God Knows


 


God Knows
Psalm 139:1-6
August 18, 2013

Introduction
I’m not a fan of “chick-flicks.”  Of course, I’ll watch one from time to time with Diane.  I can tolerate and even enjoy romantic comedies.  But movies based on novels by Jane Austin?  I’m sorry.  I’d rather eat lutefisk.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have any romantic sense.  In fact, did you know that August is National Romance Month?  At least I know that!  (Thanks, Proflowers.com for the email reminder.)  OK.  I’ll admit that I’m quite clumsy in romantic matters, but I do have a heart.  I well remember, as I suspect many of you can, those adolescent and early adult years that were miserable in their loneliness.  I was very unsure of myself and shy.  How many times did I die on the inside because I didn’t have the courage to risk rejection? I was scared to death to initiate conversation with any girl I liked.  Diane says I ‘m still reluctant to initiate communication with her! 

I think that, deep down; every one of us yearns to be known as we truly are and to be understood.  During our adolescent awakening, we began to sense our own identity and pull away from our parents.  Our emerging independence often put us at odds with them.  My mom used to accuse me of tuning her out.  Of course, that was before we had remotes:



What is the cry of every teenager?  “You don’t understand me!”  With hormones raging, most of us began our adolescent journey to find a life-partner who would genuinely know, accept, and love us as we truly are.  To find that soul-mate is to fill a deep need in our life.  The only problem, even in the best of marriages; there is still misunderstanding. 

No human being can completely know and understand you.  And how many of us carry around the guilty sense that if people really knew who we were – if they knew all the dirt – we fear that we would be rejected?  It is the universal pain we all experience.  We want to be known, understood, and accepted for all that we are.

There is One who knows us completely – even better than we know ourselves!

Psalm 139:1-6
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

God’s Omniscience
To say that God knows everything is to say that he is omniscient.  Job is challenged to consider the wonders of “one perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16 NASB).   The New Testament, too,  affirms that God knows everything.  Theologians offer this definition of God’s omniscience:  God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.[1] 

God Knows Himself
To say that God knows himself, as an unlimited and infinite being, is simply an amazing statement.  The Apostle Paul recognizes the power and wonder of God’s limitless knowledge as he writes, “For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him.  So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 2:10-11).  He needs no counselor or shrink to figure himself out.  Unlike us, he is not maturing or growing in his self-awareness.  God knows the fullness of his infinite and limitless self.

God Knows All Things
Our definition also says that God knows every bit of actual knowledge.  He cannot learn or discover anything.  He is never surprised.  Consider the wonders of the created world. God knows the farthest star and creatures that reside in the deepest canyons of the ocean.  The wonders of the molecular world are not a mystery to him.  Science cannot discover one thing that God does not already know.  Not now.  Not in the future.  While that assertion violently assaults our arrogant modern minds, the Scriptures affirm boldly affirm it.  

·         Jesus said that God even knows the number of hairs on our head (Matt. 10:30). 
·         All creation is subject to God’s knowledge:  “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). 
·         That he knows the future is implied in his eternal character and is the basis of all prophecy:  “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish my purpose” (Isa. 46:9b-10).
·         And then there is our text from Psalm 139, reflecting on God’s intimate knowledge of every detail of our lives – before we were born and even the words we say, even before they are formed on our tongue!

God Knows Every Possibility
God also knows every possibility, even when they do not happen.  For example, Jesus condemns unbelieving Jews, declaring that Sodom would not have been destroyed had they seen the things that Jesus had done (Matt 11:23).  In the Old Testament, God told David that his enemies would take certain steps against him if he followed the course he was on.  David changed his plans accordingly and those things did not happen, even though God knew they were possibilities (I Sam. 23:11-13). God has created an incredibly complex universe, alive with countless possibilities.  God knows every one. 

God knows all things, actual and possible. 

God’s Knowledge is Full at All Times
God has no need of a calculator or Google.  He does not need to count the grains of sand on the sea shore.  He already knows their number.  He is not subject to dementia or forgetting nor does he need to recall.  He does not need to focus or compartmentalize. God has no need for any of the mental disciplines we require.  God knows all things completely - at all times -  forever. 

