The Salt of the Earth. George W Truett Sermons


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George W Truett Sermons

Truett Memorial Series Volume 4

The Salt of the Earth


George W. Truett

Edited by

Powhatan W. James Th.D., D.D.

Broadman Press


 George W Truett Sermons




CHAPTER I The Salt of the Earth. 6

CHAPTER II Alabaster Box. 22

CHAPTER III Ye Know Not What Ye Ask. 33

CHAPTER IV The Unjust Steward. 44

CHAPTER V Christ and Human Suffering. 57

CHAPTER VI Friends of Christ 67

CHAPTER VII Peter’s Denial 76

CHAPTER VIII Joseph of Arimathea. 86

CHAPTER IX The Last Call of Love. 100

CHAPTER X Philip in Samaria. 111

CHAPTER XI A Convenient Season. 121

CHAPTER XII Jesus Is Alive. 135

CHAPTER XIII Christ’s Admonition to His Church. 148

CHAPTER XIV The Door to Heaven. 160

George W Truett Sermons


This and other volumes

of sermons and addresses

in this series by Dr. George W. Truett

are dedicated to

his beloved

Frist Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas

where most of them

were delivered

George W Truett Sermons


The majority of those who read this fourth volume in the Truett Memorial Series will readily agree that its title, The Salt of the Earth, is a good five-word description of the late Dr. George W. Truett. The functions of salt in the physical realm were abundantly illustrated by his life in social and spiritual realms. From early youth to the time of his death at the age of seventy-seven his moral earnestness, social grace, mental alertness and spiritual fervor were as healing, preserving, flavoring salt to the multitudes who came into vital contact with him. He never lost his savor.

It is no matter of surprise that, during his forty-seven years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, he imparted much of his spirit to that church which he so greatly loved. The candlestick still burns brightly there.

The fourteen sermons in this volume are based on texts taken from the four Gospels, Acts and Revelation. They demonstrate the fact that Dr. Truett always preached for and expected prompt decisions from his auditors for Christ and His Church. He never hesitated to press the claims of Christ upon eternity-bound souls. To him the present was ever the day of salvation, the kingdom of heaven was at hand for all who had eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to respond. He believed that the business of the soul, like the business of the king, required haste. That was one reason why his ministry was blessed with such immediate and lasting results.

May this and the other volumes of the Truett Memorial Series serve the worthy purpose of extending in some measure the savor of George W. Truett’s character and ministry.


President’s Office

Bethel Woman’s College

Hopkinsville, Kentucky

March 1, 1949

George W Truett Sermons

CHAPTER I The Salt of the Earth George W Truett Sermons

“Ye are the salt of the earth; hut if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it he salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, hut to he east out and trodden under foot of men.” MATTHEW 5:13. (A.R.V.)

The words of this text are part of the most famous sermon ever preached—“The Sermon on the Mount”. Seated on the side of a mountain in Galilee Jesus addressed this sermon primarily to twelve of His disciples whom He had selected to be apostles. Others, no doubt, were present, perhaps a multitude, but the contents of the sermon clearly indicate that its teachings were for those who were subjects of the spiritual kingdom Jesus came to establish, and not for the unbelieving world. It is not an evangelistic sermon. It does not present the plan of salvation. It does not tell one how to be saved. But it does describe some of the characteristics of those who are saved and lets them know what kind of behavior is expected of them with respect to God and their fellow human beings. It is futile to expect the unsaved to apply the principles of the Sermon on the Mount to their unregenerate lives. They are incapable of doing so. The moral, spiritual and ethical standards proclaimed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are quite beyond the reach and the grasp of the unbelieving world. Take for example the Golden Rule: “All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, even so do you also unto them”. We often hear it said that if everybody followed this rule the kingdom of heaven would quickly be established on earth. But that is an idle remark, for it is only subjects of the kingdom of Christ who are capable of observing this rule and many of the other principles set forth in the Sermon on the Mount.

George W Truett Sermons

Jesus began His wonderful sermon with nine pungent and revolutionary sayings, called Beatitudes, setting forth characteristics of His true followers:

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Blessed are they that mourn

Blessed are the meek

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness

Blessed are the merciful

Blessed are the pure in heart

Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.

These statements were not platitudes. They were epochal and history-making declarations. They were heavenly rather than earthly estimates of what constitutes blessedness. The unregenerate world has never held to such estimates of what constitutes happiness or blessedness.

