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As valuable as experiences are, we don’t always know what to do with them apart from teaching. The Bible contains a lot of teaching, a lot of teachers, and a lot of exhortations for teachers. We know that a good teacher can really change your life, but so can a bad one—they can teach you some things you’ve got to spend the rest of your life unlearning.

Malachi 2:1-9

2:1 “And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

The Impact of Teachers

Think back in your life. Who’s your favorite teacher, your best teacher? For me, I only remember one of my elementary school teachers. Her name was Mrs. Hitchcock. She had long, red hair, wore red glasses, loved to wear red clothes, and drove a red Volkswagen Bug. She was a big personality, super encouraging, and I just really loved her, liked her, enjoyed her, appreciated her.

I was asking Gracie yesterday—we were driving out to get a Christmas tree. I asked her, “Well, who was your favorite teacher?” She remembers every teacher she had in elementary school. I only remember one, Mrs. Hitchcock.

Who’s the worst teacher you ever had? I won’t tell you the name of my worst teacher, but I’ll tell you the story. It was a teacher who was headed toward retirement, but had basically given up a little before that.

So this teacher would show up with a thermos that was full of “coffee.” It was a little bit of coffee and a lot of liquor. And wasn’t a very good teacher, the first period. By the second period, he was not a very good teacher but a happier teacher. By the fourth period, he had slurred speech, making no sense, but was a fairly entertaining teacher. By sixth period, he was a snoring, face-down-on-the-desk teacher, passed out from all the liquor. No, I was not homeschooled.

It’s amazing because teachers positively and negatively impact us. A good teacher can really change your life; so can a bad teacher. A bad teacher can teach you some things that you’ve got to spend the rest of your life unlearning.

Some of what we learn in life comes through experience, but most of what we learn comes through instruction. And even as we have experiences, we don’t know how to interpret them or respond to them apart from teaching.

Students, Be Discerning

The Bible has a lot of teaching, it has a lot of teachers, it has a lot of admonition and exhortation for teachers, and to speak of it more broadly, this would include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, small group leaders, student ministry leaders, children’s ministry, workers, elders, deacons, coaches, older siblings, schoolteachers, authors who speak into our life, mentors, pastors, preachers, you name it.

In our day of technology, we have at our disposal more teachers and teaching than at any point in the history of the world. So, this means that students need to be discerning, is this a good teacher or a bad teacher, and that teachers need to be working out of a love for God and a love for people, and not just themselves where they’re using the people and using God, but they’re loving God and loving people.

So our instruction today is going to be a lot about teachers, and you’re going to learn about good teachers and bad teachers. Good teachers uplift God and help people; bad teachers upset God and harm people.

Not every teacher in the Bible is a good teacher. There are some bad ones. You’re going to meet some today in Malachi 2:1–9.

What Is the Bible’s Tone?

As you find that place in your Bible, I want you to understand the tone. How many of you have misunderstood a communication, a letter, an e-mail, a text because you didn’t hear the tone. There was no facial expression or emotion behind it. You didn’t have access to that so you misrepresented—you misinterpreted the information.

It’s important for us, as we come to the Bible, to not just understand the content of what is being said, but understand the context in which it is said, so that we have not just the words, but the tone and the facial expression, if I could use that metaphor of the Lord behind it, including the human author that he is speaking and working through.

When it comes to the Bible, sometimes it’s like a wedding, right? The information is super exciting, we’re all celebrating, Jesus is alive, sin is forgiven, somebody got healed, we live forever in heaven—really great stuff.

Number two, some sections of the Bible are like a funeral, somebody died, Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, a flood came in the days of Noah, we murdered God on a cross, and the sky turned dark, and it was a funeral. There are other times that it’s more like a classroom: it’s not super emotionally up or down; it’s pretty consistent. You need to learn this, know this, think about this, work on this. Proverbs is like that.

Here’s what you need to know about relationships, money, marriage, sex, investments, and here’s some things to learn and think about. Oh, OK. It’s like a classroom. I’ve got to capture that, and I’ve got to consider that.

Sometimes the tone of the Bible is more like a half-time speech by a football coach. How many of you guys played football? I can still remember, I’d never played football—I tried out in high school, I made the varsity somehow, mainly just to stand on the sideline.

I think it was for our first game. Half-time, we’re down. We get in the locker room—coach is a big guy, got a big mustache, kind of like a walrus—and he gets up and just starts losing his mind, saying stuff I can’t tell you, and his face is all red, and “We’re going to war, men. We’re going to war. You’ve got to be willing to die for this.” And you know, we’re all teenagers, so, “Whoo!” He’s all fired up, we’re running out of the locker room, running down the—“We’re going to kill you!” You know? Some parts of the Bible are like that. You read it and you’re like, “It’s war time, boys! Let’s go! Whoo!”

Commanding and Demanding

But not all the time. At other times, the Bible is more like a drill sergeant. Any of you from a military background? For how many of you, boot camp didn’t go like this? You showed up, the drill sergeant hugged you as you got off the bus, rubbed you on the back, and said, “Tell me about your dad. Do you have any father issues? Tell me about your background. Is there anything I can be praying for you about? Is there anything we can do to make your stay more comfortable?”

Did he earn the right to be heard so that he could speak into your life? Did he say, “You know what? I don’t want to push on you. The first thing we need to do is build a relationship of trust so that then I could give you some advice”? No, it was, “Shut up, maggot, and stand over there!” “Oh, yes sir. OK, OK,” you know?

They’re just commanding and demanding, and sometimes the Bible’s like that. And here’s what happens: topical preachers tend to pick a tone that they’re most comfortable with and then teach sections of the Bible that are in that emotional category.

If we’re gonna walk through whole books of the Bible, you’re gonna have a lot of variance. So today, not really a wedding sermon. More like a drill sergeant sermon, OK? So you’re going to get yelled at and God’s going to say some intense things, really strong, difficult things. But hear me on this: it’s in love. He says in 1:2, “I have loved you.” That’s the banner that flies, the flag that flies over the whole book.

So, just because God has strong words doesn’t mean he doesn’t love us; they’re strong words from a loving Father. He tells us that he’s our Father in Malachi and that he loves us early on. “I love you. I’m your Dad.” So when Dad is going to have something a little intense to say, it must be because he’s very passionate, it’s very important, and there’s a sense of urgency.

Hear me in this: the God of the Bible tends not to use this tone all the time or for everyone, but he reserves it most of the time for men, particularly men who are leaders. So, God turns up the volume for male leaders. That’s what we do at Mars Hill, right? I yell at men more than single moms, OK? And here, God’s going to turn up the volume, and it’s for everyone, but especially for you men, us men who are leaders. OK, you ready? Here we go.

