pearl. You can’t get into the New Jerusalem unless you go through one of those pearly gates. Well, what is a pearl? A pearl is a jewel, made by God, by means of deepest agony. A little piece of grit gets into the soft center of the pearl oyster and causes a dreadful pain; and because it’s right in the very center of its being, it can’t turn the piece of grit out. So the process begins; the oyster starts covering the irritant with layer after layer of natre, that wonderful mother-of-pearl, a soft, translucent, beautiful, satin-like substance. As the oyster covers the particle with layer after layer, what was an awful agony becomes one of our most beautiful gems. That’s how God makes Christians. Pearls. And that is the significance of going through a pearly gate. It’s tribulation. “Through much tribulation we enter the Kingdom.”
But the wonderful thing is that the Lord increases our joy according to the cross. And the Lord always carries the heaviest end. Have you noticed that the happiest, most joyful people are those who have been through the deepest sorrow? It all depends on your attitude to the cross. If you are a sanctified Christian—one with a pure heart—you will accept the cross. If you are an unsanctified Christian, with the carnal mind in your heart, you will kick against the cross. So the happy Christian is the sanctified one, the one with a pure heart; and that one accepts the cross—though with tears. But the unsanctified one rejects the cross and is miserable. Walking in the way of the cross makes you joyful. Rejecting the cross makes you miserable.
When a rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the Lord Jesus never said what we would have said: “Young man, have you never learned that you can’t do a thing to inherit eternal life? Your ‘deadly doing’ must go down.” We’d have done that, wouldn’t we? But Jesus did nothing of the sort. He said, “You know the law. You know the commandment: Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery.” The young man responded, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” And the Lord didn’t say he hadn’t. He looked on him and loved him. Then the Lord said, “Only one thing you lack, and that is to sell all that you have and give to the poor, and come, take up your cross and follow Me.” But the man refused it. He was a good young man, an example to many. He only lacked one thing, the thing that most Christians lack—taking up their cross and following Jesus.
Notice that the Lord Jesus said exactly the same thing to the rich young ruler that He said to Matthew and to Peter and to John. In other words, the Lord Jesus might have made the young man an apostle. You say, “That would have made thirteen.” Oh, no, it wouldn’t; it would have made twelve, for Judas was discounted anyway. If that young man had given up all that he had, wouldn’t he have made a great treasurer? The best treasurers in the church are those who have no interest in money except to give the Lord’s money away. It makes a prosperous church and a good treasurer. I, as a pastor, have had treasurers like that. What a blessing it is! I have also had treasurers just the opposite—to give a dime of the Lord’s money away was like trying to get blood out of a stone. Now here was the Lord giving this rich young ruler an opportunity to give all his money away, and if he had, he’d have never had the burden of money anymore. That would have been a major victory. The light the Lord Jesus gave him was simply to get rid of all his cash, which was his hindrance. And he wouldn’t do it. Have you noticed how he went away? The Lord said, “Come, take up your cross and follow Me,” and when he wouldn’t do so, “he went away sorrowful.” Now supposing he had done it. He would have followed the Lord with joy, wouldn’t he? You see now, the way of the cross is the way of joy. When Peter denied the Lord, refusing to take up his cross and follow Him, he wept bitterly. If Peter had acknowledged the Lord publicly, and shared His shame, he would have had the joy of the Lord. Please remember, the way of the cross is the way of joy. And the way of the cross is simply not looking for it, not making it, but walking in the light; and you will be able to have the joy of the Lord.
The Savor of Salt
One of the wonderful things that our great Master, this marvelous Teacher, this only Teacher, the only one who teaches truth, said, is, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” He also said, “If the salt loses its taste—its savor—it is cast out, and trodden under the foot of men.” The very men who persuade you not to follow Jesus are the very ones who will trample you if you don’t. They are the very ones who try to deceive you and tempt you to go back into drink, the very ones who try to make you giggle when they tell you some dirty story, and you refuse because you hate it. If you did what they pressure you to do—drink with them, listen and smile at their unclean jokes—they are the very ones, if you gave in, who would eventually kick you out. That’s what the Lord Jesus said, and it’s absolutely true. You’ll be scoffed and scorned. I’ve endured it as being the only Christian in my earlier days in quite a large firm; I knew their jibes and their sneers. But they all would have felt let down if I had backtracked and joined with them. And when I left the firm to go into full-time ministry, every one of them gave me a warm, hearty shake of the hand and wished me good luck. The one with the filthiest mind in the firm, the one with the most blasphemous tongue, said, “Well, good-bye, Percy, we all know this is what you ought to be doing.” Wasn’t that a compliment? Well, praise God, I learned, brothers and sisters, you keep the flag up, and all comes out well in the end. People will admire you for it.