George W Truett Sermons

Having set forth in the Beatitudes the characteristics of the subjects of His kingdom, Jesus immediately went on to say that such people would automatically and inevitably be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”.

In the sermon this morning I am inviting you to think with me for a little while about Jesus’ statement: “Ye are the salt of the earth”. The Christian life does not have a more impressive and expressive figure to illustrate it than this little simile of salt—common salt. Everybody knows its meaning. Everybody knows what it is for. “Ye”—my people—“are the salt of the earth”. That figure under which God’s people are described sets forth the great task to which God’s people are called. The business of salt is to preserve, to purify, to save. That is the business of God’s people in the world.

George W Truett Sermons

Human society without God is corrupt and down dragging. No nation in the world without God is safe. (No family in the world without God is safe. No man in the world, though he be clever as Voltaire, is safe without God. Human society is corrupt and corrupting without God, and this figure of salt strikingly sets forth the great task of God’s- people. They are to be the salt of the world. They are to con- serve and preserve and purify and thus help to save the world. “They are in the world for that. That the world is corrupt and corrupting is attested in any direction that you may turn your eyes. Oh, what distance this world is from God, that we could have the Pan-European war, with those many nations led on to bloody death, as we see the spectacle today! How far human society is away from God in the nations yonder, where myriads of mothers and wives weep, as Rachel wept, because their best beloved will not come home again! How far the world is from God when that can be!

And then the clashings and rivalries that are everywhere regnant in human society this day all voice the simple truth that the world without God is doomed and corrupt and lost. Take the struggle for money, and Christian men have to set themselves like flint toward heaven here in the great race for money, or the finer things that ought to burn on the altar of a Christian heart will be forgotten and will be taken away. Take the race for gold, take the greed for property, take the awful, pitiable spectacle of the clashings everywhere, where the stronger seeks to take advantage of one weaker, and it is the revelation of what Jesus teaches us, that the world, without God is corrupt and corrupting.

George W Truett Sermons

Take the race for amusement and entertainment. There is no shadow more menacing across our country’s life today than the shadow everywhere exhibiting its ugly form before us, that the people must be amused, that they must be entertained, that it must be this, that and the other, and something still spicier, something still more sensational, and something still more bizarre.

One’s heart is burdened with anxiety as he thinks about tomorrow, and notes the widespread absence of that seriousness and sanity which are so vital to human welfare. This figure teaches us that society without God is fore-doomed and lost and that Christianity is the only hope of society. Nothing else can suffice. All the philosophers of the earth may come with their teachings but nothing can suffice to save society but God in the grace and gift of His salvation to the children of men.

George W Truett Sermons

Now, this text sets forth the business of God’s people. They are to be the “salt of the earth”.How? First of all, by personal purity. We are to save the world by personal purity. Salt preserves, salt saves, salt cleanses, salt conserves. All is well if the salt is brought into contact with the meat at the right time. All is well, if the salt of Christianity pervades and permeates and leavens society like Jesus designed.

Our first great business is the business of preserving the world by the right kind of lives on our part and by the right kind of examples on our part. The purifying and the preserving power of Christianity has to find, constant illustration in our lives. Now we are back to the vital matter that the mightiest thing in all the world to help the world is simple goodness. The mightiest thing in all the world to bless the world is simple goodness. Just as a flower sends forth its perfume, so the right kind of a life sends forth its fragrance, its healing, its changing, its correcting, its challenging, its stimulating power to make the world better. Oh, the tragedy that the gulf between Christ’s church and the world is not more clearly marked! Christ’s church is to be different from the world, and it is to be so different as to be a constant challenge to the world, and a constant suggestion and a constant protest against the wrong, and a constant summoning to the right.

Christians, as Christ’s salt, are to save the world by personal goodness. Just as Joseph in Potiphar’s house, with a temptation menacing and terrible, and with his own name and life in the balance, stood there and said: “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?’’. So a Christian everywhere is to live as under the eye and as held by the spell of God. Just as Paul yonder on that storm-swept sea, with two hundred and seventy-six fellow passengers, when the howling tempest, it seemed, meant the sure destruction of every passenger, stood up and said: “Be not afraid. All shall come to land. I have prayed for you and God’s angel has testified to me of a certainty, that not one of all the whole shipload shall perish”—there a good man in God’s hand was His salt to save the ship. Just so in many a family there is a little wife or mother who by devotion to Christ is the means of warding off a thousand perils and of turning aside a thousand poisoned arrows meant to reach that family. She, “the salt of the earth” saves them and they know it not; they dream not about it. It is ever so.

