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Monday, July 18, 2016

Some introductory thoughts about God's omniscience


Psalm 139:1-4 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

What kind of God God is
Today's post features one of the most magnificent Psalms in the Book of Psalms - Psalm 139. Psalm 139 depicts God as He is with respect to His very essence and being. Today's post is not about presenting a bunch of information. Instead, the goal is to show the reader from this Psalm what kind of God God is and to demonstrate what there is to know about God from this Psalm, so as to affect transformation and thus exaltation. 

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 contains the following descriptions of the being and essence of God: "God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures." 

God's essence and attributes: a quick introduction
When we see how God is "infinite in holiness and all other perfections", we are getting into the matter of what are called God's attributes. God's attributes speak to those characteristics and properties of God that define Him as God. William G.T Shedd, in the first volume of his Systematic Theology, defines an attribute as "modes either of the relation, or of the operation of the divine essence".  To illustrate, we can think of the rays of the sun as likened unto attributes, and the sun itself as an analogy of the essence of God. Just as one cannot look directly at the sun, one too cannot directly see nor experience the essence of God. However, the rays of the sun are expressions of the sun and by their energies, warmth, growth, life and such are witnessed. The rays of the sun constitute and are entailed in what we mean when we speak of the sun. God's attributes (by analogy), can be conceived of in the same manner. Older theologians sometimes speak of God's "essence" and "energies". 

So much more of course could be said on this topic of God and His attributes. However, we for now will restrict our discussion to what we find out about God in Psalm 139, particularly Psalm 139:1-6. Today we will consider God as the One Lord that knows everything (i.e omniscient). 

God knows everything. Psalm 139:1-6
As we mentioned before, God is the sum of all His attributes - with omniscience (God's eternal property of knowing all things) being the eternal energy that expresses His state of intelligence and cognition. The most wonderful thing about getting to know God is to find out that He knows me, through and through. Before I was ever born, God knew about me in His mind. Every person born into this world in a general sense is shown in scripture to have had a particular ordained time of birth and time of death. (Psalm 90; Hebrews 9:27) 

In a specific sense, God in His mind knew before hand every believer and saw them as already complete in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-4; Romans 8:29-31). Having in His omniscience seen every child of God in Christ in eternity, God decided to love them on the basis of His own decision to love them (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Ephesians 1:4-5)! God's omniscience truly governs His decrees. By virtue of what God knows about the past, present and future - God so acts in accordance to what He knows and wills (Job 42:2; Daniel 4:35; Romans 11:33-36). As the BFM 2000 states: "His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures."

As the Psalmist says, there is more about God's knowledge that we do not comprehend than we do comprehend. (compare Romans 11:33-36). However, Biblical teachings on such truths reminds us to "let God be God" and "to keep silent on those areas wherein He does not speak" and "to worship Him Who knows all things." Within Psalm 139:1-6 we discover that God knows...

a. the words one will speak before they speak them

b. knows the internal ruminations of the heart.

c. knows how we would respond in situations and even in possible situations that may or may not occur

d. knows the future as well as the present

As the Psalmist rounds out his discussion on God's omniscience, He notes in Psalm 139:6 - "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;It is too high, I cannot attain to it." The Hebrew word translated "wonderful" speaks of something that is beyond one's grasp. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) translates this verse in the following manner: "This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it."

As we raise our thoughts to God today - let's praise Him for His omniscience. 

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