The God Who Understands
Omniscience, Knowledge, Wisdom
We are just beginning our study of the attributes of God. In our first study we looked at the omnipresence of God. We learned that God is with us all the time and in every place. I suggested that this means that we are never alone, we don’t have to be afraid, we should live with a new sense of accountability, and we don’t have to search for God because He is not hiding.
This week we look at a second characteristic, the omniscience of God. As a review, omni is the prefix meaning universal, and science means knowledge. In other words, God has all knowledge. There are many places in the Bible where this is taught, Isaiah asks,
Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? [Isaiah 40:13-14]
In the letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul breaks forth in this matchless doxology at the end of Romans 11:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. [Romans 11:33-36]
Listen to what the Bible tells us about God’s knowledge
- He knows how much hair you have on your head (Luke 12:7)
- He knows your words before you speak them (Ps. 139:4)
- He knows your thoughts before you think them (Psalm 139:2)
- He knows your prayers before you pray them (Matthew 6:8)
- He knows everything you are going to do tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and every moment of every day (Psalm 139:16)
- He records every word you say and will some day call you to account for every careless, thoughtless, unkind and unchristian comment (Matthew 12:36)
- He hears every whispered word and will one day shout them from the housetops (Luke 12:3)
A.W. Tozer writes 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 (pp. 61-62 The Knowledge Of The Holy).
We must make three clarifications when we talk about the all-knowing character of God:
- First, God’s knowledge is not like man’s. God’s knowledge is not limited.
- Secondly, His knowledge is not learned as is man’s. God did not have to go to kindergarten to learn the ABC’s. What God knows He has always known.
- Third, His knowledge is complete and certain. God’s knowledge is not like the encyclopedias we purchase . . .He needs no “yearly update”. [Derickson, Notes on Theology p. 232]
Now having stated the case, let me make some observations.
HE KNOWS WHO WE ARE
He knows your Secrets
If God knows everything, it means that He knows all those things you were hoping no one would every know. He knows the things you have done, the things you have thought, and he knows the true intention of your deeds. In Jeremiah 16:17 we read, “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.”
We spend a good deal of time trying to create a good image. We are masters of putting a good “spin” on whatever we have done or are doing. We are not much different from the politicians who take opinion polls and adjust their positions accordingly. They stage events that will bring positive news coverage at strategic times. They work hard to cover failures and poor choices. Just like us.
Truth is, Church people are pretty good at this. We put on our good clothes and pious faces and we present ourselves as “together” and “dedicated” followers. If you’re really good at it, you know the lingo you need to rehearse to present yourselves as spiritual. We are selling an image.
Now I will admit that this is much easier to do in the city. If you live in a bigger city you can present yourself as spiritual and upstanding in the church and be a mass murderer and no one would know. In the smaller town most people can’t get away with that. But even in that setting there are things others still don’t see
- what we dream about and fantasize about
- the envy, resentment, revenge, and bitterness that poisons our soul
- the way we try to manipulate situations with our innocent and often pious words
- the way we seek to destroy anther’s character with a carefully placed simple negative statement
- the way we misrepresent ourselves to make ourselves look better than we really are
But God knows. These things we can hide from others, are not hidden from God.
He know our Scars
God is not just keeping track of the vile and wicked parts of our lives. God also knows the pain. One of the things that makes us feel most isolated in life is the feeling that no one understands. People may be kind and well meaning . . . but they don’t really understand us. But God does.
- He knows the disappointments
- He knows the depth of your loss
- He knows about the way others have hurt you
- He knows about the times others have betrayed you
- He knows about the false accusations
- He knows about those times you were overlooked for a promotion or honor
- He knows about the times you worked really hard to help someone but they did not appreciate it
When you feel that no one understands you. God does. In fact, ONLY God really understands. Only God knows all the details, all the variables, all the circumstances. He is the only one with all the information.
We have talked a great deal about grief in our classes lately. One of the things we have learned is that you should never tell someone “I understand what you are going through.” Why? Because you don’t fully understand. Each loss is different. The loss is greater or lesser based on the nature of the relationship. You don’t know how two people really felt about each other. You don’t know what they have shared. You can’t know the dreams they were longing to see fulfilled. You see, there is no way for us to really understand.
But God has all that information. He does understand. When you really think about it, you will realize that He understands even better than you do. Not a single tear has gone unnoticed. Not a single fear is overlooked. Not one pain must be endured alone.
He knows your Service
God not only knows your secrets and scars, He also knows your service. Bill Hybels says it well,
God is the note-taking heavenly observer. He knows about the time you bit your tongue when you could have contributed to a rumor. He takes notice every time you greet a stranger or visit a person in the hospital or prison. Every secret act of character, conviction, and courage has been observed in living color by our omniscient God. . . . [The God You’re Looking For p. 18]
Isn’t this good news? All those times you did something right and it seemed that no one noticed . . .God did. Those times you really were trying to do the right thing but things didn’t go as expected . . . God knows our heart. All those times when we worked hard and thought it was for nothing . . . it wasn’t.
There are many people who serve the Lord in the shadows . . .
- The person who is conscientious about making God’s house look nice
- The person who teaches year after year in a corner of the building
- The person who faithfully stops by to visit those who are shut in or hospitalized
- The person who sets up and puts away for meetings
- The person who provides meals for special activities
- The person who is always doing what they can to help
- The person who agrees to give of themselves to a ministry
- The person who looks to affirm the positive in others
- The person who puts in the extra time to make sure something is of the highest quality because it is for the Lord
Often these people feel forgotten and unappreciated. But God sees. The “audience of One” doesn’t miss a thing. No act of love in His name is missed.
HE KNOWS OUR SITUATION
God not only knows us . . . He knows our situation. God has the big picture. He sees what you and I do not see. He knows the unknowable.