George W Truett Sermons

The richest possible possession tor a community is the right kind of a man or a woman. The richest possible blessing for a home is the right kind of a person there, with heart set toward God, doing His will the best such person can. Tenderly, and affectionately, they said of John Chrysostom, the golden-mouthed preacher of Constantinople: “It were better for the sun to cease his shining than for John Chrysostom to cease his preaching”. He was the salt of the earth—God’s saving salt.

What we are is vital. What we are in ourselves, in our character, in our spirit, what we are within, that is vital. What we are within is voiced in every conceivable way. What we are within flashes through our eyes, curves itself about our lips, trembles in the tone of our voices, and what we are within pervades the atmosphere of those around us as does the fragrance of a flower. We are corrupting or we are conserving the world daily by our lives. Serious thought, is it not? Beyond words, serious thought!

George W Truett Sermons

Do you remember what one said of another: “What you are speaks so loud that I can not hear what you say”? The crowning glory of Washington, the first president, and the father of his country, was his personal character. Men stood before him, knowing that he was incorruptible, and that integrity’ clothed him like some beautiful garment. The crowning thing about Pitt, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, was his personal character. Men knew that he was invulnerable to every base appeal. One man of incorruptible character, one man untainted and un besmirched, stands like some great mountain, calling the world to the heights where are the smiles of heaven.

We are to save the world with the right kind of lives. Do not take any short roads to make any money. Do not misrepresent things to make money. You must live with yourself, and then you must answer to God, and then you must answer for the life you live before your fellow men. We must be straight before the world. We must be correct. We must be incorruptible. We must be salt, which, touching the world with its pungency and in its saltness, shall tend to counteract corruption and bring healing and health with its every touch. How meaningful all that is! We are to help the world by our lives.

George W Truett Sermons

But that is not all. Salt must be applied. Salt must have contact with the meat. Salt is not to be kept at one place and meat at another place. They are to be brought together. That means that God’s people are to go out into this world of ours, into all the ramifications of human society. God’s people are to be the salt of the earth. That means that no isolated sections are exempt in God’s plan. You must not go into a cave and shut yourself up and say: “I will do my best not to be contaminated.” You must touch the world in all its phases.

Wherever men suffer and sin and die, you are to go. You are to go with the contact of the Christian appeal and the Christian message, the Christian salt, to save decaying and dying humanity. Salt must make contact to be effective. Salt should permeate the whole social order. A man is not to be a Christian only on Sunday morning as he looks into the face of the preacher and sings out of a hymn book. He must be a Christian on Monday as another seeks to take advantage of him, and he must say to himself: “He may follow that course but I can not. I am the friend of the Son of God, and I can not take such a course and misrepresent Jesus.”

In our contact with the world there is to be such a spirit about us that we shall steadily proceed to reclaim and recover the world. There is to be aggression, protest, resistance, challenge, conflict, and victory in the name of Christ, in our contact with the world. Passive goodness is not enough for the followers of Christ. They must speak and act positively, aggressively and constructively if they are to be as the salt of the earth. Having enlisted under the banner of Christ, they must put on the whole armor of God and go forth to battle for truth and righteousness in all the earth.

George W Truett Sermons

The lawyer yonder who loves Christ is to go to the courthouse and stand there like a Christian and not like some renegade, forgetting the great call whereof he has been called of God. And the physician, going from house to house, bending beside this couch and that, is to remember: “Every time I see them and every time my eyes meet theirs, I will either help them or hinder them. I will be a weight or a wing”. And the business man, as he goes to his task, is to remember: “This is my field, my sphere, where my forces are ever to be for the reconstructing and conserving, and with God’s help for the regeneration of lost society about me, decaying and dying”. We are to go into every realm—the realm of business and the realm of citizenship and literature, to this profession and that, to this calling, and wherever we go we are to be the salt of the earth, to turn the world Christ ward and heavenward.

Do you hear that high call? There was never another one in the world comparable to it. Christian people are to be the salt of the earth. They are to save society from utter corruption. What would the world be without Christianity? Imagine Dallas with her more than a quarter of a million inhabitants, without a church and without a preacher, with-out a Sunday School or prayer meeting, without a Sabbath or an open Bible, without Christian voices and lives constantly calling people from the low, down-dragging, vicious ways of evil to the high and holy paths of righteousness, purity and peace. What glee for the darksome pit below and what fearful deeds of destruction the emissaries of Satan would work, if the conditions I have just named existed. The lope of civilization is based on the witness and lives of the friends of Jesus.

