Sermon preached by Dr. Tom Malone, Sr. at the Emmanuel Baptist Church 55th Anniversary, October 26, 1997
"Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it." (Deuteronomy 19:14)
Take your Bibles and, for a few minutes this morning — I do not have as much time as I would like — I never have had in my whole life. I have been preaching 62 years, and I never have had anybody say to me (I guess folks might have thought it but they never have said it to me) "You preached too long." But many, many times I have wished I had more time to preach the Word of God. But we are just going to take a few minutes with you today. God’s Word is important and every day of my life I want a message from the Word of God.
Somebody said to me, "How much of the Bible do you read every day?" And my answer is, "I read until the Lord speaks to my heart." And that is what I want God to do today - to speak to the hearts of people.
I want to speak to you today on something that I think is tremendously important. I want to speak to you on the subject of "Landmarks" — I will explain it to you in a moment, but my subject is landmarks — landmarks.
You know the Bible has a lot to say about landmarks. I am going to read two or three verses — one found in Deuteronomy, Chapter 19 and verse 14 — "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it."
This is a tremendous verse. You see, the children of Israel had not yet reached the land of Canaan, the promised land, the land God said to their great forefather, Abraham, "I am going to give this land to you, all of it. Seven nations, mightier than thou, live there now, but I am going to give it to you." But God is saying here, "When you come into the land of thine inheritance, thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark." Landmarks are important. Also in Deuteronomy, Chapter 27 and verse 17, "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen." And in Proverbs, Chapter 22, another verse has to do with landmarks mentioned in the Bible. In Proverbs 22 and verse 28 we read, "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set."
Now of course there is a spiritual application to landmarks. Landmarks show ownership. In the land where God’s people were going, in the land God gave them, there were going to be landmarks. A landmark showed each of the tribes where their land was to be, and where the land of the sons of the head of each tribe was to be, and to the grandsons and on down.
And landmarks were set. They showed ownership, and God said, "It is wrong to move a landmark where there is something that belongs to someone else. Do not move, do not touch, do not fool with, do not bother the landmarks. Leave them there. They show ownership." And you know, I apply this to my life and to the lives of God’s people, churches that are Christians and believe the Bible.
You know, we own something. God has given us great landmarks that are not to be moved. We own something, we Christian people do. We own the Bible, the Bible is our Bible. God wrote the Bible to us, and I do not want anybody moving the landmark that says the Bible belongs to the child of God for it is God’s Word. I would not want anyone to ever move that landmark.
There are things that belong to Christians. The matter of winning souls. I do not want anybody moving that landmark. It has always been a part of the work of God, and that is to reach out with the Word of Truth, and the Gospel, and let people know that they are saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Leave that landmark alone. It is in the Bible. Do not ever move that landmark.
I. Landmarks Can Be Moved By Unbelievers
There is a landmark I think of that God has set, and it has to do with the division — the separation of God’s people, saved people, from the rest of the world. And you know in the last — I will say, thirty-five years, you may not agree with this and you may not like it, but I do not preach to please people, I preach to please God (pardon me, but that’s my calling, to please God) — I think in the last thirty-five years that a lot of churches, Baptist churches, and a lot of Christians in the world have been busy moving landmarks. You see, you can do it if you want to do it in several ways. I believe landmarks have been moved. There have been great changes in the last thirty to fifty years, and in the sixty-two years I have been preaching. You see, God sets landmarks. You just suppose this is a landmark that is right where it ought to be. This landmark has to do with the Bible, has to do with winning souls, has to do with believing the Bible is the Word of God, has to do with knowing that Christians are different from people who are unsaved and in the world. Someone wants to remove that, some religious person, maybe some preacher, maybe some organization — they can just come along some time and move the landmark that God set. Just move it a little bit. "I do not believe in this or that, I am going to move it a little bit. I do not believe the Bible to be the Word of God." Some people say, "I do not believe in soul winning, I do not believe in going out and telling people they are lost and that they need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not like this landmark, and while no one is looking or paying attention, I am going to move this landmark a little bit." And there are people in the world who do not believe in churches that emphasize that the Christian is different from the people in the world and are supposed to live different, act different, talk different. They are different — they have a new nature, a new home, and they have Christ in their life, the Holy Spirit in their heart and soul and body — they are different. Do not ever try to pretend that the world and Christians are alike. They are vastly different. Somebody who doesn’t believe that comes along and takes the landmark when nobody is looking and moves it a little bit. There are people who do not believe that Christians ought to come together in the house of God for the preaching of the Word and preaching just like the Bible says. Oh, I do not know how you like it, but when I hear someone preach, I want them to preach the Bible, not what they think about the Bible, nor about whether there is possibly some error in the Bible. I do not want to hear that kind of thing that is not there. That is a landmark with people who believe in the Lord and believe the Bible to be the Word of God. But oh these people - they call themselves theologians - say, "I do not believe that - I am going to move this landmark a little bit." And then someone else comes along and says, "I do not believe in Christians sending the Gospel out to other people. Let’s spend our money at home. Let the heathen alone - they have had the same chance that we had. We heard, we believed, we are saved, let them alone, let them take care of themselves. I am going to move this landmark a little bit."
