Faithlife Sermons

Knowing God - His Omniscience

Knowing God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings


I. The Meaning of God’s Omniscience

The Word of God portrays God’s knowledge as unlimited, and perfect in every way.
The Word of God says that God is Omniscient; from two words, the Latin word “scientia” meaning “knowledge” and the prefix “omni” meaning “all.”
Therefore when we talk about the “omniscience” of God we mean that God is all knowing.
We have already seen the omnipotence of God and the sovereignty of God and we also must understand that having unlimited control over the world would not amount to much if God’s knowledge was finite.
In fact, we could also say that a relatively ignorant God with absolute power to do anything he wanted would be very frightening, because we may live out lives in fear that God may act or weld his power in ignorance of the truth.
He might not know who is truly guilty or innocent and would; therefore, punish or bless the wrong person.
Or without the knowledge of the natural order of the way that the world works, he may perform a miracle that would produce something that was not a good thing.
However, the Bible is clear that our God is infinite in knowledge.
But just like omnipotence, omniscience is not easy to define, even after settling on the definition above because there are still questions about what exactly God knows.
And how does the omniscience of God compare with the passages in the Scripture that clearly state that there are things that God forgets.
I mean, if God is truly omniscient, then would it not hold true that He would still remember our sins?
And if he does not remember our sins, how can he be said to be truly omniscient.
All of these questions, that we cannot ignore because there are Biblical passages that are implicit and explicit in teaching those things, can muddy our theological waters in which we are wading .
But let is start at the beginning.
The Word of God is clear in its definition of what it means that God is omniscient.
The Bible is clear that God is unlimited in his understanding and knowledge.
Job 36:4 AV
For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.
Job 37:16 AV
Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?
Hebrews 4:13 AV
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.
And in light of the complete knowledge of God:
Job 21:22 AV
Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.
Isaiah 40:14 AV
With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
Paul exults God over his plan in saving both Jews and Gentiles alike and praising him for the great wisdom God had in performing this plan.
Romans 11:33 AV
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
You can break down God’s knowledge into three different categories; similar to the grammar designation of voice.
There is the Active knowledge of God.
There is the Middle knowledge of God.
There is the Passive knowledge of God.
Now, these are how some theologians have tried to divide the knowledge of God; I did not say that all three designations has any scriptural support.
For example, there is the Active Knowledge of God.
God has eternal knowledge, which is what we would call active knowledge.
Since God is an eternal being, his knowledge is eternal.
What happens in our world proceeds from a known cause to a related effect.
In other words, the known God is God and the related effect is what was actively known.
God’s knowledge proceeds out of God, never being derived from reality outside of himself.
Romans 8:29 AV
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Look closely at that verse, and we looked at this when went through this section last year, God does not know people’s decisions, God knows people.
That is why the verse states: “whom God foreknew...”
This would be an example of God’s active knowledge; God knew (and, of course, we say when we looked at this these things that that means more that just knowledge of their existence, it goes much deeper than that to the fact of his love for them)them, because that knowledge of them proceeded out of Him, not because of some action on the part of the creator.
1 Corinthians 2:7 AV
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
God knew these things that Paul spoke before the foundation of the world because it was knowledge within himself and then he revealed them to us at the appropriate time.
Ephesians 1:4–5 AV
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
The fact that we were chosen before the foundation of world includes the fact that God had knowledge of us within himself.
For God cannot certainly choose those to whom he did not have knowledge and that knowledge was within himself.
2 Timothy 1:9 AV
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
Because God’s knowledge is within himself, his knowledge is perfect and because it is perfect it is never increasing.
Isaiah 40:13–14 AV
Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
His knowledge is definite, clearly defined, precise, certain, sure, and comprehensive.
Psalm 139:1–3 AV
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
Because God’s knowledge is active, it will necessarily produce the effects of his knowledge.
God consciously and eternally perceived the realities.
That is God’s Active Knowledge.
There is also the designation of his Middle Knowledge.
And that designation says God knows all the possibilities of things that could happen.
In other words, God knows all the potentiality of things that could happen and God chooses the best option that is given.
Now, there are some verses that people attempt to use as a support of this Middle knowledge.
Matthew 11:21 AV
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
And the idea, they say, is Jesus was talking about the possibility of things that could happen given if circumstances were different.
However, this is not Scriptural evidence of Middle knowledge, because there is a vast difference in Jesus speaking comparatively; if this would have happened, then this would happen, then Jesus speaking because he was given the options and he chose the best option that was given.
Jeremiah 38:17–18 AV
Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon’s princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house: But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand.
Again, this not Scriptural evidence of Middle Knowledge.
God is speaking through Jeremiah and there is a big difference between what options are given to men and that fact that God knows, within himself, what will happen.
God is outlining to for King Zedekiah two lines of actions with differing results, but that does not mean that God did not know already the course of actions that the King would take.
Then there is the Passive Knowledge of God.
The Passive Knowledge of God would be the knowledge of the actions of men and; therefore, acts based on his knowledge of our actions.
God looks and see the actions of men and then based on that he is omniscient.
But such is not omniscience at all because Biblical omniscience is knowledge that is based on himself, not on what he see that actions of men will be.
However, once just evidence that they give is a verse that we have already looked.
Romans 8:29 AV
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
We looked at this earlier what I want you to see the word “foreknow.”
That is used by the proponents of this theology to men that God looks down the corridor of time and knows and acts based on what he sees the actions of men will be.
Question; where does that verse say that?
Some say, “the word foreknow!”
But wait a minute, that word only means “to know beforehand,” to say that it means that God looks into the future and sees the actions of men and that is how he knows is to place something on the text that is not there.
How do we know that it means more than that?
Acts 2:23 AV
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
If they are going to be consistent with their interpretations, than they have to say that this verse means that God just merely looked into the future and saw what the Jews and the Romans were going to do with Christ and; therefore, has knowledge only because of what he SAW they would do, not knowledge in himself.
1 Peter 1:20 AV
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Even though the English translation here is “foreordained,” the Greek word is “προγινώσκω,” same word in Romans 8:29 that is translated “foreknown.”
So, did God merely look down the corridor of time and see Christ coming and that is how he obtained that knowledge?
Certainly not!
He was omniscient within himself in an active way.
So, when we say that God is omniscient, we are saying that he has perfect knowledge within himself of everything.
And when we say “within himself” we are talking about that fact that God’s knowledge is based on realities outside of himself, he knows it all.
Some have asked the question, “what came first, omniscience or the divine decree?”
Is God omniscient because he decided what would be or is the decree based on his omniscience?
We need to be very circumspect not to create too much of a distance between these two truths; as if there were two separate events spanning hundreds of years apart.
However, I would say that as far as an order that Omniscience would come first, in this way.
The decree is the plan and the plan is based on what God knows within himself.
God knows everything that will happen within his conscience self and lays out the decree or the plan because of that knowledge within himself.
But we also need to understand that we are talking about an eternal being; therefore, it becomes difficult to for finite beings to understand and completely comprehend the infinite.
Dogmatic Theology Preliminary Considerations

