What comes into your mind when you think about God?
That is the most important thing about you. It was A.W. Tozer, who pastored right here in central Indiana, who famously coined that maxim: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.
Tozer is right. That’s true. The single most influential thing about you is your view of God. How you view God shapes and shades everything that you approach: your family, job, how you handle money and sexuality, on and on in every area of life.
And what comes into your mind when you think about God ripples out from you as an individual to society as well. Any society will always and only be as good and pure and helpful as it has a high view of God, and likewise any society will always and only be as corrupt and violent and degrading as it has a low view of God.
Truly, what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
Getting to know God
That’s what drives the series that begins right now on the attributes of God. From the Scriptures Old Testament and New, we are going to pull together a clear picture of who God is, what he is like, and how a clear and accurate picture of God will bless you and will guide you far better than if your ideas about God are misguided even if well-intentioned.
We begin with one of the greatest attributes of God, showcased in the summary of the most revolutionary book of the Bible.
If you were asked to name the most revolutionary thing ever written, what would you say? Some would point to the Declaration of Independence and the revolution that you and I are still benefiting from today.
In terms of negative revolutionary impact, many would point to Adolph Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf, which describes how he came to so strongly hate Jews, and outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany. There’s a revolution that continues to bear scars.
But for positive revolutionary impact, far and away above all others stands the apostle Paul’s New Testament letter to the church in Rome. We have the four gospels powerfully revealing Jesus’ teachings and miracles and character. Romans then complements and interprets the gospels, unpacking the fullness of why Jesus came and the wisdom of God’s plan for reconciling the world to himself.
If you have a Bible or Bible app, open it now to the very end of Romans chapter 16. Paul’s conclusion to the lengthy book of Romans showcases the attribute of God that we begin with today, and it’s one that has the potential to lift you and encourage you when you don’t know what to do.
Here’s how Paul concludes a book that stretches the sharpest of intellects:
“Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
That’s a mouthful—all one massive sentence! Don’t get lost in the forest. Lock in on the concluding phrase and its implications for us today. Here it is again, the conclusion to the most revolutionary book ever written: “To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
The only wise God
Paul ends by drawing our attention to the only wise God—in Greek that is monos sophos Theos. God alone has unfathomable wisdom. The greatest source for wisdom, for timeless insights to live by, is that which God reveals and imparts. So let me take you to three sources for finding God’s wisdom, the wisdom of monos sophos Theos, the only wise God. Two are highlighted in the Old Testament, and the third is revealed in the New Testament.
If you like to take notes, the first place we find ourselves drawn to monos sophos Theos, the only wise God, is…
1. In creation
When you crack open the Bible and read from the start, it’s visual and powerful, like the opening panorama in an epic movie. We read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light…”
It’s a terrible mistake to turn that passage primarily into a debate over how the world was created. That’s not why the Bible opens as it does. Hold that thought for a minute and let’s keep going with how creation is meant to draw us to God and his great wisdom.
Turn with me to Psalm 8, one of the creation songs given us. Psalm 8. Try to imagine what this song was meant to feel like. Picture the lyrics and see what this song is singing. Psalm 8 sings…
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!…
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
If you have doubts about whether God exists or is wise, just go outside. Look at creation. Look up the images from the Hubble space telescope and get real-sized, real fast. Search for images from electron microscopes that delve into the amazing design at the microscopic level.
My Dad told me more than once how his father would take him outside on moonless nights in their small town of Farmingdale to evoke the same awareness that Genesis 1 and Psalm 8 are meant to evoke—and that is, awe and wonder over monos Sophos Theos, the only wise God.
Whether standing agape beneath the Milky Way or studying the fine-tuned machinery within each cell in our bodies, creation testifies to our Creator and his wisdom—with the intended effect that we find ourselves drawn to want to know him more.
That’s the point of the Bible’s creation passages—not to provoke debate, but to evoke awe. Catch that distinction. This sense has grown in me over the years, that the Bible’s creation passages like the two we just read were given to us not to provoke debate, but to evoke awe.
