WHAT DOES GOD KNOW ANYWAY?

Kurt Dahlin, June 25, 2003

 

How long ago did God know what I would do today?How long ago did God know what he would do today?Does God ever not know what he will do?

 

God knows what I will do every day.God knows what he will do every day. This kind of knowledge is called foreknowledge. Foreknowledge means, ďto know in advance.Ē Predestination means, ďto decide, decree, foreordain, predetermine or appoint beforehand.Ē Predestination is not synonymous with foreknowledge.Predestination is what God does. Foreknowledge is what God knows. Predestination is only one aspect of Godís total knowledge. God knows infinitely more than he does. The predestination of earthly affairs represents but a small finite drop of Godís infinite knowledge. God knows immeasurably more than he foreordains. If God only knows what he predestines he is not omniscient. Even humans know more than what they do. Therefore, foreknowledge is not equivalent to predestination. God knows what will be as well as what could be.God know all contingencies. This is called middle knowledge.

 

Everything that God does must be, by nature, predetermined.God is never truly spontaneous.Everything that God does is predestined. Could God ever do something he didnít know he was going to do? Godís omniscience prohibits spontaneity. God has perfect knowledge of everything he would do from before the dawn of time.God must know all, before he can determine anything he will do. Foreknowledge must always precede predestination. Foreknowledge, as a part of omniscience, is an attribute of God. Predestination is something God does based on his foreknowledge. God does not do anything thoughtlessly, capriciously, arbitrarily or on whim.

 

God not only knows what is, but also what could be and what should be.He is infinite in the range of his knowing.If God only knows what he foreordains, God is not omniscient. To believe that God knows all things, even things that could be, does not mean that he is a harried bookkeeper. God is not a harried bookkeeper.God is omniscient and omnipotent.He is not stressed about anything.

 

God knows all my choices from before the foundation of the world and as such has prepared and provided for all my choices from before the foundation of the world. He has determined his eternal plan with me in mind. Yet, he has not determined my choices.My God is so powerful that he can allow real choice and still be sovereign.

 

Would God have known, before the foundation of the Earth, that I would receive his offer of saving grace?Sure!Godís knowledge of my choice doesnít make my choice an irresistible necessity. Godís knowledge of my choice does not violate my free will. God has established choice as the vehicle to receive his saving grace. Choice is the hand that reaches out to Godís grace. Godís knowledge of my choice for Jesus doesnít have anything to do with any argument against freewill.††

 

Calvinists say that freewill can negate Godís sovereignty. Calvinists are afraid of freewill. Calvinists think if man has freewill then God is not sovereign. Therefore, freewill is the chink in Godís armor. However, Godís knowledge of my choices does not render him less than sovereign.God is so omniscient that he would know my choices even if I had freewill.Freewill does not negate Godís sovereign knowledge of all things. Freewill cannot possibly negate Godís sovereignty. Nothing can negate Godís sovereignty. Adam had freewill before the fall in the Garden of Eden. God is still sovereign. Adamís freewill did not negate Godís sovereignty before or after the fall. God has omnipotently prepared for all manís choices from eternity past.Itís not a big deal.Itís not too hard for God.Really! Godís purposes are everlasting (Isa. 22:11; 37:26; 44:6-8; 46:10).

 


God does not need to take away the power of will and dictate my choices in order to ďknowĒ what I will do.As far as God is concerned, all my choices have already been made from before the foundation of the world. God does not wait to see what I will do before he knows and reacts to what I do.†† God is not in the dark about my choices. God has already, sovereignly and omnipotently, incorporated every choice of every human being into his purposes.My God is big enough to do this. God will use my choices for me or against me. God will use my choices to complete his eternal purposes. So then, all choices become a part of his predetermined plan. Our future is open. We truly script our own lives. Yet God is certain about all of it. God knows for certain what I will do without mandating what I do. Therefore, my actions have virtue or vice and I can make a real contribution to the world.

 

God superintends all events and nothing can prevent his omnipotent purposes.No one can prevent the events he has predicted (Pro. 19:21; 21:30).God is in absolute control at all times.God repents and even reverses his prior actions (Genesis 6:5; Jer. 18:8,10; 26:3, 13; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2).Yet, these reversals were also planned for from eternity. God has set up the parameters by which he will change his mind (Jer. 18:7-10; Acts 2:21). God deals with us as limited, finite beings: like little children. Nevertheless, his interaction with us does not limit his knowledge of the future as it would with a human parent.God is not a human. God sees the drama of life from start to finish. However, the drama must be played out in reality. God has already seen the movie. Yet, we are given the opportunity to act and react freely shaping our destinies.

 


God knows from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) that man will sin. Therefore, ďthe ChristĒ is also known as the Messiah, from before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).†† Before there was one sin, God made provision for sin (1 Peter 1:20).

 

Christ represents our provision. Therefore, provision had been made for sin, atonement and redemption before any of it ever actually happened.The only thing left to do is to live out all that God has provided for.Every event or decision is therefore an unfolding of the purpose of God. God has an eternal sovereign plan that will come to pass.Godís plan is big enough to incorporate the puny choices allowed to his dusty, earthly image (Gen. 2:27).

