By Dr. Ken Matto

(Heb 13:17 KJV) Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

In the above verse we read that those who are elected to spiritual leadership over Christians are going to give an account of their teachings and leadership. As to what extent this account is going to be is a mystery but suffice it to say the Bible is speaking of accountability for those in spiritual leadership. Now instantly we think in our mind that this is exclusively speaking of Pastors and Elders in the church. They are part of the group which is accountable to God for their leadership but the accountability widens when the areas of ministry widen. What I mean by that is since the turn of the 20th century ministry opportunities have increased outside the local church. 1906 yielded the first wireless transmission 250 miles from Massachusetts into the ocean.

Once radio started to come into vogue, the churches saw it as an extension of the ministry of the local church and an opportunity to send forth the Gospel around the world without missionaries. However, over the years shortwave radio has played a great part in foreign missions. With the advent and expansion of AM and shortwave radio, also came the increase of teachers. In the beginning, these radio Bible teachers and preachers were normally under the authority of the local church and had accountability to a board of Elders. They literally could not teach whatever they wanted but taught the Word of God.

As the years progressed and the number of avenues of ministry opened up, there were also many ministries forming and as most of them were still under the authority of their churches, they were still reasonably faithful to the Word of God. In the 1960’s there seemed to be an explosion of ministries and virtual nobodies were becoming household words. With this increase in ministries came ministry materials which were being sent to the homes of people. I have in my possession several copies of “The Family Altar” from 1958-59 which was put out by the Back to God Hour. Then during the 1960’s 8-Track tapes came into existence and you could get ministry materials on 8-track. Then cassette tapes, because of their smaller size, began to overtake the 8-tracks and eventually the 8-tracks went out of existence. Today almost every ministry has cassette tapes available with their teachings. Then after the audio cassette was invented, we then had the video tape come into existence and many ministries have also used that medium to send forth the Gospel to their hearers so a face can be put to the voice and some have used videos as teaching mediums to help missionaries teach in the outer regions of the world.

Then as the video tapes were coming into wide usage, the 1980’s saw an explosion in satellites which were used for public broadcasting. A ministry was able to send programming to affiliate stations thousands of miles away without the use of large reels of tape which cost ministries thousands in postage. Then in the late 1980’s the internet began as a medium between different businesses but by the mid 90’s it was already a public medium, it was dubbed “The Information Highway.” This was because it was starting to grow and with it, the number of websites which was made affordable with home software. A person did not need thousands of dollars to get on the Internet. With the internet, has come the creation of thousands of Christian websites. Many of them are by established ministries and churches, but the lion’s share of these sites are by individuals and the majority of these Christians have no accountability to anyone else for their content and that is what I want to discuss in this article.

Some Christians do not have websites but are able to be on the Internet by a community medium such as a site called PalTalk which is dubbed by Matt Slick of CARM as “the spawning ground for cults.”  PalTalk is a medium whereby all you need is a cheap microphone and you are able to speak in any of their chat rooms for free. Some of the most unbiblical teachings I have ever heard have come from the lips of some so-called Christians on PalTalk:

►Open Theism - Which teaches that God does not have future knowledge.
►People will not be held accountable for their sins on Judgment Day if they do not hear the Gospel - In other words, faith comes by not hearing the Word of God
►The Bible is not, nor ever has been the Word of God.
►Denial of the deity of Christ
►Denial of the Trinity
►Preterism - That Christ had already returned to earth in 70 A.D.
►Calvinism is an evil cult
►The God of the Old Testament was Satan (This statement was made by an unbeliever)
►Satan is ruling in all the churches in the world

The worst part of it all is that Christians actually sit in these rooms and receive teachings from these people. Why would any true Christians want to sit under the teaching of someone that denies the trinity or the deity of Christ? How would they grow in their faith by listening to a person of spiritual ill repute? The reason why a site like PalTalk can be a spawning ground for cults is that the people who are speaking believe they are accountable to no one.

Unbelievers are Accountable
(Mat 12:36-37 KJV) But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. {37} For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Unbelievers who start sites or get on these talking sites for the purpose of denigrating Christianity will give an account on Judgment day. Whatever they teach to others which will cause them to hate Christians, will be brought into account on the day of their judgment. No unbeliever is going to malign Christianity with impunity. God will hold them accountable and at the Judgment seat of Christ, their words will condemn them. Unbelievers have nothing to teach a believer and no Christian should be listening to them and trying to glean some type of spiritual teaching. The spiritually dead cannot teach the spiritually alive, simply because they do not have the Holy Spirit living in them who is the interpreter of the Bible. If you do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are not of Christs. (Rom 8:9 KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Believers are Accountable
(1 Tim 4:16 KJV) Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

The Bible teaches us that Christians are also accountable for the teachings they bring. In the above verse, we are told to take “heed” which carries with it the idea of “taking note” or “paying attention.” This verse gives us good insight in that if a person holds to true doctrine, it is evidence they are saved and just the opposite is true for the unbeliever, bad doctrine gives evidence that a person is unsaved. The verse also teaches that false doctrine will not save those who are hearing the teaching. Some of the teachings I have heard on PalTalk could not be taught by true Christians, but those who claim to be Christian. Some teach these things to gain a following.

If we are teaching true biblical doctrine, then we are to continue in that teaching and we are not to divert from that doctrine. Christians are as accountable for their teachings on the Internet as if they were teaching in person. One thing they must grasp is that just because you place a teaching on line or bring a verbal teaching, there are human beings on the other side of the aisle with eternal souls who are either listening to the teaching or reading the teaching. For many around the world, the Internet may be the only place where they can get spiritual teachings. With so many false teachings on line, it behooves us as Christians to make sure that we are teaching the truths of Scripture, so there is a clear distinction between the true teachings and the false teachings.

Christians must resist the use of terms such as “I believe this says” or “I take the position of..” simply because that places the Christian as the authority. People then will identify with what the teacher teaches or thinks as their personal position. We must teach what the Bible teaches no matter how tough it may sound. One teacher comes up with crazy interpretations and then claims that this is what the Bible teaches instead of saying in all truth that, “this is what I believe the Bible is teaching.” As Christians, we will not know every truth from the Scriptures because it would take many lifetimes to search the depths of the Scriptures. Many times we will speculate and if that speculation leads us down a wrong path, then we must abandon it. If it leads to understanding true doctrine, then we pursue that line of study.

Now I do not want to make this article a long one because the subject is simple. We do not nor can we expect any truth to come from the lips of unbelievers but when it comes to the redeemed of God, we must realize that we are totally responsible before God for what we are saying or writing. If we teach false doctrine, then in essence, we are taking the Lord’s name in vain. For if we teach vain doctrines, then we are, in essence, asking God to back up vain doctrines, and this He will not do.
(Prov 8:8 KJV) All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. The Christian should be using Proverbs 8:8 as a standard for teaching. If we are not sure of a doctrine, then we should not teach it until we have fully investigated it and are sure in our biblical findings. As God can remove the candlestick from a local church congregation, He can also remove it from a ministry or a personal website making it of no use for the Kingdom of God. So the next time that you give a verbal or written Bible study, make sure it is according to the truths of Scripture, and not your personal beliefs, or else you may be considered a heretic, which is the worst moniker a believer can have. If you have a personal website with Bible teachings on there, you must realize that you are responsible to God for the contents of that site, especially because His name is on that site.