Finis Dake is the author of the Dake Annotated Reference Bible, God’s Plan for Man, as well as other books and materials. While many thousands of Pastors and other Christians have bought, use, and read his written materials daily, many do not understand how far Dake has departed from and rejected Christians beliefs held by millions of believers for hundreds of years.
This article will discuss and show from Dake’s own writings that he has denied and rejected the belief that God is Omniscient (that God is all-knowing). The first section in this article will be a biblical discussion of God’s knowledge and Omniscience. Then we will look at how Finis Dake in both the Dake Annotated Reference Bible and also in God’s Plan for Man has rejected a very important part of our understanding God and His true nature.
Why is it important that we have a biblical understanding of God’s Omniscience (that He is all knowing), and how does rejecting that belief as Dake does impact our relationship and understanding of God. In other articles we will discuss other attributes of God and how Dake has rejected an orthodox and Christian view of God.
How Finis Dake Corrupts the Biblical Teaching of God’s being All-Knowing
A Biblical View of God’s Knowledge
Below are several short articles which discuss, explain, and show biblical proof that God is All-Knowing (Omniscient).
The Omniscience of God
by Tony Evans
If your grade school was anything like mine, you had a “know-it-all” in your class. He or she seemed to have every answer, and whatever the subject Mister or Miss Know-it-all could expound at length about it. Nothing made you madder than to see that kid who acted like he or she knew everything, because you knew he or she didn’t know half of it.
The universe only contains one “know-it-all,” and it isn’t the kid in your fifth-grade class. The only one who knows everything is the great God whose perfections we have been studying. One of the attributes of our God is His omniscience, a word made up of two words: omni, which means “all,” and science, which has to do with knowledge.
So when we talk about the omniscience of God, we are referring to His “all-knowingness,” what God knows. Omniscience begins a trilogy of “omnis” we want to consider. In the next two chapters we will look at God’s omnipotence, His all-power; and God’s omnipresence, the fact that He exists everywhere simultaneously. But here we want to focus on His omniscience. A simple definition is that God’s omniscience refers to His perfect knowledge of all things both actual and potential.
Let’s put it down straight right up front. The omniscience of God means that there is absolutely nothing He doesn’t know; that no informational system or set of data exists anywhere outside of God’s knowledge—nothing. He depends on no one outside Himself for any knowledge about anything.
That’s so unlike us. We are all dependent on someone else’s knowledge. In fact, we sometimes stake our lives on the fact that someone knows something. Every time you fill a prescription at the pharmacy, you bank on the fact that the person behind that counter is not a fool. You trust your life to the assumption that your pharmacist went to school and that he doesn’t confuse medicines.
Very few of us ever check on it. We don’t open up the pills to make sure they contain the right medicinal ingredients. We wouldn’t know them if we saw them anyway. We know only that the doctor wrote the prescription, the pharmacist filled it, and we are going to swallow it. We depend on the knowledge of others.
Every time you get on an airplane, you assume your pilot has done this before. You hope all those switches mean something to him. When you go to school, you depend on the fact that your teacher has been to school, although sometimes you may doubt it. I could multiply the examples, but you get the idea. We depend heavily on the knowledge that other people possess.
I like the story of the very wealthy grandfather who was getting up in age. He was going deaf, but he went to the doctor and was fitted with a unique hearing aid. It not only overcame the old man’s deafness, but it allowed him to hear perfectly. When he went back to the doctor for a checkup, the doctor commented, “Well, your family must be extremely happy to know that you can now hear.”
The grandfather said, “No, I haven’t told them about my hearing aid. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I’ve already changed my will twice.”
When folks don’t think you know, it will greatly affect what they say and do. So we had better understand that God knows everything, because it will affect everything we say and do. In this chapter I want us to see four important truths about the omniscience of God.
God’s Omniscience is Intuitive
In Isaiah 40:13–14, the prophet gives us this very valuable piece of information about God’s perfect knowledge:
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, and informed Him of the way of understanding?
To put it in our terms, where did the Lord go to school? Isaiah raises the question to illustrate a fundamental principle, that God does not gain His knowledge by learning. He does not need to study, read, and analyze. He knows what He knows simply because He knows it. He did not learn it.
In an earlier chapter I referred to the fact that I went from high school to four years of college; from there to four years of seminary for a master’s degree; then four more years of seminary for my doctorate. I’ve read about two books a week ever since that time. But I feel more ignorant today than I did in first grade. All that learning only shows me how much I don’t know and how much more there is to learn.
As finite creatures, the more we learn the more we know that we don’t know all that we need to know. That’s a real dilemma, but God does not have this problem because everything that can be known, everything that has ever been known, and everything that will ever be known, He already knows.
The Bible says, for example, that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). I realize for some people, that’s an easy count. But the point is that God knows the number of hairs on your head not because He counted them, but because He is God and He knows. God does not have to accumulate information. His knowledge is intuitive.
The closest thing I know to this on earth is the intuitive knowledge which women seem to have. My wife, Lois, will often say to me about something, “Watch out for that.”
I will say, “How do you know?”
And she will answer, “Because I know.”
I don’t question Lois too often at those times, because she speaks out of innate knowledge—and she’s usually right. God has innate knowledge of all data at all times. He never forgets, so He doesn’t ever have to remember. After God had miraculously intervened in her life to give her a baby, Hannah offered Him a prayer of thanksgiving for little Samuel. In her praise she gave God glory and said, “The Lord is a God of knowledge” (1 Samuel 2:3).
That’s who He is. Because God is an eternal being, whatever He knows, He knows immediately and simultaneously. Because He is eternal, He does not have to look back to the past to remember or look forward to the future to project. All knowledge past, present, and future resides in Him in the eternal now. All that is known, has been known, will be known, could be known, or has been forgotten, God knows intuitively and eternally.
This gets very personal. God knows that you are reading this book at this moment. He knows what you are thinking about as you read. When you sit in church, He knows if you’d rather be somewhere else. He knows what you plan to do when you leave church. He is acutely aware of all data at all times that pertains to all people everywhere. His knowledge is intuitive.
All the information in all the libraries of the world; all the data on all the computer chips in the world, including the chips that have not yet been made; all of this data, God knows perfectly and completely right now. Because He is infinite, “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).
That is why, in eternity when we will be with God, we will never run out of knowledge because we will never run out of God. With Him dwells the body of knowledge that will go into eternity. God’s knowledge is intuitive. It is innate to who He is.
God’s Omniscience is Comprehensive
I like the way the author of Hebrews put it when he wrote in Hebrews 4:13: “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
No Detail Overlooked
Nothing can be hidden from God. He knows our feelings, our desires, our excuses, and our personalities. He knows everything and anything, and He knows it comprehensively. Nothing sits outside of the body of information He possesses. According to Acts 15:18, He has known everything from the very beginning. Needless to say, it would be quite difficult to give God a surprise party, for 1 John 3:20 also affirms that He knows all things.
God’s comprehensive knowledge also includes a moral element. Proverbs 15:3 says that “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” Nothing can escape His all- encompassing knowledge—not the biggest or the most minute detail. We saw this earlier in Matthew 10:30 in reference to the hairs of our heads.
Just one verse earlier Jesus had said, “Not one [sparrow] will fall to the ground apart from your father” (Matthew 10:29). The legendary Baptist preacher Dr. Robert G. Lee once said, “God is the only One who attends a sparrow’s funeral.” According to Psalm 50:11, God knows every beast and every bird of the air. That’s comprehensive knowledge!
God’s omniscience isn’t confined to things on earth. The psalmist says every star among the billions of stars that inhabit all of the galaxies has been numbered and named by Him (Psalm 147:4).
God sees what’s done in secret and what’s done in the light. God is the eternal, cosmic X-ray machine. His eyes penetrate. David says in Psalm 139:12 that the day and the night are alike to God. Moses reminds us that our secret sins are brought to light in His presence (Psalm 90:8). This is powerful information because it means all of our lives are totally known.
