The All-knowing God
Intro: Confusion can be deadly. A news article entitled “Was That Xanax or Zantac?” said: Reports are rising of injuries and deaths due to mix-ups of sound-alike prescription drugs. American Pharmacy’s May issue reports 60 sets of drugs with similar names… Confusion caused by drug names that slip by industry safeguards is compounded by physicians who pen illegible or incomplete prescriptions and by sloppy pharmacists. A recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine told of two pharmacists who dispensed the pain reliever Norflex instead of the new antibiotic Norfloxacin. One patient became dizzy; the other hallucinated. Patients can protect themselves by asking doctors to write the reason a medication is being used on their prescriptions…. Then it’s up to you to check the label before leaving the pharmacy counter. (Marc Silver, Doug Podolsky, and Anne Kate’s Smith, U.S. News 6- World Report, May 18, 1992, p. 76)
- This is a quality that separates God from humans. God is never confused. With Him there are never any mix-ups. That is because God is omniscient.
- A study of the character and characteristics of god will certainly humble us. How can a flawed and finite being such as myself understand the infinite God?
I. What is Omniscience? The term omniscient is not used in scripture, but the concept as it applies To God is certainly taught. The word means Complete knowledge; knowing all things. The affirmation of scripture is that God knows all things. Ps 139:1-6 – O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. 5 You hem me in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. The verses that follow in this psalm depict both the omnipotence (all-power) and omnipresence (ever – presence) of God. Both of these qualities are connected with His comprehensive knowledge.
II. The Omniscience of God in the O.T. – The description of God in the O.T. was often placed in the context of contrast. The prophets often spoke of God’s superior knowledge in order to distinguish Him from the ignorant idols of Israel’s neighbors:
- Isa 40:13-14 – “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? 14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?
- Vs. 28 – “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”
- Ps 147:4-5 “He counts the number of the stars; he calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; his understanding is infinite.”
- The challenge of an all-knowing God: Isa 41:21-24 – Present your case,” says the Lord. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. 22 “Bring in [ your idols] to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, 23 tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. 24 But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable.
III. Omniscience in the N.T. – What are the implications of an all-knowing God on our everyday responsibilities? Proper theology creates proper worship.
A. Consider Jesus approach to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees of His day. He was constantly confronting their eschewed concepts concerning His Father. Matt 6:5-6 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (later he applies the same argument toward private fasting.. God sees in secret. A God who sees in secret is not impressed with outward show. He is able to look deeper and thereby to demand an inward change.
1) Luke 12:1-7 –- He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops) 4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! 6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Hypocrisy was the leaven of the Pharisees, and Jesus warns His disciples of it by referencing the ability of God to know all things – God has numbered the hairs of your head, and sees every sparrow. God’s power is based on His complete knowledge and vision.
IV. The Implications of God’s Omniscience: What does it mean to us that God knows & sees all?
A. God doesn’t need to learn anything: He knowledge is perfect and infinite. When we pray we do not tell God anything He doesn’t already know.
- Matt 6:8 – “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him”
- Matt 6:32 – “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
1. This may seem to argue against the place or value of prayer, but prayer helps us line up our desires with God’s will and humbly place our confidence (faith) in Him. Prayer is necessary for us because we are not omniscient.
- Quote A. W. Tozer, (in The Knowledge of the Holy) – µ “God knows … all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feelings, all desires, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth.. ..Because God knows all things perfectly, He knows no thing better than any other thing, but all things equally well. He never discovers anything, He is never surprised, never amazed. He never wonders about anything nor (except when drawing men out for their own good) does He seek information or ask questions. God is self-existent and self-contained and knows what no creature can ever know—Himself, perfectly. …Only the Infinite can know the infinite.” ([New York: Harper & Row, 1961], pp. 62-63
B. There is no place to hide: God knows every detail of our lives. Nothing escapes His attention. Nothing can obscure God’s vision. Ps 139:12 – “Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.” John 2:24-25 – But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.”
1. God’s complete vision is the basis of our full accountability to His words. Heb 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
2. The astounding aspect of God’s absolute knowledge is that despite this He still loves us completely. Rom. 5:8 – “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
C. The Futility of My Hypocrisy: Jesus rebuked the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by comparing them to “white=washed tombs”. Pretty and white to the human eye, but inside they were full of decay and corruption. God sees on the inside. So the most futile endeavor of all is to attempt to fool God.
1. Because God see all, His judgment of sin will be perfectly executed. No one will be misjudged, as we often misjudge. Sinners will not fool God, and sin will be judged according to truth; not national identity, church affiliation, or personal preferences – Who would you let into heaven?
- Eccl. 12:14 – For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
- Jer. 17:10 – “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”
- 1 John 3:18-20 – Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
D. The Confidence of His Wisdom: God’s wisdom could be defined as omniscience acting with a holy will.
- A.W. Tozer wrote: “Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture. Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision. All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined. (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 66)
1) God knows the beginning from the end, and every step in between. His perfect knowledge then results in perfect wisdom. (Rom. 16:27 – He is the only wise God”) Unredeemed men see the wisdom of God as foolishness, but God’s foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom. (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 23-25)
a. God then is only true diagnostician of our problem. God knows what we need because He knows the human heart perfectly.
b. In His wisdom (through His omniscience) He has made known the mystery, and brought His church together. In fact the wisdom ofgod is forever on display (even to the spiritual forces) in the redemption of Hid people – the church. Eph. 3:9-12 –
c. The omniscience of God is the foundation of my faith. I can trust Him explicitly and completely because I know He knows! Rom 11:32-36 – For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
E. The Comfort of His Knowledge: When I was young the idea that God knows everything brought fear and anxiety, but to the mature Christian it can be comforting.
- Mal 3:16-18 – Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
1. It is comforting to know that God will not forget His people, and that He knows those that serve him. David also understood God’s omniscience as a comfort.
- Ps 56:8 – “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” When we suffer we want others to know – to share with us. God knows how you suffer, because He knows all things.
Conclusion: God’s Omniscience is a defining element of His character. If He does not know all He is not God. To the Christian it is the source of reverence (fear) confidence, and comfort.