He knows your Where You’re Headed. For most of us, life is a mystery. It’s like driving in the fog . . . you can only see so far ahead. We live our lives but our plans are all somewhat tentative because we don’t know what surprise is around the next bend. But God does. God knows where He is taking your life and what it is that He is using you to accomplish for His purpose. He sees the big picture.
Even though we may not see where things are going . . . the fact of God’s omniscience assures us that we are not just wandering aimlessly. God has a plan. He knows what we will become. He knows what obstacles we will have to overcome. God knows the way home no matter how lost we feel.
He knows Why you have Suffered. I believe with all my heart that suffering is not for nothing. I don’t think the pains of life are the results of arbitrary events. God allows the hurts and the pains for a reason. Often, we aren’t able to understand many of these things . . . we can’t see what is beyond this life. But God can. God sees the purpose . . . He is the one who understands what is so baffling to us. God alone has the eternal perspective.
It is like when you have to bring your children in for their vaccinations. As a parent, you know the reason for those shots. You are preparing your child to survive in a world of disease. You willingly bring your child to the Doctor who will inflict the pain. And you do so because you see the big picture.
The child’s perspective is different. They may feel they have been betrayed, abused, set-up. They may wonder if their parent really loves them . . . how could they allow such things to take place? Is it because the parent is powerless to protect them in these situations? The child doesn’t understand that even the pain has come because of love.
When we are wounded and feeling the ache of loss or disappointment we must remind ourselves that God has an answer to the question “Why?”. We may not understand, but that doesn’t mean there is no answer.
He knows What is best. During this summer, there will all kinds of camps for children. Many of these camps will feature star athletes. These camps charge the most and fill the quickest. Why? Because everyone wants to learn from an expert. If you had the chance to learn from someone who had been a starter on an NBA championship team, or from someone who was the best basketball player in the park, which would you rather learn from? You would want to learn from the NBA player because they had a expertise that made them worth listening to.
If we can see this when it comes to camps . . . why can’t we see it when it comes to life? Why turn to the pollsters, the talk-shows, the newsmagazines or the crack-pots when we have God’s Word? Many times we read the Bible and conclude that God’s directives are: out-of-date, narrow-minded, or unenlightened. And when we say such things, we are choosing to follow the neighborhood kid rather than the one who really knows.
Who will you follow?
1. It is foolish to be anything but honest with God
Have you ever tried to bluff a parent who already knew the truth? It’s futile and it usually irritates the parent. There is absolutely no use to play games with God. I find it so refreshing to be able to come to God in prayer and be honest. I can say, “Lord, I know you want me to forgive people . . . but you also know that I am really hurt by what was said. You know that I don’t want to forgive . . . I want to get even. I want you to destroy them! Lord, you’re going to have to help me to do what is right.”
Friend, you don’t have to pretend to be spiritual with God. He knows what you’ve done. He knows how you have run from Him and resisted Him. But still He reaches out to you. There is no love more transforming than a love that knows the truth, but loves anyhow. This is the way God loves us.
2.It is unnecessary to waste time “keeping score”
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10)
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 19:29-30)
We don’t like it when someone of similar experience gets something we think we deserved. We want credit for what we did. We want payment for what we produced. We want the world to notice when we do something noble. But we don’t have to keep score . . . God will make sure that all accounts are settled. No deed will go unnoticed. No good will go unrewarded. We will be vindicated of all false accusations and judgments.
Instead of looking back we should look ahead. Instead of looking at others, we should look at Him. The problem is that we have a much more inflated view of ourselves than we should. We suffer from selective memory. We remember the good we do . . . and forget the rest. God sees it all. Fortunately, for those who trust Christ, God will reward every act of faithfulness and (thank God!) forgive all the other stuff. . . God hasn’t missed a thing!
3. It is wise to commit our ways to Him It is a simple conclusion . . . if God is all-wise and knows whatever there is to know . . . and alone knows the best way . . . shouldn’t we listen to Him? God’s commands are simple,
- repent (yes, it’s a command, not an invitation!) To “repent” means to “come clean” and confess our wrong-doing and rebellion with a sincere desire to change.
- believe. Again, it is not so much an invitation but a command. To believe is to do more than simply agree that the facts of Christianity are true. Yes, we need to recognize that Jesus was God become man. Yes, we need to believe that He lived a sinless life and died an undeserved death. Yes, we must believe that Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay for our rebellion. And, yes, we must believe that Jesus did rise from the dead, offering salvation and life to all who would believe. HOWEVER, it is not enough to just believe these truths . . . we must commit ourselves to them! The belief the Bible commands is to place our confidence and hope in Christ and what He has done for us.
- follow. Jesus told us that “if we love Him we will do what He commands. The true evidence of belief is a willingness to trust Christ in our daily living.
In light of what we have learned today I have one final question? Will you obey? Will you trust God enough to:
- be honest about your life and confess your sin?
- will you place all your confidence in what God has done for you in Christ? Will you trust Him and not your own goodness? Will you stop worrying about eternity and take God’s promise as your guarantee? Will you trust Him . . . really trust Him, today?
- finally, will You follow the Lord rather than the crowds? Will you depend on and seek His wisdom rather than the wisdom of the world? I would bet that this morning there is an issue or two where you are hanging in the balance. You know what God wants you to do . . . but you also know what you want to do . . .and what others encourage you to do. It’s a matter of who you are going to trust. Will you trust the voices of the neighborhood or the counsel of the all-knowing, ever-present, all wise God? On paper the choice is obvious . . .but the question remains: Will you trust Him?
Learning about God is merely an academic exercise unless we learn to turn TO God. That’s what I challenge you to do today. Entrust yourself to the God who knows what He is doing. Give yourself fully to the One who gave you His Son out of a desire to win your heart.