That means you never do anything alone. You may be by yourself, but you are not alone. Whether it’s good or bad, the all-knowing eye of God sees it. This explains why unregenerate man does not want an omniscient God and why carnal Christians do not want an omniscient God. According to Psalm 73:8–11, because men don’t want this kind of God they dismiss Him by telling themselves, “God doesn’t know what we’re doing.”
But God knows. He knows what’s done publicly for all to see and what’s done privately for none to see. This can be quite intimidating. Before Jeremiah was born, the Scripture says, God knew he would be a prophet (Jeremiah 1:5). In Galatians 1:15–16, Paul says he was appointed to be an apostle to the Gentiles before he was born. God knows.
What Could Have Been
God not only knows what is; He knows what could have been. It’s one thing for a person to know actual events, but it’s a whole different ballgame for a person to know potential events as well. In Matthew 11, we find Jesus pronouncing this judgment, which reveals His comprehensive knowledge, because Jesus is God:
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum … shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you. (vv. 21–24)
Jesus says if this would have happened, then the people would have done that. That’s not what happened, but Jesus said if it would have happened, this would have been the certain result. This shows how comprehensive God’s omniscience is. He knows the potential as well as the actual events and outcomes of history.
For example, people often speculate that if General Stonewall Jackson had not been killed early in the Civil War, he might have led the Confederacy to victory. Someone else has said that if Adolf Hitler had only listened to the Jewish scientists in Germany, his Nazi regime might have had the atomic bomb first and ruled the world.
We’ll never know about these things, but God knows. He also knows your potential history. What if you had been born at another time, in another place, of another race? What if you had married this person instead of that one? God knows what could have been, and because of that you can rest in what is.
Why? Because God could have made your life totally different. But since He allowed you to be as you are, you can have confidence that He didn’t change it because He didn’t want to change it.
Now don’t misread me here. I realize that life often brings us pain and grief: a failed marriage, the loss of a child, a loved one stricken with a deadly illness. When I say that God didn’t change your circumstances because He didn’t want to, I do not mean He is sitting up in heaven letting you suffer needlessly. God permits trials for reasons we don’t always understand, but He is able to bring good out of even the worst circumstances. That’s what Joseph learned (Genesis 50:20).
Therefore, you’re OK right where you are. The omniscience of God can give you confidence because He knows all the possibilities. God has comprehensive knowledge.
Comprehensive Knowledge and Worship
Each Sunday, people all over the world will gather to worship God. Preachers will preach, people will pray, and choirs will sing, all at the same time. God will hear every single vowel of every single syllable of every single word in every single language uttered. He knows every thought of every person. He knows them all right now. He not only knows, He invites us to come to Him with our prayers and praises so He can bask in the enjoyment of them all.
My little granddaughter is talking up a storm right now and coming up with words I’m not even familiar with, which is quite a feat. Inevitably, when we hear them we ask her to say them again, because there is something refreshing about a child coming up with new things. When people come to God on His terms with prayers and praises, God says, “Say it again,” because He inhabits the praise of His people. He invites us to worship Him because He’s not going to miss one word. He says, “Say it again.”
God’s Omniscience is Personal
The omniscience of God is not only intuitive and comprehensive, but intensely personal. It is vitally related to our day-to-day living. Psalm 139 brings this home in a very graphic way. The psalmist David begins, “O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up” (vv. 1–2a, italics added).
God Knows Us
Now, I don’t know of a more mundane activity than sitting down and rising up. How many times do you pray before you sit down? How often do you meditate on the fact that it’s time to stand up? We don’t get into the details of daily life. We just go about them because it’s normal to do so. But the Bible says that God is acutely aware of the smallest detail of our lives.
Suppose the next time you sit down, you were to sit on a tack. You would suddenly become acutely aware of this mundane detail. Now suppose the tack was infected, the infection entered your bloodstream and moved throughout your body, and you had to spend a week in the hospital on antibiotics.
Even worse, suppose that by the end of the week the infection had spread so quickly they didn’t know whether you were going to live or die. By then you might ask, “Lord, why did you let me sit down on that tack without letting me know it was in the chair?”
That isn’t likely to happen. But even if you were about to sit on a chair with a bad tack on it, God would see the tack, He would know you were heading toward the chair, and He could protect you. You can praise God for your sitting down and your rising up because He doesn’t miss any detail.
David goes on to say, “Thou dost understand my thought from afar” (v. 2b). God is acutely aware of our thinking. Ezekiel 11:5 says that God knows the things that come in our mind. He knows where they came from and how they wound up there. The Bible says that God reads our hearts. He understands every thought and intent of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
The psalmist also says, “Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:3). In other words, “You scrutinize my direction in life. You look at the way I am traveling.” That’s why when you are lost, you can pray because God knows the right path to get you back on the right road.
“Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all” (v. 4). God knows your thought before it even gets into your mind. Once you have the thought, He knows how it’s going to be expressed before it ever reaches your tongue. So by the time the first word gets out of your mouth, God has already waxed eloquent on that information.
No wonder David observes in verse 5: “Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me.” He’s saying, “I’m locked in by Your knowledge.” To put it another way, we have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. God knows all things related to our personal lives. But that’s good news, and let me tell you why.
God Understands Us
One day Jesus said, “Sitting under a tree over there is a man named Nathanael, in whom there is no guile” (see John 1:47). Jesus knew Nathanael’s motives were pure. Has anyone ever misread your motives? Has anyone ever taken what you intended and turned it totally around? Has your mate ever misunderstood you?
As the old folks used to say, “I’ve been ’buked and I’ve been scorned. And I’ve been talked about sho’ as you born.” They were saying that people misunderstand us. But God not only knows what you did, He knows why you did it. Even when others misread you, God knows the true story.
So if people don’t understand you, that’s OK. God understands. He knows your true motives. And He not only acts on what you do, He acts on the motives and thoughts behind what you do, because He knows why you did it. God is so intimately concerned about the details that He knows everything going on behind the scenes. When Job was going through the fire, he took comfort in this fact: “He knows the way I take” (Job 23:10).
Are you going through a fiery trial although you’ve done nothing to deserve it? Maybe the doctor has given you a bad health report even though you’ve done the best you can. You haven’t abused your body. Maybe people are walking away on you because you want to do right and they want to go the other way. If you haven’t been there yet, just keep living; you will be.
At a time like that Job looked up and said, “I don’t understand. I can’t figure it all out, but one thing I know is that even when all hell breaks loose, One knows and understands.”
Psalm 103:14 says God knows that “we are but dust.” He knows we are weak. He knows we can’t do all that He commands us to do, even though that ought to be our passion and our goal. He knows we are dust. That’s not an excuse, it’s reality.
The Bible tells us that God bottles up our tears (see Psalm 56:8). Have you cried recently? Have tears run down your cheeks over a person or situation that caused you pain? God says, “I am saving up your tears. I know every teardrop you shed and I know why you shed it. I’m bottling them up. I care.”
No one on earth can give you this. Lady, no man can give you this. He can “rap” it, talking about how he’ll always be there and how he’ll never leave you alone. He’s going to love you forever and a day. He can talk the talk. But just ask him, Where is your tear bottle? “God bottles up our tears,” the psalmist says. He knows every pain and every heartache.
God Sees Through Us
God also knows when we act as hypocrites, wearing our masks. He knows when we look one way on the outside but are totally different on the inside. The Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus’ day went around fooling the people with their righteous talk, their righteous prayers, and their righteous fasting. But then they ran into Jesus. Being God in the flesh, He looked at them and said, “You are like whitewashed tombs … full of dead men’s bones” (Matthew 23:27).
