I admit that I haven’t yet read Jonathan Leeman’s new book, Reverberation. In fact, it’s just out today, but my copy is on order and I’m looking forward to reading this book all about the power of the Word of God. I found his post today on the IX Marks blog, explaining why he wrote this book for pastors, and it makes me all the more eager to get reading. As Leeman points out, pastors have all sorts of duties, but preaching (and preparing for preaching) is the single greatest and demands the most time. Anyway, here’s an excerpt from the post:
Here are six reasons I wrote it FOR PASTORS and CHURCH LEADERS:
- For knowing where the most valuable time in your weekly schedule is spent. There are so many things which demand a pastor’s time in the week. And so many good things to do! But if God’s Word is the most powerful force in the universe, it should profoundly affect our philosophies of ministry—what we do and how we do it. How much do you study to teach the Word, and then teach it?
- For discerning the difference between a sermon grounded on the dynamite of the Bible’s power and one which tips its hat toward the Bible. I fear I have preached too many sermons from the text while simultaneously failing to preach on the text. Do you know the difference? One is kinda, sorta powerful, maybe. The other is divinely-powerful.
- For discerning the difference between a gospel-driven sermon and moralistic sermon. It’s comparatively easy to preach the “should dos,” “to dos,” and “how tos” of Scripture. It feels practical and responsible. What’s more, people love motivational preaching! Gospel preaching, however, takes a little more biblical-theology homework, and the only people who like are the ones in whom the Spirit is moving. But what do you think produces real change?
- For discerning the difference between a sermon which confronts and topples false realities and a Bible and theology lecture. Starting with Genesis 1:1, the Bible gives us reality. But confronting people with its reality means knowing what false realities they’re embracing. A good sermon, therefore, expounds the text but it also exposes the blindfolds the listeners’ hearts.
- For knowing how to lead the church in singing, praying, and evangelizing. God’s Word should reverberate out from the pulpit and into the songs, prayers, and evangelizing of God’s people. What does this look like and sound like and feel like?
- For gaining encouragement when growth comes slowly (or not at all).The faithful road is not always the most visibly fruitful road. Just as the prophets or apostles. A lack of outward fruit might point to a failure on the pastor’s part, or it might point to God’s purpose. Either way, pastors are always successful when they aim at faithfulness.
To summarize, pastors and church leaders need to continue apply and re-apply themselves to the doctrine of Scripture, so that they will grow in faith in its power for ministry. A pastor’s power comes from the Word.
An excerpt: “This confrontation between truth and untruth is where the decisive battle happens for heart change. Untruth can only be defeated and replaced through a confrontation with Truth. Here’s how the story goes: it begins with a sham king sitting upon a sham throne, convinced that all glory and rule are his. That’s all of us in our fallen nature. Then an ambassador for the real king enters the cardboard throne room and speaks a simple word: ‘The real king is coming. He’s willing to forgive. Surrender.’
“This is the all-important moment. This is where the battle is won or lost. Truth is staring Untruth in the face, and everyone watching wants to know, will the sham king listen or he won’t he? If the Spirit electrifies his ears, eyes, and heart so that he can hear, see, and love, then, yes, he will listen, repent, and believe. He’ll climb out of his paper chair and bow with unfeigned love and worship (see Phil. 3:3). If the Spirit doesn’t, then he won’t. Period.
“Only the power of God’s Word and Spirit can give true freedom—the freedom of obedience, the freedom of righteousness, the freedom of joyful conformity to the character of God (see Romans 6-8). After all, only the Word and Spirit can replace one nature with another. They destroy the old and create the new. Their power is awesome. They pulverize the hard heart like a massive asteroid colliding with a planet (Rom. 6:17; 1 Peter 2:16).” (from chapter 3)