God has a learning disability. He can’t be taught anything. In fact, He cannot learn anything. Now, before you start to think that I am being disrespectful, let me tell you what I mean. The reason God cannot be taught anything is because He already knows everything. That is the meaning of the word “omniscience”. It is made of two Latin words – omnis which means everything and scientia which means knowledge. The word, therefore, means all knowledge.
Does the Bible teach that God is omniscient, or is that an invention of Christian theologians? There are many places in the scripture that clearly say that God knows everything. We see it in Psalm 139:1-6 (NIV) “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” John, the apostle wrote very explicitly 1 John 3:20 (NRSV) “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
I had mentioned earlier that the adjective “holy” should be applied to every one of God’s attributes which means it also applies to His omniscience. His omniscience is holy. So, what does that mean? Because God is holy, because He is good, this knowledge will never be used for any purpose that is not good. Politicians spend a lot of time and money digging up as much dirt as they can about their opponents so that they can use that information to help them win an election. God’s use of His omniscience will always be used for good, never for evil.
Omniscience means that God possesses all knowledge, not that He has to remember. He just knows. If I were to be asked my name, I wouldn’t have to think about it, I wouldn’t have to check my memory banks, I just know it. Not only does God know absolutely everything, but He also knows what will happen and what might happen. Every time we are faced with making a choice, God knows what will happen if any of those choices were made. Winston Churchill once said that all human decisions are based on incomplete information. All of God’s decisions are based on full and complete information. He is omniscient. As I think about it, I have a better understanding of why God doesn’t always give us what we ask for. He knows what the consequences would be if He were to give us what we asked for. As parents we don’t always give our children what they ask for because we know what the consequences could be. There are some things that could be very dangerous to our children, so we try and protect them and know that we have to say no to what they have asked for. We do this on the basis of our best guesses, our conjecture, but God makes His decisions knowing exactly what would happen. He isn’t guessing. God’s no is always for our best.
Another question that has come to my mind is “If God already knows what is happening, if He knows what is going on in my mind, why should I pray at all?” First, the scripture commands us to pray. I especially like Philippians 4:6 (NRSV) “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We also are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray continually. Another translation says, “Pray without ceasing.” These are in the imperative voice, that is that they are commands, not suggestions. So why does God want us to pray if it isn’t to find out about what we need? He just wants us to spend time with Him. Prayer is much more than bringing God our shopping list of needs and wants. It is learning how to spend time with Him, getting to know Him and allowing Him to impress His mind on us, to make us more like Him.
Through His personal experience of pain and temptation, Jesus knows what we are going through, and He knows how we feel. And because of that He really knows what our deepest needs are. Consider these words of comfort. Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Because of His holy omniscience God understands us and what we are going through. He is worthy of our love and worship. In the meantime, Keep the Son in Your Eyes.
Good Morrow Len! Another thoughtful and helpful epistle today – thanks. Omniscience is a challenging topic, isn’t it? I try to read a bit of J. Wesley’s thoughts each day as part of my devotional time (The John Wesley Reader), This morning he said in part: “If we believe that God knows all things about us, then we should take care not to do the least thing, not to speak the least word, not to indulge the least thought, which we would have the least reason to think would offend him.” Challenging words. Perhaps they apply to Facebook, Twitter, etc. I an age that has become rather ‘rude and crude’ would I want my every word, post, even thought known be my God and Creator – my Father? They are known. Hm-m-m. Keep smiling friend, it makes people wonder what you are up to. Doug
You nailed it Bro Len! As does Ps 139 you quoted.
I remember when I first came to the realization that I didn’t have one excuse or reason for trying to avoid God – His plan, His discipline, His correction.
He’ll never leave me nor forsake me – so best I stop running and doing my own thing, pursue His will for me – be obedient – and do it!
And He gives us all the help we need to get the job done. PTL!!