Jesus was referring to the Jewish law which said that anyone who touched a grave would be defiled. To avoid defilement, they would whitewash the tombs to mark them clearly so travelers could avoid them. But whitewashing a tomb didn’t change the reality that it held dead people’s bones.
That grave was still a place of death. It was just a place of death that looked good on the outside. If we’re not careful, we can become whitewashed tombs. Some folks are all painted up lovely on the outside, but if we could open their hearts, we’d find rot, treachery, and immorality. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can fool God none of the time.
When my mother thought I was doing something wrong, she used to look at me and say, “Son, you can jive the baker because he’ll give you a bun, but you can’t jive me, because I ain’t got none.”
She was saying to me, “I’m your mother and I know you.”
God says, “I’m your Father and I know you.” So it’s imperative that we come clean with God because He knows what’s on the inside.
God’s Knowledge is Purposeful
God doesn’t use His omniscience to win contests. He doesn’t play Jeopardy or spin the Wheel of Fortune. Everything God knows is plugged into His eternal purposes.
In Relation to Salvation
Ephesians 1 brings this out in relationship to our salvation. God wants us to know that our salvation was not by luck or chance; that we are not going to heaven because He just happened to look ahead and say, “Oh, you’re going to trust Me. Let me hurry up and do something.” Instead,
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined [predetermined] us to adoption as sons … to the praise of the glory of His grace. (vv. 4–6)
God does what He does for reasons. His omniscience is purposeful. The Bible says of Jesus’ crucifixion that while unregenerate men killed Him, Jesus was crucified by “the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). God was responsible for the death of Jesus even though the means He used was ungodly men. God’s purpose in this was that His Son would pay for the sins of the world on the cross.
So God’s knowledge is intricately tied to His purposes. This raises the issue of God’s wisdom. Very simply, the wisdom of God is the interworking of His attributes to accomplish His will and achieve His purposes. And this, of course, raises the very complex question of the interplay of God’s election, predestination, and foreknowledge, particularly as they relate to our salvation.
There are two extremes in my view. The hyper-Calvinistic view says God has already determined everything that will happen, meaning that we have no real choice in anything. We are more like robots carrying out God’s predetermined will than agents of moral choice who have legitimate and meaningful decisions to make. But that seems to negate the many clear commands to us in Scripture to do this and avoid that. Those commands also have real consequences attached.
The other extreme is the Arminian view, which postures God as sitting in heaven biting His fingernails, if you will, basing His actions and plans on what He knows we are going to do. Based on what we do, He develops and builds His agenda. But He’s not quite sure what we will do. I have overstated the case a little, but the Arminian view waters down God’s omniscience. Arminianism separates God’s omniscience from His sovereignty and omnipotence.
The tension remains there, no doubt about it. How do we handle the reality that God has determined the events of history and at the same time has made us free moral agents with real choices to make?
Someone might argue the issue like this: “If God knows that I’m going to go to the store tomorrow, do I have any choice but to go to the store tomorrow? Can I choose to go to the store the day after tomorrow if God already knows that I am going to the store tomorrow?”
Yes, you can choose to go the store the day after tomorrow. But that means God knows you are not going to the store tomorrow. He knows you will go to the store the next day. So you do get to choose, but you do not thwart God’s foreknowledge by your choice. We’ve already seen that God has to know everything just by virtue of who He is. If God didn’t know even one fact, He would not be the all-knowing God we believe Him to be and the Bible teaches Him to be.
The problem is that many Christians think that because the Bible teaches both God’s absolute foreknowledge and our capacity to choose, there has to be some sort of contradiction. Let’s look at this in more detail.
The Bible clearly teaches two important facts. First, “[God] desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). This is the burden of His heart. He is not “wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Second, God did something about His desire. He made provision for everyone to be saved. Jesus tasted death for every person (Hebrews 2:9). “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” for the world (John 3:16). Jesus was not only the propitiation for the saints, but for the world (1 John 2:2). Therefore, it is not God’s fault that some people are not saved.
Yet on the opposite side, the Bible also clearly teaches that God has elected some to be saved (Ephesians 1:4), meaning that He has passed by others—or as John Calvin taught, He has actively decreed the lost to condemnation.
The tension, therefore, is obvious. How can God elect only some people to be saved while genuinely desiring that all be saved? How can He hold the lost responsible for not getting saved when He didn’t elect them in the first place? How could it be fair for God to provide salvation for all, elect only some, and yet judge those who were not elected? How can all of those be true at the same time?
No one has the definitive answer that will settle the issue for all time. All I know is that God’s knowledge and His eternal purposes intersect with human choice in such a way that we have real choices to make, and yet those choices fulfill God’s purpose to accomplish His goal. An illustration may help us here.
Let’s say that three thousand people show up at our church in Dallas next Sunday morning. During the service, I send someone out to buy three thousand cans of Coca-Cola® because I believe everyone needs the refreshment that Coke® can bring, and I want every person to share in the experience of enjoying an ice-cold Coke. So out of the kindness of my heart, I buy Cokes for the entire congregation.
I didn’t have to do it, you understand. No one “earned” a Coca-Cola by showing up at church. I could have sent the people away thirsty, but I love them and I want to show them my love. In fact, it costs me everything I have to satisfy the thirst of three thousand people. At the end of the service, I bring in all three thousand ice-cold, refreshing Cokes and say, “Whosoever will may come.”
The Cokes have already been paid for. I have one for everybody. Anyone who needs and wants a Coke can take one without charge. No one who comes will be turned away. I wanted the people to have a Coke so badly that I spent every last dime I had to provide them. The only problem is, when the service is dismissed not one person comes up for a Coke.
Some say, “I’m on a diet.”
Others say, “It has too much acidity.”
Still others say, “I like 7-Up®.”
Some even say, “I don’t believe I care for a Coke right now. I’m not thirsty.”
Absolutely no one accepts my offer of Coke. Everyone walks out, even knowing that I’ve spent everything I had to provide those cold drinks. But I’m not about to let those drinks go to waste; they were too costly. So I run out to the foyer and call to two hundred people, saying, “Come back. I want to talk to you.”
All two hundred people come back, so I sit them in the front row of the church and begin wooing them. I remind them that this is not just any beverage, it’s the “real thing.” I explain how it will refresh and energize them, and how they will love it once they’ve tasted it. I plead with them not to despise my offer.
The two hundred people I invited back then elect to take a Coke, but only because I elected to call them back. Remember, I wasn’t obligated to buy anything for the congregation. I bought those Cokes as an act of pure grace, so I could have let all the people go away and no one could have charged me with any wrong.
I wasn’t unfair to the other 2,800 people, because I offered them a real opportunity to satisfy their thirst. And guess what? My Cokes still sit on ice, so if they get thirsty they can come back and get one. And the two hundred can’t say they earned their Cokes by their own merit. They only got a Coke because I elected to call them back in. They can only thank me for my grace.
I realize no attempt to explain election and free will can be perfect. But we must accept the clear teaching of the Bible that all men who die separated from God will be held accountable, because Jesus Christ paid for their sins on Calvary. And those of us who are on our way to heaven can never brag, since we will get there only because He came out in the foyer, so to speak, and called us back to Himself.
So God has made provision for all but He’s elected some, leaving us with a choice but guaranteeing His plan. If the wisdom of our omnipotent God leaves you shaking your head in wonder and amazement, that’s all right. If you or I ever figure God out, we’re in trouble!
In Relation to Daily Living
The interplay of God’s purposes with our freedom appears not only in salvation, but in our day-to-day Christian life. We find a great example in Luke 22, during the Last Supper. In the middle of the meal Jesus turns to Peter and says: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (vv. 31–32).
Peter responds immediately. “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (v. 33). But in the very next verse, Jesus predicts Peter’s failure. He says, “You are going to blow it. You are going to deny Me before all of these people. Satan is going to use your self-confidence to drive you to spiritual defeat. I know this in advance, so I’ve been praying for you.”