Bad Bible Teachers Harm Their Family

The first thing we learn is that bad Bible teachers harm their family. Malachi 2:1–3, “And now, O priests.” The priests in the Old Testament are like pastors. They had the temple; we have the church. They had the priests; we have the pastors. It’s like that.

Spiritual leaders. “This command is for you.” So, it’s specifically for the male leaders among God’s people. “If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name”—it’s not about you—“says the Lord of hosts”—the God who rules over the angels and the demons—“then I will send the curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.”

Children are a blessing. He is going to curse their blessing. “Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring.” So, they’re bad Bible teachers. How did they get to be a bad Bible teacher? You and I are all capable of this, susceptible to this. Well, he tells us two things: closed ears and hard heart. Closed ears—you will not listen.

Who should you be listening to? What should you be listening to? What areas or aspects of your life, that when God starts to speak to you about them through his Word, through your conscience, through someone else, you’re like, “I don’t want to hear that. Don’t talk to me about—fill in the blank—money, relationships, attitude, sex, theology. Whatever it is, don’t talk to me about that. I don’t want to hear about that. I don’t have ears for that”? And they have a hard heart. God says, “And you won’t take it to heart.”

The Bible here is connecting our heart and our ears, that listening requires both, that the truth comes in, and it needs to sink in. And oftentimes, the resistance to the truth is not that we don’t understand it, but it’s that we don’t like it. This is like a kid who covers their ears, puts their earbuds in, “La, la, la, la,” makes a lot of noise to drown out their father’s voice, or walks away—“I’m not listening to you.” That’s what these adult children of God are doing, particularly the pastors, the leaders. And he says there will be a consequence for their family, that their children will be cursed and rebuked. Cursed and rebuked.

Now, you would think, with this much hanging in the balance that they would have a sense of urgency to get it right, but they don’t, and what they’re afraid of is change and conflict. When your ears are closed and your heart is hard, it is because you don’t like change and you don’t like conflict—“change” meaning, “I am the way I am. It works for me. I like it this way. It’s too much work. If I do change, do you know what that’ll cost me?”

When Avoiding Conflict Is a Bad Thing

For many of you, there are areas of your life God can’t speak into because you don’t want to change? You’re not listening. And what God wants to do with the leaders is get them to change and then be agents of change to go teach others what it’s like to change. But the leaders won’t change and they don’t want to tell others to change, in part because that leads to conflict.

They’re demonstrating this by having conflict with God. God says, “I want you to change and help these people change.” That’s what leaders are supposed to do. And they say, “God, we don’t want to change and we have conflict with you, and we’re not going to tell these people to change because they’ll have conflict with us.”

Hear me on this: if your life is committed to resisting change and avoiding conflict, you’ll end up where they are. And now it’s infecting and affecting their children. Their children now will be cursed and rebuked, OK? I’ve got five kids. At this point, God’s got my ear.

See, and some of you have lived under the myth that you’re an individual and that the decisions you make don’t affect anyone else. And the same people that I hear say that oftentimes are bitter against their parents, saying, “The decisions they made have implicated my life, and I’m very angry about that. But I’m an individual, and the decisions I make don’t affect anyone else.”

That’s what blind hypocrites do. They clearly see how other sin has affected them and they refuse to see how their sin is affecting others. They close their eyes. And here, God is trying to open their eyes and say, “What you’re doing is affecting your legacy, your children, your blessing.”

Some of you will be emotionally resistant to this for this reason. You will think it is an injustice and unfair. For you, it will read like, you know, “Dad was drinking and driving, and they arrested his kids.” That’s not fair. Why should the kids be penalized for what their father has done?

This is what happens too: atheists and critics of the Bible will come along and say, “See, God is unfair. God is unjust. God is mean. God is angry. God is harsh. The God of the Old Testament is an ogre.”

The only way you can get there is to wrongly assume that the entire family is innocent. They’re not. Have you ever seen a family in something together? He’s talking here about the priests. They come from this line. They’re called the “Levites”; they go way back in the Old Testament to a guy named Levi.

The priesthood was, generally speaking, a family business. Dad’s a priest, has sons, the sons become priests. Those sons have his grandsons; they become priests. So, they’re all in it together. They’re all on the payroll. They’re all on the staff. They’re all in the same events. They’re all teaching the same doctrine. They’re all working together.

The Reason God Is So Upset

God can’t just say, “Mom and dad are really off.” Dad and mom are leading the family, but the family is following them headlong over the cliff. And these are not just little kids; these are grown adults that should know better, and they have access to the same Scriptures and the same Holy Spirit.

Why is God so upset? Why is God so angry? Why is God trying to get their attention? Why is his volume raised? Why is his tone intense? Because he loves, because he’s concerned, because it’s reached a point of crisis. I had a guy one time say, “A father should never raise his voice at his children.” I said, “Well, what if the house is on fire?” There are occasions where it’s urgent.

Here’s what’s happening in Malachi 2 and why God is so concerned. Next week, we’ll look into it. Bring a helmet, OK? It’s going to be intense. In the next section, Malachi 2:10–16, here’s what the pastors are doing: they’re marrying believing women. As they get older, they divorce their believing wife without any good reason, to run off with younger, hotter, unbelieving, godless women whom they’ve been committing adultery with, and they’re still the pastors.

Then, the children of these pastors are asking their dad to officiate their wedding to unbelievers, and dad does it. And these children are asking their dad to bless their relationship where they’re living and sleeping together, and their dad does it. And then the other leaders in the church decide, “Well, we’d like a trophy wife instead of a trophy marriage, so how about if we trade in our wife and go get a couple other options?” And the pastor says, “That’s OK. Who are we to judge? We believe in tolerance and diversity, and God’s a God of love.” Everybody’s getting divorced, and everybody’s committing adultery, and all the singles are dating unbelievers, and it all starts with corruption at the top.

Imagine if I came to you and I said this week, “Grace and I are both 43, and I’ve met a 22-year-old girl and a 21-year-old girl, and I’m trading her in for those two girls. We’re getting a divorce, but that’s OK. I’ll still be here next week to preach; bring your Bible. Oh, and by the way, the gals I’m running off with are not Christians. And I’ve talked to my sons about this, and I want them to marry non-Christians. And my daughters are welcome to marry non-Christians. And I was talking to some other elders in the church, and they’re not feeling very sexually satisfied, so they’re going to get girlfriends and divorces. And all of you singles who are living and sleeping together, feel free to sign up for our premarital class. We just edited our curriculum, and God’s OK with everything you’re doing.” Yes or no, that has some massive implications?

