Jonathan Leeman. Reverberation: How God's Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People. Chicago: Moody, 2011. 208 pages. $12.99.
Surely every Christian acknowledges the power of God’s Word. Well, at least as a creedal statement we all would acknowledge it. But whether our practice measures up to our creed is the question. Specifically, if we acknowledge that it is through his Word that God works, then how must this shape the way we “do” church?
As I picked up Reverberation I frankly was not prepared for the treat that awaited me. Following my customary procedure I read the title, subtitle, the book description on the back cover, the table of contents, and even the recommendations given by reliable men. So by the time I started reading the book itself I already knew what it was all about and that I would find myself in happy agreement with it. What I did not anticipate is the clarity of Leeman’s presentation, the cogency his argument, and the overall effectiveness of his exposition and application of this marvelous theme. With each page I became more eager to urge everyone in our church to read it!
Leeman, editorial director for 9Marks ministries, begins with a discussion of the power of God’s Word. This is nothing new, of course. But his presentation is unusually compelling. Indeed, one of the leading values of this book is that it not only informs the reader in regard to this so very important article of our faith; it also leaves the reader utterly persuaded of it and moved by it. Reading as he unpacks this wonderful theme of the transforming effectiveness of Scripture you sense your own perspective being sharpened, your appreciation of God’s Word deepened, and your eagerness to see it put to further use increased many times over. Certainly every believer has experienced the soul- and life-transforming power of God’s Word, and as Leeman articulates this theme for us we find him articulating our own experience with God—which is, of course, what makes this to us such a joyful theme.
Leeman wins his case in this first section so well that you will find yourself eager to see how this theme affects church and Christian worship, which is what the subject he takes up in the rest of the book. First, of course, is the matter of preaching. Here Leeman describes preaching in terms of the “exposing” of God’s written Word, apart from which preaching has no value whatever. Then he explains—again, so compellingly—how God’s Word then “reverberates” in our singing, praying, disciple-making, and evangelism.
What distinguishes Christianity, at bottom, is the message. We Christians have the audacity to claim that God has spoken, and that the message we proclaim is from him. We are a “people of the book,” and we believe with all our hearts that this message is the means through which God works mightily to claim and transform those who are his. What Leeman provides for us is both a very clear and persuasive exposition of this truth and a discerning application of it to church life. After reading this you will want more than ever to see your church become increasingly Word/gospel-centered—in its preaching, its singing, its praying, its ordinances, and in every other aspect of its life.
We are already aware of our indebtedness to 9Marks for their strategic work in getting the church on focus. And here is another “must have” book designed to that end. It fills a great need, and I cannot commend it too highly. Does your church need reformation? Here is a great place to begin and a wonderful resource for charting your course. This is applied bibliology and practical ecclesiology at its best, profound but easily entry-level. It deserves to be required reading for every church member and to be used as textbook for Sunday school classes and Bible studies. It is one of those books that truly will serve to shape perspectives and, in turn, the way we do church—to the glory of God and our own increase in grace.