A couple of weeks ago, my wife was looking for something which had somehow gotten itself lost. She looked all over the house and then went out to the car. Our car gets cleaned and vacuumed from time to time, but sometimes more thoroughly than at other times. On this occasion, the lost object was small, and Judy’s search was as thorough as the lady in Jesus’ parable. In the process of searching for item, she found a book which had been wedged under one of the seats. The clearance between the seats and the floor is very small, and this book was stuck, but she got it out. It had been under there for years, because I don’t remember when I got it or how it got there. I have to confess that I don’t remember ever receiving it, missing it or losing it. So this is a confession, being recorded and probably will be seen in our Tri-Cities mission.
The book formerly belonged to the Nimmos, and maybe it still does. It has the name “B.C. Herring” on it – Sister Nimmo’s maiden name. It may have been given to me, or it may have been loaned to me. I will make sure that Nimmos get it back if they want it. But I determined that I should read it beforehand. It is entitled “First Steps in Christian Theology,” and it was written by Peter Connolly, Th.D., F.R.G.S.. From rumor and what I remember, Peter Connolly was the penultimate professor at Baptist Bible College, who believed and taught the true sovereignty of God and salvation by sovereign grace. He left the school a year or two before I arrived, and only one professor remained who openly believed and taught those doctrines which we now profess. That second professor was kicked out sometime during the next couple of years.
Unlike a great many theology books, “First Steps” is easy to read and therefore can be a blessing. There are points to which I disagree, but on the whole, I would say it is a good book. One of things which reading it did was to remind me that sometimes, I am a bit lax when it comes to describing the Lord and the attributes of God.
For example, I have often said that the holiness of God refers to His separateness – which is the meaning of the Hebrew word “qodesh” (ko’- desh). Usually I have pictured that in the context of sin – “God is too good – too holy – to even look upon evil.” Because of His holiness, “he (will) say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” But Connolly reminded me that God’s holiness is more than that. It is the perfection of His character; the principle of all His deeds and the standard of His judgment. He quoted a man named Clarke – “God’s holiness is no single form of excellence, no single attribute in the list of Divine virtues. Since it fills and satisfies all our ideas of goodness, it must not so much be an attribute as a character. It is no fragment of goodness, it must be not so, no one side of perfection; it includes goodness of every kind, and in perfection God’s holiness is nothing less than the sum of His goodness, the glorious fulness of His moral excellence.” In other words, God’s holiness is much more than merely His separation from fallen creation.
Then when Connolly states that “God is a Spirit,” he lifted my thoughts higher than they usually go. Negatively, God is immaterial. God is not made of matter, nor is he dependent on matter as man is. He has no necessary connections with matter; a spirit is a self-directing actor.
When it is said that God is omnipresent, it is not simply that God is everywhere – in every situation and in every place. No, the omnipresence of God means that everywhere is contained IN HIM. God is infinite; He is without limitation or boundaries, and everything else is bound by Him. Connolly’s says: “God, who is infinite, is in all places at once, not only by His presence, but by His essence.” One by one the book goes through the attributes of God and brings the reader back up to the high level of understanding and worship that he should have always had. For example we read, “The sovereignty of God arises out of the supreme majesty of God in His moral perfections, or in a word, His holiness. The sovereignty is not a mere attribute of God, but rather the exercise of all His attributes. It is the Divine prerogative; God is the only One in the universe who has the right to do absolutely as He pleases.”
There were two pages of notes in another area for which the Lord had apparently prepared my heart. I wasn’t looking for a blessing in this doctrine, but there it was and the Lord made sure that I received it. I hope that it will be the same blessing to you.
God is omniscient.
In my shallowness I might merely say that God knows all things, which is certainly true. Psalm 147:5 – “His understanding is infinite.” The truth is – everything about Jehovah is infinite. He is eternal – the Lord possess infinity in relation to time. He is omnipresent – He is infinite in relation to space. He is omnipotent – He is of infinite power. But while these things are true, the fact is, God doesn’t fill up time, space and power; all these things are contained in the Lord – inside the infinite God.
