The one abiding reality is the gospel of God. Other things may be real; the gospel is reality itself. We are brought into this reality through the redemption; the cross is our bridge and our entry point. Our access to it is a gift, purchased for us by Jesus Christ. We cannot get at it through any action of our own.

This is a crucial thing for us to understand. The reason God calls us is so that we will proclaim his gospel. God isn’t asking us to go out and play the part of holy men or holy women. Personal holiness is an effect, not a cause. If we place our faith in our own holiness, we will stumble when the test comes.

In Romans 1, Paul doesn’t say that he set himself apart from his previous life; he says that God set him apart. Paul doesn’t need to take the credit. He isn’t hypersensitive about his character; he’s unconscious of it, recklessly abandoned to God. As long as our eyes are fixed on our own holiness, rather than Christ’s, we’ll never get to the reality of redemption. It’s as though we’re asking God to keep us away from the ruggedness of human life as it is, away from the filth and decay and corruption and mess, so that we can spend time in our own perfectly ordered company and be made more desirable in our own eyes.

If this is what we want, it’s a sign that we ourselves are still unreal—the gospel hasn’t begun to touch us. When it does, when we enter into reality, then we are able to abandon all to God.

Wisdom from Oswald

The Bible is a relation of facts, the truth of which must be tested. Life may go on all right for a while, when suddenly a bereavement comes, or some crisis; unrequited love or a new love, a disaster, a business collapse, or a shocking sin, and we turn up our Bibles again and God’s word comes straight home, and we say, “Why, I never saw that there before.” Shade of His Hand, 1223 L