That’s what the apostle Paul says explicitly in Romans 1:20, explaining, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom 1:20) In the created world, from the intricate design of each cell to the complexity of the universe, we see the power and wisdom of monos Sophos Theos, the only wise God.
The wisdom of God in creation shows up in the patterns and systems that scientists have discovered we can depend on. Likely the greatest example of that in our lifetime is how the husband and wife team of Ugur Sahin and Oxlem Tureci, both physicians and researchers, have devoted their careers to becoming acquainted with cell functions in the body, especially messenger RNA—how predictable that delivery system is for transferring genetic information within the body.
And so it was just 2 ½ years ago when Dr. Sahin took the stage at a conference for infectious disease experts and said his company might be able to use messenger RNA technology to quickly develop a vaccine in the event of a (ready for it?) global pandemic.
We now know his words proved prophetic. It was that couple’s company, BioNTech, which together with Pfizer developed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19—and here’s the point—using the predictable systems designed into our bodies! That vaccine has proven to be 95% effective at preventing virus infection. That, my friends, is the wisdom of God displayed in the created world—monos sophos Theos, the only wise God!
If you like to take notes, a second place in the Old Testament where we find ourselves drawn to monos sophos Theos, the only wise God, is…
2. The Old Testament’s wisdom books, especially Proverbs.
Wisdom is a huge theme in the Old Testament. Wisdom is actually an entire category among the Bible’s 66 books. The Old Testament starts with 17 history books from Genesis to Esther, followed by the five wisdom books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.
Those wisdom books, especially Proverbs, urge us to make wisdom our highest pursuit. In the Proverbs you can find God’s wisdom for every arena of life: family and friends, marriage and parenting, how to manage money lest it manage you, healthy sexuality, how to deal with unreasonable people, how to respond to fools, when to speak up and when to keep your opinion to yourself.
Name an issue you wrestle with, and it’s addressed in the Proverbs. They are loaded with wisdom from monos sophos Theos, the only wise God.
The first nine chapters of Proverbs are all about growing in wisdom, making wisdom your highest priority, more than the pursuit of wealth or popularity. Go diligently after gaining wisdom. Treasure wisdom.
For example, here’s Proverbs 3:13-18:
“Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.”
There wisdom personified urges us to value wisdom. Find it. Gain it. Desire it. Take hold of it. Hold fast to it.
After those first nine chapters urging us to pursue wisdom, the remaining 21 chapters of Proverbs are catchy little sayings filled with practical real-life wisdom. Listen to a few samples:
- As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov 15:1
- Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Prov. 13:20
- Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. Prov. 12:1
And this intense section from Proverbs chapter 6:
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. Prov 6:16-19
Wisdom is about being teachable, correctable, changing your position on whatever the Scriptures clearly address from monos sophos Theos, the only wise God.
Here’s a way to see it: the Proverbs are like Crater of Diamonds State Park, where you’re welcome to dig for real diamonds. It’s only those who dig who get rewarded. Just last month, a young guy named Christian Liden traveled to that park with a mission: he wanted to find a diamond to set in the engagement ring with which he would propose to his girlfriend, Desirae. He had panned the gold for the ring, now he wanted to dig up a diamond to complete it. She had no idea what he was up to.
On his third day of combing through the dirt, Christian found…a 2.2-carat triangular yellow diamond. He popped the question in May. And Desirae said yes!
That guy’s mindset is the mindset the Proverbs urge us to take toward finding wisdom. Pursuit it. Search God’s Word for it. Mine it, and apply it. Live by the wisdom of monos sophos Theos, the only wise God.
We’ve touched on two places in particular were the Old Testament draws us to monos sophos Theos, the only wise God. Turn the corner to the New Testament and by far, the greatest draw to God is what we find…
3. In Jesus Christ—his character, his teachings, his death, and his resurrection.
Together they flesh out the unfathomable wisdom of God.
