THE OMNISCIENCE OF GOD
By Maurice Roberts
Reprinted from: The November 2018 issue of The Banner of Truth
It is a most humbling truth to realise that God knows everything. Proud man imagines that he can “make history’, or even ‘change history’. But the mistake here is man’s failure to realise that God alone is the Maker of history and none, whether man, angel or devil, can change it in the least degree.
God knows everything and He will bring everything to the conclusion which will fully and perfectly glorify Him in the end. By this we mean that God sees and knows of many events in the world which He disapproves and yet, for a time, does not put a stop to.
The wise man lives every day of his life in the conscious realisation that God knows, sees and observes all that we do here on earth. The foolish man is only too happy to shut his mind to the thought that God is watching us all the time.
That is why the subject of God’s omniscience is extremely important. This understanding of God, as the unseen observer of all that we do, say and think, inevitably has a profound influence on the way we live our life here on earth.
The unconverted person has a conscience just as believing Christians have. But the unbeliever, though he knows there is a God, makes it his practice to keep the thought of God out of his mind. As Paul puts it: ‘That which may be known of God is manifest in them’ (Romans 1:19).
The serious consequence is that the unbeliever, though he knows in his conscience that there is a God, suppresses all thought of God. Paul explains it in this way: ‘When they knew God they glorified him not as God’ (Romans 1:21).
This is a most serious biblical truth. Man’s sinfulness is such that he knows there is an all-seeing God but prefers to live a lie. He denies the existence of God and chooses to live without the fear of God. As Paul explains, this deliberate refusal by man in Old Testament times to recognise God is the reason why the ancient nations made gods for themselves out of wood and stone and in the shape of birds and beasts (Romans 1:23).
The same sad and solemn truth is all too obvious in modern society. Though modern man knows very well in his God-given conscience that there is an all-knowing and all-seeing God, he refuses to worship Him. Sinners hide their knowledge of the all-knowing God by their wilful and very sinful choices of atheism and an irreligious life-style.
As Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 1,there is a very serious price to pay if society chooses to suppress the God-given awareness of the true God which we all have as men and women. The penalty may be that God will give us up to believe the lie of godless atheism and leave men to live in ways which are so offensive to the all-knowing God that He will at last reprobate them (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).
The subject of divine reprobation is one which we ought to have often in our mind at the present time. Reprobation is the act of God’s offended justice by which He removes restraint from society and allows men and women to rush into the most God-displeasing forms of sin and bad behavior. The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 1 gives us a long list of the vile sins which reprobate sinners commit (Romans 1:29). He with the announcement that, so far does a reprobated society fall into shameful ways of thought that people ‘not only do’ these disgraceful things but they ‘have pleasure in them that do them’ (verse 32).
The cure for such a sin-sick society is to get back to a true view of God, such as our own forefathers had in Reformation and in Puritan times. The God of the Bible knows all things, sees all things, passes judgement on all things. If society repents and puts away all truth-suppressing habits of mind, God will at once see it and will give society his mercy and forgiveness.
So great is God’s mercy that, before the world began and before Adam sinned, He had in his omniscience provided an answer to the problem of sin. We refer to this as the Covenant of Redemption made before the world began by the three Persons of the Trinity. The Father appointed Christ to become the Saviour of sinners. Christ undertook to die for us as the Saviour. The Holy Spirit undertook to give grace to enable sinners to believe in Christ for pardon and peace with God.
The Bible, which is the divine revelation of the omniscient God, makes it clear that Adam and Eve would be saved through the ‘seed of the woman’ (Genesis 3:15), which is a reference to the virgin-birth of Jesus Christ. All through the Old Testament the omniscient God supervised the events which preceded Christ’s coming into the world. the ceremonial law was given to educate the people in pre-Christian times to understand that the Saviour must suffer, die and shed His blood to atone for man’s sin.
Even Job, who lived in an early part of the old Testament era, knew that Christ would come to save his believing people. Job’s words are an inspiration: ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’ (Job 19:25).
When Christ came into the world it was, as he makes clear by his reference to his Father, to do what the omniscient God had from eternity past appointed him to do: ‘I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do’ (John 17:4). When Christ refers to the persons for whom, he has come to suffer and die, he uses significant language: ‘I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me’ (John 17:6). God foreknew those whom he sent Christ to die for on the cross. The future was perfectly known by God before the world began. Nothing is unknown to the omniscient God.
This omniscient foreknowledge is clearly referred to by the apostle Paul in a sublime passage od Scripture which shows most vividly how the omniscient God, in his perfect plan of redemption had from eternity past foreseen the eventual outcome of Christ’s redemptive death to mankind” ‘Whom he [God] did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified’ (Romans 8:29-30). Every element in God’s plan was known to him from eternity. He himself had foreordained the plan of redemption and he himself will ensure that it is completely and perfectly brought to pass.
There is in history something which might be thought to challenge God’s omniscience. The question might be put: ‘If God foreknew and foresees everything, why did he not stop Adam from sinning?’ First, it must be emphatically said that we poor sinners are not in a position to ask why God acts as he does. Paul puts it like this: ‘Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?’ (Romans 9:20). God is not answerable to any of his creatures as to why he acts as he does.
Let us be clear on these points. The fall of Adam was owing to sin on Adam’s part. He was clearly told not to eat of the fruit of the tree. His eating the fruit was foreknown by God. But the guilt belongs only to Adam.
We must be very clear on this point. God is not to be in any way blamed for the sins of his creature. God never sins. God cannot sin. But God may use the sin of the creature to bring about a good result. We can say with Thomas Watson: ‘God can make a straight stroke with a crooked stick.” God allowed sinners to crucify Christ, his beloved Son. Though the action was extremely sinful, God permitted it, to bring about an infinitely great blessing: to have saved sinners with him in glory at last!
Here is a deep and wonderful mystery. All who come to believe in Jesus are blessed far more than those who were at first in Adam before he fell. to be saints in glory with Christ as his blood-bought Bride is to be raised higher than Adam or the angels were in their first estate. O blessed, glorious Omniscient God, how we should love him and seek to obey him now in this life! If we do, we shall soon enjoy his infinite love in Christ throughout all eternity!