That’s exactly what’s happening in Malachi. Read ahead next week to the rest of Malachi 2. God’s like, “No, I’m not OK with this. This is wrong. You’re ruining your marriage. You’re ruining your church. You’re ruining your family. You’re ruining your legacy. You’re dishonoring my name. We can’t reach anybody if you’re lost.” It’s urgent.

OK, I’ll tell you this. As a leader, I live under this burden of responsibility. All leaders should live under that burden of responsibility, and they are not, and it’s harming their family.

Bad Bible Teachers Harm Themselves

Number two, bad Bible teachers harm themselves. OK, before we read it, this is pretty intense. In this next section, some of you, some of you religious people, you’re head is going to explode, OK? So, if you’re sitting next to a religious person, lean over because their head’s going to explode here in a minute.

As a religious person, you’re like, “You should never say mean things, bad things, or use bad words,” and then God does, and their head explodes because they’re holier than God. OK, should we read the Bible together? Yes or no, Mars Hill? Should we read the Bible together?

OK, well, what’s God say? “I will spread dung on your faces.” How many of you didn’t see that coming? How many of you have been in church a long time, and you’re like, “I never got the dung-on-my-face sermon. I never got that one. I never got that one.”

How many of you are like, “I didn’t see that VeggieTale. Did VeggieTales pick that one up? I don’t think they picked that one up.” I was in Baptist church, we had a flannelgraph. We didn’t have a . . . on our flannelgraph to put on their faces. It’s awkward, right? It’s 2,500 years ago. It was no more appropriate then than it is now.

How many of you, if your kids said this, would put a bar of soap in their mouth, right? If you had two sons and one looked at the other like, “I’m going to poop on your face,” you’re like, “You can’t say that.” “It’s in the Bible. I read it in Malachi. Biblical.” Some of you, you’re immediately doing the Hebrew. You’re like, “Well, what does dung mean in Hebrew?” You’re trying to find an off-ramp. You’re just like, “I don’t like where this is going. I need an off-ramp.” It’s dung, feces, turds, crap. Yes, that’s what it says.

Some of you are like, “I can’t believe he said that.” It’s in the book. Now you know why some people don’t preach through whole books of the Bible. What do you do with that? Drive around it. Drive around it. OK, do you think this was an odd day for Malachi? “Malachi?” “Yes, Lord.” “I need you to write some stuff down.” “Really? OK. What about the priests, can’t they do it?” “No, actually, this is for them. Get something to write with, son.” “OK, all right, Father. OK, OK.”

So Malachi’s, you know, sitting, “All right, I’m ready, Lord. I’m ready, OK. I’m ready, OK. What do you want me to write down?” “All right, tell them—you ready, son?” “Yeah, I’m ready, Dad. OK, what do you want me to write down?” “OK, write this: ‘I will spread dung on your face!’” “Really? Really? We’re going to do this? Really? This is my first book. Do I have to start here? Oh, this is going to go so bad on Twitter. I can’t believe it. Like, this is going to Tweet horribly. Are you sure, Lord, because cell coverage is terrible out here. I thought you said, ‘dung.’ Oh, you did? Oh, OK, well, do I get any royalties from this book?” “No, it’s a—” Really? Oh boy. OK, well, what do you want me to do with it?” “I want you to go on a book tour. We’re going to call it, ‘Spread Dung on Your Face Tour.’ And you’re going to go from city to city and yell at people, and talk about me smearing dung on their face.”

How many of you, if they were advertising this job on Craigslist, would just let it go? You’d be like, “I’ll find something else for a career.” Looking for one crazy prophet who does not have a fear of feces. I mean, this is a bizarre text, amen? Yes.

How many of you read ahead, saw it coming, and that’s why you’re here? You’re like, “I can’t wait to see what he does with this.” OK, God doesn’t use this language a lot. It’s not like Dung-on-Your-Face Tuesday, right? God uses strong language rarely in extreme circumstances where people aren’t listening, OK? So, you young guys, don’t just be like, “That’s it. I’ve got a poopy verse, and I’m just going to use that.” No, OK? He doesn’t do this all the time. This is very rare because the circumstances are very dire, but he uses bad words for bad things.

“I will spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from iniquity or sin. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge”—he’s a teacher—“people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.”

Not a Contract But a Covenant

He talks about a covenant. God says, “I made a covenant with the Levites, the priests, the leaders.” And a covenant is this: God blesses us and gives us burdens. The burdens are obedience that is going to be difficult. It’s going to come with a price. God blesses and gives us burdens. And the blessing here is, “I’m going to bless you and your family,” but the burden is, “You’re going to be my messenger. You’re not allowed to say what you want. You’re not allowed to say what you think. You need to echo me.”

It’s like a father teaching their kids to talk. Dad says something; kid says what dad says. That’s how we learn to speak. God says, “It’s going to be like that. I’m going to say something, and then you’re going to say it to the people. And for every action, there’s a reaction. There’s going to be a backlash against you. It’s going to come at a price.”

All right, the prophets are exiled, they’re outcasted, they’re hated, they’re murdered. There’s a burden with that. The blessing is, “I’ll take care of you and your family.” The burden is, “You need to be my messenger.” They wanted to renegotiate their deal, and you can’t do that in a covenant. It’s not a contract; it’s a covenant. And their deal was this: “All right, Lord, how about we say whatever we want and you still bless us? Deal?”

The answer is no. It’s like a husband and a wife get married. The terms of the covenant are fidelity. The wife looks at the husband and says, “OK, how about you keep all of your vows and I rewrite mine? I put in boyfriend and some other things.” No, you can’t rewrite the covenant once you’re in it. You need to know that Christianity’s a covenant, that God has a relationship with his people on his terms, and you don’t get to be an exception to the rule, getting all the benefits and blessings like eternal life, and none of the burdens and obligations of walking with him faithfully. It’s an all-or-nothing deal.

They wanted to receive all from the Lord and give nothing to the Lord. God says, “No.” The consequence for breaching the covenant was God threatening to wipe feces on their face. And what’s going to happen then is, this is going to get all over their lips, right? The lips they use to teach with.

What God is saying is, “As bad as that sounds to you, your instruction is to me.” God’s saying, “Since it’s nothing but dung coming out, we might as well rub some dung on it so that everybody knows what comes out of your mouth is nothing but waste.” Strong words. A couple of things about this: God holds teachers accountable because students follow their teacher, and if their teacher is heading off a cliff, it’s bad for the students.

“I See Your Heart, and It’s Disgusting”

Number two, God not only sees the external, but he sees the internal. And externally, if you looked at these religious professionals, oh, they seem so holy. Before they go in the temple, they wash their hands, they change their clothes, they say their prayers. They visit the sick in the hospital. They smile. They have those compelling eyes. They’re so compassionate.