  
Questions about God’s Knowledge
There is probably no other attribute of God that raises more questions than his omniscience.  For example, didn’t God promise to not remember the sins of his people?  (Isa. 43:25).  His promise to forget our sins provides a good example of properly interpreting one verse in the light of the rest of God’s revealed truth.  Scripture cannot contradict itself.  And sometimes, language can be an imperfect vehicle for explaining God’s ways, especially in our modern translations.  Scripture establishes the truth that God’s knowledge is limitless.  Within his own character, it is impossible for him to forget.  What then, did the prophet mean when he delivered God’s word of forgetting the sins of his people?  It must mean that God will not let the knowledge of their sins play any part his relationship with us.  We do the same in our relationships when we have forgiven someone.  We can remember the incident, but through forgiveness, it no longer has any impact on our relationship with the person.  This interpretation is fully consistent with the rest of the biblical message. 

Another objection to God’s omniscience is found in Jeremiah 7:31:  “They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.”  The horrific circumstances of the verse is somewhat obscure, but is easily addressed when the original language is considered.  The word translated “mind” is leh, and it is better rendered “heart” as the KJV and NASB do.  The full sense of what God said could be translated, “nor did I wish for it, intend it, or think of it in any positive way.”

The most serious challenge that God’s omniscience brings is in relation to the question of whether or not we have any real freedom of choice or action.  If God knows the future completely, then are we not hemmed in and our future already determined?  The problem is difficult enough that some theologians, even within evangelicalism, have denied God’s full knowledge of the future.  They hold that God cannot know certain things that cannot be known – namely the choices and actions of free moral beings.  But such a contention flies in the face of the whole revelation of God.  It is an issue not easily solved.  Evangelical theologian, Wayne Grudem, admits, “If God knows all our thoughts, words, and actions long before they occur, then there must be some sense in which our choices are not absolutely free.”[2]   Within that limitation, however, God has given us the power of “reasonable self-determination.”  We do make choices and they really do determine our future.  Perhaps I’m not smart enough or I’m intellectually lazy.  But I affirm God’s omniscience according to the Scriptures and take seriously my responsibility to make choices that will honor him and determine the outcome of my life.  It seems to me, both are taught in the Bible and though I can’t fully reconcile the tension, I will embrace it by faith. 

What Difference Does It Make?
God knows everything: every actual thing and every possible thing.  Everything in the past and everything in the future.  So what?  What bearing does God’s omniscience have to do with the way I live my life right now?

God knows everything about you, from the mosquito bite on your back that is driving you nuts to the latent disease cells that are circulating in your blood stream.  He knows your heartache and your wounds.  He knows all about the emotional scars you carry from your childhood and adolescence that you have learned to hide so well.  What may have been said or done privately to deeply wound you is no secret to God.  He knows the pain that still remains when certain cues refresh that awful memory in your soul.  He knows.  And he has compassion and empathy for you.  Jesus Christ entered this world to take on and experience your suffering.  He knows. 

God also knows your deepest thoughts, from the loftiest to the lowest.  He knows your good intentions, even when you are misunderstood by other people.  God knows the good things you have done in secret and yet you remain unrewarded and unrecognized.  He knows. 

God also knows the evil and dark intentions of your heart that you would never reveal to anyone.  And yet they are there.  God knows the bad things you have done - the things which would horrify you if they were ever made public. The book of I Samuel tells the story of a king who took the wife of one of his generals and had relations with her.  When she became pregnant, the king tried to arrange it so that it would appear the woman’s husband would be the father.  When that failed, he had the man murdered.  King David thought no one knew.  He thought he got away with it.  But God saw and God knew.  God knows everything; even your deepest, darkest secret that you keep hidden. 

God knows.  He knows all about it.  And yet he still loves you completely without any reservation.  I remember the first time I realized what I have just asked you to consider.  I was reading Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy on the omniscience of God.  I was sitting on a chase lounge in the pool area of the Tropicana Apartments on Rosecrans Avenue in La Mirada, CA.  God spoke to me with such a powerful affirmation of his love that I wept for joy.  It was one of the most incredible moments in my spiritual life.  I will never forget it.

God knows everything about you.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  (“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” I John 3:19-20). God himself is the destination for your search to be known and understood fully.  And he loves you completely without reservation. 

Response
Let’s return to our text:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Friends, God has revealed himself to us this morning in his Word.  And his revelation requires a response from you and from me.  In closing this same psalm, the writer prays,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    And lead me in the way everlasting.”
                                                Vs. 23-24

Let that be our response this morning as we come confidently before the God who knows us completely and yet loves us without reservation. Let us come, confessing our sins and our needs, knowing that our God is rich in mercy and in love.

Prayer



[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 190.
[2] Grudem, p. 193. 

Comments

  1. Thank you........ One of my favorite verses. You articulated it and others so well and gave me yet again great encouragement. Blessins I do miss hearing your sermons, oh wait I have a computer now I can start :) silly me...

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