George W Truett Sermons

But there is a fearful possibility suggested in our text, to which I would call your attention. “Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men”. The meaning is as clear as sunlight. Salt is a chemical compound which can lose its taste, become stale and worthless, and fit only to be thrown aside. So shall it be, when it reaches that state. Jesus says to His people: “You can become as salt, without savor, without pungency, without flavor, without vitality, without life. You can become like that. You can lose your spiritual potency. You can decline in spiritual power; you can become stale and insipid and unprofitable as my friend and my sevvant, even after I have saved you”.

There is no other truth in the world quite so alarming as that. The illustrations of it are endless in the Bible and put of it. Paul had that very idea in mind when he said: “Ofttimes there comes over me a great and terrible fear, lest after I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway”. He did not mean that he would fail finally of getting to heaven, when life’s toil and work were done—not at all. He was as clear as sunshine about the certainty of one coming home to God who has been born again. But he meant: “I can lose poise and vitality and enthusiasm and vision and passion and become cold-blooded. I can become a castaway in the kingdom of God, a man discarded and left by the way, because my attitude and my spirit are not in consonance with God’s will and plans for me”.

George W Truett Sermons

Alas! This loss of savor is not only aft alarming possibility: it is also a distressing reality, all too often. I was greatly pricked in my heart as I heard an old preacher say recently concerning another preacher: “He has spent his power. He no more speaks with the tone of authority. He no more speaks with the sound of certainty and conviction. He no more speaks as a prophet of God, compelling men to listen to what he say. His power is spent; his power is gone”. David, that sweet singer, that glorious king of that mighty nation, went down. The salt lost its savor for many a day, and never again was David the same after his terrible fall, never again. The bird with the broken pinion soars never so high again.

The salt can lose it savor. Let a Christian grow careless, or let him get cold-hearted; let the fine ardors and enthusiasms for Jesus and His great religion die out of his heart, and he will go the downward way. Christianity is a passion. Christianity is a life. Christianity is a love. Christianity is vital. Christianity enlarges. If it is repressed, if it is curbed, if it is neglected, woe betide him, for his salt will lose its savor. He will go the downward way. He will come up at last without any sheaves in his arms, without any stars in his crown.

George W Truett Sermons

The Bible gives us the tragic picture of whole churches going on the rocks. The seven churches of Asia all went on the rocks. The salt lost its savor. They became contaminated by the world. Instead of changing the world, they went with the world, and let it change them. Instead of putting forth an influence pungent and conserving on the world, the world put its influence on them. Those seven churches of Asia, which shone like seven cities on seven high hills, during the early years of Christianity, all of them had the candlesticks removed, and they went down into oblivion. Turn to Revelation and read the story. What a story it makes! To one church He said: “Thou hast lost thy first love”. Oh, the tragedy when a church loses its first love. When the warmth of Christ’s love does not dominate the lives of its members! The world can never be won to Christ through a coldblooded program. A deep, heart-felt desire to win the lost must permeate the life of the church, if the devotion of a first love is to obtain in the church.

He said to another church in Revelation: “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead”. You meet, you gather on Sunday, many of you come, and the preacher speaks and the choir sings and the people listen, but Jesus said to that church: “You have a name that you live, but in reality you are, dead”. There was not any divine candlestick in their midst at all. Their salt had lost its savor. They went with the world; they played its tricks; they laughed its laughter; they pursued its course; but the heart and passion that belong to the people of Christ’s church were gone.

I have experienced agony of soul for myself, and for you, my dear people; for myself lest I become mechanical and perfunctory in my preaching and other ministerial duties and thus deserve the condemnation of my Master saying: “You are a castaway. You have lost your savor. I can no longer use you”. And my distress of soul for you, dear people of this church, is occasioned by exceeding anxiety lest you become proud and presumptuous and self-satisfied, spending more on your clothes than you give to save a lost world, caring more for earthly possessions than for heavenly treasures, seeking passing pleasures rather than abiding happiness, serving self more than the Saviour. The candlestick of spiritual light and power can not remain in a church where such worldly aims prevail. Oh, my beloved church, dearer to me than life itself, may you never, never become savorless salt, “good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men”.

George W Truett Sermons

The way to avoid such direful doom is to hold on to your first love, to preserve your passion for Christ, to follow in the footsteps of His wounded feet, to labor unceasingly for the advancement of His kingdom, to give joyfully and sacrificially of your time, your talent, your money, your self, your all, in order that God may be glorified and a lost world may be saved.

