I think it was Adrian Rogers who said: “Has it ever occured to you that nothing occurs to God?” As fallible human beings we don’t know everything and we easily forget things we do know. God is not like that. In Job 37:16 God is called “him who is perfect in knowledge”. 1 John 3:20 says that God knows everything. These and so many other passages reveal God’s omniscience.
What is omniscience? Wayne Grudem offers this helpful definition: “God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.” That is a mouthful, I admit. What does it mean?
God knows himself
First, it means that God knows himself. This might seem simple and unnecessary, but think about it for a moment. Scripture tells us that God is infinite, that there is no end to his glories and perfections. He is so exalted that the human mind will never be able to fully comprehend him. And yet, Scripture also tells us that God knows himself. In 1 Cor. 2:10-11 the apostle Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes: “For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God... no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
There is nothing about himself that God does not know. We don’t even know ourselves fully. You didn’t know you liked icecream until you tried it. You didn’t know you had musical talent until you picked up the violin. We discover something about ourselves daily: wells of strength we did not know we had, sins that were hiding in the depths of our hearts. Our understanding of ourselves is limited; God’s isn’t. He never needs to discover anything about himself, because he knows himself fully and perfectly.
God knows reality
Second, God knows what everything that is. This includes everything that has been, is and will be. Nothing is hidden from God. Heb. 4:13 states: “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” 2 Chron. 16:9 says: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth”. God not only knows about the big events taking place in the world, but also about every detail of our lives. Jesus said: “even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30).
God not only knows the past and the present; God also knows the future. Isa. 46:9-10: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose”. The future is an open book to God. He is never caught by surprise.
God knows every possibility
Third and finally, God not only knows himself and everything that is, but also what could be. This means that God knows what could have happened, but did not happen. For example, in 1 Sam. 23 David is fleeing from Saul. He hid among the people of Keilah, but he wasn’t sure if he was safe there. So he asked the Lord if Saul would come looking for him in Keilah, and if he did, whether the city would deliver him over to Saul. Now listen to verse 11-13: “Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant." And the LORD said, "He will come down." Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will surrender you." Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.”
Saul did not find David at Keilah, nor did the people of Keilah deliver David into Saul’s hand. But the Lord knew what would have happened, had David remained in Keilah. Similarly, Jesus knew what would have happened if he did miracles in Tirus and Sidon: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matt. 11:21). Two verses later Jesus said what would have happened had he done his miracles in ancient Sodom: “For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” (Matt. 11:23).
Why is God’s omniscience important? There are a few ways we can apply this. First, God’s omniscience strengthens our faith. We can trust God’s plans, wisdom and purposes. Could things have worked out differently? Yes, but God knows what would have hapepned and he God chose this way, these circumstances, this plan. He knows best.
Second, God’s omnsicience humbles our pride. We like to think that we have it all figured out, but we don’t. Isaiah 55:9 reminds us: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We are in no position to ‘give advice’ to God. Also, God knows about every sin you have ever committed and will yet commit, and he sent Jesus to die for them. God knows you and loves you anyway.
Third, God’s omniscience fuels worship. The first 6 verses of Psalm 139 celebrate God’s omnisience: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”
How wonderful it is to know the God who knows us so perfectly.
Because of Christ,