In the city of London where I was for a good number of years, and not a hundred yards from where our firm was, there was a great, big asphalt square, where I, and a few others who were likeminded, used to hold open-air meetings in our lunchtime, right on the firm’s doorstep. That’s sailing your colors, isn’t it? That’s flying them high! The Lord told me to do it. I think the worst experience I had was this: We used to have a very dear little Pentecostal brother, the son of an epileptic, who used to go and collect our platform from Wesley’s Chapel in City Road, where we stored it by permission of the authorities. But one day he couldn’t come, and I worked closest to Wesley’s Chapel, so I had to go and collect the platform. I tell you, I felt shockingly embarrassed, carrying this open-air platform through the crowded streets past my firm, where my co-workers could see me. I had a very respectable job. But as I walked by the building where I worked, the Lord said just four words to me: “He bearing His cross.”4 That made it very easy to carry the platform, very easy indeed.
During those years of open-air preaching, I saw members of the staff stay and listen to me when I preached. I also saw the top man of the staff walk by with a sneer. And he was an ordained minister! Interesting, isn’t it? For nearly twenty years I worked at that Methodist Publishing House. On one occasion, one of the great leaders of the Methodist Church walked by and saw our group; and I saw the aristocratic look on his face—not quite a sneer, but an aristocratic curl. It was very interesting, because he was going, of course, to the Methodist Publishing House, for he was a great writer, a well-known man, universally accepted in England by all the leaders of the churches. That afternoon, while he was visiting the firm, it so happened that I needed to see the editor, a very fine, godly man, the Reverend Dr. Leslie F. Church, very well-known in England at the time. He was the editor of Methodist books sold all over the world. Some of you may even own the edition of Matthew Henry’s Commentary, “edited by Leslie F. Church.” When I arrived in Dr. Church’s office, this well-known Methodist leader was with him. So I just excused myself; but Dr. Church said to me, “Please, come in.” He turned to this leader and said, “Dr. So-and-So, let me introduce you to Mr. Percy Gutteridge. He pastors a fine work for God out in London.” Isn’t that delightful? He said that to the very man who only an hour before I’d seen walking by as I was preaching outdoors! So the Lord does remarkable things, doesn’t He?
It’s good, friends, to walk with Jesus. It’s good to look back on your life and see that you never pulled your colors down.5 I didn’t put any pressure on people, and I never “Bible thumped.” If fact, I had to warn one young man that he was not paid to discuss the Bible with me. He and I were paid to do our jobs. I didn’t mind answering a question or two occasionally, but I was not going to spend hours discussing the Bible with him, because that was not what we were paid for. God taught me that He was honored far more by me doing my job in an honorable way, than by me taking my firm’s time to talk the gospel to other people. Yet my co-workers knew if I said a thing, it was the truth. They knew that they couldn’t fool around anymore, and they knew that they would get a clear, plain word on something that was right in due season; and that’s how the gospel was shared. The word of the Lord goes deep beneath the surface talk. If you’re always talking on people, they are well able to shut it out and turn deaf ears. But when the word of the Lord comes with His power at the right time, and in the right way, it always accomplishes what He sends it to do.
A Look at Salt
When the Lord Jesus speaks of salt, what He is talking about? If you have any knowledge of chemistry, you know that there are many salts. So which is it? Well, the Lord is talking about common salt—sodium chloride. Our forefathers used to call it natrum muriaticum, a phrase found in the old lists; in fact, homeopaths still use that name.
