WHAT ABOUT GOD SERMON SERIES
WHAT DOES HE KNOW?
JANUARY 15, 1995
Bryan Brooks was his name. He sat in the first row of my second grade class in Taylor Elementary school in Greenville, South Carolina. Bryan was the first know-it-all I ever met. In fact, every time a teacher would ask a question, Bryan’s hand would be the first hand in the air. He always seemed to know everything. Even if he didn’t have a clue about a subject, he would kind of go on and on. We all thought that Bryan Brooks knew everything.
The Bible says there is only one know-it-all in the universe and that is the great God whose attributes we have been studying in this brand new series “What About God.” Today we are going to talk about the omniscience of God, the fact that God knows everything. A couple of years ago a renowned theologian was asked this question: What in your opinion is the greatest need among church-going people? The theologian responded by saying that the greatest need among church-going people was for them to understand the character of God. He went on to say that if they really understood Who it was they were serving, it would change the very course of their lives.
This observer went on to ask the theologian yet another question. What in your opinion is the greatest need of non-churched, irreligious people? He responded by saying that the greatest need among the irreligious is for them to discover the true identity of God, for them to know Who it is they have been rebelling against, Who it is they have been warring against. Because if they knew Who it was, that omniscient God out there, they would call a truce and get to know Him in a personal way.
Omniscience. The omniscience of God. The word “omni” means all; the word “science” refers to knowledge. A definition is this: God’s perfect knowledge of all things both actual and potential. So when you hear the word “omniscience,” think about God’s perfect knowledge of all things both actual and potential. You can’t throw a surprise party for God. God does not have to remember because He never forgets. He doesn’t have to project into the future because He holds the future. He has a categorical understanding of all the mysteries of geology, kinesiology, sociology, psychology, biology. He knows it all. He depends on no one outside of Himself for knowledge. His knowledge is intrinsic. It is built into the very fabric and framework of who God is.
Think about your life. You spend a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of effort, a lot of faith banking on the fact that people outside you know information. And you trust your life on that information. You go to the doctor. The doctor writes you a prescription. You run to the pharmacist, the pharmacist fill the prescription. And then you just swallow the pills. I doubt that you look and read the credentials of the pharmacist. You don’t take the medication and examine all the elements that make up the medicine. You just take it. You put your life in the hands of the pharmacist who knows more than you know. God never, ever does that. God knows because He is God.
I am so happy that God made Himself knowable. I am so happy that God did not play cosmic hide and seek and leave clues about His character behind distant planets. God tells us in His word that if we study His book, if we read it, we will receive a clear picture of who He is. And over the last couple of weeks we have taken a little aspect of God’s character—last week the omnipresence, this week the omniscience—and we are painting a picture. At the end of this series we will own a masterpiece that money cannot buy. We will have developed a clear, pristine picture of God. Sit back just for a couple of moments and listen to some fascinating scripture verses about the omniscience of God.
Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give an account.”
Matthew 10:29, “Not one sparrow will fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father.” R. J. Lee said this: “God is the only one who attends the funeral of a sparrow.”
Matthew 10:30, “The very hairs on your head are numbered.” For some of us that is an easy count. This verse is not saying or implying that God sat back and said “Okay, there is one hair, Ed. Oh, oh, there is a grey hair, Ed. Four, five…one hundred thousand, one hundred thousand and one.” God does not have to do that. He knows because He is God.
Psalm 147:5, “His understanding has no limit.” That is why in eternity when we will be with God, we will never run out of knowledge because we never run out of God. Never. Our God is omniscient. He knows everything.
Psalm 139:1 says this, “Oh, Lord You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise.” You’re talking about mundane activities. Don’t ever say, “Well God is not concerned about my little business transaction or this math exam coming up tomorrow.” God knows when I sit and when I rise.
The Bible says, “You perceive, God, my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down.” And a lot of you are saying, “This is amazing. We serve a great God. He is omniscient. I might congratulate God. I might applaud God. This is phenomenal. Let’s give God a trophy.”
Before you get into that let me do a quick time out. I want you to turn to your neighbor before I read Psalm 139:3 and say this: “Buckle your seat belts, baby.” Say it to your neighbor. Okay, Psalm 139:3. Are you ready? “You are familiar with all of my ways.” God is familiar with all of my ways. This sinner’s ways. My motivations, my inconsistencies. God is familiar with all of my ways. I love to talk about God being familiar with geology and anthropology and psychology and all the other –ologies. But when it gets personal, when His omniscience invades my being, my spirit, I kind of get hot under the collar. I begin to kind of shift back and forth. I want to change the subject. God knows everything about me.
