If we are going to preach the gospel, we need to be clear about what the gospel is. In his letters to the Corinthians, Paul says that the gospel—the message God has called on him to deliver—is the reality of redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel isn’t Paul’s personal transformation or experience; it isn’t his salvation or sanctification. Paul shares his personal story, but only as an illustration: certain things happened to Paul because of the redemption, but they were not the ultimate reason for it. The ultimate reason Jesus suffered in redemption was to
redeem the whole world and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God. This is the gospel, and the only thing we are commissioned to preach.

The difference between Jesus’s act of redemption and our personal holiness is stark: one is cause and the other effect. When we preach, we must be careful where we place the emphasis. Are we placing it on Jesus, or on ourselves? Are we lifting up his holiness, or our own?

When we truly understand the reality of the gospel, we will stop bothering God with questions about ourselves. Imagine, if God were human, how heartsick and tired he would be, listening to the constant requests for our salvation and sanctification! We trouble him day and night, when we should be thanking him. Paul welcomed heartbreak, disillusionment, and tribulation for one reason only: they kept him in unmoved devotion to the gospel of God.

Wisdom from Oswald

When a man’s heart is right with God the mysterious utterances of the Bible are spirit and life to him. Spiritual truth is discernible only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect. It is not a question of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart. Bringing Sons Unto Glory, 231 L