What is sodium chloride? It’s a combination of two most active elements—that very vigorous metal, sodium, and that very virulent gas, chlorine. Chlorine is a deadly gas; and sodium oxidizes so rapidly that sodium, and that very virulent gas, chlorine. Chlorine is a deadly gas; and sodium oxidizes so rapidly that it will burst into flames. Sodium can very rapidly take the oxygen from water. Now the amazing thing is that God has combined these two most vigorous elements to make this splendid, wonderful, healthful substance, sodium chloride—salt. Salt is universal and very common, and it is as necessary to man as the food he eats it with.
Through this common substance, known to all mankind, God teaches us many spiritual truths, as we shall see.
Uses of Salt
There are three uses of salt. The first is that it adds taste, or rather shall we say, it enhances or quickens taste. But the two major functions of salt are that it cleanses and preserves. In the old days, our fathers knew nothing about preserving other than by salt. Everything was salted down. In Europe, for centuries and centuries, during the end of the summer the people would kill the beasts and salt down the meat. They would churn the butter and salt it down. So all through the winter, they would eat salt pork, salt beef, salt mutton, salt butter, and salt fish. No wonder they suffered so dreadfully from skin complaints and didn’t know why. No wonder the spring was so welcomed. No wonder they looked forward with joy to the fresh green grass coming through again, and fresh vegetables that would change the situation and make them healthy and well.
Yes, salt preserves. And it also cleanses. Think about God’s creation. Great salt seas and oceans, and the breezes that sweep that wonderful, refreshing, salty wind around the earth, have kept our cities fresh. Even with all the effluent and filth mankind has poured into the world’s oceans, because of their salt content they have cleansed themselves. God gave us the great salt oceans with their saltiness to keep things clean. That great, deep, blue, wonderful sea surrounds the continents and keeps them fresh.
Salt of the Earth
Now what did the Lord mean when He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth”? What did He mean when in Mark 9:50, He says, “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it?” “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt is good, and you are the goodness in the earth. The Lord is saying that wherever His true people are found, they radiate an atmosphere of goodness. The way in which you stand true to truth where you work, or wherever you go, is the proof of the goodness of the salt. You exemplify that goodness when you refuse to participate when impure thought is being shared. In my office when co-workers talked filth, I’d walk out. It got through to them in the end, and they didn’t talk filth in front of me. Eventually all of them, at some time or other, brought up the question of Christ and truth, and I would very simply tell them the truth. So salt is good! That’s why the Lord Jesus says, “You’re the salt of the earth.”
How wonderfully God has distributed His people! Perhaps you have experienced the joy of having another Christian as a co-worker at your place of employment. You are both getting on excellently well. Then, to your great disappointment, the Lord removes one of you, and you have to stand on your own. Why? He doesn’t have enough of us to go around. So oftentimes He’ll separate us and move us on. As a result, you may find that you’re the only Christian who will stand for God’s truth. God distributes us this way because we’re the salt that keeps things clean and fresh.
The Bible says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). That’s the way the Lord would have us share truth—not in a harsh, biting, or stinging manner. But you also need to avoid the opposite: being super-soft, sugary, and honey-sweet. What’s needed is grace with the tang—the saltiness—of truth in it! One of the greatest concerns that Christians should have is not to try to act like a Christian, but to be one. The Lord Jesus never, ever reminded Himself, “Well I mustn’t do that, because I’m the Son of God.” He always acted as He did because He is the Son of God, and could act no other way.
All that we do in word or deed, we do on behalf of the Lord Jesus. Deeds come first, and words afterwards. Your witness is also seen in your attitude: the fact that you never grumble about overtime; the fact that you are not always nagging about the poorness of the wages; the fact that you don’t mind working hard; the fact that you are honorable. That’s living for Christ, and that’s what the Lord wants in this world. Then you will find people will come to you. Then when someone gets so distressed over the problems in his home, he will come to you. I found during the War,6 that those who were put on fire watch with me during the German raids were so glad that I would pray—so glad! You’ll will find it’s true that salt is good.