You know, the landmark is not where God wants it. First thing you know the landmark has been moved. Things have changed, and I want to tell you, God said the landmarks have been set by people of ancient times, that if Godly people in the BIble and God Himself set the landmarks, I believe we ought to realize we own something, marked out by a landmark by God Himself that belongs to Christian people. They can be slowly and subtly removed. You know the Lord said to the children of Israel when they had the Passover Lamb, "Now one of these days, I want you to do it this way. I want you to take a perfect lamb." That lamb is a picture of a type of Christ. "I want you to take a perfect lamb, not one with a torn flank, or a blind eye, not one with anything wrong with it, because Jesus was perfect." You believe that, don’t you? He was the only perfect person who ever walked across the face of the earth, and God said to them, "This is the way you do it. You will have the passover supper, you will eat it in haste because you have to get out of here, out of Egypt on your way to Canaan, and in the days to come, your children will ask, `What did you do this for? Why did you take the passover lamb, a perfect lamb, and why did you not break any bone in its body and why did you eat it at a certain time and come together and believe in God and do what God’s Word says?` This is what your children will ask." And I want to tell you, a lot of young people today are asking, "Where are the landmarks?" So many people have moved, this way and that way, and the landmarks, the old fashioned marks set by ancient people to indicate our ownership of the Bible and of God and of Christ and of soulwinning and many other things have been moved and it is a tragedy. Oh Christian today, have no part in moving the landmarks that God Himself has established in the Bible. And God said, "Anyone who has any part in moving the landmarks, I will put a curse upon him and it will be passed on to others."
II. The Landmark of the Christian Sabbath
Let me quickly just give you some landmarks I am concerned about. I am concerned about the landmark of the Christian sabbath. Now understand me, the Christian has no sabbath, so-called. The Christian is to worship the Lord on the first day of the week, that is Sunday. But sometimes it is called the Christian sabbath and that has been ruined in America. You know, there was a day, in my day - that was the day, the Lord’s day, it was Sunday, that is the day that Jesus arose from the dead. That is the day they broke bread and prayed and met together with preaching and singing and happiness and salvation and wonderful things on the Lord’s day. The Christian should worship the Lord every day, but the Lord’s day has been set aside. It is a day for sports, it is a day for shopping, it is a day for leisure, it is a day for recreation, it is a holiday, not a holy day. but a holiday with millions of people in America and with people all over the world. God set a landmark. It is a day of fellowship, a day of worship, a day of giving and seeing people saved, but that landmark has been moved. Oh remember, it is God’s day. God pity the Christian that does not have a landmark in his life, a day that God set aside for them to come to the house of the Lord and serve Him.
We have so many wonderful workers in this church all over 65 years of age. I am thinking this morning of a group of women who taught Sunday School in this church, and you could always see them with a Bible. And one day when it was getting along into the beautiful fall of the year, a lady said, "Let’s take our classes, and we will all go for a walk - we will get some Christian fellowship - go for a walk out in the woods and see the leaves on this beautiful fall day." And down a dirt road they heard a noise and then they saw dust rise in the air. There was a long driveway from the road back to where they saw and heard this noise and saw the dust rising in the air. So they said, "Let’s go and see. Maybe someone needs help." So they turned and went back, and there stood a man with his hands on his little blond-haired, blue-eyed girl, and weeping and holding her, and there was a building that had fallen flat on the ground, and dust was still going everywhere from the fall of that building. These ladies said, "We are Christian ladies - these are our Sunday School classes. If we can be of any help, we would like to be." The man said, "Well I am a Christian too." This was on a Sunday afternoon when they were taking their little children for a walk in the fall of the year. And he said, "I am a Christian, too." But he said, "You know the devil has been working on me and I decided, Well I do not need to go to church. I do not need to be with God’s people to encourage them, and let them know I am one of them. I do not need all that. I work five days a week. I work hard. I have got to build a big double garage and barn to take care of my trucks and cars and my machinery and all, and I cannot be going to church every Sunday," I said to myself. So he said, "I took off from God. I ran from Him, and said, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ I took off and I have been building this big garage and barn for my cars and my trucks and machinery and everything on the Lord’s day. I had come out here and worked all day on the Lord’s day, forget God, forget the Bible, forget the church, forget the winning of souls, giving to God, forget missions, I wanted to build a building. A few minutes before you ladies came," he said, "through a doorway —- the door had not yet been hung, but an opening for a small door — came my sweet little daughter and she came running across inside that unfinished building to where I was, and just as she got to me and I lifted her outside, the building fell." And he said, "Ladies, God has caught up to me." And he said, "God could have killed my little girl and I would have had a broken heart the rest of my life. I want to get back with God and get back to where I ought to be."
