I’ll say it over and over: The purpose of preaching is obedience. Every preacher in the New Testament—including Jesus—emphasized conduct, behavioral change, and obedience. You only really believe the parts of the Bible that you obey. People say, “I believe in tithing.” But do they tithe? No? Then they don’t believe in it.
Really? The purpose of preaching is obedience? If the purpose of preaching is obedience, then I have failed on two parts: the part of the preacher and the part of the hearer. Because of my sinful nature, I am not obedient to God and His Word. It is written in Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” Because of my sin, I am not holy, nor will I ever be holy on account of my own actions. I am only holy because of what Jesus Christ has done for me, on my behalf, because I couldn’t do it myself; that is, forgive me all of my sins and give to me His holiness and righteousness.
I have also failed on the part of the hearer because the Law shows to me just how much I have failed to be holy like God. The reason why: I am not a holy person. I cannot be holy as God is holy. Again, the reason why is sin.
Maybe I missed something in my homiletics classes at the seminary, but I wasn’t taught that the purpose of preaching is obedience. I was taught that preaching has two components to it: Law and Gospel. The Law shows us our sins and the Gospel shows us our Savior. I know that I have failed to keep God’s commandments and keep them perfectly as He says. That is the Law smacking me in the face. But then I hear the sweet sound of the Gospel which says that Christ has kept God’s commandments and law perfectly in my place.
I don’t need to hear about obedience in a sermon. The reason why: I know that I can’t be obedient. What I need to hear in a sermon (and what I seek to always proclaim) is that Christ was obedient in my place. He did what I could not and because of His sacrifice, I have received the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. If I don’t preach that, then I have failed in my sermon. If I don’t hear that from a pastor, then I did not hear what the Gospel is all about.