Salted with the Holy Spirit
Jesus said, “Everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt” (Mark 9:49). There is no escape. Everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Here is your alternative. Salt is a wonderful type of the blessed Holy Spirit. We are only good because the Spirit of goodness is in us. You are only good because He is good in you. You are only salt, because He, the Salt of God, the cleansing and preserving Agent that keeps everything clean in the world, is in you. That’s why you’re salt, no other reason. And you are either to be salted with that blessed Holy Ghost, the Comforter, or else you are to be salted with fire. There’s no other alternative. That’s what the Word says. That’s why every sacrifice in the old days was salted with salt, as God reveals in Leviticus. There God tells us that in the free-will offering, the food offering, “With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt” (Leviticus 2:13). That means that when I come to the Lord, and give myself wholly to Him, and say, “Lord, take me wholly in consecration,” He seals me with the gift of the Holy Ghost. The coming of the Comforter is the seal of God. Every sacrifice—especially the sacrificial offering of ourselves to God in consecration—is salted with Salt. Hear what the Lord says:
- In whom also [that is, in Jesus] we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:
- That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
- In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
- Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
- Ephesians 1:11-14
Every sacrifice is to be salted with salt or with fire. So the Lord says to present our bodies a willing sacrifice, which is holy and acceptable unto God, and which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). And as we give ourselves wholly to Him, He seals us with the Holy Spirit of promise. He gives us the Holy Ghost. He will not give the Holy Spirit to anyone who is not consecrated to Him. If you’re not consecrated, you can ask forever and you won’t get this sealing of the Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is given to you on condition that you give yourself wholly to Him. Then He will give you the greatest joy, and there will be salt in you, and you will be the salt of the earth. Are you salt? Jesus says, “Have salt in yourselves.”
Now what does salt do to me? It makes me thirsty for God. I am thirsty for God; aren’t you? I love my Lord; don’t you? I only want my Jesus; don’t you? There is nothing on earth that I could be bribed with that would be more valuable to me than my Beloved. Those of us who have salt in ourselves—we are the salt of the earth—we cannot be frightened away, or lured away, from our Beloved. “Oh, God, my heart is fixed,” says David (Psalm 108:1).7 Oh, God, my heart is fixed, too! I’m glad that the Holy Ghost comes in cleansing power and in keeping power, for salt cleanses, and it also keeps, that is, it preserves. “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, Who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
New Covenant Salt
Finally, there is a further reference to salt in the Scripture, and that is to seal the covenant. God made a covenant of salt with David. Abijah, King of Judah, declared to King Jeroboam I of Israel, “ Know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt” (2 Chronicles 13:5). So that’s why every sacrifice is salted with salt. There’s a covenant in it—the salt of the covenant. God said in Leviticus 2:13, “Thou shalt not suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking.” That is why He gives us the Holy Spirit as a covenant, for the Spirit is the Salt of the New Covenant. When we receive the Holy Spirit, and He indwells us, He Himself is the earnest of the coming inheritance. He is the seal of the reality of all that there is for us in God. We are born of God; the Holy Spirit indwells us, and He Himself is the salt of the covenant.
This covenant is an everlasting covenant. It is never God’s intention to break it, and He never will. It’s an everlasting covenant that the Lord makes with you. Yet the Lord Jesus Himself says, “If the salt hath lost its saltiness, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5:13). This speaks about those who have known the grace of God, who have known the work of the Spirit, who have been sanctified, who have been anointed with the Spirit, who have been cleansed by His blood, but have turned away from it all. Hebrews 6:4-6 says,
- For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
- And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
- If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
This is what the Lord means when He speaks of salt losing its saltiness. Don’t argue about it or try to reason it away. Don’t try to knock one Scripture out by another, but fear! Fear lest you yourself be caught up in pride, straying away from your Beloved. Make it your constant prayer that that blessed Holy Spirit may ever abide in you, drawing you out in more and more and more love to the Lord Jesus.
Even Adam went wrong; and even Solomon, who had the gift of wisdom from God, went wrong! It’s not wisdom that will keep you. It’s not knowledge of the Scriptures. It’s not knowledge of great mysteries. What is it that will keep you? It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, making your only desire that of loving the Lord Jesus with all your heart, and soul, and mind and strength. Wisdom did not keep Solomon from backsliding—he ended up a backslider. He did the three things that God prohibited in Deuteronomy 17:16-17. God said that the kings of Israel should not “multiply wives”—yet Solomon had a thousand of them. How ridiculous and absurd! And God said not to multiply horses, yet Solomon brought them in from the very place God didn’t want them to come from—Egypt. God warned that the king should not multiply silver and gold; yet Solomon “made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones” (2 Chronicles 1:15). These are the very three things that God said the kings were not to do. So wisdom didn’t keep him, did it?
