28th April 2023
Read - Mark 9:43-50
Message Alan Burke
On Monday I mentioned how we would be thinking this week on hell, the man who had never heard a sermon on Hell, well now we get to the warning of hell, what awaits those who do not repent and believe in the Saviour. As we being, let me ask you, do you think that it would be better to be disfigured in some way today than spend eternity in hell, to loose a hand, a foot an eye are all favourable than to spend an eternity in hell. To the Jews thy saw these parts of the body as fits form God, they were to be precious possessions, and Jesus says to cut them off or remove them rather than to go to hell with them. Jesus is using a hyperbole, an exaggerated statement to make the point of the seriousness of sin, he does not downplay it.
It may be your hand, your foot, your eye, it could be any number of things that we are not willing to be without that are precious to us what is most precious to us because Jesus wants you to know that what ever it is, if that thing is preventing you from entering the kingdom of God, if that is causing you to sin, if that thing is holding you back from salvation, from trusting in him then it would be better for you to not have it than risk being thrown into hell.
The word for hell that is used here in the Greek is Gehenna. Gehenna is a place, it is the Hinnom Valley, literally Valley of the son of Hinnom that surrounds ancient Jerusalem. The you can go there today but that is not hell in the sense Jesus uses the word, rather Jesus is brining to the disciples minds to how that place got its name. It got its name because of what took place there, it was a place where human sacrifice took place in the days of Ahaz and Manasseh to the pagan god Molech. Later King Josiah put a stop to it and it then came to be used as a place where excrement and rubbish, including animal carcasses, were disposed of and burned, the fires never went out, smoke rose from the valley constantly, the fires could be seen at night from the city of Jerusalem and it was used symbolically of the place of eternal punishment after death, symbolic of what happens to those who’s sin causes them to be thrown in there.
Jesus was pointing to something far worse that awaited for as v48 reminds us, hell is a place where, “ ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’” What awaits the unrepentant is that the worm will not die the fire is not quenched because those who are cast into hell will not be consumed, it will be for an eternity. This is what awaits the unrepentant. But yet for the believer, v49 and 50 the salt preserves and the fire purifies. As believers we will be preserved and purified, we will in what lies ahead in the midst of the cost of discipleship, in the midst of frustration and failure God will use what we face to preserve us so that we are kept to the very end.
Then Jesus turns to warn them if salt should lose its saltiness, if it has lost its saltiness then it is worthless. For the disciples and the church we have a responsibility to live as those whom God has called, to live according to his ways in a world that is subject to the judgement of God, that salt life quality can mean life for the world, life for those around us, it is the mark of discipleship, Colossians 6:4 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
When we loose who we are, when we forget the gospel, when we compromise for the sake of an easy life in the world then we loose our saltiness. It is the distinctive mark of discipleship, that preserves.
Q32 What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, (Rom. 8:30) adoption, (Eph. 1:5) and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them. (1 Cor. 1:26,30)