God says, “I see your heart, and it’s disgusting. You’re not loving me; you’re using me. You’re not loving people; you’re using people. And the people are confused because they can’t see your heart. All they see is your face, so I’m going to take the contents of your heart and smear it on your face so that the people see you as I see you.”

Number three, this is as bad as it gets. A priest was to stay clean, pure, ritually-speaking, so they could be in the presence of God. How many of you have gone fishing and gutted a fish, or gone hunting and gutted an animal, or been a butcher and gutted your own meat? The first thing you learn is, this part we keep, this part we don’t. Know what I’m talking about? OK, if you catch a fish, don’t eat all of it. Get rid of certain portions of the fish.

So it is in the sacrificial system. The priest would offer sacrifices of animals, and it was to be offered unto the Lord, but there were parts that were ritually unclean, the nasty parts. According to the law, those were to be taken outside of the camp and burned.

God is saying, “I’m going to take those unclean parts and smear them on your face. Because you are unclean, I will show you as unclean.” This means that they’re defiled. This means that they are disgraced. This means that they are disqualified. They can no longer be priests.

God is threatening here, and he says it twice with a preface of “if” in this section. So he’s giving them an opportunity to repent, but he’s saying, “I’m going to fire all the priests. You’re all unemployed. You’re all cast away from my presence. You’re all former ministers of mine. I’m getting rid of everybody.” Why is this? It’s bad enough when someone harms themselves, but when they start harming their students, God takes it very seriously.

Bad Bible Teachers Harm Their Students

So that’s his next point: bad Bible teachers harm their students. Malachi 2:8–9, “But you have turned aside from the way.” All right, you were walking down a straight path, and now you’re going down another path. “You have caused many to stumble.” You’re putting sin, folly, and rebellion in front of people, and they’re tripping over it. “You’ve corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

A teacher of God’s word is to be imparting life and nourishment to people. This is why Jesus looks at Peter after his resurrection and says, “Peter, feed my sheep.” Peter’s feeding is teaching. The teaching of God’s Word is to be nourishment and sustenance that people would grow in Christ’s likeness. That’s why Paul tells a young man to teach sound doctrine, and the word there is literally “healthy.”

The reason why God is so frustrated is this: Imagine a mother who changed her child’s diaper and then fed it to the child. There’s no nourishment in it. The kid’s going to get sick and eventually die. Some spiritual leaders are like that. They feed people nothing but waste, and it causes people to get sick, spiritually speaking, and to die.

We would say, “Oh, but there’s different interpretations, perspectives, pluralism, tolerance, and diversity,” “Who are you to judge?” and “That’s not loving.” God’s like, “I’ll tell you what’s loving: not feeding waste to people and making them sick.”

Here, they’ve come to serve up trays of waste—dung—through what he calls corruption and partiality. “Corruption” meaning, “I’m getting a good living, and if I tell these people this is wrong, they’re going to stop giving and they’re going to start leaving. And they could hurt my bottom line and make my life harder. I’ve got to work more. Don’t want to do that.” Partiality, “Oh, well, is it right or wrong? Well, tell me, who are you? You’re rich and powerful; you get to do what you want. You’re poor and powerless; the rules are different for you. We have different rules for different people because we show partiality. We have partiality for different doctrines.”

Oh, there’s certain doctrines we like—God loves us. Other doctrines we don’t like—God’s angry with us. Certain doctrines we love, oh, there’s heaven. Oh, other things, oh hell, don’t like that, so we’re going to be God’s editors and not God’s messengers. We want this to be easy for us as leaders. We want to take this and make it into a job. And it’s amazing that, though the book is 2,500 years old, the issues aren’t.

We don’t like to speak negatively of other churches, but let me just say this: just because there’s a cross on the top doesn’t mean you’ll walk in and hear Christ from the pulpit. There are some churches that hate sin, love Jesus, and teach the Bible. There’s a lot of them. There’s a lot of them that smell like Malachi chapter 2.

Pastor, You’re Going to Hell

I’ll give you an example, an illustration of a Malachi 2 moment: We started Mars Hill; I was 25. Started teaching the Bible—most of you guys know the story—a little community group Bible study on our couch, Grace and I, for about a dozen people. And a handful of them are still at Mars Hill, and we appreciate that.

I didn’t get paid for the first three years. We were small; there was no money coming in. I didn’t know if I’d ever get to stop my side job, which was fine. I just wanted to teach the Bible, so I worked a side job. And we had Ashley by that point, so Grace was home, being a mom, and I was taking any gig I could to preach. I’d go and preach at a youth camp or a student ministry—anything. I’d go teach. I wanted to get more hours in and learn how to teach the Bible.

I got what I thought was a big gig. They’re going to put me on an airplane, which was a big gig, and they flew me to Florida for a national conference of a main line liberal Protestant denomination that I didn’t know anything about because I didn’t grow up Protestant—I grew up Catholic.

They wanted me to do a breakout seminar on how to reach young people, and I was a young person, so apparently I was ready to do that. This was a long time ago when I had no gray in my beard, I could eat carbohydrates, and I could stay up past 10—a long time ago.

So I show up and I was scheduled to teach a number of lectures through the course of the day, and with the first one I started in, Romans 1, I had a full tank of gas and was ready to go. “I’m not ashamed of the gospel. It’s the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. It all rises and falls—it all begins and ends with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He died in our place for our sins! He rose from the grave! He alone saves!”

And I’m going for it. “And you’ve got to preach this to young people. Get them excited about Jesus.” And a pastor raises his hand. He said, “What if you don’t really believe that?” I was like, “What?” He said, “The resurrection part.” I was like, “Do you not believe in the resurrection?” He said, “Well, I’m not sure.” I said, “What do you do for a living?” He said, “I’m a pastor.” This is like I’m teaching at a vegan conference and they’re not sure that vegetables exist. Like, what? What are you doing here? What are you doing? How did you get in here? He said, “Well, I’m not sure I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Is there any way to reach young people?” I said, “You can’t reach young people if you’re going to hell.”

OK, today is the sanctified version of me. Imagine 15 years ago what that guy looked like: I was two guys back on the evolutionary chart, with a sloped forehead saying crazy stuff, you know? And I was like, “Well, you’re going to hell. You shouldn’t teach anybody. If they’ll follow you, they’ll follow you to hell. You’re going to burn in hell.”

I just kept going for it in front of all the other pastors who were his peers. And then I looked around and I realized that I wasn’t getting the groundswell of support from the crowd that I was anticipating. They’re all looking at me like, “Hmm.” And I said, “OK, how many of you are not certain that Jesus rose from the dead?” And a bunch of hands went up from the pastors. So, I went for it again. “You’re all going to hell. You’re all going to burn forever!” Like, I’ve got no reverse gear, right? Like, I’m forward, you know?

