Omniscience, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes by Jack Kettler
The incommunicable attributes of God are those that belong to God alone. For example, such attributes as omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence are incommunicable. These attributes are distinct from God’s communicable attributes such as knowledge, creativity, love and forgiveness. Man can share in the communicable attributes whereas the incommunicable attributes, he cannot.
In this study we will focus on God’s Omniscience. How can omniscience be defined?
God’s perfection “whereby He….knows himself and all things possible and actual in one eternal and most simple act.”*
An attribute of God alone. It is the quality of having all knowledge (Isaiah 40:14). Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience represent the nature of God concerning His relation to the creation. **
Omniscience is having total knowledge. The Creator’s unique distinction of knowing everything exhaustively. In contrast, the creature, man’s knowledge is finite and dependent upon the Creator’s revelation to man
From Scripture, God’s Omniscience is seen in the following verses:
“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalms 147:5)
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)
“Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.” (Isaiah 41:21-24)
“With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:14)
“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18)
“… And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
“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!” (Romans 11:33)
“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)
“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knowest all things.” (1 John 3:20)
The Triune God and Omniscience:
All three have the attribute of omniscience. The Father in Romans 11:33, the Son in Matthew 9:4, and the Holy Spirit we see in 1 Corinthians 2:10.
Commentary Evidence from the Old Testament passage of Psalms 147:5:
Psalms 147:5; from Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
Great is our Lord, and of great power, “Our Lord” is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the whole earth; the Lord of his own people by creation, by redemption, by marriage, and by the conquest of his grace, and their voluntary submission to him; he is “great” in his person, offices, and grace, and therefore greatly to be praised; see Psalm 145:3; and particularly his “power” is very “great”, as appears in the creation of all things out of nothing by him; in the sustaining and support of the world and all things in it: in the redemption of his people from the hand of their powerful enemies; in beginning, carrying on, and perfecting a work of grace on their hearts by his Spirit and power; and in the preservation of them unto eternal life, through a thousand dangers and difficulties: at his resurrection all power in heaven and earth were given him as Mediator; and in the latter day he will take to himself his great power and reign; and in the last day will raise the dead out of their graves;
his understanding is infinite; it reaches to all things, not to the stars of heaven only, as in Psalm 147:4, but to the fowls of the air, to the beasts of the field, and cattle upon a thousand hills; to all on the surface of the earth, or in the bowels of it; and to the fishes of the sea: it reaches to all men, and to all the thoughts of their hearts, the words of their mouths, and the actions of their lives; it reaches to all things past, that have been, to everything present, and to whatsoever is to come; it includes not only the knowledge of all things that are, or certainly will be, but of all things possible, or which he could bring into being if he would; it is concerned not only with the quality and nature of things it perfectly understands, but with the quantity of them; even all things in creation and providence, which are without number and past finding out by men; and so his understanding is without number, and cannot be declared, as the word signifies. (1)
Commentary Evidence from the New Testament passage of Romans 11:33:
Romans 11:33; from Matthew Poole’s Commentary:
In this and the following verses is the conclusion of all that he had delivered, especially in this and the two preceding chapters. He had spoken of many profound mysteries, and answered many critical questions; and here he makes a pause, and falls into an admiration of God, his abundant wisdom and knowledge. He seems here to be like a man that wades into the waters, till he begins to feel no bottom, and then he cries out:
Oh the depth! and goes no farther.
Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! i.e. the unmeasurable, inconceivable abundance of his wisdom and knowledge. Some distinguish these two; others take them for the same: see Colossians 2:3.
How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Some distinguish betwixt the judgments and ways of God; by the former, understanding his decrees and purposes concerning nations or persons; by the latter, the methods of his providence in his dealings with them: others think the same thing is meant, by an ingemination, which is familiar amongst the Hebrews. He says of God’s judgments, that they are unsearchable; therefore not to be complained of, censured, or to be narrowly pried into; and of his ways, that they are past finding out; the same in sense with unsearchable: it is a metaphor from hounds, that have no footstep or scent of the game which they pursue: nor can men trace the Lord, or find out the reason of his doings; as none can line out the way of a ship in the sea, or an eagle in the air, &c. Some restrain the sense to the ways of God in disposing and ordering the election and rejection of men. (2)
Omniscience from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
The term does not occur in Scripture, either in its nominal or in its adjectival form.
1. Words and Usage:
In the Old Testament it is expressed in connection with such words as da’ath, binah, tebhunah, 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 ginoskein, gnosis, eidenai, sophia, in the same connections.
