Great thinkers have the ability to take complex ideas and make them simple without being simplistic. Take John Calvin, for example. His great work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, begins with these words, “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” This is true, and this is simple. True wisdom involves knowing God and knowing ourselves.
Who are you?
- You are an image bearer (Genesis 1:27). You were created to know God, love God, serve God, enjoy God, and reflect God.
- You are a sinner (Genesis 6:5, Psalm 51:5, Isaiah 59:2, Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:1-3, James 2:10). Contrary to popular belief, you sin because you are a sinner, and you’re worse than you think you are.
- You are loved by a gracious God (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:10). God loved you long before you loved him, and He showed that love by sending Jesus to die for you.
Who is God?
- God is the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent Creator (Genesis 1-2, Psalm 139). God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He does whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it, and no one can stay his hand.
- God is the righteous Judge who will punish sinners (Psalm 7:11, 67:4). Good judges don’t turn a blind eye toward evil, nor do they sweep wickedness under the rug. God is a good, righteous, true Judge who will punish sinners.
- God is the Savior of those who trust in the finished work of Jesus (Romans 3:21-26). Jesus died the death of sinners so that God could uphold justice as a righteous Judge, and also be the “justifier” of the one who has faith in Christ.
There’s more to theology than these six ideas. But Calvin is right. When we get a handle on who we are and who God is, we’re well on our way to “true and sound wisdom.”
Landon Coleman serves as the teaching pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, where he lives with his wife Brooke. They have four children, Emma, Noelle, Amelia, and Clayton. Landon is a graduate of West Texas A&M University (BBA), and a two-time graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). He is the author of Pastor to Pastor: Practical Advice for Regular Pastors and Pray Better: Learning to Pray Biblically, both of which were published by Rainer Publishing. Landon has pastored churches in Kentucky and Oklahoma, and he has taught for Oklahoma Baptist University and BH Carroll Theological Institute.