Who applies Scripture in the sermon?

Jonathan Leeman:

The language application works when we regard words as little vessels of information that sail from one brain to another through the act of speaking. Give me data that I don’t have, and I will apply it. Notice the emphasis is on the preacher and the listener’s activity. It’s all on the human half of the equation. The preacher applies the text, and the listener applies it to his life. It also treats the human problem as one of ignorance.

But there’s more happening than just this. God has invested Himself in His Word. And God acts through His Word. In the Bible, God encounters us, and He changes us. Ignorance is indeed one of our problems, but even worse is the stiff neck and puffed-out chest of our self-rule. God gives us new information in the Scriptures, but He also confronts us with His crown. He confronts our idols and false gods. He confronts our pride and fear. He confronts our pain and weakness. He confronts our autonomy and impulse to self-help. He confronts the lies and false realities that we dearly love. Most fundamentally, He confronts our self rule.

And then – amazing grace! – He breaks that self rule. I was blind, but now I see.

God does all this when we pick up His Word to read it by ourselves. He also does this through the Sunday preacher.

No other medium of communication works quite like this.


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