So I thought, “I’m going to do an altar call. I’m going to invite them to turn from sin. We’re going to do Billy Graham right here with the pastors. This’ll be like the best day ever. All the pastors got saved.” So I’m like, “All right, who wants to give their life to Jesus?” Did not get the response that I was anticipating. People did get up to walk the aisle, but it was to walk out of the seminar that I was teaching, not to come forward to receive Jesus.

The next thing I know, an older person comes in and says, “Mark, thank you for your time. Feel free to take the rest of the day off.” I was like, “Oh man, I have two more lectures.” They’re like, “No you don’t, OK?”

So I talked to one of the honest pastors afterward. I was like, “Dude, why are you a pastor if you don’t believe in the resurrection?” I’m, you know, in my 20s. I didn’t understand this. He said, “Well, I kind of grew up in church. And then I went to seminary, and I got a degree. And you know, I’ve read a lot, and I’m not sure Jesus rose from the dead, and I’ve got a lot of questions. And once you get a seminary degree, you can’t really go get another job. There’s no way to pay the bills. And my retirement account’s tied up, and we’re living at the church house, the parsonage. And you know, I’ve got my benefits, my wife’s sick, and everything’s tied up. So, you know, I just am trying to do a good job and just hang in there and help people.”

That’s what’s going on in Malachi 2. That’s what’s going on in Malachi 2. And people are following these people, and they’re headed off a cliff.

Now, in saying this, I don’t want to give this impression. I want to be careful in this. I’m not saying, “The world is filled with bad Bible teachers, and me,” because that would be bad Bible teaching. There’s actually a lot of good Bible teachers, and there are some that aren’t.

Some of you are visiting. You need to find a home church. Some of you, God’s going to move because there are other churches that love Jesus and preach the Bible, and you’re really needed there to help them grow, and that’s a good thing. Some of you, for school or work, God’s going to relocate you. Podcasters will hear this. I need you to plug into a local church. Because our job is not to preach the Bible at a local church and send it out to the world so that people wouldn’t care about their local church.

5 Traits of a Good Bible Teacher

That being said, I would like to give you five things to look for when you’re looking for a good Bible teacher, and they come from Malachi 2:5–7. And I really do love the people that I have an opportunity to teach, and whether or not I ever get to teach them again, I want them to learn God’s Word. It doesn’t matter necessarily who is teaching; it matters what’s being taught. And if it’s me, great, if it’s somebody else, great. As long as the Bible’s open and it’s about Jesus, I want you to eat well, OK?

Here’s five things to look for in a Bible teacher. And I say this as well because some of you want to be Bible teachers. You want to lead Community Groups, Redemption Groups, Student Ministry, Kids’ Ministry, Women’s Ministry, mentoring. Some of you want to be deacons, some of you want to be elders, some of you want to be church planters, whatever. OK, these are things to aspire to for those who feel called to teach and these are things to look for for those who are under teaching.

1. Character

Number one, character. It says of Levi, and I’m just pulling from Malachi 2:5–7: “He feared me,” God says, “and he stood in awe of my name.” All right, Levi’s issue was, “What does this say about the Lord? How I live my life says something about the Lord.” We’d say he lived coram Deo, or “in the face of God.” Malachi is a man of character as well. He fears God, and he loves people. They can’t look at him and say, “You committed adultery. You ran off on your wife. You’re no better than us.” No, no, they can’t throw any of that at Malachi because he wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a man of character.

Let me say this. I want to be careful. Some of you are religious neatniks and nitpicks because you’ve been hurt by spiritual authority over you or because you don’t want spiritual authority over you. You will find any fault or flaw with any leader. Like, if Jesus came back, you’d be like, “I don’t like his sandals. I just don’t like his look. He looks hippie; he reminds me of the leftists. I don’t like it.” You’ll find some way to criticize everyone.

I’m not talking to you about giving you permission to go seeking ways to discredit teachers so that you’re an authority unto yourself and under no one’s authority. The issue here is not a minor one; it’s adultery, unbiblical divorce, and remarriage to unbelieving women. That’s huge. It’s not just, “Well, I have a criticism of this leader. It’s a big deal.” Character, character, character. Are they faithful to their wives? Are they stealing money? Are they out of control?

2. Clarity

Number two, clarity, meaning you know what they’re talking about. It says this of Levi, “True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips.” You knew what he was talking about. Malachi, true or false, we pretty much know what Malachi’s talking about?

How many of you, when you read Malachi, are like, “I think God’s angry, and the priests are nasty. That’s kind of what I got out of it.” Good. I remember some years ago there was a sort of young, hip, up-and-coming teacher, and everybody’s like, “Man, so arty, so cool, so poetic, amazing stories, mind-bending, so cool.” I was like, “What is he saying? What is he saying?” They’re like, “We don’t know. It’s so amazing.”

That’s a turd with sprinkles, not a candy bar. There’s nothing there. There’s no nourishment in it, right? It’s fine to be a good communicator, but you need to have good content. Clarity.

OK, so let me make it clear: There’s one God. He made you. You sinned against him. He loves you, so he came as Jesus Christ to save you. Jesus lived without sin, died on the cross in your place for your sins. Three days later, rose from death. He’s ascended, seated in heaven right now, coming again to judge the living and the dead.

The bottom line is, you’ve got two options: You close your ears, you harden your heart, you live in your sin, you stand before him, and you spend forever in the conscious, eternal torments of hell. Or you open your ears, you soften your heart, you confess your sins, you receive him as Lord and Savior, you close your eyes in death, you awaken to see him face-to-face and to be with him forever in heaven. Clear.

OK, there’s nothing worse than someone who opens the book and fog comes out. It’s like, “I don’t know where we’re going. I can’t see what we’re talking about. The guy opened the book and fog came out.” Clarity. I try to be clear, and not everybody likes that.

My personality, my resurrected personality, is going to be a sweet guy—that guy. And by God’s grace, I’m getting sweeter. Those that have been around for a while will tell you, “He’s a nice guy compared to the guy he was.” But for me, I never want to back away from clarity. I always get frustrated watching a media interview, and the interviewer will be like, “All right, millions are watching. Is Jesus God?” They’re like, “Well, there’s various perspectives, and critics believe, and the ancient hieroglyphics—” And I’m like, “Say yes!” I’m just slamming the TV, “Say yes! Come on!” “Well, what will people think of me?” That you were clear.

See, the Bible teacher’s job is not always to be liked, but to always be clear.