The single greatest road to getting to know God and what he’s like…is get to know Jesus. Make your lifelong and daily pursuit truly getting to know Jesus. God’s attributes are fleshed out in Jesus. There has never been and never will be another who so vividly displays the wisdom of God as Jesus Christ does.
- Jesus’ character reveals the character or attributes of God.
- Jesus’ teachings are just as startling and refreshing and challenging today as when he spoke them 2,000 years ago.
- Jesus’ death is the startling centerpiece of the Christian faith because of what it accomplished.
- And Jesus’ resurrection sets him apart from all others before or since.
The apostle Paul, a devout Jew, goes so far as to make this claim in Colossians chapter one: “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9) Before he got to know Jesus, Paul would have killed anyone making a claim like that. But he got to know Jesus, and his understanding of God radically changed. That’s what God wants for each of us, that the more you get to know Jesus, the clearer your idea of God becomes.
Jesus himself claimed to be God, saying, “I and the Father are one…If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him…The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me…Before Abraham was, I am.”
According to Jesus, to know him was to know God, to see him was to see God, to receive him was to receive God, to believe him was to believe in God and to honor him was to honor God, while to hate him was to hate God. (see John 8:18; 14:7; John 12:45; 14:9; Mark 9:37; John 12:44; 14:1; John 5:23; John 15:23)
And Jesus’ resurrection verifies his radical claims. So we say with confidence that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is monos sophos Theos, the only wise God, in the flesh, up close and personal. Vast wisdom for daily living is to be found in him. What creation testifies (that there is a God and he is powerful and wise), and what the Proverbs commend (that you pursue wisdom with all you have) actually walked this planet, showing and telling the wisdom of God for all who will listen.
James Billington served as the most recent Librarian of Congress before the current one. He oversaw the largest library in the world, with more than 170 million items and another 10,000 items added every day. With exposure to that vast level of knowledge, Billington found himself asking a penetrating question. He looked at what he called our “info-glut culture” and the sea of information that was under his charge and that we have access to at our fingertips. We assume we know so much and can easily find what we don’t yet know. But Billington looked at it all and asked, “But have we become any wiser?”
That, friends, is what you and I, and we as a church, are called to pursue. Aim for wisdom. Chase after wisdom. Learn to discern what’s foolish from what’s wise, what reflects God’s wisdom from the latest way the wind is blowing.
Lean in to how creation whispers the power and wisdom of God, monos sophos Theos.
Lean in to the wisdom of God in the Bible’s wisdom books, especially Proverbs. Listen and apply God’s wisdom to build a good legacy. Gain wisdom from monos sophos Theos, the only wise God.
And lean in to Jesus Christ, the only wise God in the flesh.
- Watch how he deals with people and imitate that. Actually seek to follow the example of Jesus. This is essential to what it means to be a genuine Christian.
- Listen to what Jesus teaches, and do what he says. That’s the difference between being wise and being a fool.
- Stand in awe at what Jesus accomplished on the cross, where righteousness and peace kissed, in the language of Psalm 85. On the cross, God’s holiness and our sinfulness came together, as Jesus became the Peace-Maker between us and God.
- And until he returns, trust God to lead you as you seek his wisdom, even as James chapter one promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
Where do you need wisdom, friend? There is a source, and he knows you. He knows your need. He sees you. He loves you and cares about you. And he has wisdom for you. So ask, and be encouraged. Let me pray for you right now. Let’s pray.
Our Father in heaven, may you be honored as holy among us. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, even as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. I ask for each one watching who needs wisdom, that you would kindly impart it. However you choose to do so, we believe that you are monos sophos Theos, the only wise God. And we praise you that you generously give wisdom to all who ask, without finding fault. So kind! We thank you! We thank you for Jesus, in whom your fullness dwells. Continue to teach us, Lord. Keep changing us so that we grow in wisdom, bringing blessing to our families and beyond. We ask all this of you, the only wise God, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!