Devotional Week 4 | Our God is Omniscient
Who Is This God?
The Attributes of God
Our God is Omniscient, Day 1
“Great is our Lord and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” (Psalm 147:5)
This series of devotions has introduced several big theological words. This week’s: omniscience. Here’s a good definition from theologian Wayne Grudem: “God fully knows himself and all things--all actual things and all possible things--in one simple and eternal act.” Omniscience, in brief means “all-knowing.”
God’s omniscience means he knows everything that is and could be and he’s always known it and will always know it. Fully, totally, absolutely. There are no surprises for God. He is ignorant of nothing. There’s no blind corner he can’t see around. Unlike Superman, he can see through lead. Past, present, and future events are all known to him at the same time (for lack of a better term).
This doesn’t mean that God only knows everything that ever was, is, or will be. He knows all that could be. Of the infinite variations of our universe that could come about (apart from this one, that actually is), God knows the intimate details of all of them. He knows what could have been, could have existed, and could have come about.
God’s omniscience also means that he understands everything--he doesn’t simply know about things, but fully understands them. I know that my truck’s engine is a combustion engine and that it uses gas and spark plugs and valves and oil and thousands of other bits...but I have no clue as to how it actually works. I have to take my truck to real men just to get my oil changed! And yet, the Lord our God knows and understands all of the laws of nature, all philosophical and metaphysical possibilities--everything about geology, biology, and astronomy. As Creator over all things, he knows it all. And God knows it eternally--nothing is ever lost from his memory. There is no new knowledge for him to gain, even though the human race is growing in collective knowledge every day.
Of all the things God knows, today, I want you to think about God’s special knowledge of you.
If you are a Christian, God knew you and loved you before he ever flipped the lights of the universe on (Ephesians 1:3-6). When Jesus the God-man went to the cross to pay the debt of your sins, he knew them all. Yes. All of them. The sins you sinned before you became a Christian. The sins you’re sinning even now. The sins you have no idea you will commit. The hidden sins of your heart and mind that you desperately seek to keep hidden for the rest of your life. Knowing all of this beforehand, he took up the cross that belongs to you, covered in all of your sins, and he staggered his way to Calvary.
If you can meditate on this--hold this in your mind and take it further--then you’re ready to learn more this week about God’s omniscience and be amazed, encouraged, and happy that he knows everything!
1. How many grains of sand are there on all the beaches of the world? How many days do you have to live ahead of you? What does the future hold for your career? God knows it all and this God loves you. Pray and ask God for happy humility, trusting him to know all that you don’t.
2. Throughout your day, take the time to remember that God--who knows everything about you--loves you and chose you and keeps choosing you. Pray throughout the day and try to feel gratitude that of all the things God knows, he has decided to love you in a special way.
Who Is This God?
The Attributes of God
Our God is Omniscient, Day 2
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Brainy Smurf. Hermione Grainger. C-3PO. Elle Woods. What do these four fictional characters have in common? They’re know-it-alls. In a way, they’re all nerds (even Elle, the lovable, ditzy, pink-covered shopaholic lawyer from Legally Blonde). They love to know things. They need to know things. They need everyone else to know that they know things. They spend their whole lives learning and knowing as much as possible--to impress others, to be accepted, to be useful, and to be on guard from never being taken by surprise.
These know-it-alls aren’t so unlike you and me. We all, as humans, have much to learn. We crave knowledge. Whether it’s having a library of books in your home, studying and learning all the fantasy football stats you can, or even studying theology, we’re all hungry to know things. A quick Google search (talk about access to knowledge--Google receives over four million search queries every minute!) gave me a list of over sixty psychics in the metro-Atlanta area. People are desperate to know the future. We want to know what’s going to happen with our money, so, we hire seemingly clairvoyant stock brokers who can flawlessly predict the market. My own children are wired to want to know everything. Just fielding a four-year-old’s questions can wipe me out: what’s for dinner, where are we going, why do I have to go to bed, when’s dinner, do I have to, can I have something else to eat for dinner? By the way, that’s just one minute and eleven seconds worth of a four-year-old’s questions.
Now, we are wired--that is, created--to learn. It’s not a sin to want to learn and know. God’s design for Adam and Eve was perfect and they were created perfect...and they had to learn things. The trouble is, we sinfully take any appetite and press the gas pedal down all the way to the floor.
We sinners don’t trust God’s sovereignty, so we try to set up our lives so we have as much control as we can get over them. We don’t trust God’s power, so we seek every advantage we can get. We don’t trust God’s goodness and love, so we try to love ourselves. We don’t trust God’s omniscience, so we pull our hair out and chew our fingernails off, trying to know everything in order to be god over our own lives. Being made in the image of God has never been good enough--we keep wanting to be God.
