When people are first born again, they become incoherent. They display a certain amount of unregulated emotion; their actions seem not to make sense. Yet this incoherence is only on the surface. The external life of the apostle Paul appeared haphazard, but underlying everything he did was a strong, steady coherence. Paul was rooted and grounded in God, and because of this he was able to let his external life change without it causing him distress.

Most of us aren’t spiritually coherent for the simple reason that we care more about external coherence than internal coherence. Paul lived in the basement; his consistency was down in the fundamentals, where the order of God’s purpose reigns. Most of us live in the upper stories, among the coherent critics, where external consistency is all that matters. The two spaces do not begin to touch each other. The great basis of Paul’s coherence was the agony of God in the redemption of the world—the cross of Jesus Christ.

Restate to yourself what you believe, then do away with as much of it as possible. Get back to the bedrock of the cross of Christ. Viewed as a single event in history, the cross is an infinitesimal thing; from the point of view of the Bible, it’s more important than all the empires of the world. If, when we preach, we drift away from brooding on the tragedy of God upon the cross, our preaching will produce nothing. It won’t convey the energy of God, and though it may be interesting, it will have no power. But if we preach the cross, the energy of God will be set loose. “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. . . . We preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 23).

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