Have you ever thought that Solomon could have asked God for a gift better than wisdom? What did David have that Solomon didn’t have? Love for God! David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He loved the Lord. The greatest hurt to David was the fact that God might take away His Spirit from him (Psalm 51:11). And after his dreadful fall with Bathsheba, which woke David up to the fact that he had an unclean heart, he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). He realized his need; but David loved the Lord. That’s why he never backslid. He fell, but he didn’t backslide. It was a different thing wholly than backsliding. Falling can come to any Christian who’s not watchful; but backsliding is turning your back on all the Lord has taught you, on all His blessings, and on that most blessed One, the Holy Spirit; and it is defiling the temple in which He dwells. That’s a different thing altogether. David never did that. Nor did Peter. They fully returned to the Lord.
So the Lord wants you to understand that it’s possible, gloriously possible to love Him with all your heart. His desire, and His enabling, is that “He will keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” Ask the Lord that ever you may love Him. When the New Year comes round, and Christmastime comes round, and your birthday, you could ask the Lord for a present. It’s as simple as that—as childlike as that. Say, “Lord, I’m only your little child, and I’d love for You to give me a Christmas present.” What are you going to ask for? “Well, you know, Lord, I’m tired of this old Ford, I want a Cadillac.” Fancy asking for a silly thing like that! They’re most expensive to run anyway, I understand. Why not ask the Lord for a love gift of more love to Him? “More Love to Thee, O Christ” was the heart-cry of Elizabeth Prentiss, as it should be for every earnest believer:
More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee!
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
[From the hymn More Love to Thee, O Christ!]
Oh, brothers and sisters, with that as your never-ceasing desire before God, you’ll be salt, indeed!
Our last consideration is that God gives a great example concerning salt. Jesus said, “Have salt in yourselves.” Now by nature we have something in us that isn’t salt at all. Jesus said, “That which comes out of a man, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11). “For from within, out of the heart”—now hear what Jesus says about a natural human heart—“for out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these things come from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23). Jesus says that about the heart. Jeremiah once said that God knows the heart—“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). So the only One who knows the heart is the Lord. But wait a moment! In Acts 15:8-9, we find a wonderful truth about the heart in the New Covenant, in the account of God giving the Holy Ghost to Cornelius and his household: “God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” That’s what the Lord longs to do—to purify, cleanse, and keep the heart by the coming of the Salt of the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit!
A wonderful miracle of Elisha illustrates what I’m saying. There came a time when the anointing of Elijah passed on to Elisha. God, in His goodness and wisdom, decided that Elijah had finished his ministry, and God had Elisha take his place. The very first miracle that Elisha did was to take up the mantle of Elijah and strike the Jordan, whereupon the river went hither and thither, and Elisha went over dry shod. This showed Elisha that he had inherited the power of Elijah. The very next miracle Elisha did was one that depicted the cleansing and purifying that God wants to do under the New Covenant. Elisha is a type of a prophet under the New Covenant. Elijah is a type of a prophet under the Old. We read that Elisha came to Jericho, and the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, I pray you, the situation of the city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the ground is barren” (2 Kings 2:19). The Hebrew means that the water had something in it that made the ewes cast their young. There was a curse in the water, that made fruitfulness into barrenness. Who put the curse on it? Joshua had in the beginning: “Cursed be the man who rises up and builds Jericho” (Joshua 6:26). The curse was still on the city, causing fruitfulness to turn into barrenness.
How many Christians are just like old Jericho? They are unfruitful in their lives. The situation of their “city” is pleasant (that is to say, they have a relationship with Jesus), but the “water” is bad—out of their hearts comes that which defiles them, making them unfruitful in their spiritual lives. So what was Elisha’s miracle? He said,
- “Bring me a new cruse and put salt therein.” And they brought it to him.
- And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.’ ”
- So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.