the divine decrees naturally follows that of divine attributes

God’s acts agree with God’s determination.

II. The Manifestation of God’s Omniscience

Whenever I think about the omniscience of God my mind always goes back to the wonderful interaction with Jesus and Peter after his resurrection in John 21.
You remember the story, Jesus was dead (as far as they knew) and Peter made a important statement:
John 21:3 AV
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
And we know from a later verse that one of the others that went with him was “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and, of course, that was John and the other was brother James.
That inner circle we kind of see a lot together in the gospels.
Peter was so distraught with the sequence of events; it was one of those things that “it was not suppose to be this way.”
“Jesus was suppose to say here and guide us, not be killed after 3 1/2 years with us.”
You see, Peter and the other Apostles were so heartbroken that they could not remember the promises of Christ and the reason for his death for being so grieved within their own heart.
The only course of action that Peter that was the best was to go back to his old job, “it is all over, I am going back to fishing.”
And, of course, the text says that they “caught nothing.”
John 21:5–6 AV
Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
John 21:7 AV
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
Now, Peter was not completely naked, it would have been the warm time of the year so Peter would probably would have only had on a loincloth for work and he grabbed his outer garment and threw himself into the sea.
So intense was his desire to be with Jesus that Peter could not wait for the boat to reach the shore.
John was the quicker to perceive; Peter was the quicker to act.
When Peter and the other guys, who were about 300 feet from the shore, got there they noticed that Christ had prepared breakfast for them.
And this is where we come to the beautiful scene of Peter’s restoration and his theology on the Omniscience of God.
When I taught you through the Gospel of John several years ago, this probably became my favorite passage in the Gospel; other than chapter 17.
Now, keep in mind that Peter is sad, he is sad because of the fact that his master was taken from them in the most violent way imaginable at the time.
And he was no doubt sad because at the greatest time of his Lord’s need, he denied that he even knew him and never appeared to stand with him at the cross.
In the greatest of all reconciliations, Jesus beginning in verse 15 begins the discourse of not only of reconciliation, but also of showing Peter the level of his commitment to Christ.
Christ reveals to Peter that committed christians love Christ more than anything else.
John 21:15–17 AV
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Jesus went right to the heart of the issue wanted Peter to see if he loved Christ more than all of these.
This is no doubt a reference to the fishing boat and the other fishing paraphernalia.
Because, listen, Jesus wanted to bring Peter to the heart of the issue, because:
Matthew 6:24 AV
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Notice, again, verse 15.
John 21:15 AV
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
I want you to notice the interesting word play between Christ and Peter, let me bring this up in the Greek so that you can see it.
John 21:15 NA28
Ὅτε οὖν ἠρίστησαν λέγει τῷ Σίμωνι Πέτρῳ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με πλέον τούτων; λέγει αὐτῷ· Ναὶ κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· Βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου.
Jesus, using the Greek word for the highest love of will uses the word “ἀγαπάω,” love that implies total commitment.
But Peter was painfully aware of his disobedience and failure, felt way to guilty to proclaim that level of love for the Lord (tried that before).
All of his brash pronouncements were a thing of the past and the sorry reality of his actions proves that he did not have this level of love for the Lord.
So he uses the word “φιλέω,” which is “brotherly love,” the kind of love that says, “I care for you.”
Notice how Peter appeals to Christs’ omniscience here, “You know that I love you.”
“Know” is “οἶδα” and Peter uses the perfect tense to tell the Lord you have alway known that I care about you.
Jesus says, “feed my lambs.”
“Feed” is the word “βόσκω” and is the word that is used of herdsmen pasturing and feeding their livestock.
Jesus using the word “lambs” emphasizes not only their immaturity, vulnerability, and need, but also that they are his.
