He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Our Lord is great, vast in power; His understanding is infinite.
DEFINITION: Omniscience means to know all things, and the Scriptures affirm that God alone is all knowing. Although this includes factual knowledge, the biblical emphasis concerns God’s intimate knowledge of persons.
The sovereignty of God necessarily implies that He knows everything, down to the smallest details. He knows the number of hairs as well as stars (Lk 12:7). God’s omniscience has proven to be a great comfort to believers. One of the outstanding Bible promises can be true only if God is both omnipotent and omniscient: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Rm 8:28). Several objections to the biblical teaching have been raised. These are listed as questions below, with a brief answer following.
If God knows everything, how could He then regret or repent of certain actions, as in Genesis 6:6 or 1 Samuel 15:35? While nothing that happens ever comes to God as a surprise, this does not mean He is incapable of emotions or reaction against evil. He expresses both grief and wrath against sin because of His love (Eph 4:30).
If Jesus is fully God and God is omniscient, how could Jesus not know certain things, such as the time of His return, as in Mark 13:32? During the period between His birth in Bethlehem and His crucifixion, Jesus emptied Himself and humbled Himself (Php 2:7-8). Evidently during those days He voluntarily gave up the independent use of certain divine attributes. What He spoke was only what the Father revealed to Him (Jn 8:28). Only after His resurrection did Jesus claim to have all authority in heaven and earth (Mt 28:18-20).
Does God’s omniscience include “what if’s” or contingencies? The biblical teaching is that God absolutely knows what persons would have done even under different circumstances. Jesus criticized the people of Capernaum with these words: “If the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until today” (Mt 11:23).
Does God’s omniscience include His knowledge of choices people haven’t yet made? Some Bible students (calling themselves “open theists”) have recently been answering this question with a no, arguing that God knows everything knowable, but that He does not know the free choices of moral beings because these choices do not yet exist. Classic Christianity has always answered with a resounding yes. To argue otherwise means that prophecies in the Scriptures are only probabilities that might not happen.
God’s knowledge of the inner life of His children is especially celebrated in Psalm 139:1-6. Such knowledge, on the other hand, should cause alarm for the unrighteous (Ps 90:8; Pr 15:3; 1 Pt 3:12). God’s right to judge mankind in the final judgment includes His knowledge of human secrets (Rm 2:16).
REFLECTION: Does your belief that God knows everything comfort or frighten you? Why? What are the main difficulties people have expressed to you about God’s knowledge of all things?
PRAYER: Lord God, I confess that You know all things. This means that nothing surprises You. I believe that You know me inside and out, so help me to live my life conscious that Your loving but holy eyes are ever upon me. May I live this day in light of my coming judgment. Amen.