Thankfully, Jesus died for this sin, too. He frees us from needing to know everything in his place, controlling our lives (and others’!) in his place. Now, we’re free to learn and know what we can know--what we ought to know--and trust the Lord with all that we don’t. Christians ought to learn. Science, math, philosophy, art...we ought to learn and be more and more amazed at the God who created it all. Let’s it learn it like the children of God, rather than try to take his place.
1. In what ways do you tend to seek knowledge or understanding--ways that, if you can learn it or understand it, you won’t need to trust God as much?
2. What are you worried about right now and you don’t have an answer to your concerning questions? Take the time to pray right now, asking the Lord to teach you what you need to know and trust him with what he doesn’t reveal to you.
3. Memorize 1 Peter 5:7 (top of the page) and recite it to yourself when anxiety attacks you today.
Who Is This God?
The Attributes of God
Our God is Omniscient, Day 3
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.’” (Isaiah 44:7-7)
As we learn more and more about God’s attributes, I want us to pause be cautious: while we have to define and differentiate between the characteristics of God (he’s sovereign, he’s totally good, he’s absolutely powerful, etc), we need to remember that each of these things are linked. The ancient Hebrews’ daily prayer used a repeated statement, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE.” God is sovereign at the same time and to the same degree that he’s omnipotent. His goodness is inextricable (can’t be torn loose from) his holiness. If we’re not careful, we’ll elevate some attribute of God that we want to like more than some others, and when that happens, we’ve begun fashioning a god of our own liking, rather than believing in the One, True God.
With that said, God’s omniscience has a special relationship to his sovereignty. How can God know everything? Because he’s appointed everything. He’s decided it. Some say that God has ordained all things. In the above passage from the prophet Isaiah, God’s challenge is to man and would-be-god alike: if you think there’s another god; if you think you’re your own god...tell me what is to come. Tell me what’s going to happen. By that standard and that challenge, the ability to ordain what will happen and bring it about is an ability that belongs to only one person: God.
You see, all human beings strive to know the future. I have a weather app on my phone, from which I get the predictions of very smart weather forecasters with insanely sensitive weather technology. Some of us try our best to predict which way the stock market is going to go so we can buy low and sell high. Thousands of politicians and their lackeys are constantly trying to predict, using polls, what’s going to happen at the ballot box. That’s the best any created being can do: predict. We don’t know the future and we can’t bring about the futures we want. The best we can do is take a stab at it. We can make guesses (and pretty good ones, sometimes).
God has no need of predictions. He has no need for guesses. As sovereign God, who knows all things in all times and in all places, he has appointed--ordained--things to come to pass. Even terrible things pass through his watchful and wise judgment, as he uses them to bring about the brightest, best, and most perfect history and future that can be brought about. For Christians, this is where it’s crucial we remember that our God isn’t only sovereign and omniscient--we also remember that he is good and holy. Like kids who obey our father in not picking up and wielding a sharp knife (because we’d harm ourselves and others), he can pick it up and use it properly and perfectly at all times.
How can God know and understand all things? Because he created them and brings them about. How can we trust this God whose knowledge, power, and authority are so great that they become a mind-boggling mystery? Because he’s revealed himself as good, merciful, and faithful to those he loves.
1. It’s not wrong to try and predict what will come so you can make strategies to live well. God often calls this wisdom. But, as you try to envision what today or tomorrow or next year will bring, how will you pray? Pray that God will show you, not his predictions, but his promises and, as the unpredictable future unfolds, pray that God will make you obedient to him.
2. What do you do in your life that shows you don’t trust God’s omniscience? Do you hoard money (different from saving)? Do you manipulate people? Do you numb your fears of the future with food or drink or drugs? Take some time to name these sins and repent of them today. Share them with a brother or sister in Christ so they can pray with you and watch your back.
Who Is This God?
The Attributes of God
Our God is Omniscient, Day 4
“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account... Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:13; 16)
Isn’t it frightening that we establish our relationships based on what someone does or doesn’t know about us? If they only knew this or that terrible or embarrassing thing about me, they wouldn’t want me any more. But, that’s not how it works with God. Christ knows everything and he still dies for you. Jesus sees everything about your life and he will still have you with him forever, in Heaven.
In fact, in his omniscience, God knows you better than you do. Haven’t you ever surprised yourself? Done or said something you thought was so out of character, but here you are...ashamed of what you swore you’d never do? Ever said you’d be better, try harder, get up earlier, eat smarter, and nd here you are, not doing those things. What’s wrong with me, we cry!
