The Attributes of God: The Knowledge of God

“God is omniscient. He knows everything: everything possible, everything actual; all events and all creatures, of the past, the present, and the future.  He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven, in earth and in hell.”  (Pink, p. 21)

“For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.” (Ezekiel 11:5)

How do these two truths affect your actions and your view of God?  It should affect us (mankind) a great deal if we contemplated them on a regular basis.  As it is, mankind is separated into two spheres: God’s redeemed children and God’s enemies.  For God’s enemies, these truths are readily rejected and as Pink stated, “Men would strip Deity of His omniscience if they could…”  This is because we’re naturally wired to oppose God in every measure and don’t want to feel the weight of guilt and shame.  But man will never have this “luxury”. Psalm 90:8 says,

 

You have set our sins before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

 

Man cannot escape from the knowledge and the all seeing eye of God.  

For the redeemed, Pink said God’s omniscience should bring much comfort. Why?  For the Lord knows all things and has a covenantal love with His children.  When we doubt, He knows and is readily available to assure us. When we are wearied, He knows that we are but dust and strengthens us by His might.  Even when we find it difficult to pray, His omniscience trumps our difficulties. Isaiah 65:24 assures us that:

Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.

 

Another reason the believer can rest in God’s knowledge is because God’s will is not contingent on man or secondary causes. Remember from chapter 2, God decreed all that has happened, what is happening now, and what will happen. The future is not only known by Him, but designed by Him.  Recorded and fulfilled prophecies readily point us to this fact.  We can’t think that future events just happen on their own accord and God simply has knowledge of them. To think that is to reduce the supremacy & sovereignty of God.  Pink logically states, “The cause of all things is the will of God.”  Psalm 33:10-11 says,

10The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
   he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
   the plans of his heart to all generations.
 

This is the grounds of His omniscience! What will be has been from eternity past because the Great I Am is!  

So what should our response be to His perfect knowledge? We should be amazed. We should be humbled. We should worship. We should grow in our confidence and trust.

Pink closes this chapter by saying, “He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me.”

What love this is! 

Grace & Peace,

d.

The Attributes of God: The Decrees of God

“The decree of God is his purpose or determination with respect to future things.” (Pink, p.15)

Open Theism is a position held by some that deals with the knowledge of future things.  Moderate Open Theists will claim that God knows the future, but voluntarily limits His knowledge of the “free choices” of man to preserve man’s freedom.  Hyper Open Theists claim that the future is unknowable, even by God, because the future is non-existent.  Both of these positions are unbiblical and problematic for numerous reasons, which we will soon see.

In my first installment, one of the characteristics of God that was listed was God’s eternal nature. Eternity is no respecter of the dimension of time. Therefore, God is not bound by time.  “In the beginning, God…” (Gen. 1:1a)  He eternally exists outside of time and has created time.  This remains to be a difficult reality for us to grasp because our very existence is bound in time and in many ways defined by it. We are limited by the Limitless One.

God has disclosed to us in His Word that He acts according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11).  He consults no one about His will and He has purposed to glorify Himself in all that He decrees.  He will not let the exaltation of His Name ultimately be left in the hands of creatures.  Because He is eternal, His decrees are eternal.  With respect to His decree, we see this most clearly in the death of Christ.  The LORD spoke through Isaiah in the 53rd chapter,

10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes
an offering for guilt, 

It was the will of the LORD to crush him. It was the decree of God the Father to crush His Son, Jesus, for the atonement of His people. Luke records for us in Acts 2:22-23, 

22“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

The crucifixion of Jesus was according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, though done by the hands of lawless men.  God decreed Jesus’ death and the method by which he would die before time, and in time Jesus died exactly how the Father decreed it.  God always accomplishes His will. 

* To say God doesn’t know the future is to deny God’s omniscience.

* To say God doesn’t know the future is to deny God’s omnipresence. 

* To say God doesn’t decree all things is to deny His sovereignty, wisdom and omnipotency.

To believe in that kind of god leaves us hopeless and living in a world predicated by fate and chance. 

Believer, continually be comforted by Romans 8:28.

d.

The Attributes of God: The Solitariness of God

Recently, I outlined an extra-biblical reading list for the remainder of 2011 to aid in keeping my mind and heart focused and sharpened against the desires of my flesh, the world and the devil.  However, my reading is not only as a means of defense, but also to aid in serving the brethren and engaging the lost.  My goal is to read key works on the basics such as Theology Proper (the study of God), Christology (the study of Christ), Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit), Soteriology (the study of salvation), Ecclesiology (the study of the church), Eschatolology (the study of last things), personal holiness and the like.

Today, was the beginning of my trek and I started with a A.W. Pink’s classic book, The Attributes of God. I started with “Theology Proper” because it establishes the foundation and interpretation of all other reading since everything stems from the nature, character and will of God.  Without a proper knowledge of God, the source of all truth, we abandon ourselves to lies and continue to lay bricks for the road of destruction.

In the preface, Pink starts by quoting Scripture:

23Thus says the LORD:”Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me,…” (Jeremiah 9:23-24a)

Do we understand and know the Lord as we ought?  Do we possess that desire?  If we’re honest, we’ll answer that we don’t.  Much to our dismay, we are unjustifiably preoccupied by lesser things; some necessary and some unnecessary.  Plus, we’re in a lifelong battle of killing the sin in our hearts that vies strongly against God.  However, we are not without power.  We have the Holy Spirit who testifies of Christ and allows us to cry out “Abba! Father!”, as reconciled and adopted sons and daughters.  Therefore, we should strive in His power and by His strength to endeavor to grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

Pink begins the first chapter, The Solitariness of God, by declaring people generally don’t meditate on the perfections of God; namely His solitariness or His essence of being untouchably distinct or separate from all of His creation.  Because we were created in the likeness and in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), there is the ability to understand some particular things about God because we share certain qualities.  These are commonly referred to as communicable attributes.  Some of these are love, grace, mercy, holiness, righteousness, and justice.  However, His solitariness is something we cannot share in, nor understand apart from the help of the Spirit.

Consider how the Holy Spirit moved Moses to speak of God in Exodus 15:11:

11“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
   Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
   awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

These questions rhetorically speak of God’s unmatched character and excellency.  Consider a few more observations Pink made concerning the solitariness of God.

  • There was a time when creation, even heaven, didn’t exist, but God’s glory did because He is from everlasting.
  • There was a time when angels, nor humans were praising Him and He was still altogether wonderful.
  • He is self-contained, self-sufficient, and  self-satisfied.
  • He was under no compulsion to create out of necessity or deficiency.
  • He created all things simply to display His glory.
  • God could’ve very well chosen not to create and He still would be The Perfect One.

Perhaps one the most humbling observations  Pink made was that God gains nothing from our worship as it pertains to His intrinsic worth.  What Pink is saying is that God’s glory and worth isn’t contingent on our praise or adoration.  Surely, we are called to praise Him, which Pink terms our praise as manifestative glory, but not intrinsic glory.  God’s glory isn’t increased or diminished by any outside agency’s recognition, acceptance or rejection of Him. He is altogether lovely!  We are very small.  He is big!  Ponder Isaiah 40:9-31.

Behold your God!

Grace & Peace,

d.