This is the same responsibility given to every Pastor.
John 21:16 ESV
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
John 21:16 NA28
λέγει αὐτῷ πάλιν δεύτερον· Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με; λέγει αὐτῷ· *Ναὶ κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· Ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου.
The same Greek words are used.
However, Jesus used a different word here for his job with the lambs.
Instead of using “βόσκω” which is feed, he uses the word “ποιμαίνω” which is the word that means to shepherd.
Giving the two-fold job of the Pastor; feeding the lambs or those new believers and not only teaching more mature believers but also shepherding or leading them.
John 21:17 AV
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
But Jesus is not through with Peter yet; but notice:
John 21:17 NA28
λέγει αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· Σίμων Ἰωάννου, φιλεῖς με; ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· Φιλεῖς με; καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Κύριε, πάντα σὺ οἶδας, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ [ὁ Ἰησοῦς]· Βόσκε τὰ πρόβατά μου.
Unlike, the previous two times, Jesus used Peter’s use of the word “φιλέω,” calling into question even the less than totally devoted love that Peter thought that he was safe in claiming.
The implication that his life did not support even that level of love broke Peter’s heart.
So, what did Peter do?
John 21:17 AV
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
He appealed even stronger to Jesus’ omniscience.
Peter uses two different Greek words here for “know.”
The first is the word “οἶδα” and that speaks of things that we know cognitively, we have understanding of these things.
The second is the word “γινώσκω” and that means to ascertain by examination, to be assured.
It is like Peter is saying, “Lord, you have the understanding and knowledge that I care for you and you can be assured of that care.”
The third time Jesus accepted the apostle’s recognized full failure and imperfection and graciously charged Peter, “Feed my sheep.”
John 12–21: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Committed Christians Love Christ More than Anything Else

As Andreas Köstenberger notes,

Perhaps at long last Peter has learned that he cannot follow Jesus in his own strength and has realized the hollowness of affirming his own loyalty in a way that relies more on his own power of will than on Jesus’ enablement.… Likewise, we should soundly distrust self-serving pledges of loyalty today that betray self-reliance rather than a humble awareness of one’s own limitations in acting on one’s best intentions p 403 [cf. 2 Cor. 12:9–10]. (John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004], 598)

That confrontation did something to Peter, he betrayed the Lord three times and the Lord restored him three times, but the restoration three times is not so much about the fact that Jesus wanted to restore Peter as many times as he denied, no, it is more about the fact that Jesus wanted Peter to recognized his own failure in his own strength.
Did he?
Well, Peter was not perfect, as we see in the book of Galatians, but Peter remained obedient to the Lord’s commission the rest of his life.
His ministry from that moment on involved only proclaiming the gospel.
What did Peter appeal to during that confrontation?
The omniscience of God.

III. The Material of God’s Omniscience

How do we bring all of these truths together.
And why did Peter focus so much on the omniscience of Christ?
Because, you see, Peter’s actions did not match what he was claiming, not even just the love of care; much less the self sacrificing love of the will.
So, Peter appeals to the omniscience of Christ because it was in essence as if Peter were saying, “Lord, I know that my actions do not match what I am claiming, but you know all things and therefore, you know that I really do care about you.”
You know, the omniscience of God can be a frightening thing, as it should, but it can also be a comforting reality, because there are a lot of times in our Christian lives that the only way that God knows that we love him is because of the fact that he knows our hearts because our actions sure do not show it.
Peter appealed to the Omniscience of Christ in an effort to show him that he loved him, “I know my actions do not show it, and I would not even begin to claim the highest level of love, my testimony cannot do that, but Lord you know my heart and you know that I really do care about you and what to do the right things in my life.”
Boy, if that is not us!!!
The omniscience of our God.
Related Media
Related Sermons