Listen, I tell you, no one can outrun God. God is omnicient, He knows where you are, God is omnipotent, He is able to do anything, and God is everywhere. Let me tell you, there are many people like that man. "Why, I do not care about the sabbath or Sundays, the day that Jesus arose from the grave, the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came into the world, what is that to me?" Oh I tell you, it has a lot to do with you. Do not run from God. Do not move the landmark that God has set His mark on — a day — a special day. The Lord’s day is a holy day to Christians. Every bush is a burning bush, and to a child of God every day is a holy day, but God set aside a day, and the Bible says to forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is. Do not leave God out of your life. Give God your time, and you will be a happier person, and a lot safer in the hands of God than you are building something on the Lord’s day that ought not to be done. Ah, there is a landmark. God has a day, and it is a holy day, a wonderful day.
III. The Landmark of Christian Separation
I think of the landmark of Christian separation, of Christian living. You know, standards. What I mean by standards is — every Christian has certain characteristics, and certain things they do not do. Their standards are different, their music is different, their dress is different, their programs are different. They are not in the world, but they are in the Lord. And there is a lot taught in the Bible about separation - it is not a popular subject. I said to a person one time, "You know, I wish I could have all the seats in this building filled every time I preach." And he said, "Well, you do not exactly preach what people love to hear. You preach what you believe the Bible teaches they ought to hear." You know, Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You love the praise of men more than you do the praise of God." Listen, I am not much and I know that, and I know my age and what I am. I do not think I am much, but I will tell you one thing, I am not concerned about pleasing people. I love people and I believe hundreds and thousands show love and respect for me, but I am not going to give my time to preaching something that is not in the Bible just to please people. Oh no, the Bible teaches, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and I will be a father unto you, and you shall be children unto me." Oh listen, do not move the landmark of the distinction between the person who is saved and one who is not. Do not ever try to remove the landmark and make believe that God loves everybody and everybody is going to heaven. Everybody is not going to heaven. Or that everyone is just alike, everyone is going to heaven. No, everyone is not going to heaven. I have had people say to me, "Well, you go your way and I will go mine and I will meet you in heaven." No you won’t. No, you are not going your way and you are not going my way, you’re going to go God’s way. As a lady said to old Dr. Lakin one time, I think it was here in this church when he was preaching. She said, "I will meet you in heaven" And he said, "It is up to you. I am going, I am going to be there. It is just a question of whether you are going to get there. And if you get there, it is going to be by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ." I like that. I tell you, those old preachers of a generation ago, they knew where to let the hammer down. They knew how to do it. God bless their sainted memory.
I think about the difference between Christians and unsaved people as a landmark. A lot of people do not even know what a landmark is. I knew a young boy — I knew his mother and my wife did too — still do — a grown man now, a professional man — a wonderful man. But one day he was out playing marbles with the little boys in the neighborhbood — this neighborhood right here. They were shooting marbles and they were playing "keeps." Did you ever play "keeps"? I never could call it that. I always called it "losers" because I lost all of mine when I was a boy. Never won any, but he played "keeps." His mother came out and said, "You are gambling — you are gambling. You pick up your marbles and get back in this house. You know it is not right to play "keeps" and gamble for something that belongs to someone else." So he picked up his marbles, being an obedient child, and went in the house. About a week later, this lady — she was not of our church here, but could have been, I suppose, but she was not. She was having a bridge party and bought a beautiful vase — or vaaase — and she had it sitting there and they had their bridge party. And guess what, the one that won in that bridge game got that vase. And the little boy saw it, and he said, "Momma, you are doing the same thing I was. You jumped all over me. You made me come in the house and leave my playmates. You said I was gambling — what do you call this?" The mother dropped her head and said, "Gambling? Son, I will not be guilty any more. You taught me something." Listen, you ought to live as a Christian ought to live. We are not the same as the world. We are different.
IV. The Landmark of the Bible
You know, a lot of churches have taken on a lot of "versions", as they call them, of the Bible. I do not read them. The only Bible other than this King James Bible that I have ever spent any time in is when I read the Douay Version of the Catholic Bible, because I wanted to take their own Bible and lead some of them to Christ and God helped me do it. I do not believe in all these versions. One version leaves out twenty percent of what is in this Bible. Twenty percent is not even there. Listen, God said the Word of God is reserved in heaven and God said, "You are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, even the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever." And I believe I have it. Oh what a shame to divert the truth of the Bible by all these versions. They say they have to get down to the language of man. No, that is what makes it the Bible - the language of God. There is a landmark — stand by the Bible — stand by the landmark of separation — that a Christian is not like people in the world. We are not down in the world. I lived in it until I was nearly twenty years old and God in His grace saved me, and no one was more surprised than I when the Lord saved me. It made a new person out of me.
