Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good.
This passage caught my eye because of the stark contrast in terms and attitude. It begins with a strict plea not to enter into hell – even at the cost of your own body parts. Then we jump to a universal statement. And finally end with an explanation of the goodness of salt.
It honestly seems as if three completely different conversations were combined in this short passage, but they were not and there is perfect purpose in the order of the Scriptures.
First assumption: they are not related. Nothing happens on accident in the Scriptures. They are ordered as they are and contain what they do by the wisdom of God.
Second assumption: salt is talking about believers – because we are the salt of the earth. While that is true, I do not think that applies to the way this verse is setup.
(Now what follows is my own opinion as I have devoted myself to the study of God’s Word.)
Hell is characterized by fire, and so for the first 7 verses we read about the danger and human susceptibility to the fire. Basically, hell is horrible and we must do everything to prevent ourselves from being thrown there.
But what about salvation? It is not ourselves who cause us to stop sinning, but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit made possible by the blood of Christ.
And then the next statement, if read with untrained eyes, seems as if everyone will have to go to hell, at least for a short while: everyone will be salted with fire.
Stop. That is not what we have been taught. The salvation of God saves us from that fate, so how then can everyone be salted with fire?
Here then I suggest the word fire does not mean hell but suffering. And according to the preceding verses: we may choose the suffering we endure. Either we will suffer eternally in hell apart from God, or we must endure temporary suffering here on earth – that we may gain something immensely more satisfying.
So we are salted with suffering.
With this understanding we can now properly understand the final verse. Salt is good. Suffering, the pain we endure in this life is good because it serves a profitable end. Eternal suffering is not good because it serves no end, other than perpetual suffering.
But if it loses its saltiness. How can salt lose its saltiness? Or stated in another way, how then can suffering lose its benefit? This warns us against not suffering needlessly. The reason we suffer must at all times be clear to us so that the hope of Christ may be evident in our suffering – thus becoming the salt of the world.
Suffering loses its benefit when we explain it away, ignore it, deny it, react wrongly to it, and most importantly when we don’t learn from it, don’t grow from it, and don’t show Christ through it.
Have salt in yourselves – be aware of your suffering, and of the suffering of others (therefore we may be at peace with each other).
It is in pain that we often draw nearest to God, so then our lives should be characterized not by pain but by the nearness is creates. And if you truly understand and love with the mindset of others’ sufferings, being at peace with them will not be hard at all because of the sympathy and relation you feel to their situation.
Our suffering is an option. Our loving is not.