10/1/2017 Q&A We are Followers of Jesus Christ


Who is the author of Not a Fan?

Kyle Idleman


What does Jesus mean when he says 'salt' can lose its saltiness? As I understand this, it would appear to contradict other verses that offer assurances of salvation for followers of Christ. (John 10:27-28 for instance.) I don't believe God's Word will ever contradict itself, so I must be misunderstanding something. Can you help me understand this? Thank you!

The important question you are asking is when is a person truly saved or, in other words, what evidence points to salvation.  Philip Ryken says it well -

“If we are not disciples of Jesus Christ, then we are of no spiritual use.  This is the point of the miniparable that Jesus gave to close this discourse:  “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile.  It is thrown away.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:34-35; cf. Matt. 5:13).  Jesus used this expression when he wanted people to pay attention to something important.  What is important here is that unless we follow Jesus in the true way of Christian discipleship, we are worthless to the kingdom of God – as worthless as salt that isn’t even salty.

Salt has many useful purposes.  Unless it is salty, however, it is not good for anything at all.  This is a surprising image because the very essence of salt is to be salty.  How can salt possibly lose its taste, and still be salt?  This could never happen to pure sodium chloride, of course, but it could happen to the kind of salt that Jesus used.  When people “passed the salt” in those days, it was an impure chemical compound produced by the evaporation of saltwater from the Dead Sea – sodium chloride mixed with other crystals. Thus it was possible for the salt to leach out of the compound, and when this happened, what was left was completely useless.  There was nothing that anyone could do with it; it was not even good enough to use for fertilizer.

What Jesus said about salt that isn’t salty can also be said of a disciple who is not really a disciple.  In the same way that salt has to be salty in order to be salt, so also a disciple has to be a disciple in order to be a disciple!  This means being a disciple in the biblical sense:  A hating-your-family, carrying your-cross, renouncing-everything-for-Jesus disciple.  A disciple who does not love Jesus more than anything else he loves is not his disciple.  A disciple who does not carry his cross in daily death to self is not his disciple. A disciple who does not give everything over to Jesus is not his disciple.  However extreme this may sound, it is Jesus himself who says that unless we do these things, we cannot be his disciples.” (Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary)

Ryken is not saying you have to be a perfect disciple, but he would say, and the Bible concurs, that someone who has responded to God’s love and invitation is going to have some degree of salt, some evidences of taking up a cross and following Him.  Listen with spiritual ears!