2. 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, and 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; Psalms 139:12; 147:4; Proverbs 15:3,11; Isaiah 40:26; Acts 1:24; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:23).
3. 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; Psalms 14:2; 17:2; 33:13-18; 102:19; 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; Psalms 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).
4. Mode of the Divine Knowledge:
Scripture brings God’s knowledge into connection with His omnipresence. Psalms 139 is the clearest expression of this. Omniscience is the omnipresence of cognition (Jeremiah 23:23). 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 (Psalms 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.
5. 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.
6. Religious Importance:
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 (Psalms 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 (Psalms 19:12; 51:6; 139:23,24).
Oehler, Theologie des A T (3), 876; Riehm, Alttestamentliche Theologie, 263; Dillmann, Handbuch der alttestamentlichen Theologie, 249; Davidson, Old Testament Theology, 180 if.
Geerhardus Vos (3)
In closing; we will look at selections from the brilliant exposition on Omniscience by Gordon H. Clark:
Omniscience by Gordon H. Clark
…In the previous chapter, where the aim was to show that God created all things, the first step was to indicate that God had created this, and next that, and so on until we exhausted the list and could conclude that God created all things. Here too one could list the items that the Bible says God knows, and finally conclude that he knows all things. This procedure has some advantages. I had a devout and humble aunt, who when a girl had served a term as a missionary to the Mormons. Years later she advanced some theological opinions to her young nephew. God, she said, took care of the important things in the world, and even was attentive to the work of a young missionary; but God does not know what I am doing in my kitchen, she said, for this is too insignificant for him to notice. Undoubtedly this was humility; she did not think of herself more highly than she should. But her Arminian concept of God was far from what the Bible teaches. Humble she was; but she was humiliating God by supposing that he was so limited in his span of attention that he could not attend both to the important things and to the unimportant things as well. If, now, we should list the things the Bible says God knows, we could find out whether he knows what women do when they are in their kitchens.
But there is a better way to proceed, and the details will fall into place just the same. The procedure will be to show how the doctrine of creation relates to God’s knowledge, and how omnipresence and providence relate. With this information the nature of God’s knowledge can then be discussed.
1. CREATION, OMNIPRESENCE, AND PROVIDENCE
There is a story about a visitor to Henry Ford’s auto plant in the early days. Mr. Ford himself escorted the visitor around. They stopped a moment to watch a foreman work on some interesting procedure. The visitor with Mr. Ford’s obvious approval asked the foreman some questions, which he answered satisfactorily. Then the visitor asked, how many separate parts are needed to complete a car? The foreman with slight disgust replied that he could think of no piece of information more useless. Mr. Ford moved on and quietly said, There are 927 (or whatever the number was) pieces.
If now a human inventor and manufacturer has an accurate knowledge of his product, is it surprising that the divine artificer should have an even more accurate knowledge of what he has made? Since God has created all things, we infer that God has a perfect knowledge of all his creation.
Though this is so plausible in itself, we need not rely on Mr. Ford for our theology. Analogies are sometimes deceptive, and we always need Scripture. There is Scripture to cover this point. In Psalm 139:2, 15, 16 David acknowledges that God knows him because God made him. The verses have other implications too, but here attention is directed to the idea that David was made, fashioned, curiously wrought, and all his members were catalogued. The verses are: “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest me though afar off. . . . My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. . . Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
Take another verse. Psalm 104:24 says, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all?” The construction of the parts of the universe is incredibly intricate, far more so than a Model T Ford. The wisdom and knowledge exhibited in these manifold works are beyond our imagination. Creation is then evidence of God’s omniscience. The same idea is found in many other verses. For example, Proverbs 3:19 says, “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up.” Again, Jeremiah 10:12 reads, “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.” No doubt there are dozens of such verses. These should be enough to show that the doctrine of creation presupposes the doctrine of divine omniscience. If some humble missionary aunt denies the latter, she must in consistency deny the former.
Next comes the idea of omnipresence. There may be some verse in the Bible that speaks only of God’s omnipresence; but all the others combine it with some other doctrine. Therefore, instead of giving a separate proof of the former, we shall combine omnipresence and omniscience in one set of references. The two omni’s go together.
The prophet Jeremiah says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (23:24). The reason that no one can escape the attention of God is that God is everywhere. He fills heaven and earth. What is present to him, he knows. And while the verse mentions only human beings who might wish to hide from him, the implication is that God knows everything because he is everywhere.
Although we often say that God is everywhere in the world, it might better be said that the world everywhere is in God. Acts 17:24-28 refers to creation, omnipresence, and by implication knowledge when it says, “God that made the world and all things therein . . . dwelleth not in temples made with hands”; and then when it adds that “in him we live and move and have our being,” we can infer that the “all things” of the earlier verse also have their being in God. Obviously God must know whatever is thus present to him or thus in his mind.
