God’s Attributes … of Knowledge

The ATTRIBUTES of God which demonstrate His control, authority, and presence are:  LOVEKNOWLEDGE, and POWER.  Last time, we looked at God’s attribute of love, seen in His allegiance, affection and action.

Today we dive into God’s attribute of KNOWLEDGE, which from a purely Biblical view must include: SPEECH, TRUTH and WISDOM.

When we think of SPEECH as a divine attribute we must make an important distinction here.  The Supreme Being of the Bible (God) is the only divine being that communicates truth about Himself to His creatures.  In polytheistic religions (many gods) the gods do speak, but none is the supreme being.  In Hinduism while there is a supreme being, he is silent.  Speech happens between two persons and that’s what makes this attribute of God such a blessing to us.  God speaks to us.  God desires to help us know Him, and His knowledge, in our own minds and in our hearts.

TRUTH in scripture is found in three contexts.  First, God is the truth.  In other words He is the true God and not a false god [Jeremiah 10:9-10; 1 John 5:20].  In the Bible God always speaks the truth.  God never lies, never makes a mistake in His speech [Titus 1:2].  And finally, God does the truth (action) representing Himself as the God of all goodness and love  – Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Regarding God’s attribute of knowledge (generally) the Bible clearly represents God as omniscient (all-knowing).  Here’s just a few verses as a reference point:

  • Psalm 147:4
  • John 21:17
  • Hebrews 4:12-13
  • 1 John 5:20

In addition to knowing all things, God also understands all things, even to discerning (knowing) the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. (all of us!)  The deduction we make from this knowledge is that everything happens by His wise plans, since He knows all.

There is a group of people today called “open theists” who say God does NOT know the future completely and exhaustively as I suggest here.  Some go on to say that God makes mistakes all the time in saying what will happen.  In Deuteronomy 18:21-22 there is a prophet’s test.  Simply put, if a prophet’s words prove false… they can’t come from God, since God is never wrong about the future or anything else.  We might simply extend this test then to God.  In Isaiah 41:21-23, this great prophet speaks God’s words challenging the ancient false gods of the surrounding peoples to predict the future, all the while, knowing they cannot do it.  Only God knows what is going to happen.

Open theists say God is ignorant, using scripture itself to assign this charge.  As a proof-text, they use Genesis 18:20-21 which says “Then the Lord said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’

“See,” they say, “if God is all-knowing, why is He suggesting here He needs to find out for Himself?”  Is God ignorant in this passage?

They have lifted this verse “out of context” because the point of the story where it is found, is about Abraham praying for God to spare these cities.  Abraham bargains with God, “will you save the cities if only 50 righteous men can be found?  How about 40?  20? 10?” And God’s reply is always, “yes.”  “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”… ““For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  It was never about God being ignorant, it was about God KNOWING there were not 10 righteous men to be found in all of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Being truth, and having all-knowledge then leads to God’s KNOWLEDGE attribute of WISDOM.  Wisdom is that enhanced form of knowledge that takes all the strands of information, understands the significance of each one, and relates them into a practical relevance or application.  We might label this as it is in my Bible: the Doxology.

Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever!
Amen.

One last reminder for today…

Everything the Bible reveals about God, remains true about JESUS!  He is God.

As God is love, knowledge and wisdom… so is Jesus.

Next time we’ll examine God’s attribute of POWER.

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God’s Attributes

Our foundational theme is: God is in control, God has absolute authority, and He has promised His Presence with us forever [see: A Simple View of God].  These three tenets form our belief that God is LORD of all, including us.  In order to know Him better, God acts through miracles, providence, creation, and His authoritative decrees.  This may all be a little abstract for you, but hang in there with me.  Because God doesn’t want us to just study theology, He actually wants us to KNOW Him personally.  He has also revealed His attributes through this whole process.  Each of these attributes correspond to the three tenets discussed already.  The ATTRIBUTES which demonstrate control, authority, and presence are:  LOVE, KNOWLEDGE, and POWER.

Today we’ll focus on LOVE.

John the apostle wants there to be no mistake…

1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

John is emphatic:  God is LOVE!!! [He wrote it twice in 8 verses]

The Old Testament uses many different terms to describe God’s ethical characteristics including: goodness, grace, covenant faithfulness (Hebrew: hesed), righteousness, justice, and finally, yes, LOVE!  All these terms have nuance within the passages where we find them.

When we find God’s love, we see: allegiance, affection, and ACTION!  Isn’t it fun that these reflect our basic tenets about God as LORD [control, authority, presence].  Allegiance demonstrates God’s loyalty to HIS OWN WORDS of promise.  Affection is simply God’s emotional fondness for His creation [think John 3:16].  And action is God demonstrating His own love towards in that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us on the cross.  [Romans 5:8]

Here’s the thing…

God loves all His creation, and His creatures, even those who hate Him (His enemies).  Have you ever noticed the point of these verses:

  • Matthew 5:43-48
  • Genesis 18:25
  • John 3:16
  • 1 John 4:8-10

What each of these verses make very clear is that while we deserve death, that is not what God offers us.  In His death, Jesus got what we deserve, and when we trust Him as Savior and LORD, we get what we DO NOT deserve… HIS forgiveness, and life everlasting!  This is God’s love, goodness, grace, and righteousness in ACTION bringing us to salvation and redemption.

That said, it is also clear in the Bible that God is a wrathful God… a God of judgment.  You may not believe this but it actually says that God hates some people (the wicked: Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 25:16].  In fact until we trusted in Jesus, this would describe us as well [the wicked].  Paul says, [Ephesians 2:3]

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

About now you might be thinking… “How can God hate people if He is love? That makes no sense!”  Look at it through the lens of what we’ve already believed as basic tenets of faith.

Because God is LORD of ALL, He has the RIGHT to expect us to be faithful to Him, to do as He instructs, to keep His commands, and to receive His grace in Christ.  When we do not do this, we invoke God’s wrath.  And while God IS LOVE, don’t mistake that to mean that He is obligated in some way to distribute this love equally to all.

While God gives everyone sunshine and rain [Matthew 5:43-48], God has the authority to reserve His best blessings (forgiveness and grace) only for those who believe in His Son, sent to save mankind from their sin.  It is only when we receive Jesus that He calls us His own family, His children, with the rights and privileges of grace and redemption.

John 1:12
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–

God is love.  This love commands, and demands, that we believe in His name… the person, Jesus!

 

Next time, the attributes of Knowledge.

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