Do you know what Jesus is doing in heaven right now? He’s praying for you and me (Hebrews 7:25). He’s praying for us because in His omniscience He knows that at times we will go down to spiritual defeat, and He wants to deliver us from utter failure. So even though we mess up, we can get up because Jesus is praying for us. Even when He knows in advance that we will not always do what is right, He wants to keep us from doing as much wrong as we could do if He were not praying for us.
Thankfully, the story of Peter doesn’t end in Luke 22 but continues in John 21, where Jesus gently restores Peter by asking, “Peter, do you love Me?”
Peter says, “I messed up. I denied You. But I like You.”
“Peter, do you love Me?”
“Lord, all I can say is that I like You. I failed You.”
Jesus then says, “Peter, if you like Me, that’s good enough.”
But then Peter cries out, “Lord, You know all things. You know that even though I messed up with my mouth, I love You with my heart. And Lord, if You can forgive me even though You knew ahead of time that I would fail, that’s all I need to come back home.”
That’s what the knowledge of God should do for us—bring us back home. Do you know why? Because even though He knew beforehand that we would mess up last week, He still says, “I love you.” Paul writes, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He knew our mess up, yet He’s willing to make up.
Running to God
God loves us in spite of our failure. If we will come back to Him, He will receive us because His love is everlasting. The only thing God chooses to forget is our sin. “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
What will you do with this kind of omnipotent God? You can run from His knowledge like the unregenerate person and act like it doesn’t exist. Or you can run to it like Peter. When David looked into God’s knowledge of him, he said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). He went on to say that there is no place a man can hide from God. But that didn’t scare him, because he saw that God’s thoughts toward him were “precious” (v. 17).
When I first brought my future wife home to meet my parents, I took her to the Gwen Oaks Amusement Park in Baltimore, Maryland. They had a ride called the “Wild Mouse.” The Wild Mouse was a little roller coaster that went way out and turned back in, so it almost made you feel like you were falling off before it turned.
Let me tell you why I elected to take Lois on that ride. I knew she would be afraid. I knew she would be in turmoil. I knew she would scream. I knew she would wonder why in the world I took her on this ride.
But my knowledge had a purpose. I knew that when the Wild Mouse went out, she was going to come in. I knew that when we dipped low, she was going to hug high. My knowledge of that led me to take her through that trial so she would run to Papa when tough times hit. God’s desire for you to hug Him leads you into that difficult situation, that trial, that hard circumstance. If you are on the roller coaster, grab the Father. He knows. He’s the all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving God.
Responding to God’s Omniscience
Here are some practical ways you can get the truth we have learned in this chapter off the page and into your life:
1. If sin is a problem for you right now, run to the Father. He already knows about it, so don’t try to hide it. Lay it on the table. Confess your sin and claim His forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
2. Thank God that He knows you so thoroughly and loves you so completely. No one will ever know you better or love you more!
3. Give to the Lord that situation in which you were misunderstood, that incident in which someone misread your motives. Forgive the people involved if that’s needed, and rest your case with God, realizing that He knows your heart.
4. Read Psalm 139:1–18, then take a look at yourself in the mirror today. Remember that you were created by a God whose knowledge is infinite and who had an infinite number of options to choose from. He knew exactly what He was doing when He chose to create you. Nothing about you is an afterthought!
Evans, A. T. (1994). Our God is awesome. “Renaissance productions.”; Includes indexes. (132). Chicago: Moody Press.
by Lewis Sperry Chafer
Intellect in man has its corresponding feature in God, but when predicated of God it is properly termed omniscience. Obviously, a vast difference exists between the two. Intellect in man is hardly more than the capacity or readiness to acquire knowledge, which knowledge, when acquired, as compared with omniscience, is even less than elementary, while the understanding of God is all-inclusive and infinite. There are two patent measurements of the divine knowledge: (1) omniscience, which includes all things concerning Himself and all His works; and (2) foreknowledge, which may be restricted to things specifically foreordained. Investigation into the relation which obtains between foreknowledge and foreordination is reserved for its logical place in Soteriology.
The finite mind cannot grasp the complete truth concerning omniscience any more than it can grasp divine omnipotence, omnipresence, or divine love. Whatever omniscience is, only omniscience can know in the absolute cognition of it. Nevertheless, some portions of this marvelous divine reality may be comprehended and what cannot be known may be received by faith in God’s Word.
The omniscience of God comprehends all things—things past, things present, and things future, and the possible as well as the actual. As set forth in the Bible, the works of God are, as to their time relations, declared to be of the past, of the present, and of the future. By divine arrangement, events do follow in sequence or chronological order. Yet, to God, the things of the past are as real as though now present and the things of the future are as real as though past. He it is who “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Rom. 4:17; cf. Isa. 46:10). Perfectly known unto Him, as though they were now in process, are all His works from the foundation of the world (Acts 15:18). A man standing on the street is able to see at a given time but the smallest section of a passing procession, and thus man observes the works of God. But as one looking down from a great elevation (Ps. 33:13) sees all the procession at one glance, so God sees all His program of events in their unified whole. From the beginning He knows the end, and from the end He knows the beginning. Omniscience brings everything—past, present, and future—with equal reality before the mind of God. Strictly speaking the distinction of foreknowledge in God is a human conception; for divine knowledge is simultaneous as opposed to succession. It is complete and certain as compared to incomplete and uncertain. It is intuitive and not discursive; yet in this perfection of simultaneous, complete, and intuitive knowledge all future events, both possible and real, are cognized by Him. Charnocke declares: “The knowledge of one thing is not, in God, before another; one act of knowledge doth not beget another. In regard of the objects themselves, one thing is before another; one year before another; one generation of men before another; one is the cause, and the other is the effect; in the creature’s mind there is such a succession, and God knows there will be such a succession; but there is no such order in God’s knowledge; for he knows all these successions by one glance, without any succession of knowledge in himself” (God’s Knowledge, cited by Shedd, Theology, I, 355).
That God knows all things future which are merely possible and never become actual is disclosed in the Word of God. Every warning from God is a declaration of danger and evil which He knows will follow a wrong choice. Jonah’s preaching to the people of Nineveh was concerning a sure destruction which was averted only by the deepest repentance. Christ said, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day” (Matt. 11:21–23; cf. 1 Sam. 23:5–14; 2 Kings 13:19; Jer. 38:17–20).
The omniscience of God may be studied both in its archetypal and present aspects. His archetypal omniscience relates to that in God which first planned and designed the universe before it was brought into being, or made actual by omnipotent creative power. The archetypes of the universe existed from all eternity in the mind of God, and creation was but the exercise of omnipotence by which reality was given to that which omniscience had conceived. Thus, and thus only, arose the order and system which now exists with its perfection of arrangement, its realized purpose, and its stability. Such engendering on the part of God was not a mere organization or application of existing elements, but was the creation of materials suitable to the end in view. This arising of all creation with its laws, its congruity, its adaptation, and its varied and selfperpetuating forms of life—including man made in the divine image—,is a manifestation of archetypal omniscience which staggers all human apprehension. According to archetypal conceptions, man’s intuitive genius constructs various mechanisms and is able to anticipate precisely what the results of vast combinations of parts and forces will be, and before any portions are assembled or constructed. Thus it was concerning God, with the additional feature that in divine creation even material itself was created for His incomparable ends.
Though it be true that by archetypal omniscience God discerned the nature of the elements required in the realization of His ends and the precise results of the combination of those elements, any suggestion must be repelled which would intimate that there is in nature any independent power of action. God is the ever-present and all-pervading energy, guiding and directing everything. Not only is it declared of Christ that He created all things visible and invisible, but it is asserted that by Him all things subsist, or hold together (Col. 1:16, 17). He is said to uphold “all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). Nor is this universe so bounded by laws and forces of nature as to exclude special divine interposition and interruptions. These interventions constitute no exception to the exactness of divine prescience, or foreknowledge. They are a part of the archetypal omniscience of God and are both foreseen and designed by Him from all eternity.
