Is God omniscient? What does it mean to be omniscient?
To say God is omniscient is to say that God knows all things or has all knowledge. As Creator of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), there is nothing made that He has not known (John 1:3). It's safe to say that Steve Jobs knew how computers work; in the same way, God knows how the universe works. God must know all things because He created all things, including the reality in which we exist.
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Scripture is clear that God is omniscient. In 1 John 3:20 we read, "God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything." Further, God knows everything about us as individuals. Jesus taught God's concern for us by saying He knows the exact number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:29-30). No matter how many times we comb our hair, God is not thrown off count.
First Kings 8:39 speaks of God knowing our thoughts: "for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind." There is no way to "keep a secret" from God.
God's omniscience includes knowledge of the future. He knows "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). In fact, predictive knowledge is unique to God; detailed, accurate prophecy is His specialty. Our Lord issues this challenge to false gods: "declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods" (Isaiah 41:22-23 NIV). Any god worth its salt must know the future, but the Baals, Dagons, and Molechs of this world fail miserably in this regard.
A. W. Tozer wrote of God's omniscience, "Because God knows all things perfectly, He knows no thing better than any other thing, but all things equally well. He never discovers anything, He is never surprised, never amazed. He never wonders about anything nor (except when drawing men out for their own good) does He seek information or ask questions." (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, pp. 61-62).
The apostle Paul celebrates our omniscient God in Romans 11:33-36:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"
"Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
This awe-filled response should be the same for all of God's followers. The more we understand who God is, the greater our awareness of His greatness, including His perfect knowledge of all things.
Isaiah wrote a series of rhetorical questions emphasizing God's omniscience: "Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?" (Isaiah 40:13-14). We do not and cannot teach God anything, for He knows everything.
In the face of infinite knowledge, our only response is reverent, adoring worship. We bring Him our limited understanding and ask for His wisdom. We may not know much, but we know this: His understanding has no limits.
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