It is kind of like the story I heard this week about a wealthy grandfather. The wealthy grandfather was going deaf and he decided to go to a doctor. The doctor fit him with a hearing aid and assured him that the hearing aid would not only improve his hearing, but that he would actually be able to hear perfectly. The wealthy grandfather was very pleased. A month later he goes back to the doctor for another checkup and the doctor asked if his family was pleased with his new hearing aid. The old man looked at the doctor and said, “Doc, I have not told them about the hearing aid. I have just been sitting around listening to conversations. In fact, Doc, I have changed my will twice now.”
When we think no one knows, our behavior is not affected. And today the goal of this message from the word of God is to get you to understand and grasp the fact that God knows everything. And because God knows everything, it should affect the way we act, walk, talk, and think. Just think, you can walk out of the doors of this Arts Center a liberated and free person knowing about God’s omniscience. And this can motivate you to be a better person.
I want to talk to you in the brief moments that remain about three aspects of God’s omniscience that you need to know. First, God knows about all of my ways. The first aspect of God’s omniscience, God knows about all of my ways. He is intimately aware of all of my ways. There is some good news about that and then there is some bad news about that. Let’s first talk about the bad news. Here is the bad news: God is familiar with all of my sin, sins I have committed in the past, sins I will commit today, and sins I will commit 15, 20, 40 years from now, if I eat properly.
In the fifth grade I fell in love with the sport of fishing. My father was kind enough to take Ben and I down to K-Mart and buy us brand new rods and reels. He bought one for Ben, he bought one for me, he bought one for himself. He took us home and he showed us how to use the rod and reel in the little lake across the street from our house. Then he tells me this: “Son, this is your Dad’s rod and reel. You can use it any time you want to if you first ask me. And I am going to put it here in the top of my closet so you will know where it is.” For some reason he looked at me and not my brother.
Anyway. About a month later a friend of mine comes over and my friend asks to go fishing. I wanted to impress my friend and I said, “Hey, you’ve got one rod and reel, I’ve got two. I’m like those professional fishermen you watch. You wait here.” So I run and climb up in my father’s closet and take the rod and reel out. I come out of the house with two rod and reels. I said, “Let’s go after the trophy bass.” We go down to the lake. We get in our Little John boat. We were fishing with minnows, and I though I would be the master angler. I put a minnow on my rod and reel and a minnow on my father’s rod and reel. I put them in the boat and engaged in conversation with my friend.
All of a sudden I see the cork begin to bob, bob. There isn’t a better sight is there, than that cork kind of going down. Boom. And I pick up my rod and reel. Whoa! A nice bass. He is jumping. And suddenly out of my peripheral vision I look and I see my father’s rod, with the speed of light hit the water. We are at the deepest point of the lake—about 30 feet. I watch it sink. Gone. I begin to freak out. Oh, no. This is bad. And we kind of dragged the pond with hooks and lures. We could not get it. So I thought I would just neglect to tell him. I just won’t tell him. He doesn’t like to fish that much anyway and I don’t know, he will probably think that my brother messed around with it or something. He will forget about it.
That night he comes home for dinner. Every time he kind of looked toward the lake I though, “Oh no, here it goes.” Weeks go by and I began to kind of perpetuate the sham by doing the Watergate thing and covering everything up. I felt guilty. But then I thought, no one knows. My friend, he won’t say a word. My brother doesn’t know. I’m fine.
One day, though, I couldn’t take it any more, living with this guilt, and I walked in and said, “Dad, I want to tell you something. I took your rod and reel and it is in the bottom of the lake. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” Dad started to kind of laugh at me. He said, “Son, I knew that the rod and reel was gone and you took it. I just wanted to see how long it would take for you to come clean. I forgive you.” And he hugged me. He said, “Don’t worry about it. Just ask me the next time.”
How many of you right now are in that same predicament, that same situation, but dealing with another sin. You think that no one knows, no one saw. You are trying to cover it up. You are trying to cover your tracks. You are trying to explain it away, but you know the guilt is there. It could be a big thing or a little thing. You know the sin is there. You can leave this place free, liberated, the way I felt when I walked out of the den having talked to my father. He was off my back. The Lord wants you to confess that sin, that rebellion to Him, to come clean. Won’t you do it?
The bad news is, God knows about your sins. The good news is, He is ready to forgive you. He even knows you are going to sin. He knows about your sin better than you do, yet He wants to forgive you. The plot thickens, though. Luke 22:31, here is what Jesus said one day to Peter. You know Simon Peter. You’re talking about a big time fisherman. That was Simon Peter. This man was something else. He said to Simon Peter during the last supper, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith might not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brother.” In the next verse Peter replies something like this, “You’ve got the wrong men. I am your man. I am The man. I will die with you. I will go to prison with you.” And Jesus looks at him and predicts that in the next several hours Peter will deny that he ever knew Him. And Peter did. He denied Jesus.