With the same omniscience or prescience God foreknows the actions of all moral agents. A discussion ensues at this point which has divided theologians into opposing camps, one group asserting that divine prescience is incompatible with free moral action, and the other asserting its compatibility with free moral action. By their assumptions, one side has been encouraged to deny God’s complete foreknowledge, while the other side has been by the force of its own logic encouraged to deny man’s freedom. It is evident that both positions cannot be wholly true. One or the other or both must be wrong. In the minds of a larger number of theologians no conflict between divine prescience and human freedom exists. Divine prescience of itself implies no element of necessity or determination, though it does imply certainty. A formidable problem does arise concerning the relation between the doctrine of God’s decrees and human freedom, which problem must be considered in its proper place.
Metaphysicians may succeed in confusing a person’s understanding, but they cannot dispose of that inherent consciousness which every person experiences and which asserts his own freedom to act as he may choose. Doubtless this freedom is circumscribed by larger and unrecognized forces; but, within the range of human self-cognizance, freedom to act is untrammeled. On the one hand, revelation presents God as foreknowing knowing all things including the actions of human agents, and apart from such knowledge God would be ignorant and to that degree imperfect. On the other hand, revelation appeals to the wills of men with the evident assumption that man is capable of a free choice—“Whosoever will may come.”
The Biblical teaching, as well as the rational belief that no incongruity exists between divine prescience and free moral action or contingency, is opposed in early times by Aristotle and later by Dr. Adam Clarke and Chevalier Ramsay. Dr. Clarke states: “God has ordained some things as absolutely certain. He has ordained other things as contingent. These he knows as contingent.” Dr. Clarke, in defense of his belief, asserts: “As omnipotence implies the power to do all things, so omniscience implies the ability to know all things, but not the obligation to know all things … God, though possessed of omnipotence, does not evidently exert it to its utmost extent—does not do all he might do—so, though he could know all things, yet that he chooses to be ignorant of some things, because he does not see it proper to know everything he might know” (Commentary on Acts ii, cited by Cooke, The Deity, pp. 285–86). Chevalier Ramsay writes: “It [is] a matter of choice in God, to think of finite ideas” (cited by Watson, Institutes, I, 376).
Aside from the implication which these objections present, namely, that God fears to know the results of free moral action, they introduce a fallacy which is untenable. It is true that omnipotence is of such a nature that it does not commit God to the actual doing of all He is able to do, omnipotence being only the ability to act with unlimited power. In contradistinction to this, omniscience is not the mere ability to acquire knowledge, but is the actual possession of knowledge. Dr.Clarke proposes to make God omniscible but not omniscient. If this supposed parallel between omnipotence and omniscience were true, omnipotence would consist in an infinite act as omniscience consists in the actual comprehending of all things. Richard Watson says of these theories: “The notion of God’s choosing to know some things, and not to know others, supposes a reason, why he refuses to know any class of things or events, which reason, it would seem, can only arise out of their nature and circumstances, and therefore supposes at least a partial knowledge of them, from which the reason for his not choosing to know them arises. The doctrine is therefore somewhat contradictory. But it is fatal to this opinion, that it does not at all meet the difficulty arising out of the question of the congruity of Divine prescience, and the free actions of man; since some contingent actions, for which men have been made accountable, we are sure have been foreknown by God, because by his Spirit in the prophets they were foretold; and if the freedom of man can in these cases be reconciled to the prescience of God, there is no greater difficulty in any other case which can possibly occur” (Theological Institutes, I, 376–77).
If God be ignorant of the future actions of free agents, there could be no assured divine control of human destiny as pledged in every unconditional covenant God has made, and as guaranteed in every prophecy of the Scriptures. If God does not know the future actions of free agents, then He is ever coming to know things He did not know before and must be changing His plans and purposes constantly. Of that plight Jonathan Edwards writes: “In such a situation, God must have little else to do but to mend broken links as well as he can, and be rectifying his disjointed frame and disordered movements in the best manner the case will allow. The supreme Lord of all things must needs be under great and miserable disadvantages in governing the world which he has made and has care of, through his being utterly unable to find out things of chief importance which hereafter shall befall his system, which, if he did but know, he might make seasonable provision for” (cited by Cooke, op.cit., p. 291).
If the question be asked whether the moral agent has freedom to act otherwise than as God foresees he will act, it may be replied that the human will because of its inherent freedom of choice is capable of electing the opposite course to that divinely foreknown; but he will not do so. If he did so, that would be the thing which God foreknew. The divine foreknowledge does not coerce; it merely knows what the human choice will be. The Socinians asserted that until the human choice was made, it was not a subject of knowledge and therefore even God could not know what the choice would be; but this is to confound human ignorance with divine omniscience. What God foreknows is certain, not because He foreknows it, but because of the fact that He has decreed it. The men who crucified Christ did precisely what a thousand years before had been predicted and therefore determined they would do, even to saying, “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him” (Ps. 22:8; cf. Matt. 27:43). And as predicted, they parted His garments among them and cast lots for His vesture. “These things [because it was so prophesied] therefore the soldiers did” (John 19:24). Within their own experience, these men said and did precisely what they freely chose to do; yet they said and did only what had been divinely determined and hence divinely foreknown (Acts 2:23).
The challenge that if God foreknew everything and therefore foreknew sin and could have avoided it, should be expanded to include the fact that God knows that men continue in sin, and that new generations of sinners are being born. Similarly, this challenge should consider the fact that the perfect foreknowledge of God was aware of the fact that sin would call for the greatest sacrifice even God could make—the death of His Son. In spite of the sinfulness of sin and the sacrifice it required, God was not overtaken by unforeseen calamity and failure. His purposes are being executed and will be seen in the end to have been holy, just, and good. Much that enters into this stupendous problem is beyond the range of human understanding, but not outside the divine jurisdiction which is ever compatible with infinite holiness.
A far deeper problem exists than that of the reconciliation of divine foreknowledge with the freedom of moral creatures, namely, the very freedom of God Himself if, indeed, His conception be eternally complete within His eternal prescience. Evidently, there is no problem before God as to a choice between two lines of action, for omniscience directs to that which is right, and that which is right has been discerned and determined from all eternity. What any intelligent being knows, is so closely related to what he purposes and does that it is somewhat difficult to isolate issues which are restricted to knowledge alone. The holy character of God cannot change. He possesses no freedom which involves a contradiction of His holy character. When confronted with sinful man His displeasure is expressed and His sure judgments are in view; but when the wicked turn to Him and avail themselves of His grace, His mercy is boundless and His judgments are abandoned. In such a case, holiness is unchanged. Though in the one instance it repels and in the other it favors, it is the same holiness throughout. There is no change in God, but there is adjustment to the changes which are in man.
The practical appeal of omniscience is manifold. By the divine arrangement in creation, men are ever within the observation of God. Man can no more escape from God than he can escape from himself. The Mohammedan’s proverb, “Wherever there are two persons present, God makes a third” (cited by Cooke, ibid., p. 298), might as well embody the truth that wherever there is one person, God makes a second. The Scripture, “Thou God seest me”, announces the fact that none ever escapes His observation. What fatuity is manifest when it is supposed that any sin is secret, and that only because it is hidden to men. The Psalmist speaks of “our secret sins in the light of thy countenance” (Ps. 90:8; cf. Job 42:2; Isa. 29:15; Jer. 23:24; Heb. 4:13). How rich with wisdom is the word of Seneca, “We ought always so to conduct ourselves as if we lived in public; we ought to think as if some one could see what is passing in our inmost breast; and there is One who does thus behold us. Of what avail is it, then, that any deed is concealed from man? Nothing can be hidden from God. He is present with our very souls, and penetrates our inmost thoughts, and, indeed, is never absent from us” (Seneca, epist. lxxxiii., cited by Cooke, ibid., p. 299). Truly, man’s position before God is to “stand in awe, and sin not” (Ps. 4:4).