3. Consistency

Number three, consistency. It says of Levi, quote, “He walked with me in peace and righteousness.” When the Bible uses the language of “walk,” this is a lifestyle, walking with God. It’s not like, “Well, he walked with me one season, and then he walked with his girlfriend when his wife wasn’t looking, and then he walked over to the church and embezzled some money, and then walked away from the ministry because he just didn’t feel like it, and then walked back in and asked for his job.” It’s like, that’s not a good walk. “Walked with me.”

Eugene Peterson calls this “long obedience in the same direction.” All right, a true teacher of God’s Word can’t have a reverse gear. They’re like, “I love Jesus, and now I don’t, and I’m walking with Jesus, and now I’m not.” Like, you’ve got to keep going forward.

Like Billy Graham, consistency. What’s Billy Graham been talking about his whole life? The cross of Jesus Christ. Billy just preached his last sermon. What was it on? The cross of Jesus Christ. Good job, Billy. I praise God for Billy. Right, you’re like, “What’s Billy talking about?” Sin, Jesus, and salvation. Anything else? That’s it. And then when he dies, Jesus will say, “Good job, Billy. That was consistency.”

Some of you get enamored by what is new and you get bored with what is eternal. The key is to be consistent over time. I’ve had people come up and say, “Pastor Mark, what you told us today—we already knew that.” Well, maybe you needed to hear it again—that’s why sometimes the Bible says things more than once—or maybe somebody just showed up and they never heard it. Consistency.

4. Courage

Courage, number four. It says, “Levi turned many from inequity.” This takes courage. What this means is sin—and here in this, most doctrinal problems are actually sexual problems, historically, even in our own day. What it is is people want to have some sort of sex that God says no to, and all of a sudden they will couch it as theological problems. That’s what’s going on in Malachi. Guys are like, “I want to be with that girl, not my wife. We have theological issues.” No we don’t; we have pant issues—with theological implications. We have pant issues. And when everybody’s got an appetite to go do something sinful, to turn them from their inequity, oh, that takes some courage.

Single people, “No, no, no, no, no, no, you can’t sleep with them, can’t live with them. They’re not a believer, you can’t date them. No, turn, turn, turn. Married couples, no, no, no, no adultery. No, no, no, no coveting anybody else’s spouse. No, no, no, no pornography. No, no, no, no, no, turn, turn, turn, turn, turn, turn.” There’s resistance because people’s desires for evil can be very strong, and so to redirect them, it can be very, very complicated.

True or false, Malachi’s got some courage? I mean, to say what he has to say, courage. You young guys, hear me in this: it’s not enough to be courageous, you need to be courageous for the right thing. All right, that’s the difference between a soldier and a terrorist. They both have courage, they just don’t have the right cause. At least, the terrorist does not. As soon as I say courage, there are immediately young guys who are like, “Yeah, I’m going to fight with all religious leaders. I’m going to be Malachi.” No, you’re not. No, you’re not. Be courageous for the glory of God and the good of others, not for your own power base.

5. Christ

Number five, Christ. Every good Bible teacher points you to Jesus Christ. If you forget everything I said, and you probably will except for the feces part, remember this: a good Bible teacher understands that the Scripture is for us, but it’s not about us—it’s about Jesus. Any time that the Bible is open and Jesus is not proclaimed, the Bible was not rightly opened. Malachi is all about Jesus. You’re going to see it in the next few weeks and you can read ahead. Malachi 3, “The Lord you are seeking will come to his temple.”

Hmm, so the Lord’s going to become a man, walk around on the earth, and go to a place called the Temple that was destroyed in AD 70, historical continuum. The Lord Jesus is going to come to his temple. How will we know that he’s coming? Chapter 4, the end of Malachi, a guy who’s a prophet like Elijah’s going to come and preach repentance and get people’s hearts ready for the coming of Jesus. What’s his name? John the Baptizer.

Then this is God’s final word for about 400 years. What he’s saying is, “Get ready for the coming of Jesus!” And we’re in the same position. They were awaiting Jesus’ first coming; we’re awaiting his second coming. I don’t know if you know this: we’re waiting for Jesus Christ to come again, to judge the living and the dead. They were waiting for him to come; we’re waiting for him to come again. And they kind of got bored, and they kind of got tempted, and they kind of got indifferent, and they kind of got settled in, they kind of got wearisome.

God’s trying to get their attention by saying, “No, no, no, no, no, it’s going to be 400 years. What about your legacy? What about your kids, your grandkids? What about the people in your Community Group? What about the people in your church? What about those people? Are they going to be faithful? When you’re dead and gone, will anybody be waiting for the coming of Jesus?”

He’s trying to get them up from their circumstance and get their eyes and our eyes fixated on the horizon of opportunity in our future. And then Jesus Christ does come, and then we realize why God was so frustrated with the priests. The priests were a temporary placeholder until the coming of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, and he comes to mediate between men and God. That’s what priests do. And he does it as God becoming a man.

Well, these priests were not mediating between men and God. They were not holy; they were unholy. We needed Jesus to be our mediator. Jesus comes as well to teach. They were supposed to teach, but they weren’t great teachers. Jesus comes as a rabbi, the perfect teacher, and he teaches that all the Scripture’s about him. And they’re offering sacrifices, but they’re offering lame sacrifices. And Jesus comes and offers himself as the perfect sacrifice in our place for our sins.

So, the whole point of the priesthood was foreshadowing the forthcoming of Jesus as our mediator, teacher, sacrifice. As Hebrews says, our great High Priest. And these priests are taking advantage of this opportunity and they’re corrupting this ministry that ultimately belongs to Jesus.

Hear me in this: the ministry belongs to Jesus. The problem with the priests was they thought it was their ministry. It’s Jesus’ ministry. They couldn’t do with it as they wanted. They needed to do with it as he wanted. Mars Hill is not my ministry. It’s Jesus’ ministry. It’s not your ministry; it’s not our ministry. It’s his ministry. They lost sight of that. They lost sight of that, and as a result, they were not ready to meet Jesus at his coming.

If you give me a moment, I’d like to fix your eyes toward the horizon. That’s what God is doing here. He’s trying to get people ready for 400 years. I don’t know how many years it’ll be until Jesus comes back, but between now and then, we want to build and leave a legacy. Looking back and forward—those of you who know my story—it’s not all about my story, but some things to pray for me.

Looking Back

God saved me when I was 19. I was a religious guy, moral and spiritual—I didn’t know Jesus. I was like the guys in Malachi. I would say I believed in God, and I was going to do whatever I wanted. And then when I became a Christian at 19, God spoke to me at a men’s retreat for my church. And it was an awesome church. I’m glad I didn’t have to unlearn a lot from my first pastor. He was awesome.