Have you ever wondered what Jesus is doing right now for you and for me? What is Jesus doing? You know what He is doing? He is doing exactly what He told Peter He was doing in Luke 22:31. Praying. Jesus is praying for Ed in heaven right now. Jesus is praying for Lisa in heaven right now. Jesus is praying for Bill in heaven right now. Jesus is. Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him because he always lives to intercede for them.” I don’t know about you but that fires me up. Jesus in His omniscience is praying for me in heaven, even though He knows Ed Young will mess up, fumble the ball, rebel against God. He is still praying for me because he wants to keep me from doing as much wrong as possible. And he wants to forgive me and to love me and to extend His grace to me. John 21, Jesus forgave and restored Peter. Even in His omniscience in Luke 22, He knew he would fall, but He still restored him. And look what happened to the life of Peter. God knows about all of my ways.
Secondly, God also knows about all of my wounds. If you think about your life physically, if you live on the planet for very long, you are going to get physical wounds, little nicks and scrapes and cuts. You live relationally and you are going to get wounded—maybe by your parents, maybe by your spouse, maybe by a wayward child, maybe by some friends. I don’t know. God, though, in His omniscience, He knows your wounds. He is familiar with your ways, but He also knows your wounds. Here is what the Bible says in Psalm 56:8: “The Lord has taken account of my life.” God knows my life. He has searched me. He knows every wound that I deal with.
Have you ever gotten into a situation where you are trying to communicate with someone and you just are not communicating? You feel misunderstood. That is a frustrating feeling, isn’t it? I hate doing that. God says, “Don’t worry about that. I understand in My omniscience.” Have you ever had a dashed dream or maybe a business failure? Or maybe you have gone through a divorce. Or maybe you have gone through a relationship that was so intimate and suddenly it was ripped apart. And you have shed tears alone. Have you ever done that before? I have experienced that. I have cried by myself. And I say, “No body knows, my tears will fall aimlessly here to the ground.” Let me continue reading Psalm 56:8, “The Lord has taken account of my life. (Put your name in there, Ed’s life, or Lisa’s life or Jill’s life or Bill’s life) and has put my tears in a bottle.”
God has put my tears in a bottle. I have never shed a tear that has dropped aimlessly to the ground. And there is a little bottle somewhere that says “Ed’s Tears” and God has caught every one. He knows. God knows in His omniscience.
Isaiah 65:24, “Before they will call I will answer, while they are still speaking, I will hear.” I have done this before. I have prayed to God but just didn’t know what to say to Him. “I cannot articulate the phrases, God. I can’t express myself. I cannot really connect with you.” We have all felt that way before. I have also wondered how God could concern Himself with my needs when He is trying to concern Himself with the needs of billions around the world. In God’s omniscience, it is like He is hearing just my prayer or just your prayer. And even when we don’t know what to say, the Bible assures us that before we ask, God will answer. God knows about your wounds.
The third aspect of God’s omniscience, God also knows about your secret works. I am talking about good works you do in private, behind the scenes, incognito. Do you ever get tired of doing things that are kind of good and righteous but no one really sees them? Am I the only one who gets weary in well doing? That patient spouse. That nice parent. That person who extends his hand to the poor. I like to do that, but between you and me, I like it better when people can see it, you know. Don’t you? And sometimes we say, “What’s the use. No one sees, I can just do nothing.” The Bible says, God sees. And men, it seems that we fall into this trap more than women. We need to be congratulated. The heavy hand on the back or the little kiss. “Yea, I’m a man. I did that act of service.”
This past week as I was preparing this message my wife was kind enough to bring lunch to my office Thursday. Thursday is usually the day when I study from sun-up to sundown. I broke for lunch and we were eating in my office. And I said, “Lisa, did you look at the bed this morning?” The second day in a row I made the bed up. Here I was studying about this stuff and I couldn’t stand it. I had to have her approval. Men, especially men, I want to give you a verse that you need to take home. Matthew 6:4, “Our Father Who sees in secret will repay.” God is a cosmic observer. Think about your life as a theater and the theater is empty except for God. When God looks at the secret acts of service, when God sees my good works behind the scenes, when He sees me bite my tongue instead of perpetuating the rumor, when He sees me give that sacrificial gift to the church, He is saying, “Ed, I see it. Hey, my child, I see it. Bravo. That is the way a person who knows Me should act. I am watching and I am going to repay you one day. Great. You are doing well. You are doing wonderfully.” The omniscience of God. His all-knowingness.
I will conclude today’s message the way I concluded last week’s message. Last week I said that God is everywhere. I talked about the omnipresence of God. This week I’ve talked about the omniscience of God. God knows everything. God knows everything. God knows everything. When are you going to live like it?