They are everywhere. Do you see them? You can’t miss these things. The pages of Scripture shout from the mountaintops about them. What are they? Verses about the omniscience of God. We’ll begin with three:
- Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)
- He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. (Psalms 147:4-5)
- Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that he judges those who are on high? (Job 21:22)
The doctrine of God’s personal knowledge is the foundation of all truth, logic, rationale, and understanding (Job 36:3-5). If there is no God as the source of infinite knowledge, then we all falter under the weight of brain fizz and absurdity. The universe then becomes time and chance acting on matter—something for those with expressed interest in epistemology can debate.
The fact God never has to spend time searching for information is both mind-bending and comforting. This doctrine is no mere abstraction—as Calvin once put it, “The knowledge of God is efficacious.” It’s a two-way street with many intersections. While this could never be the final word on this particular doctrine, we must understand that the omniscience of God doesn’t mean that God simply “knows” all things (this is true!); it also means that because God knows all things, His knowledge is, as Calvin said, efficacious, it does something. That’s the two-way street I’m talking about.
The Shocking Truth about Omniscience
God’s knowledge is perfect (Job 36:3-5). He knows everything (1 John 3:20). His understanding cannot be measured (Psalms 147:5). Nothing can be hidden from His sight (Hebrews 4:13); even our folly cannot be hidden from God (Psalms 69:5). God’s knowledge is inexhaustible (Romans 11:33-36), and because of it, He even knew you before you were conceived in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). God knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) and determines the number of starts in the heavens (Psalms 147:4). God knows His plans for His people (Jeremiah 29:11) and has declared the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
Perhaps the most shocking thing about God is not that He knows everything, but that because He knows everything, He cannot be taught: “Will any teach God knowledge?” (Job 21:22). There is no Google search engine in the heavens because there is no fraction of knowledge in the universe that does not belong to God.
I remember as a child struggling (not with doubt, but wonder) with how God never had a beginning—He always existed outside of time and in eternity past. How much more of an inexplicable doctrine could there be? Perhaps right alongside the preexistent, eternal nature of God we could put the omniscience of God. It is a mysterious and enigmatic doctrine; but it is also an essential one. How could God just know everything? I would ponder; I still have this childlike wonder today.
God’s Omniscience and Worship
While we could list the hundreds of passages that affirm this doctrine, what has been presented so far ought to suffice? I want to finish this brief article by getting to that other side of the street. Not only does God know everything, His infinite knowledge does something. What does it do? John Calvin helps again, “To know [God] is immediately to love Him.” In other words, our knowledge of God comes from God’s self-revelation in both the person of Christ, and His Holy Scriptures. When that knowledge is gained through the work of the Holy Spirit, love is the result.
Augustine once prayed, “Let me know myself, O God, that I may know Thee.” Someone else once said, “All knowledge is sterile which does no lead to action and end in charity.” Thomas à Kempis shares a similar thought, “All men naturally desire to know, but what doth knowledge avail without the fear of God?” Do you see the connection? Because God’s knowledge is inexhaustible, it serves as the control in this hypothesis. The presupposition is fairly obvious: we can’t know anything unless we start with God. Knowledge belongs to God because only He is truly knowledgeable, but it doesn’t stop there.
God has chosen to communicate this knowledge to man. Like all good gifts, the knowledge we received turned from worship of God to worship of self. Because of the plague of sin in man, man tries to squander this gift by attributing knowledge to other places (e.g., evolution, pluralism, relativity, etc.). “Knowledge and truth is relative,” one might say. “There are no absolutes,” someone else might quip. Instead of worshipping God through love and service, sinners attempt to take knowledge and explain it away. That’s what sin does.
The reality is, however, that knowledge of anything stems from the infinite mind of God. He created minds, truth, logic, fallacies, and other transcendent mysteries. Jokes, sentences, words, and verbs all belong to God. Language works because God has spoken. This is why we do not simply systematize the knowledge of God, we think because He thinks, and we worship because He is worthy. It is not enough to think you know something; your thoughts belong to God and are to honor Him because only God thinks inexhaustively.
This article first appeared in Theology for Life Winter 2016-2017 Issue. To download the rest of the issue click here.