God spoke to me. He said, “Marry Grace, preach the Bible, train men, plant churches”—four things. Audible voice of God doesn’t happen a lot. So, I was unsure. This had never happened to me, so I took it to my pastor. I said, “OK, here’s what I heard. What should I do?”

Because there’s nothing worse than a 19-year-old guy with a “Jesus told me” flag. You 19-year-old guys are like, “Jesus told me. Jesus told me that you’re supposed to be my wife.” Really, really? Ask her dad if that’s what Jesus put on the flag. You know, go ask. “Jesus told me to be an elder.” OK, Jesus told me it’ll be 50 years. Hmm, interesting how we both got a call. You know, there’s nothing worse than somebody running around with a “God told me” flag. So, if you think you’ve got a “God told me” flag, take it to godly leadership and see if godly leadership agrees it’s a flag that Jesus gave you.

So, I came to my pastor and the elders and I said, “Here’s what I think Jesus told me, but you’re my pastor. I don’t know, what do you think?” He said, “I’m going to think about it, pray about it. We’ll get back to you.” “OK, thanks.” He came back and said, “I believe that was a word from the Lord. That’s what you need to do with the rest of your life. I’ll pray for you.” “OK.”

He started discipling me and encouraging me. He said, “OK, you are supposed to preach the Bible. You’re not ready. You should plant a church, but you’re nowhere near ready. You should marry Grace if she’ll have you, and you’re not ready.” I was like, “OK, so there’s a lot of work to do.” Just because God calls you doesn’t mean you’re ready. I had a lot of work to do.

I married Grace at 21. Pastor did the service. We graduated, moved back to Seattle. I did college ministry for a while. At the age of 25, started Mars Hill Church in the fall of 1996, and I wasn’t ready. I should have waited longer. I should have gotten more training. I learned how to fly, you know, while in the air with passengers. OK, so, those who have been around a while will be like, “Oh yeah, I got really sick.” I’ll tell you why, rookie pilot, OK? I needed to sit in the other seat with a seasoned pilot before I ever got on a plane, but God was gracious and kept it out of the trees.

We started it at the same time that something called the Internet came into existence. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this thing. It’s really taken off, this Internet thing. And a lot of our early core, they were working at a little company you might have heard of called Microsoft.

It’s like we paddled out on our little surfboard and then this huge wave comes. We started putting sermons online in the ’90s. In the ’90s. At that time, churches had cassette ministries. Remember these things? And we didn’t do a cassette ministry because we couldn’t afford a cassette recorder or a cassette duplicator. So, they’re like, “Well, we’ll throw it on the Internet and see if anybody’s out there.”

They were. And I’m amazed that God was gracious enough to allow us to live at a time in history when Bible teaching can go out further and faster than at any time. So, I asked the guys this week, “What have we done by God’s grace?” They estimate I’ve preached 3,000 different sermons—at least 7 of them were great. I’ve preached about 15,000 hours. I’ve preached through 21 books of the Bible. Malachi is 22. James starts in January, 23. We pick up a chunk of Acts after Easter as we’re working on 24.

I’ve written or contributed to 21 books. I don’t even know how many study guides. I’ve written 1,400 blogs. Every year, my sermons are downloaded 15 to 18 million times. I’ve been hit on YouTube, total about 16 million times. I also do leadership coaching interviews, and I do media interviews, I do conference messages, I teach classes, I write articles for Fox or CNN, or whoever will have me, and I’m on social media as well.

We’ve always believed at Mars Hill that the teaching of the Bible about Jesus is central and essential, that a church is not just a sermon, but a church is certainly not less than a sermon. It’s a sermon plus a whole lot of other things that all revolve around loving and serving the people.

I want to thank you for letting me teach for 17 years. I think I’m better than I was 17 years ago, and by God’s grace I hope to be better 17 years from now, still teaching at Mars Hill. I live under a burden that I make mistakes, and sometimes it causes me grief, and other times depression. I give it all I’ve got, and sometimes I get it wrong and I need to do it again. And if you would just pray for me, I’ve got plenty of critics that I could probably use some more prayer.

By God’s grace, I’m really glad that I get to do what I do, which is teach the Bible at Mars Hill. I’m glad that we get to do campaigns, building Community Groups and the life of the church around the teaching of the Bible. If you’re going to put anything at the bedrock, I think the teaching of the Bible about Jesus is the way to go and the place to begin. And I would tell you this, too; In Mars Hill, my work is primarily priestly, to use the language of Malachi. Love people, set up the systems, try and help people.

Outside of Mars Hill, my work is largely prophetic, like Malachi. Say something a bit provocative and then watch the mushroom cloud, OK? Have any of you noticed this? And I live in those two worlds, but don’t let that world distract you in any way. “Love one another, be the people of God, and don’t waste your time on foolish and stupid arguments,” the Bible says.

That being said, some years ago when I first started teaching at Mars Hill, I was with a group of young pastors that started to go astray into all kinds of weird, abhorrent doctrine in the name of hip innovation. And I was like, “I don’t want to be a part of that.” They’re denying hell, and the Bible, and the resurrection. I mean, like, what the heck? No way.

I was young and I didn’t have enough training, and so I tried to find a school. But I couldn’t find one in Seattle that I was super thrilled about, so I found Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and I got in my truck, 1978 Chevy pickup truck that we affectionately referred to as Chuck the Truck. And I jumped in Chuck the Truck. He’s got low-gear ratios, doesn’t go over 55 miles an hour, gets about 2 miles a gallon, has no air conditioning, cruise control, or arm rest, and it’s so loud you can’t talk on the phone in it.

So, I jumped in Chuck the Truck, which was my daily driver at the time, and I drove down to Portland, Oregon, to go to Western Seminary. And I sat down with a professor and I said, “I need more Bible training,” and he said, “I’ve heard of you. You do.” I said, “But I can’t quit my church and go to school,” and he said, “Then I’ll build a program for you, and I’ll be a mentor to you, and I’ll invest in you.” His name was Dr. Gerry Breshears, and he taught me a lot, and he worked on some books with me.

So I think I took the longest to finish a master’s degree of anyone in the history of the universe. And I would drive down once a month in Chuck the Truck in the morning, drive back in the evening for years, working on my degree.

Looking Forward

Well, I finally got my master’s degree. And part of my hope at Mars Hill has been to build a Bible-teaching institution that outlives all of us, something that when you’re gone, I’m gone, our kids are gone, and our grandkids are gone, will still be a place where there’s robust, faithful Bible teaching, and we teach Bible teachers. And this was part of my vision 17 years ago when we put together the original vision for Mars Hill Church.