The well-known verses of Psalm 139 use the idea of omnipresence to enforce a lesson concerning God’s knowledge. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit . . . if I make my bed in hell, thou art there.” Not only in hell, but if I fry bacon and eggs in the kitchen, “even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
The same combination of ideas is found also in Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
As omnipresence and creation support omniscience, so also does providence. Creation and providence are combined in Nehemiah 9:6, where the next to the last phrase is, “Thou preservest them all.” Psalm 36:6 reads, “O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.” Speaking particularly about creeping things and beasts both small and great, Psalm 104:27 continues, “These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.” Other verses on providence will later be used more closely in conjunction with predestination; but here only one will now be added. In Matthew 6:32 Jesus says, “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”
This last verse which ties providence to knowledge is most appropriate. How could God exercise providence over all his creation unless he knew it all? Since the providence of God concerns the particulars of life, God must know these particulars. The word providence refers to God’s governance and control of the conditions under which man and beast and creeping things live; but etymologically providence is a matter of seeing or knowing.
If God’s governance of the world covers the distribution of eternal rewards and eternal punishment, though no verses will be quoted on this right here, and if merit and sin depend in part on the thoughts and intentions of the heart, that is, on men’s secret motivations, then this governance depends on God’s knowledge of men’s inmost thoughts. The Apostle tells us that “the Lord . . . will bring light to the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (I Cor. 4:5). All such considerations enforce the doctrine of omniscience.
An example of this is Peter’s confession, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17). This verse is particularly to the point. Christ knows Peter’s heart because he knows all things. The condition of Peter’s love was not just some accidental bit of information that Jesus happened to have. Jesus was Lord, Jehovah, God, and he knew Peter’s love because he was omniscient. With this one may compare John 2:24-25, “He knew all men, and needed not that anyone should testify of man, for he knew what was in man.” These last two quotations are often used to prove the deity of Christ; but note that they do so on the basis that God is omniscient.
2. SHORT SUMMARY
The various considerations now set forth can be summarized and enforced by other verses of general application. The Scriptures teach that God is a God of knowledge. The words of I Samuel 2:3 are, “The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is the Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.”
In case a reader thinks that all this belabors the obvious, it is to be noted that some ministers and theologians have become so confused about predestination that they have denied omniscience. It may be that later on this reader will be tempted to suppose that there are some things God does not and cannot know. Attributing ignorance to God enables us to escape some objections to predestination; but this escape costs the sovereignty, the omniscience, the wisdom, even the deity of God. Therefore the purpose of “belaboring the obvious,” of heaping up the scriptural material on God’s knowledge, is to prevent any such disastrous misunderstanding of predestination. The reader should ask himself, Does not the preceding material, plus the details about to follow, show fully and completely that God knows everything?
It is hard to say whether people who have difficulty with predestination are more troubled with God’s foreknowledge of the thoughts and intents of man’s heart or with his knowledge of non-human details. The latter are not so important to us as the former, but nevertheless one paragraph at least should be inserted somewhere to show God’s knowledge of inanimate particulars. One such item is God’s knowledge of the starry host of heaven. This knowledge is mentioned several times in the Bible. For example, God brought Abraham into the open and said, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them” (Gen. 15:5). What Abraham could not do (for Jeremiah 33:22 says, “The host of heaven cannot be numbered” by man at any rate) God can do, for “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). To this verse, add “He calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power” (Isaiah 40:26).
It is interesting to note in this last phrase that God’s knowledge seems dependent on his power. In the next sub-section on the nature of God’s knowledge, this will be discussed. At the moment it is sufficient to end this short summary by concluding that the Bible most clearly teaches that God knows all things.
3. THE NATURE OF GOD’S KNOWLEDGE
In the discussion on providence, just above, it was said that the word etymologically refers to seeing things, and more definitely refers to seeing things ahead of time. John 6:64 says, “But there are some of you that believe not; for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” The phrase “from the beginning” might mean only from the time these people began to follow him. Or, it might mean from the beginning of man’s history. Or it might mean from eternity, in the same sense in which the Apostle says, “In the beginning was the Word.” Since the Old Testament prophesies that Christ should be betrayed, it would seem that this knowledge antedated Judas’ birth. When compared with other verses, this one most probably means that Jesus knew from all eternity. God’s knowledge is eternal.
If God’s knowledge were not eternal, then he must have learned something at some time. And if he learned it, he must have previously been ignorant of it. And if he had been ignorant and learned something, why could he not forget some things after a while?
