Book Review: “Reverberation” by Jonathan Leeman

I first saw Jonathan Leeman’s new book, Reverberation, promoted on the IX Marks blog, where my interest was piqued by the subtitle: “How God’s Word brings light, freedom, and action to His people”. Mark Dever’s book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, initially “reverberated” with me in 2004 because of it’s focus on the centrality of the Word and it’s clear message that God both creates and re-creates life by means of his Word. Reverberation is a valuable addition to the IX Marks library in that it expands on this fundamental principle of God’s Word as the source of life.

Leeman’s basic point is expressed in a side-note on page 18: “God’s Word, working through God’s Spirit, is God’s primary instrument for growing God’s church.” The book goes on from this basic principle following the theme of “reverberation”: God’s Word reverberates through the preacher to the church, then reverberates through the church from person to person, and ultimately reverberates from the people of the church into the world. Leeman’s goal is that we understand why the proclamation of God’s Word is so vitally important to the existence and well-being of God’s church and thus why it must be at the centre of all the church does. In the process he also offers a cogent warning against attempts to build the church around anything other than the Word.

The book is aimed neither specifically at pastors nor at laymen. In fact, Reverberation should be an inspiring read for every Christian, as it focuses the reader’s attention on the importance and centrality of the Word to God’s people. In Part 1, Leeman offers a clear and biblicaly-based description of the power of God’s Word to both invite and divide, to act, to free, and to gather. Having explained the power of the Word in Part 1, Leeman then goes on to stress the importance of preaching that exposes the Word, announces the Word, and confronts the hearers with the Word. Finally, in Part 3, Leeman describes the practical nature of the Word’s “reverberation” in the Church as she sings, prays, makes disciples, and carries these divine reverberations into the world.

Reverberation is to the point and easy to read. As I read I found myself thinking that this is just the book to put in the hands of those who can’t understand why I preach expositionally or who think that the church needs to be grown around programmes, niches, or appeals to this or that “style”. And yet the book is much more than an apologetic for expositional preaching. It’s a book that encourages every Christian to pick up his Bible and steep himself in the Word of God.

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