In his first sermon on 2 Timothy John Calvin discusses God’s aim in preaching and his gracious desires for his people.
God only speaks for our profit. He wants his love, his mercy, is infinite goodness, to be laid out before us. He wants us to be assured of our salvation. He wants us to be drawn out of everlasting death. He wants us to be loosed out of Satan’s bands. He wants us to be set at liberty out of the slavery of death and be made inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. Therefore since God means nothing but this, shall we not say that Satan has bewitched us too much if we are not ready to receive such a doctrine? And therefore, when we feel any rebellion in ourselves, or any disagreeing, or too much slackness, so that we are not nimble and ready as we would wish to allow ourselves to be led by God’s mouth that we do not have such a burning and earnest affection as one would wish, let us call that to remembrance what St. Paul says here about the gospel, namely, that God does not want it to be preached to us for any gain that he would receive for his part, but for our profit.
This is a helpful point. When we find ourselves resistant to the obedience we owe to God, we should call to mind how gracious he has been in saving us. We should remind ourselves of the glorious graciousness of the gospel and in light of his grace toward us we should be ready and willing to obey.
And, preacher: if these truths- God’s love, mercy, infinite goodness- do not come out in your sermon, you should question whether you are engaged in Christian preaching. You will not help your people grow in godliness by beating them with the law. Rather it is the truth of God’s grace which will empower growth in godliness.