42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire.50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
This passage destroys the foundation of the progressive (liberal) theology which is currently sweeping over the planet. The same Book that tells us, “God is love,” also tells us, “God is holy.” God is sovereign and He created a spiritual paradigm in which there is both a heaven and a hell. Most of the influential progressive (they changed to this after everyone figured out that
“emerging” just meant old liberalism in a new package) theologians reject the idea of hell, and many of them, like Doug Pagitt, will label you a Platonist if you hold to the Biblical concept of heaven. There is no other way to interpret this passage, but to acknowledge the judgment that Jesus declares will await those who continue in sin and especially those who lead others into sin.
In verse 42, Jesus makes clear the weight of the offense and consequences of leading the innocent into sin. He then uses hyperbole to address the penalty of all sin. No, Jesus was not telling the general public to start cutting off their hands and gouging out their eyes. Jesus was making a clear value comparison: nothing, absolutely noting, in this world is worth losing your soul. Again, for those who have rejected the reality of eternal punishment, Jesus uses colorful and frightening language to describe hell. If God asked me how I felt about hell, I would say I was against it, but that has no bearing on the facts. Regardless of political or theological correctness, there is a spiritual realm that Jesus Himself called hell.
Jesus then uses a salt metaphor that is on point for the current generation. A lot of Christians, pastors and churches are presently embracing the idea that it is better to abandon Biblical teaching and remain palatable, than to remain true and be ostracized. The proposition is that we reject 95 percent of what the Bible teaches in order to avoid estrangement from the general public. Can anyone point to a passage in the Bible that describes Jesus taking a survey to see what he would teach? Can anyone point to a passage in the Bible that describes Jesus recanting or changing His teaching because others were offended by it? Finally, how much truth would Jesus surrender to avoid being controversial or politically incorrect?