V. The Landmark of Soul Winning
There is a landmark of soul winning. I believe Christians ought to be involved — involved.
Listen — not to say, "Yes, I believe you are right. I believe to get people saved we ought to go where they are, we ought to reach them, to keep people out of hell and get them to heaven." But that is not enough. I believe every Christian should be involved in reaching people for Christ. Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Peter, fear not." Oh, Peter had failed in his fishing, and had failed the Lord, and he fell down on his knees and said, "Depart from me, Lord. I am such a sinful man." And Jesus said, "Fear not, Peter. From henceforth you are going to catch men." That is what a Christian ought to be is a man-catcher, and a woman-catcher, and a child-catcher You ought to be after them for the Lord. I believe the Bible teaches soul winning. Jesus said to two sets of brothers, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Luke 19:10 says, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." I want to tell you, I admire the Christian who is looking out for somebody who needs to be saved. You say, "Preacher, that is not for me." No, I know it is not. You will not let God open your heart. You will not get rid of that pride. You are too good to walk down a street that might be dangerous. Jesus was not. And good Christians, I believe, are soul winners who lead people to Christ.
I went to a home where one of the ladies of this church asked me to go. She put some names on a card and I went there this week. It was a home filled with the sweetest group of Oriental people I have ever seen in my life. I could not immediately get someone to the door, and then I saw a little child run across a vacant area in the house. Then a little child came to the door and said, "Oh, it is preacher Malone." And kids started coming from everywhere from that house. And there was a whole little group around me, little Oriental children just as clean as a pin, bright and sharp. And I said, "I know your Sunday School teacher," and I called the Sunday School teacher’s name, and then I said, "She led you to Christ, didn’t she?" And they said, "Yes." And I said to the other children, all around me, "How many of you know you have been saved?" And boy! either five or six of them put their little hands up. And I asked them. "Do you have a Sunday School teacher, I mean here in this church?" And they all said, "Yes, yes, yes." "And she showed you in the Bible how to be saved?" And they all said, "Yes, yes, yes," and just stood there looking at me. I could not keep the tears back. I thought "Who cares about these people living in this house down here on this street? Not many people. But God cares." And you know, God died for people of other ethnic backgrounds other than just you and me. Some people evidently do not know it because they do not cross the line. Listen, everybody was on the mind of God when Jesus hung on the cross and shed His precious blood for sinners like you and me. Oh today, we need to begin soul winning, reaching people for Christ.
VI. The Landmark of Salvation by Faith
I am going to close with this. Another landmark I do not want to ever move. I do not care how subtly people come and move it just a little bit. I am not going to join in that, because I would be contrary to the Bible and that is the landmark of salvation by faith. You are listening to someone who lived all of his boyhood to manhood in the midst of people who believed in something other than what I am preaching right now, and that is that only, only, only Jesus can save, and only, only, only by faith in Him. Not by works, not by goodness, but only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." For by grace are ye saved, by faith in Him. Only one Way. Oh I tell you when I left that house the other day, those little children raised their hands and said they would see me on Sunday, and they are here in this building somewhere in other services. I got in my car, and I could not help but weep. I thought, "Oh, my God, here is a city going to hell, and people talking about religion without Jesus, and so many thousands of people have religion but not Christ." And I got in my car — and I do not often do this, not as often as I should — but I wept my heart out. I thought, "Oh how God loves people and how the world is filled with people teaching them that there is some other way you can get there, but there is not." You say, "How do you know, preacher? You do not know everything." No, I do not know much, but I know one thing: whatever the Bible says. Jesus said to a woman, "Thy faith hath saved thee." Thy faith. Oh, there is no other way except to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not ever move that landmark. The Bible says, "Let your moderation be made known unto all men." Moderation means kindness — let all men everywhere — let them know you love them. Unsaved, street-walker, gambler, everybody, let them know you love them. Do not ever compromise. There is only one way to be saved — not by joining the church, not by getting baptized. You ought to be baptized after you get saved, right on the spot — that is what they did in the Bible. There is only one way to be saved, and that is to humble yourself and say, "Jesus, I do not have anything to offer. I have no good works. You would not accept them if I had them. All I have is that I believe you are the Son of God, that you died for me, and I believe God put my sins on you and when I trust you my sins are forgiven forever." That is a landmark. Remove not the ancient landmark. Oh, today, let us believe what God has to say.