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God’s infinite knowledge or omniscience may sound similar. They may say the same, but evangelism has a critical distinction. Many will be surprised to know omniscience is not in the Bible.
2. Define Infinite Knowledge or Omniscience.
Omniscience is ALL knowing about the past, present and future. This definition does not originate from the Bible or the early church fathers’ teachings.
The popular teaching that God is omniscient (all-knowing), is derived from Greek philosophy and mythology about their gods. Omniscience is NOT what the Bible teaches.
Infinite knowledge, on the other hand, allows for God’s sovereignty. God can choose what He knows. If He does not want to know about your sins, for example, He can “throw them in the sea of forgetfulness”.
3. Scripture Supporting Infinite Knowledge and Omniscience.
A. The Father Knows our Needs.
Jesus taught us that the Father knows what you need before you ask:
For your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.
B. He Also Knows Us Intimately.
Jesus taught us that the Father knows us intimately:
But the very hairs of your head are numbered.
C. The Father Knows What We Think.
The psalmist teaches us that He knows what we do and what we think:
You know my sitting down and rising up;
You understand my thoughts afar off
However, just because scripture supports a theory does not make the theory correct. Because, if there are scriptures that contradict the teaching, the teaching becomes invalid.
4. Scripture Discounting Omniscience.
A. Sodom and Gomorrah:
And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
If God knew everything about Sodom and Gomorrah, He would not need to come down to look.
B. Father of faith – Abraham:
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
In this case, we find that God tests the heart of Abraham to see if he will obey God’s command. If God knew everything about Abraham’s heart, He would have known beforehand that Abraham feared God.
C. God Chooses to Forget Our Sins:
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
So now we have found examples where God does not know everything. And another where He also CHOOSES not to know everything.
5. God’s Infinite Knowledge and Understanding.
Now that we have found that the Bible shows that God is not ALL-Knowing, we need to re-define what He is:
A. Infinite Knowledge
In section 2, we found that God has infinite knowledge about us, as He can count the hairs on our heads.
B. He knows our Thoughts and Desires
As an aside, it is essential to realise that the devil does NOT know your thoughts; he only knows what we say and what the expression on our face lets away. He is very good at this. Using his demons – he sows thoughts in our minds and then watches our faces to see if he has had the desired effect. He is unable to interpret or understand tongues.
C. It was in God’s Mind to Create the Heavens and the Earth:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
In Hebrew, the words “In the beginning” is actually “In the mind of”, so let’s represent it :
In the mind of God, He created the heavens and the earth.
So in the mind of God, everything that we see, God thought about, and Jesus spoke into existence!
D. God Has Infinite Knowledge, Naming Every Star.
Unlike Adam, who had finite knowledge to name the animals, God named every star and planet, having infinite knowledge:
He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them by name
E. God Has Infinite Understanding.
Not only does God know all things, but He also understands all things:
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite
So He knows the “how and why”.
6. Application- Infinite Knowledge ?
Another popular teaching is that God is omniscient and that He knows everything. This teaching can produce a fear in the unbelievers of a big mean God who knows how bad they are, instead of a Creator God who came to earth as the Son of Man and the Son of God with frailties just like us yet never sinned.
Even the word wrath in Greek translates as ‘desires’. Instead of an angry God keeping record of sins, we see God always waiting for Adam’s offspring to return. His desire is for all to become the children of God through Jesus Christ. We see this in the story of the Prodigal Son – (where the Prodigal Son is humanity, not a backslidden Christian).
Our relationship with God is a covenantal relationship based on two-way communication. Because God is sovereign, He CHOOSES what He knows about us and what He does not know about us.
One thing you can be sure of: God is faithful to His word. ONCE WE CONFESS OUR SINS, HE FORGETS OUR SINS. Why? Because He is a Perfect Dad towards us, who doesn’t keep a record of all our wrongdoing. He is a covenant-keeping God because it will come to pass if we do our part once He says something.
If God chooses not to remember our sins, what right have we got to bring them up? Guilt and shame are the work of the devil, not the work of God because there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
If we want to be confident in seeing the glory of God, then we need to preach the goodness of God and the forgiveness of God. God’s sovereignty allows him to choose to what He knows. He has infinite knowledge but does not choose omniscience.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries/Dr Neville van Eerten 2022