- 2 Kings 2:20-22
Where, exactly, did Elisha cast the cruse of salt? Into the spring of the waters, the very source. Where does evil come from? Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts. Where does the Lord long to cast His salt in? Into your heart! That’s what He did with Cornelius and the early Apostles—He gave them pure hearts. God is willing to give you a pure heart by casting the cruse of Salt, the blessed Holy Ghost, right into the source of your heart-trouble. Then you’ll be God’s salt indeed! You’ll be good just as salt is good. But if you still have an unclean heart, there’s something wrong. You couldn’t say that your salt is “good,” nor would the Lord Jesus. A pure heart is part of the Gospel. It’s what Jesus came to do. He’s honored by children with pure hearts. He’ll give you a pure heart! And then, dear brothers and sisters, your life will be neither barren nor unfruitful. The cure will be accomplished when He casts the salt into your heart, purifying it.
The Salt Sea or Galilee?
The Lord wants to understand a truth about the River Jordan. What makes that lovely, sparkling sea, the Sea of Galilee? The River Jordan! The River Jordan flows into it, making it so beautiful. It was full of fish in Jesus’ day and it’s full of fish today. Around it are green and smiling fields, and overlooking it in the distance are beautiful hills. There you can see the sails of fishing vessels. The Sea of Galilee is only slightly salty. But further down the Jordan Valley is the Dead Sea, the saltiest sea in the world. There are four thousand billion tons of salt in it, with four thousand more tons added every year. It’s so salty that you can sit up in it and have a tea tray and drink your coffee or tea off your tray while it floats on the water!
Yet because the Dead Sea is so salty, no beneficent herb grows around it; the extreme saltiness is actually a curse. The Dead Sea is surrounded by barrenness, as Jericho was before Elisha lifted the curse. What makes the Dead Sea dead? It is fed by the River Jordan, the same as the Sea of Galilee. What’s the difference? It’s that the Jordan flows into Galilee, and flows out again. But at the Dead Sea, the Jordan flows into it, but nothing flows out! Dear Pentecostal brother, I don’t doubt that years ago you received a baptism of the Holy Ghost, but it’s been flowing in and in, and nothing has been flowing out. No wonder there’s barrenness around! You’re keeping all your treasure to yourself. The Dead Sea is the example of those who never give out—who have no testimony—who are not doing things for others—who want it all done for them! Therefore, their very riches are an encumbrance, and their very riches of knowledge are a curse. There is no fruitfulness! But the river that flows into the Dead Sea is the same lovely river that flows into the Sea of Galilee, causing the sparkling, fresh, beautiful, lovely, healthful, beneficent flow, because all that comes in goes out.
So have salt in yourselves, and be the salt of God, but remember that what the Lord gives you, He gives you to give out. “You anoint my head with oil, and my cup runs over” (Psalm 23:5). That’s what people should get: the overflowing cup. It has wisely been said, “No one’s cup runs over until God anoints him with the Holy Ghost.” Then people drink of our overflow. It’s only when He makes us overflow that others are blessed. Have salt in yourselves, and ask God that that salt may flow out to be cleansing and healing in this wicked old world. Amen.
Lord Jesus, we come again and say, “Thank You!” It’s such a privilege and a pleasure to hear that precious word, “You are the salt of the earth.” We are keeping the world clean. It would be a fouler, most awful, evil world, if it weren’t that You had scattered your dear children everywhere. Even anti-Christian countries, unknown to them, are better places because of Your dear children who are the salt in those nations. Oh, wonderful Jesus! Now, Lord, I bring my brothers and sisters to You—those who have not come to You for a pure heart. It’s causing barrenness. It’s causing frustration. They “bring no fruit to perfection.”8 Now, Lord, cleanse them. Lord, we come and give ourselves to You as an offering. Would You put the salt there? “With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” “Let not the salt of the covenant of our God be lacking” in the offering we make to You. Here we are, Lord; take us, cleanse us, keep us, use us. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
(Many thanks to Jane Anderson Minarik
for the original transcription.)
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. ↩
- Image of salt poured out is copyright by and used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_ivandzyuba. ↩
- Note that the primary meaning of “Rabbi” is teacher, and that a talmud, or disciple, would call his Rabbi/Teacher “Master.” ↩
- These four words come from John 19:17. ↩
- The reference is to “striking the colors,” that is, to lower a flag indicating surrender to an enemy. ↩
- That is, World War II. Pastor Gutteridge lived through the nightly German bombings of London. ↩
- See also Psalm 57:7 and Psalm 112:7. ↩
- Luke 8:14 ↩