The omniscience of God guarantees that all future judgments will be according to truth; nothing will be overlooked or falsely valued. Of this Dr. William Cooke writes: “If the transgressor’s eyes could but be opened to the reality of his position, what horror would seize him! A sight more dreadful than Sinai in a blaze—more terrific than the handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace—a sight more awful than the drama of the world’s conflagration would burst upon his vision—he would see the offended Deity on every side, he would behold himself enveloped with the presence and attributes of the eternal God, his Maker and his Judge” (Ibid., p. 301). “Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: and though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: and though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good” (Amos 9:2–4).
The omniscience of God is fraught with great encouragement and comfort to those who are in right relations to Him. Every sincere effort, though fruitless, every suffering through misunderstanding, every trial may be endured in the light of the truth that God sees and knows perfectly. The Old Testament closes with words of great significance: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Mal. 3:16, 17).
Closely akin to divine omniscience, though superior to it, is divine wisdom. This, as an attribute of God, implies correct judgment and the right use of knowledge. Indeed, knowledge is the material out of which wisdom builds its structure. God is no less perfect in wisdom than in any other of His attributes. In fact, His wisdom so far transcends that of all other beings that the Scriptures declare Him to be “the only wise God” (Jude 1:25; cf. 1 Tim. 1:17). His wisdom is displayed in the vast, complex, yet perfectly organized universe, in the fact that every purpose of God is the best that infinity can devise, in the perfection of His ways by which all things are by Him achieved. No part of God’s works is lacking in its manifestation of His perfect wisdom. However, in no place has divine wisdom been so displayed as in the plan of redemption. Here God is seen to have solved His greatest of all problems, namely, how He could be just and at the same time be the justifier of sinners. Reference is made to the solution of this problem in 1 Corinthians 1:22–25: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
Abundant testimony is borne by the Bible both to the knowledge and wisdom of God:
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars” (2 Chron. 16:9); “But he knowesh the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10); “O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep” (Ps. 92:5); “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches” (Ps. 104:24); “To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Ps. 136:5); “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. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” (Ps. 139:1–12); “For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds” (Ps. 149:4, 5); “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding bath he established the heavens” (Prov. 3:19); “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isa. 42:9); “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me” (Isa. 45:4); “For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory” (Isa. 66:18); “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding” (Jer. 51:15); “And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the Lord, Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezek. 11:5); “That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matt. 6:4, 8, 32); “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph. 1:8); “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10); “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).
Chafer, L. S. (1993). Systematic theology. Originally published: Dallas, Tex. : Dallas Seminary Press, 1947-1948. (1:192-200). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
O Lord, thou has searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thoughts 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 (Ps. 139:1–4).
Two aspects of God’s All-knowledge are emphasized in the Scriptures. First, nothing happens anywhere of which He is ignorant. Man cannot hide either his actions or his thoughts from God. If Gehazi’s dishonesty and deceit were known to the prophet of God, they were certainly not hidden from the Omniscient One (2 Kgs. 4:20–27). God brought to light in judgment the deceitful schemes of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11). In the letters to the seven churches of Asia, the Lord clearly describes not only their actions, but also their inward spiritual condition (Rv. 2:1–3:22). All things are present to Him.
Secondly, God is also All-wise in His plans and purposes. He knows all things from the beginning. He has, in His wisdom, planned the redemption of His people, the building of His Church, and the triumph of His kingdom. For example:
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ. … (Eph. 1:8–10)
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold WISDOM of God, according to the eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. … (Eph. 3:9–11).
It is encouraging to know that God in His Wisdom has made plans that He will carry to completion, in spite of the freedom of will and choice He permits Man to exercise. And when we love Him, in His Wisdom He works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28).
Duffield, G. P., & Van Cleave, N. M. (1983). Foundations of Pentecostal theology (71). Los Angeles, Calif.: L.I.F.E. Bible College.
The Bible teaches God’s complete knowledge of all things. God knows to an infinite degree all that is both actual and possible. His knowledge of the actual is seen in knowing when the sparrow falls (Mt 10:29); numbering the hairs of our head (Mt 10:30); knowing the thoughts and intents of the heart (Ps 139); foretelling the future, particularly that of His people Israel (Deut 30:1–8; Isa 65–66; Mal 3:16–4:6). God’s knowledge of the possible is seen in revelations of what could have been (Isa 48:18; Mk 11:21). God’s knowledge is eternal (Acts 15:18); incomprehensible (Ps 139:6; Rom 11:33); and all-wise (Ps 104:24; Eph 3:10).
Pfeiffer, C. F., Vos, H. F., & Rea, J. (1975; 2005). The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. Moody Press.
Omniscient (i.e., God is all knowing) (see also FOREKNOWLEDGE; WISDOM, divine) t concerning things: Job 36:4–5; Ps 147:5; Is 40:28; 44:7; 46:10; Jn 16:30; Ro 11:33–34 (cf. Ezr 7:25; Job 12:13; 26:6; 28:1–28; Pr 3:19–20; Je 10:12; Da 2:20–23; Ro 16:27; Eph 3:10) t concerning man: 1 Ch 28:9; Job 34:21; Ps 139:1–6; Je 23:10; Eze 11:5; Mt 12:25; Jn 2:24–25; Ac 1:24; Ro 8:27; 1 Co 8:3; Heb 4:13 (cf. Ge 6:5; 16:13; Ex 3:7; 1 Sa 2:3; 16:7; Ps 139:23; Pr 24:12; Is 65:24; Je 17:10; Mt 6:8; Jn 1:48; Ga 4:9); 1 Jo 3:20; Re 2:23:
The NASB Topical Index. 1998 (electronic ed.). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
by J. Orr
WORDS AND USAGE:
In the Old Testament it is expressed in connection with such words as [דַּעַת, da’ath], [בִּינָה, binah], [תְּבוּנָה, tebhunah], [חָכְמָה, chokhmah]; also “seeing” and “hearing,” “the eye” and “the ear” occur as figures for the knowledge of God, as “arm,” “hand,” “finger” serve to express His power. In the New Testament are found [γινώσκειν, ginoskein], [γνω̂σις, gnosis], [εἰδέναι, eidenai], [σοφία, sophia], in the same connections.
TACIT ASSUMPTION AND EXPLICIT AFFIRMATION:
Scripture everywhere teaches the absolute universality of the divine knowledge. In the historical books, although there is no abstract formula, and occasional anthropomorphic references to God’staking knowledge of things occur (Genesis 11:5; 18:21; Deuteronomy 8:3), none the less the principle is everywhere presupposed in what is related about God’s cognizance of the doings of man, about the hearing of prayer, the disclosing of the future (1 Samuel 16:7; 23:9–12; 1 Kings 8:39; 2 Chronicles 16:9). Explicit affirmation of the principle is made in the Psalter, the Prophets, the [chokhmah] literature and in the New Testament. This is due to the increased internalizing of religion, by which its hidden side, to which the divine omniscience corresponds, receives greater emphasis (Job 26:6; 28:24; 34:22; Psalm 139:12; 147:4; Proverbs 15:3, 11; Isaiah 40:26; Acts 1:24; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:23).
