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What Does It Mean that God is Omniscient?

  • Betsy St. Amant Haddox
What Does It Mean that God is Omniscient?

One of the most comforting elements of God’s character is His omniscience.

Omniscient means “having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.”

God created all things, controls all things, and knows all things. Nothing slips through His grasp or past His awareness, ever. It’s literally impossible—and for Christians, this should be an immense source of hope and trust for us. We tend to try to control our surroundings and pretend to know things, yet, God actually does. So by His grace, we can drop the heavy mantle of our futile attempts and trust the One who is truly omniscient.

Here are five important—and reassuring—things to remember about God’s omniscience.

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1. Nothing takes God by surprise.

This seems like an elementary principle, but it’s an important one to remember when we ponder God’s character. Because of His omniscience, God is never surprised. Think about it—no one can jump out at Him and say “boo!” Nothing can ever catch Him off guard. He never wrings His hands and thinks “what now?” He already knows. He already knew. And not because He saw ahead and figured it out, and is anxiously trying to stay on top of things and “work them for good,” ala Romans 8:28. No, He didn’t “see it coming” —He ordained it. Because His omniscience comes with omnipotence (the quality of having unlimited or very great power) and omnipresence (the state of being widespread or constantly encountered). God is good. God sees. God knows.

Hebrews 4:13, “And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

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2. God comprehends the whole story at once.

As limited, sinful humans, we only see the present. Not only do we view a limited picture that largely tends to focus around just us, but we also tend to misunderstand the past and fear the future. God doesn’t do any of that. He sees the entire tapestry while we’re tangled up on one single thread. He sees and comprehends all sides of every angle, for all people, for all time—and has it all planned out.

This fact can be a very comforting truth when we get stuck on the “why’s” in the valleys of our lives. We don’t have to know because He knows. Our job is to trust. Be reassured in His omniscience. That doctor’s report you didn’t see coming? God did. That divorce that snuck up and swept your legs out from under you? God knew. That temptation that knocked on your door? That friend that hurt you? That child that strayed? God knew. God knows. He is faithful, and we can trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense to our limited understanding.

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"We don’t have to know because He knows. Our job is to trust."

Think about when you fly in an airplane—you don’t know how to operate the plane. You don’t stand behind the pilot, anxiously viewing all of the controls, grasping for this handle or itching to push this button. You sit in your seat, with your seatbelt on, and drink a soda while the one who has the knowledge flies the plane. If you’re trying to take over the cockpit today, take a deep breath. Pour a Coke. And trust the One who knows all things.

1 John 3:18-20, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 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.”

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3. God never learns.

How fascinating is that? It blows my mind to think that God never learns anything new. He doesn’t obtain His knowledge through any source but Himself—there is never an aha moment with the Lord. He, Himself, is the aha, and all knowledge that we ever receive is from Him.

It’s equally amazing to realize that God’s knowledge is simultaneous, not sequential. He knew all at once—the information wasn’t given to Him in pieces. He already had it, from the beginning. The way the Earth would spin on its axis. The way the butterfly’s wings would be designed. The way your frayed emotions would one day cause you to say those hurtful words to your spouse. The way food would grow from dirt and fruit would blossom on trees. The way your body would stretch and expand and one day deliver a child. The way that child would grow and develop into a young adult. He knew it all, at once. 

Psalm 139:1-4, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.”

Psalm 44:21, “Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.”

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4. God is infallible.

One of the best parts of God’s amazing character is that He is infallible. Our Heavenly Father is literally incapable of error. This is why we can trust Him in His omniscience—He can’t mess up! You and I make mistakes daily, sometimes even hourly—yet, He never does. Not even once. This is incredibly reassuring. When we can’t trust ourselves or our loved ones, we can trust the Lord. He is incapable of lying, deceiving, or breaking His word. It’s hard for us to fully grasp the enormity of that truth and that promise, but when we do, it changes everything. Let your heart be filled with gratitude to the One Who never sleeps, never tires, and best of all—never changes.

Numbers 23:19, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

Isaiah 40:28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired; His understanding is inscrutable.”

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5. God loves us and chose us, in spite of knowing everything about us.

This truth is the ultimate example of unconditional love. Nothing is hidden or secret from the Lord, and yet, He still sent His son Jesus to die on the cross in our place. All of those sins you committed in the past and all of the ones you still have yet to commit in the future, He knew about, in detail and didn’t change His mind. 

One of the deepest fears of a woman’s heart is that she will be known and rejected. That she will be considered “not enough,” or perhaps even worse—she’ll be considered “too much.” Not good enough, not pretty enough, too hard to handle, too emotional, too dramatic, etc. But God knew all of that about us—He knew our tendency to overreact, knew our fears, our addiction, our sinful hearts—and He loved us enough to die for us. There’s nothing more beautiful or more comforting than this pure illustration of unconditional love.

Psalm 139:1-3, "O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways."

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"Because of His perfect love, we can love others."

Because of His perfect love, we can love others. Because of His sacrifice, we can live with Him forever in Heaven. Because of His perfect gift, we’re forgiven and can move forward covered by the blood of Christ, without shame or blemish. He knew it all, and loved us anyway. There’s nothing more freeing—and nothing more worthy of our deepest gratitude and praise—than that truth. Because of God’s omniscience, we have the Gospel. We have Christ. We have atonement.

1 John 4:19"We love because He first loved us."

Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fourteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com./