If you have trouble getting your mind around these things, take heart, remembering that we with finite minds cannot reach very far into infinity. God is eternal, but eternality is not “endless existence.” Eternality is supertemporal – it is above time. When we speak of the “eternal God,” we refer to One who is above time, He created time; He is superior. “Infinity” means that God is not subject to any limitations – in love, in knowledge, in goodness – everything. “If our heart condemn us” – that is bad, but “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth ALL things.” “For the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him ACTIONS are weighed.” The entire universe is a transparent body – YOU are transparent to God. “I am He searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Jesus (the God-Man; the Son of God) “did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” – John 2:24-25. There is no whisper but God knows it – He doesn’t just hear it or over hear it – He knows it. “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou KNOWEST it altogether” – Psalm 139:4 . Your thoughts speak louder in God’s righteous ears than my words do in your ears. Isaiah 66:18 – “For I know their works and their thoughts:.”
Unlike our inability to know our own hearts, the Lord knows Himself. Our heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” But every member of the God-head knows every other member – perfectly. “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” – Matthew 11:27. “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” – I Corinthians 2:10.
God has perfect knowledge of all things. How many stars are there in the universe? The last general statement I heard was 1 billion trillion. Psalm 147:4 says, the Lord “telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.” Isaiah 40:26 – “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.” Judy cut my hair the other day, and I jokingly threw out a number – “You’ve cut 358,429,036 of my hairs in the last 48 years.” I was being silly, because I was guessing on the number. But the Lord knows exactly how many hairs Judy has cut, because He knows all things. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (not counted but numbered). Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If the Lord wanted, He could have named every one of my hairs, but instead He chose to give them numbers. “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.” – Psalm 33:13-15. God is an infallible psychologist and perfect mental-annalist who sifts and weighs every human thought, aspiration and lust. Psalm 139 – “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”
Briefly consider the character of God’s omniscience.
It is instantaneous – immediate. God’s knowledge is free from any imperfections and limitations. He doesn’t need senses like sight, touch and smell to know things. He doesn’t require the process of observation and reasoning to reach conclusions. His knowledge is free from any vagueness or confusion. He is as intimately familiar, right now, with what you will do at 2:31 next Thursday afternoon as He is with what last passed through your lips.
Because a part of God’s omniscience is foreknowledge. There is a difference between God’s foreknowledge and His foreordination, but they are as interwoven as copper and tin in a bronze statue. “Foreknowledge” or “prescience” does not in itself cause things to take place. For God, things are known because they will take place. BUT they will take place because they are foreordained to take place. God knows every future event, because of His prescience and His foreordination of all things.
God’s knowledge is infallible. He is perfect in knowledge and has never made a mistake or misunderstood something. And on thing this means is that we can never deceive the Lord. He is truth in Himself and truth is more recognizable to him than the face of your closest loved one.
Furthermore the Lord is retentive in His knowledge. He never forgets. That does not mean that He cannot choose to look over the sins which lay buried under the blood of the Saviour, but they are not forgotten in the way that we have forgotten some of the sins of our friends against us. God’s knowledge is eternal – the things which He knows have been eternalized. They cannot ever be erased or eradicated.
There are so many scriptures which deal with God’s omniscience
I had a difficult time picking one to use as our text.
But if you’ll remember I started with Hebrews 4. And my reason for selecting these five verses is because they make the dry theological principles real and practical. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Usually when verse 12 is preached, “the word of God” is interpreted to be “the King James Bible.” There is nothing wrong with that interpretation. But what if we look at this scripture as if the “Word of God” was “the Living Word” – Christ Jesus? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then we have Christ dividing asunder the soul and spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. And immediately following that we have a revelation of Christ’s ministry as our High Priest, interceding on our behalf. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
In some ways it should be terrifying to think that our Saviour knows every detail of our lives – from our outward deeds to our inward thoughts. He knows our hearts and the attitudes with which we have served God or done disservice to others. He knows how sinful our hearts are, and He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” But He also loves us, and “is passed into the heavens” and in that we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
If our hearts are surrendered to the Lord, God’s omniscience should not terrify us, it should bless. So the question arises once again – “How does your heart stand before the omniscient and holy God?”