Embraced  by  Truth . . .
                                    reflections on theology and life

THEOLOGY > God > God's Essence > God is Omniscient  


God is omniscient. God knows; He knows everything, everything that can be known and everything that is consistent with His essence (I Sam. 2:3; Job 28:24; Ps. 33:13-15; 139:2-3, 11-12; 147:4-5; Prov. 15:3, 11; Isa. 40:13; 46:9-10; Ezek. 11:5; Matt. 10:29-30; Jo. 21:17; Acts 15:18; Heb. 4:13; I Jo. 3:20).

He has full knowledge of the past, present, and future. The extent of His knowledge is total and complete. There is nothing that takes place on earth or in any part of the universe that He does not know. All matter, all creatures, all deeds, all attitudes, all thoughts, and all sin—God knows it all. God knows all there is to know, an exhaustive and perpetual knowledge, a knowledge not limited to His knowledge of creation. He knows even that which is not related to creation; He knows what we cannot even begin to comprehend that He knows. “God has not exhausted Himself in determining to cause the present order of things to be” (Hodge, ST, I, 398).

He does not learn—He just knows, with His knowledge never increasing nor diminishing. “All of God’s knowledge is innate and immediate” (Clark, Trinity, 18). God knows all things instantly, simultaneously, and eternally; and His knowledge of all things is eternally present, with no development in His knowledge. God cannot be taught. He does not remember, and He does not forget.

God is not bound by time and the development of time, for His knowledge is an infinite knowledge, a knowledge that knows all that is and all that potentially could be but will never be. He knows both the potential and the actual, what could be and what will be. “To deny God knowledge, is to dash out Scripture and demolish Deity” (Charnock, E and A, I, 413).

Augustine affirmed that God does not think sequentially like man: “Neither does His attention pass from thought to thought, for His knowledge embraces everything in a single spiritual contuition” (C of G, 11, 21). Some would disagree, like Hodge, who stated that to deny secession in God’s thought is to deny God’s personality (ST, I, 387-8).

God fully knows Himself; in contrast to man who does not even know himself (Jer. 17:9), the Infinite has exhaustive knowledge of the Infinite. God knows all the perfections of His essence, the depths of His will, and the determination of His sovereignty. There is nothing about God that God does not know. For God to have perfect knowledge the knowledge must include knowledge of Himself. To state that God knows God comprehensively is for man to state what he cannot comprehend, the thought that God exhaustively knows Himself.

God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge are consistent. Truth and falsity are the same for both; that is, what is true for God is true for man and what is false for God is false for man. God knows all, and man knows partially; but the partial knowledge that man has is not a different knowledge from the knowledge God has. For example, the fact that David was the second king of Israel is true for both God and man; the assertion that David was the first king is false for both God and man. There are points where God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge coincide, and they coincide at the point of David’s position in the kings of Israel.

And there are numerous points at which the knowledge of God and man meet. The entire concept of propositional revelation and the ability of man to think God’s thoughts is based upon this fact. Concepts and truth are the same for both, or at least, at certain points God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge coincide.

God’s omniscience implies that His knowledge is quantitatively different and possibly qualitatively different; that is, God’s knowledge of David’s kingship is more profound than ours. For He knows all of the implications and full meaning of David’s kingship. His knowledge is full and complete, whereas man’s is extremely limited, both in content and understanding.

God’s omniscience also does not imply that God’s thinking, if that is a proper concept, is of the same kind as man’s thinking. The manner of God’s thinking is surely different from man’s (His is that of uncreated Being, while ours is created existence); thus, they must be of a different quality. But the content of the thinking of each intersects at points, an example being the kingship of David.

God’s knowledge of the future necessitates the coming to pass of the things that God knows about the future, and He knows all the things of the future, for He knows what He wills. “God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be” (Pink, Attributes, 21; see: Theistic Determinism). He knows what is possible and He knows what will be actual, for the actual is the bringing to pass of His purpose. “And if you do not allow that the thing which God foreknows is necessarily brought to pass, you take away faith and the fear of God, you undermine all the Divine promises and threatenings, and so you deny Deity itself” (Luther, Bondage, 213). If this position be rejected, then can present events falsify God’s foreknowledge? If what God knows is not what is, then what is the basis for promises and prophecy? History must conform to Divine knowledge!

Over against this view are views that either deny God’s omniscience because of man’s free-will, or maintain both omniscience and free-will, as Buswell: “For men to declare that God could not know a free-event in the future seems to me sheer dogmatism” (ST, 46). Is the solution in rejecting or accepting free-will, or in defining exactly what is the essecne of free-will?

Free-will is not freedom in the strict sense of the word, which would be absolute arbitrariness, but freedom in the sense of acting in keeping with human nature. Thus, man is free only to act in a manner consistent with his nature. Freedom does not speak of the uncertainty (arbitrariness) of an act but the manner in which it takes place. The fact that God knows what man will do does not imply that God is the author of the act that takes place. God knows the sinful act, but He is not the doer of it. In trying to understand this we lose ourselves (see: God is Sovereign).

Job affirms; “He looks to the ends of the earth and sees under the whole heavens” (28:24). It was for this reason that Job brought his tragedy to God—God knows.

It is for this reason that today the believer approaches God in petition and intercession—God knows. He knows our hurt, our suffering, our tragedies, our fears, our sin, our frailty, our doubts; He knows because He is God. To know that He knows is enough.

you have searched me and known me.
Ps. 139:1

And he said to Him,
"Lord, You know all things."
Jo. 21:17

Return to God's Essence; Next Article: God is Omnipotent

For overview of THEOLOGY, see: Site Map - Theology
Copyright © Embraced by Truth
All rights reserved.
Materials may be freely copied for personal and academic use;
appropriate reference must be made to this site.
Links are invited.