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Thursday, October 2, 2014

God's Omniscient, Omnisapient Love

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.  (Psa 139:1-4)

As we continue to consider how God’s various attributes help us to understand the qualities of His love for His people, we must look at two attributes that are closely associated, His omniscience and omniscience.  That God is omniscient means that He knows all things that can be known, that is, everything actual and possible, past, present and future.

When we say that God knows all things actual we mean that He knows all things that exist and happen.  Psalm 147: 5 teaches that “His understanding is infinite.” Job 37:16 says that He is “perfect in knowledge.” Perhaps most explicit is 1 John 3:20, which reads, “…He knows everything.” He knows every bird and every star (Psa 50:10-11; Luke 12:6-7; Psa 147:4).  He knows our prayers before we pray them, our thoughts before we think them, our words before we say them, and every intention of our hearts (Matt 6:7-8; Psa 94:11; 139:1-4; Heb 4:11-13). 

He not only knows everything that actually is, but also all things possible, which means that He knows all the possible outcomes of all contingencies.  In Matt 11:21-23, the Lord Jesus chastised the Jewish cities where most of His might works had occurred, saying, “If the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”  There are similar examples in 1 Samuel 23:11-13 and 2 Kings 13:19.  

God knows absolutely everything that can be known, therefore we say that He is omniscient.  Most of us are already familiar with that term, but what is omnisapience?  For God to be omnisapient is for Him to be all-wise.  Wisdom is the application of God’s infinite knowledge to accomplish the best ends by the best means possible.  God’s omniscience makes His omnisapience possible.

After recounting God’s plan of salvation via the election, rejection, and return of Israel, Paul marvels at the matchless wisdom of God: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”  (Rom 11:33-34, cf. Eph 3:10).  God is so wise that His foolishness is wiser than men (1 Cor 1:25).

What do the attributes of God’s perfect knowledge and wisdom mean for His love for us?  It is easy to see the connection if we understand God’s love to be a commitment to our highest good.  That God knows all things means that He not only knows us inside and out (Psa 139), but He knows with absolute certainty what is best for us.  He knows what we need before we need it.  He knows what we need far better than we do.  His knowledge equips Him to envision the best ends for us.  

His wisdom equips Him to accomplish those ends by the best means possible.   Some of us may never doubt that God intends to do us good, but we may struggle with His means.  Difficult trials don’t always feel “right.”  We may think that there must be a better way for God to do us good than through this particular trial or that one.  But the truth is that God is always accomplishing what is best for us, and He is doing it in the best way.  

Consider what God would be like if He was loving but not all-knowing and all-wise.  We might expect salvation history - and our lives - to be a series of well-intentioned messes.  God would desire to do us good, but He would often be wrong about what that good is and how to accomplish it.  If God were loving but not knowledgeable and wise, we could never have faith that He would certainly do good for us.  We could only have faith that He wanted to.  

That the God who loves us is omniscient and omnisapient means we can bank on the fact that God desires to accomplish our good, that He infallibly knows what that good is, and that He will accomplish it in the best way possible.  If we believe that, it will make our current trials seem far less dark and far more promising.  

What does God’s all-knowing, all-wise love have to say about your current circumstances?  Think on these things.

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