EXTENDS TO ALL SPHERES:
This absolute universality is affirmed with reference to the various categories that comprise within themselves all that is possible or actual. It extends to God’s own being, as well as to what exists outside of Him in the created world. God has perfect possession in consciousness of His own being. The unconscious finds no place in Him (Acts 15:18; 1 John 1:5). Next to Himself God knows the world in its totality. This knowledge extends to small as well as to great affairs (Matthew 6:8, 32; 10:30); to the hidden heart and mind of man as well as to that which is open and manifest (Job 11:11; 34:21, 23; Psalm 14:2; 17:2 ff; 33:13–18; 102:19 f; 139:1–4; Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; Isaiah 29:15; Jeremiah 17:10; Amos 4:13; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:23). It extends to all the divisions of time, the past, present and future alike (Job 14:17; Psalm 56:8; Isaiah 41:22–24; 44:6–8; Jeremiah 1:5; Hosea 13:12; Malachi 3:16). It embraces that which is contingent from the human viewpoint as well as that which is certain (1 Samuel 23:9–12; Matthew 11:22, 23).
MODE OF THE DIVINE KNOWLEDGE:
Scripture brings God’s knowledge into connection with His omnipresence. Psalm 139 is the clearest expression of this. Omniscience is the omnipresence of cognition (Jeremiah 23:23 ff). It is also closely related to God’s eternity, for the latter makes Him in His knowledge independent of the limitations of time (Isaiah 43:8–12). God’s creative relation to all that exists is represented as underlying His omniscience (Psalm 33:15; 97:9; 139:13; Isaiah 29:15). His all-comprehensive purpose forms the basis of His knowledge of all events and developments (Isaiah 41:22–27; Amos 3:7).
This, however, does not mean that God’s knowledge of things is identical with His creation of them, as has been suggested by Augustine and others. The act of creation, while necessarily connected with the knowledge of that which is to be actual, is not identical with such knowledge or with the purpose on which such knowledge rests, for in God, as well as in man, the intellect and the will are distinct faculties. In the last analysis, God’s knowledge of the world has its source in His self-knowledge. The world is a revelation of God. All that is actual or possible in it therefore is a reflection in created form of what exists uncreated in God, and thus the knowledge of the one becomes a reproduction of the knowledge of the other (Acts 17:27; Romans 1:20). The divine knowledge of the world also partakes of the quality of the divine self-knowledge in this respect, that it is never dormant. God does not depend for embracing the multitude and complexity of the existing world on such mental processes as abstraction and generalization.
The Bible nowhere represents Him as attaining to knowledge by reasoning, but everywhere as simply knowing. From what has been said about the immanent sources of the divine knowledge, it follows that the latter is not a posteriori derived from its objects, as all human knowledge based on experience is, but is exercised without receptivity or dependence. In knowing, as well as in all other activities of His nature, God is sovereign and self-sufficient. In cognizing the reality of all things He needs not wait upon the things, but draws His knowledge directly from the basis of reality as it lies in Himself. While the two are thus closely connected it is nevertheless of importance to distinguish between God’s knowledge of Himself and God’s knowledge of the world, and also between His knowledge of the actual and His knowledge of the possible. These distinctions mark off theistic conception of omniscience from the pantheistic idea regarding it. God is not bound up in His life with the world in such a sense as to have no scope of activity beyond it.
GOD’S OMNISCIENCE AND HUMAN FREEWILL:
Since Scripture includes in the objects of the divine knowledge also the issue of the exercise of freewill on the part of man, the problem arises, how the contingent character of such decisions and the certainty of the divine knowledge can coexist. It is true that the knowledge of God and the purposing will of God are distinct, and that not the former but the latter determines the certainty of the outcome. Consequently the divine omniscience in such cases adds or detracts nothing in regard to the certainty of the event. God’s omniscience does not produce but presupposes the certainty by which the problem is raised. At the same time, precisely because omniscience presupposes certainty, it appears to exclude every conception of contingency in the free acts of man, such as would render the latter in their very essence undetermined. The knowledge of the issue must have a fixed point of certainty to terminate upon, if it is to be knowledge at all. Those who make the essence of freedom absolute indeterminateness must, therefore, exempt this class of events from the scope of the divine omniscience. But this is contrary to all the testimony of Scripture, which distinctly makes God’s absolute knowledge extend to such acts (Acts 2:23). It has been attempted to construe a peculiar form of the divine knowledge, which would relate to this class of acts specifically, the so-called scientia media, to be distinguished from the scientia necessaria, which has for its object God Himself, and the scientia libera which terminates upon the certainties of the world outside of God, as determined by His freewill. This scientia media would then be based on God’s foresight of the outcome of the free choice of man. It would involve a knowledge of receptivity, a contribution to the sum total of what God knows derived from observation on His part of the world-process. That is to say, it would be knowledge a posteriori in essence, although not in point of time. It is, however, difficult to see how such a knowledge can be possible in God, when the outcome is psychologically undetermined and undeterminable. The knowledge could originate no sooner than the determination originates through the free decision of man. It would, therefore, necessarily become an a posteriori knowledge in time as well as in essence. The appeal to God’s eternity as bringing Him equally near to the future as to the present and enabling Him to see the future decisions of man’s free will as though they were present cannot remove this difficulty, for when once the observation and knowledge of God are made dependent on any temporal issue, the divine eternity itself is thereby virtually denied. Nothing remains but to recognize that God’s eternal knowledge of the outcome of the freewill choices of man implies that there enters into these choices, notwithstanding their free character, an element of predetermination, to which the knowledge of God can attach itself.
The divine omniscience is most important for the religious life. The very essence of religion as communion with God depends on His all-comprehensive cognizance of the life of man at every moment. Hence, it is characteristic of the irreligious to deny the omniscience of God (Psalm 10:11, 12; 94:7–9; Isaiah 29:15; Jeremiah 23:23; Ezekiel 8:12; 9:9). Especially along three lines this fundamental religious importance reveals itself:
a. it lends support and comfort when the pious suffer from the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of men;
b. it acts as a deterrent to those tempted by sin, especially secret sin, and becomes a judging principle to all hypocrisy and false security;
c. it furnishes the source from which man’s desire for self-knowledge can obtain satisfaction (Psalm 19:12; 51:6; 139:23, 24).
Orr, J., M.A., D.D. (1999). The International standard Bible encyclopedia : 1915 edition (J. Orr, Ed.). Albany, OR.
OMNISCIENCE. The divine attribute of perfect knowledge. This is declared in Pss. 33:13–15; 139:11–12; 147:5; Prov. 15:3; Isa. 40:14; 46:10; Acts 15:18; 1 John 3:20; Heb. 4:13, and in many other places. The perfect knowledge of God is exclusively His attribute. It relates to Himself and to all beyond Himself. It includes all things that are actual and all things that are possible. Its possession is incomprehensible to us, and yet it is necessary to our faith in the perfection of God’s sovereignty. The revelation of this divine property like that of others is well calculated to fill us with profound reverence. It should alarm sinners and beget confidence in the hearts of God’s children and deepen their consolation (see Job 23:10; Pss. 34:15–16; 90:8; Jer. 17:10; Hos. 7:2; 1 Pet. 3:12–14). The Scriptures unequivocally declare the divine prescience and at the same time make their appeal to man as a free and consequently responsible being.
Unger, M. F., Harrison, R. K., Vos, H. F., Barber, C. J., & Unger, M. F. (1988). The new Unger’s Bible dictionary. Revision of: Unger’s Bible dictionary. 3rd ed. c1966. (Rev. and updated ed.). Chicago: Moody Press.
- Sodom survey, Genesis 18:20–21.
- God sees every action, Job 31:4; 34:21.
- God sees all, Psalm 33:13.
- Unlimited understanding, Psalm 147:5.
- Omniscience of God, Isaiah 40:13, 14.
- Sparrows known, hair numbered, Matthew 10:28–30.
- Greater wisdom than Solomon’s, Matthew 12:42.
- Earthly knowledge of Jesus, Matthew 14:13.
- Time of Christ’s coming held secret, Matthew 24:36.
