The Psalmist says of God in Psalm 147:5, "his understanding is infinite". In other words, the understanding or knowledge of God has no bounds nor limits. The world would rather not acknowledge this fact. When God asked Cain, "Where is Abel thy brother?", he responded with "I know not". Like Cain, many either do not realize or do not believe that God knows everything. Sadly, this mindset exists in the church as well. How many families have come to church all dressed up with their smiles and piety, who are simply covering up their wicked lives outside of church? They shout "Amen" and cry "Hallelujah" when the preacher names the very sins that they practice in secret. In this lesson we shall see how foolish this is as we study the important attribute of omniscience.
I. Defining Omniscience
The omniscience of God simply means that He is all-knowing. His knowledge and understanding are infinite, encompassing all that can be known whether actual or possible. God knows His inanimate creation (Psalm 147:4), the brute creatures (Matthew 10:29), the works of man (Psalm 33:13-15), the thoughts of man (Psalm 139:2), the needs of man (Matthew 6:8), the least things (Matthew 10:30), the past (Malachi 3:16), the future (Isaiah 46:9-10), the free acts of men (Isaiah 44:28, Acts 2:23), and the ideally possible (Matthew 11:23).
The infinity of God's knowledge is so overwhelming that we can scarcely comprehend it. Imagine if you were able to write down every possible move that could be made in the game of chess. This is something that even computer chess players cannot do because the number of moves is so great it would take a huge amount of memory to store them and an incredible amount of time to look up the right move. But let us go outside of the simple game of chess and consider all of the possible actions for all of creation since time began to the time when it will end. All of this, God knows!
Omniscience could be considered as God's immutability with respect to knowledge. In other words, God's knowledge never changes. Man's knowledge is acquired from learning and deduction. God never learns or deduces any knowledge because He is immutable. Let us investigate this matter further by considering some of the other aspects of immutability that we have already studied - time (eternity) and place (omnipresence).
A. From His Eternity
God has known from eternity all that can be known allowing Him to declare the end from the beginning. As James said in Acts 15:18, " Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world". Therefore, there is no distinction of time with the knowledge of God. Imagine lining up an infinite number of TV's, each playing a single frame of events in time, and imagine that you could look at all of these TV's at the same time. Such is the knowledge of God. Past, present, and future are all a single eternal now for Him. In Scripture the knowledge of God takes on various names in relation particularly to time. His knowledge with respect to the past is referred to as remembrance, with respect to the present it is knowledge or sight, and with respect to the future it called foreknowledge.
B. From His Omnipresence
Since God is everywhere all at once, there is nothing that can be hidden from his knowledge. Hebrews 4:13 says, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do". Since God fills our souls and minds, there is not a thought that can arise in our heads that He cannot see and therefore know. The knowledge of God cannot change because of location since He fills heaven and earth.
II. Dealing with Omniscience
If God is omniscient, then Jesus must be God. Many times, the Scripture tells us that Jesus knew the thoughts of other men (Matthew 12:25, Mark 2:8, Luke 6:8). He knew before choosing Judas as a disciple, that he would betray Him. He knew that Lazarus had died before He and the disciples set out for Bethany. The disciples even proclaimed that Jesus was omniscient in John 16:30 saying, "Now are we sure that thou knowest all things". Only God can be omniscient, and therefore Jesus must be God.
2. Trust in God's Word
Because God is omniscient, everything that He has predicted for the future is going to happen. What a waste of time it is to read the horoscopes, fortunes, or the predictions of man when the Bible has all that we need to know. The all-knowing God not only knew all that was to come when Scripture was inspired, He also knew all that we needed to know and made sure it was written down for us.
3. Trembling for Unbelievers
The omniscience of God should strike fear in the hearts of unbelievers. Not only does God know every sin that has ever been committed; there is no chance that He will forget them. In Job 14:17, Job says, "My transgression is sealed up in a bag". At the Great White Throne judgement, every sin ever committed by an unbeliever will be remembered and judged when the books are opened (Revelation 20:12).
The omniscience of God should give us comfort concerning our eternal security. God knows who are His (2 Timothy 2:19) and He will not forget that Jesus died for them. Man may forget the names of his children, but God never will. When Elijah complained of being the only prophet left in Israel, God knew the exact number (7,000) which had not bowed the knee to Baal. God knew even from the beginning the exact names and numbers of those who would believe on Him.
2. He Knows our Supplications
That God knows all things should be especially comforting when we pray. Whether we say the right words or not, God knows our situations, our thoughts, and our hearts. We should take comfort knowing that there will be no communication barrier nor anything preventing God from knowing what it is we need. He knows what we need before we ask for it (Matthew 6:8), and He knows what is best for us when we ask amiss.
3. He knows our Situations
God knows every trial and tribulation that we go through (Revelation 2:8-9). He even knows our weaknesses (Psalm 103:14) and infirmities (Hebrews 4:15). He knows whom our adversaries are (Psalm 69:19), and none of their evil deeds against us will go unnoticed. In whatever situation we find ourselves, we can take comfort that it was no surprise to God.
The fact that God is omniscient is reason for us to surrender the control of our lives to Him. We do not have complete understanding of all things. We even have trouble remembering the things we have learned in the past, and we certainly have no idea what the future holds. Which of us can predict the future with confidence? Since God knows all things, He is the only one that can always choose the correct actions and make the right decisions for our lives. We ought, therefore, to surrender our will to His and daily commune with God asking Him for direction.
2. The Thoughts of Our Lives
The omniscience of God should cause us to keep our thoughts pure, for He knows every thought and motive. Job declared that he knew that "no thought can be withholden from thee" (Job 42:2). In Ezekiel 11, God takes Ezekiel to the East Gate of Jerusalem and points out a group of men who devised mischief and gave evil counsel. Then He tells Ezekiel to prophesy unto these men and tell them "I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them". Therefore, O Christian, take heed to the thoughts that you ponder. We would do better to concentrate on pure thoughts (see Philippians 4:8).