Is God a 'know it all'? - Hope 103.2

Is God a ‘know it all’?

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsThursday 29 May 2014Morning Devotions with Chris WittsCultureReading Time: 0 minutes


Under normal circumstances no one likes a ‘know─it─all’,and yet one of the principal teachings of the Christian church is that God knows everything; ie we cannot surprise Him,we cannot act behind His back and we cannot deceive Him.  This attribute is referred to as ‘omniscience’,or being all knowing. There are many passages in the Bible that make reference to God’s omniscience. One of the more notable is Psalm 139 which includes lines such as ‘you know my thoughts from afar’,and ‘before a word is on my tongue you know it completely’.

Faith or fatalism?

The greatest dilemma with God’s omniscience is how it affects our free will. God hasn’t made us mindless robots; we are free to make our own decisions and act independently of His wishes. But if God knows I will do X then I have to do X,don’t I ? In that case I have no free will. I can’t do Z when God expects me to do X this would override his omniscience.

In fact,you could argue that God’s ability to know exactly what I’m going to do really results in fatalism ─ the doctrine that dictates that the things I do are the only things I can do; I have no choice in the matter.

Foreknowledge is forewarning

Possibly the answer is not so much that God preordains what will happen,but that His foreknowledge allows Him to know what will happen. For example,know that if I throw a brick at a house window hard enough the window will break; there will be shattered glass everywhere,and the brick will end up on the floor inside the house.

This is the same for the author who commences a novel already knowing how it will unfold and conclude. Or the painter who makes the first brushstroke with a keen vision for what the finished masterpiece will look like.

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God’s omniscience allows Him to know that we will do,think or say without having preordained or determined it Himself. To suggest otherwise would be to limit our God─given free will.

A life lesson

However,at some stages in the Bible it seems God does not know everything. In the Old Testament story of Abraham’s son,Isaac,God tests Abraham’s obedience and faithfulness to Him by telling him he must sacrifice his beloved 15 year old son.

Just as Abraham is about to follow through with the command,God says to him,”Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God” (Genesis 22:12).

Possibly God is establishing something He already knows for the sake of the person involved. A similar ploy is used by the science teacher who says to his class,”Now let’s mix this chemical with this,and see what happens”. The truth is the teacher knows what will happen but wants the students to learn the lesson for themselves.

Some people might not like the ideas of a ‘know it all’ God but,in the end,realising He knows all about our lives can bring comfort rather than condemnation or a sense of fatalism.