I am very happy to report that God answered those prayers recently. Starting next fall, we will be offering accredited undergraduate education at Mars Hill Bellevue through Corban University. We’ll start with a one-year certificate in Bible and Theology, and I’ve raised my hand to be one of the professors, along with some others.

We also will be welcoming Western Seminary, fully-accredited master’s, MA and MDiv, in theological education at Mars Hill Bellevue. Those two institutions will be the degree-granting institutions. They’ve got a long history and a good partnership. We will be the host and also participating in the instruction.

For those of you who want to learn more Bible, this is it. For those of you who want to become Bible teachers in some capacity, here it is. We’re just waiting for final pending approval from the state of Washington for all the accrediting purposes. I would ask you to pray for that. I’m really excited about it. And if you want to find out more, you can go to

In light of that, one of the big problems in Malachi was whoever was teaching the teachers was teaching them poorly, and then the teachers were teaching the people poorly, and then the people were suffering as a result of that.

So our hope and our goal is to create a place where there is good teaching to teach good teachers to teach good things so that people might have good lives by God’s grace. I hope you’re excited about that, because I sure am, and I want to welcome Corban and Western.

An Opportunity to Respond

I’m over time. I know that’s shocking. So what we’re going to do at this point: we’re going to collect our tithes and offerings to give toward the legacy of our future and what God has for us. In addition, we’ll then partake of Communion, where we give God our worst, our sin, and we receive from God his best, the death of Jesus in our place for our sins as our substitute and Savior. And as we are transitioning our time of worship, I want you guys to see what God is doing, and I hope that it opens your heart. So, open your ears and open your heart to hear and see what Jesus is up to right now.


Pastor Sutton: Howdy, Mars Hill Church, this is Pastor Sutton. I’m here with my family. My wife, Marcy, my daughter, Grace, my daughter, Faye, and Joe Joe. We’re just here to say thank you for being a part of the extended family of Mars Hill Global.

Jesus has done some crazy, awesome things through Mars Hill Global this last year. As you guys know, we support church planters and evangelists in Ethiopia and India. This last 12 months, we’ve supported 20 evangelists in Ethiopia. They preach the gospel to 11,000 people, and 890 people have been saved, so it’s just pretty amazing.

In India, since a partnership with Arjuna and Vision Nationals, we’ve planted over 53 churches. And next year, what’s super exciting is is that our 43 church planters and evangelists are going to grow to 73. So, I just ask that you guys continue to pray and continue to give to Mars Hill and to Mars Hill Global. And I just pray that through Mars Hill Church, that legacies will be transformed, changed by Jesus, not only in the United States, but in Ethiopia and in India. Thank you.

Pastor Seth Winterhalter: Hey, this is Pastor Seth Winterhalter at Mars Hill Church Olympia, my family, my wife, Rachel, my kiddos, Raelynn, Rebecca, and little baby Samuel, and we’re coming to you from the new building at Mars Hill Church Olympia. We’re about to move into this at the end of the year. And thanks for praying, man. Incredible things happening down here as we continue to reach the four counties, over 12 cities, 500,000 people that we’re praying would be impacted by Jesus Christ.

Thank you for joining with us, and we pray that you continue to pray for us as we see more people developed to become CG leaders, RG leaders, Service Team leaders as we impact the south Sound for the glory of Jesus. Our big thing is to see legacies changed, and we pray that you’d join with us as we continue to see God do his work here in the south Sound, in Olympia, from the capital city.

Pastor Bubba: Pastor Bubba here with my wife, Shelly, our son, Jones, and our son, Jackson, and we are in Tacoma, Washington, where the need is great. There are over a million people in this area who’ve yet to meet Jesus. And I say yet because we are planting Mars Hill Tacoma in the area to be a regional church to reach multiple cities. And we would ask, be praying for us. Pray for more leaders. We need 10 more pastors, 60 more Community Groups. As well, we would ask to be praying for conversions, that people would meet Jesus, that Jesus would save people. I’m praying for 200 baptisms in 2014.

And so we just want to say thank you. Thank you for praying, thank you for giving, thank you for helping build the legacy in Tacoma.

Pastor Matt Wallace: Hey, Mars Hill. This is Pastor Matt Wallace, with my wife, Meg, and our five kiddos, Kate, Kai, Corban, Canon, and Crew. We’ve got a new space and we are excited about it. We are praying that when we launch Mars Hill Huntington Beach on January 12th over 900 people join us. That’s only 900 of the 3 million that live in Orange County. We’ve got almost 20 percent of them that live within 5 miles of this new space. But as you can see, we’ve got a ton of work to do, so please pray for us.

Pray that we have leaders. Pray that we have volunteers. Pray that we have boldness for the mission that’s ahead for us. And we want to build a legacy here in Southern California, making disciples and planting churches over the next 20 or 30 years. So, thank you, Mars Hill, for giving, thank you for praying.

Pastor Mark: Howdy, Pastor Mark here with the family, part of our “Living for a Legacy” series, is letting you know what’s coming up this summer. We’ve got something brand-new and super cool. We’re calling it the Jesus Festival. We’ll pick a nice day, be outside. We’re going to have bouncy houses for kids, lots of fun stuff. We’re also going to do baptisms, and preaching, and music at Marymoor Park. All the Mars Hill Churches are welcome. We want to see you all there.

In addition, coming up this fall, glad to announce we have officially agreed to bring Corban University and Western Seminary to Mars Hill Bellevue. When we started the church 17 years ago, we didn’t have any kids. Ashley was one of the first kids born, and now that first generation is getting ready for college, so it’s time for us to get ready to help them get ready for their future.

So, fully accredited undergraduate and graduate Bible-based, Jesus-focused education through Mars Hill. The credits will be able to transfer to other universities. Both institutions are accredited. We’re excited about that, and with 3,000 kids, ages 10 and under, we’ve got to get ready for the future leaders. And the Driscoll family wants to give the church family a very Merry Christmas. Good job.

Note: This sermon transcript has been edited for readability.

It's All About Jesus

Jesus was a man who claimed to be God. Think on that for a minute. If that were true, how would it change the way you thought, felt, and lived this life?

At Mars Hill, we believe that Jesus is God. We take him at his word. Because of this, everything we do is all about Jesus. We invite you to learn more about this man who is God and how you can find forgiveness and new life in him.

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Making Disciples

God reveals himself through us to others. Our priority is to make disciples who love God and love others well.

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God works through his church to make disciples. Our commitment is to plant churches that love God and love others.

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We value community

Church is more than a service. It’s people living life together and helping one another throughout our cities to serve our cities. Each week, thousands of people at Mars Hill meet in hundreds of small communities to learn about God, pray, eat, laugh, and live. We call these Community Groups—and they’re the heart of our church.

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