Modern Americans (indeed, many modern Christian Americans!) are obsessed with personality tests. There’s the DISC test, the Meyers-Briggs test, and the newer craze: the Enneagram . The aim of theses tests isn’t essentially wrong, but what we do with the results is often unhealthy and sinful. At best, personality profiles help to describe our tendencies of thought, feeling, and action--but they don’t define who we are. Often, people will find out what their personality type is and then use it to excuse their sin. I’m an enneagram 1. Sorry if I come off as domineering--it’s just how I have to be get to things done! Our personalities are given to us by God, but sin poisons everything God created.
When it comes to your identity--your personality--I want you to be thankful for and comfortable in the skin God gave you. But I also want you to hate your flesh--that is, the sin that twists and perverts the truth of who you’re supposed to be, according to God. Therefore, I tell you: there is no proper self-knowledge without knowledge of God. If you want to know the truth about yourself, you need to hear it from God, who knows everything! It means hearing some hard things about yourself, but it also means hearing wonderful things about what God does for you and to you. You are a sinner, worthy of condemnation. But, you are also beloved by God and forgiven that condemnation by Jesus!
Satan (who is not omniscient, by the way!) keeps lying to you--telling you that you’re way better than you are, or that God could never love someone as terrible as you. We need to listen to and trust the truth God tells us about himself and our selves: we are worse than we think, God is better than we can imagine, and our lives are secure because of Jesus.
If that’s true, then our relationships can be far more secure and we can trust our sins and failures with other Christians--people who also have been known fully by God and yet accepted.
1. Is Satan holding you hostage in a relationship because of hidden sin (even in the distant past)? Ask the Lord, who knows it all, to give you courage to open up to those you ought to.
2. You may end up being the one who has to hear someone’s confession of sin or shame--how will you treat them? They’re going to be afraid and guilty. How will the grace of God look, coming from you?
Who Is This God?
The Attributes of God
Our God is Omniscient, Day 5
What did you know when you were born? Babies know how to cry and breathe and eat (and poop!). But, do they know that they know it? Soon after birth, you started to get to know the voices of your mom and dad. We all laugh and celebrate with joy when a baby first learns to hold its head up, sit up, and crawl. But, it takes months just to learn those things. What are we born knowing?
Before you became a Christian, did you know you were going to be one? Were you born knowing that one day, you’d believe in Jesus and that God in Heaven is your Father? No. I have three children, and though I was pretty sure each of them would learn to walk and talk and play and do math and read, I wasn’t guaranteed that they’d know the Lord as I know him. By God’s grace, my wife and I have confidence that my two oldest now know Jesus and belong to him. We’re praying for and teaching our youngest, Martin, in the great hope that he’ll come to know the Lord, as well.
As people who believe that God is sovereign over every person’s soul and salvation, and as people who believe he powerfully saves who he wills, we also believe that he perfectly knows the time, place, and circumstance of every person’s new birth in Christ. Nevertheless, it seems that God doesn’t reveal who will be saved to us--that is, not until they actually believe.
There’s a saying that goes something like, “the predestined don’t wear tee shirts.” What’s meant by that is, we who believe in Jesus and want the lost around us to believe as well--we don’t know who God has sovereignly chosen to salvation. God knows beforehand, but we don’t. In a way, that’s God’s plan so that Christians will be motivated better to love everyone with the gospel, rather than the one’s they know (or, think they know) will become Christians.
What’s great about God’s omniscience is that he withholds what we don’t need to know and gives to us all the knowledge we do need. That means, we need to share the gospel with anyone and everyone, regardless of how hardened or apathetic they seem to Jesus. God knows who he’ll redeem--we just need to know the gospel.
Don’t be tempted to do God’s omniscient thinking for him. There are lost people around you, many of whom you know are hostile and rejecting of Jesus. But, you don’t know what God knows and you don’t know what God intends. All you need to know is that Jesus has placed you in their lives to love and testify to his love. That should free us to do our best, knowing that salvation belongs to the Lord alone. God’s omniscience relieves us of the burden of being in charge of other people’s salvation.
1. Who are you the lost people you’re praying for? Name them and think of their faces. Recognize that they have souls that Jesus wants to love. They don’t yet know whether they’ll meet Jesus, and neither do you. So, pray for the only who knows to do what only he knows how to do--redeem and save their souls!
2. Take some time to think of what God has made known to you from his all-knowledge. From the day of your new birth in Christ to now, what has the Lord taught you about himself and his purposes. How will the lost people around be loved and benefitted by what Jesus has taught you?