Uselessness and fruitlessness are always under condemnation. It was that way with the barren fig tree. That was why sentence was pronounced against the one-talent man who wrapped his talent in a napkin and buried it in the ground. John the Baptist said the Pharisees and the Sadducees were the offspring of vipers because they brought not forth fruit worthy of repentance. The individual, the family, the church, the nation that does not helpfully serve humanity and bring forth fruits of righteousness is headed for the scrap-heap. Sooner or later the sentence of condemnation will be sounded, judgment will be proclaimed, and there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness of discard, doom and death.

You and I are here in the world to care for humanity. We must not overlook anyone. We are in the world for the one express business of serving humanity. If we fail, if He gives us the light and we put it under a bushel, if we are indifferent and dull and passionless and insipid as Christians, He knows. He knows if we trifle with Him about our praying, our giving, our serving. “If the salt lose its savor”, what then? “Thenceforth it is good for nothing”.

George W Truett Sermons

Oh, fellow Christian, what are you good for? How much are you good for? Would the world really be bereaved if you were to die? Would the world be poorer if you were to die? Would heaven be any richer if you were to die? You and I are going to need our works, every bit of missionary work we have ever done. We shall answer, face to face, to Jesus for the deeds done in the body. “Good for nothing”! That shall be the portion of any group of God’s people if they fail to be the salt that He expects them to be.

You will make the application. I feel very deeply that you are either salting the world or it is corrupting you, one of the two. You are either making a mark, lasting and unchangeable, turning the people your way, or the world about you is turning you its way. Is not that a reflection sufficient » to bring every serious person down upon his knees, before God. I am either salting the world or it is corrupting me.

Which is it in your case? Where do you stand? Is your passion for Jesus and His great gospel gone? Are you still able to say: “He can get anything from me He wants”? Or has that kind of devotion died within you, so that now you say: “I will hedge against putting forth my best powers for Christ”? Any man or woman who is content with giving less, one iota less, than their best, is yielding to the loss of that saltness, which is the hope of the world.

George W Truett Sermons

There died in Nashville the other day, one of the greatest men our Southern Baptists ever had. To the last he was conscious and he said: “I should like to live a thousand years for just one purpose, and that purpose is to serve God”. Is not that your feeling? Personally, I do not want to die. I am not afraid to die. I am ready for the summons, whenever it comes. That is settled. But, frankly, I would like to live a thousand years and then ten thousand more, if that would please Christ, because the world needs Christ, and is doomed and lost without Christ and His gospel. Without yonder cross on which the Lord of Glory died, the world is lost, and for all its little perfumed philosophies, as a means of salvation from sin, I have nothing but unmeasured contempt.

Christ must save and Christ alone. Do you not long to lift your voice to make Him known, and with your testimony to make Him known, and with your money to make Him known? As the end of a long and remarkably useful life drew near to Dr. J. M. Frost, he saw some of his loved ones sobbing. He said to them in a whisper: “Please do not do that, because I am entirely ready and have been ready for a long time. I should like to stay for just one purpose, to have more time to plead for Christ, to write for Him, and give for Him and live for Him. But the time is about due. I have been like one waiting at a railway station for a delayed train to come”. And then the train came, or maybe it was a chariot from the skies, like the one that took Elijah home.

George W Truett Sermons

O, men and women, do you think money is the main thing? That thought is of Satan, and he is laughing at you. Do you think pleasure is the great thing? Do you think that the mad rush for the things of earth is the main thing? Project yourself to your dying day and on beyond, to look into His face who will say to you: “I placed you there in the world, I saved you and endowed you for one great business, that you should be the salt of the earth. What have you done with your trust?”

I beseech you to make personal application of this message as we face the great cause of state missions this week. God grant that, when we make our gifts here for missions, we may do it with glowing hearts of love for Him whose cause it is, that same One who gave His all in love for us!

This church’s crown of glory is that we stand for Christ’s program at home and abroad. We claim to be His trustees, and as such, we are concerned for the salvation of everyone for whom He died. Therefore, let us make our trust as victorious in its administration as it is possible for us to make it. Do your best these eight days for this great cause, every man and woman of you, and then you can lay your hand on your heart with the consciousness: “I have done my best and would not have done differently, if Christ had sat in the front pew or stood where the preacher stood—my best”. Let us pray.

George W Truett Sermons


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