However, God neither learns nor forgets. “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). I Corinthians 2:11 says, “What man knows the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” This verse indicates, what is otherwise not surprising, that God knows himself; and if God is eternal and uncreated, the original Self Existent, then his knowledge of himself must be eternal.
The phrase that refers to God as “declaring the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10), and the verse “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18) indicate the eternity of divine knowledge. If anyone should insist that the words “from the beginning of the world” push back God’s knowledge only to the date of creation, a reply has already been noted in God’s knowledge of himself and in his eternal freedom from ignorance. Another reply will be given at the beginning of the next chapter.
Perhaps a verse should be included to show that God is eternal. If he were not eternal, then of course his knowledge would not be eternal. Now, the doctrine of creation ex nihilo presupposes the eternity of God, but a particular verse is “The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” (Isa. 57:15); as also Genesis 21:33, “the everlasting God”; Psalm 90:2, “even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God”; Psalm 102:26-27, “They shall perish . . . but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end”; and I Timothy 1:17, “the King eternal.”
At the end of the last sub-section there was a verse connecting God’s knowledge with his power. He knows because he is omnipotent. In fact, there are several verses that connect God’s knowledge and his power. This is to be expected if we keep in mind that God and his power are eternal. When as yet there was nothing, and only God existed, God knew all things. Obviously this knowledge came out of or resided in himself. He could not have derived it from anything else, for there was nothing else. It was really self-knowledge, for his knowledge of the universe was his knowledge of his own intentions, his own mind, his own purposes and decisions.
In philosophical language this means that God’s knowledge is not empirical. He does not discover the truth. He always has the truth. The point is rather important, and it has important bearings on predestination. Let us say it over again for one more paragraph.
If God is indeed as the Bible describes him, with eternal self-knowledge, by which he creates and controls every particular in the world, obviously God’s knowledge depends on himself and not on created things. God’s knowledge is self-originated; he does not learn from any outside source. Note that Proverbs 8:22 says, “The Lord possessed me from the beginning of his way.” And the idea is repeated and reinforced in the immediately following verses. This shows that God did not learn about me from observing me. It does not say that God knows me from the beginning of my way, but from the beginning of his way. So too Isaiah 40:13 says, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel and who instructed him . . . and taught him knowledge.” Therefore God is the source of his omniscience. He does not learn from things: his knowledge depends on himself alone and is as eternal as he is.…
This simple escape is simply an escape from God and the Bible. The verses selected for this chapter are only a few that could have been used to show that God knows everything; but they are more than enough to make the point. No one can now deny that the Bible teaches God’s omniscience. But as has just slightly been seen in the last paragraph, these verses yield further implications, which with the help of additional passages will take us the next step on our way. It has to do with God’s eternal decree. (4)
Gordon H. Clark, at the time he wrote this article, was professor philosophy at Butler University, and since 1945, head of that department. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and earned his Ph.D. at that institution, continuing his graduate studies in the Sorbonne, Paris. Prior to his appointment at Butler University, Dr. Clark taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Wheaton College.
Dr. Clark’s major publications include: A Christian Philosophy of Education, A Christian View of Men and Things, What Presbyterians Believe, Thales to Dewey, James and Dewey (Modern Thinkers Series), The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God, Peter Speaks Today, Karl Barth’s Theological Method, and Religion, Reason and Revelation. In 1968, Ronald H. Nash edited The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark, a Festschrift in his honor. Dr. Clark is the editor of the University Series (Philosophical Studies) of the Craig Press.
A web site dedicated to Gordon H. Clark is listed below and well as the Trinity Foundation that published many books by Gordon H. Clark.
Surely, man cannot claim to share this attribute!
“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalms 147:5)
The goal of this study is to help us magnify the Lord God for his marvelous grace that made us children of God through no merit of our own. It is my prayer that this goal has been attained.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Nothing in us caused or merited this supreme act of love on God’s part!
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1650-1651.
2. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 520.
3. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘OMNISCIENCE,’” “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2191-2192.
4. Gordon H. Clark, Predestination chapter on Omniscience, (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 1969), p. 31-46.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)
“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com
For more study:
* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes: http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/
** CARM Theological Dictionary: https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ctd.html
Omniscience by C. H. Spurgeon: http://www.romans45.org/spurgeon/sermons/0085.htm
The Omniscience of God by John Gill: https://www.monergism.com/omniscience-god-1
The Gordon H. Clark Foundation http://gordonhclark.reformed.info/
The Trinity Foundation http://www.trinityfoundation.org/