- Knowledge of all mankind, John 2:24.
- Validity of Christ’s diety, John 16:30.
- Limiting wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:25.
- The Lord’s mind, 1 Corinthians 2:16.
Anderson, K. (1996). Where to find it in the Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
OMNISCIENCE [om NISH unce]—a theological term that refers to God’s superior knowledge and wisdom, His power to know all things. God is the Lord who knows our thoughts from afar. He is acquainted with all our ways, knowing our words even before they are on our tongues (Ps. 139:1-6, 13-16). He needs to consult no one for knowledge or understanding (Is. 40:13-14). He is the all-knowing Lord who prophesies the events of the future, including the death of His Son (Isaiah 53) and the return of Christ at the end of this age when death will be finally overcome (Rom. 8:18-39; 1 Cor. 15:51-57).
Only the all-knowing and all-powerful God can guarantee real freedom from sin, decay, and death. He can begin a process of change in believers during the present age; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Hayford, J. W., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Hayford’s Bible handbook. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Finis Dake’s Rejection and Distortion
Finis Dake in the ‘Dake Annotated Reference Bible” and in “God’s Plan for Man” (his systematic theology) puts God on almost the same level as human beings when it comes to knowledge and knowing things. In Dake’s view, God is not all-knowing. In fact according to Dake, God learns things over time just like we do. Let’s look at some direct quotes from Dake on God’s (lack of) Omniscience:
Omnicient, all knowing. This must be understood in a limited sense, the same as omnipotence and omnipresence. Many passages show clearly that God comes to know certain acts of free and sovereign wills, and He does not plan or try to know from all eternity past the infinite details regarding beings who are here now and others that will be brought into existence in all eternity to come.
(Dake Bible Concordance, p.81)
(M) Here we have another proof that God receives knowledge of true conditions and becomes acquainted with existing facts.
(Dake Bible Old Test., p. 15)
How can He know them before the
existence of a person and before he has
thoughts to know? Nothing is ever said
of God knowing all persons and all their
thoughts in all the dateless past, billions
of years before such persons corne
(Dake Bible Old Test. p.
Omniscient (all-knowing) as far
as H1S nature, plan, and work are concerned
(Rom. 11: 33). As to free moral
agents, God learns certain things about
them … God sends
messengers on innumerable duties to
help Him carry on His rulership of all
(Dake Bible Old Test. p. 623)
God gets to know things concerning the free moral actions of men as others do… God sends messengers throughout the Earth who report to Him of all that they find in the Earth that goes on (Dan. 10: 13-21; 11: 1; 12: 1; Zech. 1:7-11; 6 : 1- 8; Matt. 18:10-11; Heb. 2:4). God does not take care of every detail of His vast business in all the kingdoms of the universe. His agents help Him and they are found in every part of the universe on missions for God.…Several times God, Himself said of certain events that they did not come into His mind (Jer. 19:5; 32:3’5; 44:21). God did not know beforehand that men would become so wicked (Gen. 6:5-7); that they would plan Babel (Gen. 11 :5-7); that Sodom would be so wicked (Gen. 18:21, 26, 28-32); that Abraham would actually proceed to offer up Isaac (Gen. 22 :12). God did not know whether it would take one or two or three signs to make Israel believe in Him (Ex. 4 :1-12); or whether testing Israel would cause them to obey Him, or not (Dt. 8:2, 16). He did not know that Israel would backslide as far as she did….God sends messengers throughout the whole of His vast creations to find out for Him what He wanes to know, the same as the head of any other business would be likely to do, so that plans may be made and actions taken accordingly.
(God’s Plan for Man, p. 62)
We have no statement in the entire Bible saying that God knows or even
would like to know all acts and particular events of all vast creations of free
moral agents from all eternity past; or that He has fixed decrees choosing and
predestinating all the thoughts, acts, and deeds of free wills from all eternity past
to all eternity future.
God’s eternal plan for man is known from the beginning to the end and what
He plans to bring to pass on Earth He has power to do, but concerning the free
actions of free moral agents He does not know from all eternity what they will do before they are in existence and are here to have a part in His plan. He does not
know which ones will be saved and which ones will be lost.
(God’s Plan for Man, p. 63)
He limits Himself according to His plan of dealing with other beings who are capable of free action, and therefore, it cannot be known what they will do under all circumstances until they are tested.
(God’s Plan for Man, p. 64)
The word foreknowledge simply means the prescience of God or the knowing
beforehand certain events that will happen. If we are to take the Bible for what it
says about God we will have to recognize that God gets to know certain things
concerning free moral agents just as they get to know some things about each other…. God knows His plan from the beginning to the end, and
certain passages used- to teach foreknowledge from all eternity in connection with
detailed events in the lives of free wills really refer to His general plan only, not to
free moral acts of those particular men, as we have seen under election above…. but no statement is made that God’s predestined plan and purpose includes the free acts of free moral agents nor does it name those who will conform to the plan.
(God’s Plan for Man, p. 621) and (God’s Plan for Man, p. 621)
Dake says “This must be understood in a limited sense, the same as omnipotence and omnipresence.” Finis Dake gives his own meaning to Omniscience and God’s other attributes. Dake redefines the meaning of Omniscience. While he deceitfully continues to use the word and applies it to God, he denies repeatedly that God is all-knowing. Dake’s God learns things as they occur. Dake’s twisted version of God only has a basic understanding of his plan and the direction he wants things to go.
For those of you who follow Dake I have a question: Does God have a plan for your life? If you understand what Dake believes you would have to say that He does NOT have a specific plan for your life. You would also have to admit that God cannot direct your life and help guide you in making the best decisions for your life because Dake’s corrupted version of God does NOT know what any human being is going to do in the future! Dake’s weak little version of god learns things as we do… over time. He changes and becomes ‘smarter.’ He cannot make good decisions because he does not know what is going to happen in the future or how people will respond. What a weak and pathetic view Dake had of God. How can you trust and follow God if He does not know what is best for your? How can you know He is working things out for your good if He has no idea what is going to happen in the future?
Finis Dake in the Dake Bible and ‘God’s Plan for Man’ distorts and destroys our basic understanding of God. Dake may use the same terms like Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence, but like he says “this mus be understood in a limited sense…”. Dake deceitfully uses these wonderful theological terms, but corrupts them and diminishes God to just be slightly smarter and stronger than man.
Those of you who love and follow Dake, please tell me: is it right to say you believe in something (in this case Omniscience) while knowing you have completely rejected the accepted meaning and substance of that word? This seems very deceptive. So why didn’t Dake just come out and say he does not believe God is Omniscient? Probably because he knew if he came out and plainly said the truth, the churches he spoke at and preached in would turn him away.
It is my view that Dake and his teachings is much worse than the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses because while they are on the ‘outside’ of the church, Dake infiltrated the church as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and has distorted the faith of thousands of people. There is no important biblical teaching that Dake has not distorted and corrupted. This applies to every major belief that Christians have held for centuries regarding our awesome and wonderful God.
I server an AWESOME and ALL-KNOWING God, not the diminished and impoverished false god that Dake teaches in his corrupt writings.
Many of you reading this article will say that I am being unloving or uncaring toward Dake or those I disagree with. If you read my other articles on LearnTheology.com you will see that I can disagree with others and not be unloving. Finis Dake though is not another believer. I do not believe it is possible for a person to so completely distort every part and meaning of who God is and still be a believer. Finis Dake has rejected the Christian faith which is bad enough. Even worse though is he has worked as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as a false teacher who has perverted the truth and led others astray in the church.
Just as Dake has completely changed, distorted and corrupted the doctrine or teaching of God’s being All-Knowing, he has in the same way corrupted every aspect of God’s nature.
My goal is not to upset you, but to point out that Dake has wandered from the faith. I pray that God will lead you to see how truly Wonderful and Awesome He really IS!