I’m so grateful for the long-term, steady, accurate handling of the word of God by so many of the pastors who are available on tape recording or video. Barnhouse, Boice, MacArthur, SL Johnson, ML Jones, John MacArthur … labored or are still laboring for the Lord for decades. Their sermons and lectures were captured, books and notes blessedly, by tape recording or radio recording or scan and remain available to us now in this online age. It is a balm to listen to a solid sermon expositing the scriptures delivered 50, 60, even 70 years ago. Or yesterday :).
I particularly love John MacArthur’s sermons because they present the word of God in a solid, grave, and responsible manner. Selfishly, I love them also because they are transcribed, so it makes posting excerpts very easy. On Saturdays I enjoy listening back-to-back to a variety of pastors and teachers online. However the vast majority of their sermons are not transcribed. I spend a lot of time on Saturday transcribing. I can’t help it. There are so many insightful and profound thoughts that I need to write them down so as to further study later.
In this online age, just as we can easily partake of the goodness of a good sermon, it is also just as easy for the false teachers to post their tripe and let it propagate. We all know this. However once in a while a pastor, whether false or true, will say something unbiblical that even catches their followers by surprise, and they get heat for it. Or they post a sermon that is so outrageous that the true brethren push back hard. In those cases, it is just as easy for that pastor or teacher to simply delete the tweet or the video. It’s just as easy to delete a sermon or tweet or Facebook status as it is to post it in the first place. Poof, it’s gone. Sometimes this happens so fast that the more astute brethren know they better capture a screen grab of the tweet, or download the video, or screen cap it in context before it can go poof.
Imagine a pastor-teacher who taught from the Word of God for thirty, forty, fifty years. Imagine no wrong doctrines or major gaffes. Imagine never having to take back something he said. Now imagine all this, it is transcribed or recorded. The pressure is enormous. These pastors and teachers took care, because it is the word of God they are handling. They know there is a stricter judgment for them. (James 3:1). Once someone asked John MacArthur about how he feels about all his 3500+ sermons being online for all to hear. He said “It is a lot to be responsible for”.
Now imagine, they never deleted their sermon or edited portions out of it. They never scrubbed their tweet. They never deleted material from their book introduction for successive printings. They did not try to escape accountability. Because that is what these false teaches and pastors are doing when they scrub their words from the internet. They are attempting to avoid critique, and trying to escape accountability.
I say “try to escape” because Jesus records every word we say. We are all accountable to Him for each and every careless word.
And how can we conclude that such deleted material is anything BUT careless? If one prepares their material through prayer, thought, study, and careful writing, one will not need to remove it almost immediately after publishing. This is why I appreciate the long-term ministries who have never had to apologize for handling the word of God carelessly, nor had to apologize for the behavior of the person publishing said material.
I appreciate the above pastors and teachers who never erased one jot or tittle (to my knowledge) of their teachings. They take care in the first place, let stand what they brought to their people, and will allow Jesus to reward or judge them accordingly. This is maturity. More to the point, it is submission to the grave responsibility they know they are called to perform. Think about this the next time you go to a video or try to read a tweet or find a Facebook status that now says “This post/tweet/video/status is unavailable.” We’re all so used to search results containing scrubbed or deleted material from the internet that we forget this is not the way it is supposed to be when it comes to the teaching of the word of God.
Remember: Nothing is ever scrubbed from the halls of recording in heaven.
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36).