 

The omnipotent God is not merely an onlooker or observer of future events.God foreknows all things simply because he cannot help but foreknow all things.God even knows what he has not foreordained.There is an infinite range of things God knows beyond what he has determined.If I author a book . . . I know more than I put in the book.Godís knowledge is not limited to those things he has predestined.Foreknowledge does not wait to see what will happen.Godís knowledge is not restricted to his finite and temporal plans with Earth. God eternally knows all manís choices.As far as God is concerned, all manís choices have already been made from the foundation of the Earth.The outcome of every choice is foreknown from eternity. My God is big enough to do this.

 


God does not guess what choices men will make and then spontaneously adjust when he is wrong. God does not wish certain things would happen or guess that certain things would happen. God does not wish and guess like a finite human being. God uses his infinite knowledge to his advantage, purpose and plan. If I knew every roll of the dice or every turn of a card, I could put Las Vegas out of business. Those who wish and guess keep Las Vegas in business. God is not a loser. God is not a gambler. There can be no uncertainty with God, since God already foreknows all the choices of every man (Acts 15:18).Godís knowledge is infinite.Manís choices are finite and temporal in number and scope.All the thoughts of man are but a tiny grain of sand to God.There isnít anything that God does not or cannot know (Pro. 15:3). He certainly doesnít need any advice from us.

 

Godís knowledge of the choices of every person is already foreknown by him as a completed action.Godís purpose and strategy now incorporate all volition so that our choices become a necessary part of his plan.There is no chasm between sovereignty and freedom.God sovereignly allows freedom and sovereignly incorporates our foreknown decisions into his sovereign goals.Our freedom now becomes necessary to the fulfillment of Godís sovereign purposes.Since God foreknows all our choices with certainty, his absolute decrees and prophetic pronouncements will occur infallibly.Predestination of divine acts is consistent with human freedom.God does not predetermine our choices but our choices have already been determined by foreknowledge. Godís knowledge of the choices of mankind does not force or decree those choices one way or the other.The results of our choices are foreknown not predetermined or predestined. Godís foreknowledge of our free choices is not the cause of our choices.However, God knows the outcome of our choices infallibly. If I turn to the right, God knows. I could have turned to the left. The decision was mine to make. Our human world is open to endless possibilities. We are free only limited by our conditions and circumstances. We donít cease to be free to construct our destinies if God has foreknowledge of our choices. Our individual futures do not cease to be open if God has foreknowledge of all our choices. Godís foreknowledge, our free choices and predestination all work together as one cohesive unit: 3 in 1. Our futures are open and seem to us to be open to endless possibilities. Yet God knows the future as certain. God does not need to be ignorant of my future in order for my future to be open or free. God is not ignorant of anything.

 


There is a big difference between foreknowledge and predestination.Since our choices are foreknown, they necessarily and certainly become a vital part of Godís overall plan.However, our choices are not of necessity by divine decree.If divine necessity or sovereign decree makes my choices, then I have not really made a choice. If God determined all my choices as a puppeteer, he would be responsible for my choices to sin. If my choices are made by divine necessity, then any choice I make for evil, by necessity, would be a choice made by God for me.Calvinism makes God the author of evil by making God the cause of all effects. Calvinism creates a God with limited knowledge and powerless against choice.My God is omniscient and omnipotent. My God is not weakened or thwarted by freewill like the Calvinist God. My God is not thwarted by anything.

 

 

CONCLUSION

God knows all things from all eternity. Since God knows all things, including every decision that every person will make, God has planned from all eternity to complete his will and purpose, which includes manís free choices.God has integrated his foreknowledge of manís decisions into his will and purpose.

1. Satan will rebel--but God will crush his head.

2. Adam will fall--but God will redeem.

3. Pharaoh will harden his heart--but Israel will be set free.

4. Judas will betray Christ--but Christ will rise again.

5. Man will sin--but God will judge.

 


Nothing surprises God. God is not frantically scrambling about to pick up the pieces of manís choices. Since God knows all things before the foundation of the world--he has planned for all things before the foundation of the world. So that all things, even all our choices, are now become a part of his overall strategy. God does not wait to observe what man will do and then adjust and react spontaneously. God knows all and as such foreknows all. Therefore, Godís plan unfolds perfectly since he has anticipated the human element and integrated all of manís decisions into his complete strategy. God even uses the decisions of man to further his agenda, i.e., Adam, Pharaoh, Pilate, Mary, Judas, Kurt, Mark. I find great comfort in knowing that God has foreseen and provided grace for all my choices. If I turn to the right or left, God is already there. No matter what happens to me in my life God has already supplied everything I need for that moment. Nothing I do comes as a surprise to God. I am also challenged to pray more, give more and do more for the kingdom of God. I realize that I am responsible for the proper use of my talents and gifts. I can make a difference. Godís knowledge of my contribution does not diminish or detract from my contribution. We truly work together with God synergistically to establish his truth in our generation. What an honor we share with Christ.

God knows every hair on our heads and every sparrow that falls to the ground. God holds the world together by his word. Manís power of choice is a part of Godís will, purpose and predetermined plan from before the foundation of the world. Therefore, manís choices become a part of his eternal established plan. All of Godís actions are predetermined. Moreover, God has predetermined to choose those who choose him (Proverbs 8:17). God is prepared for manís choices. He does not need to mandate or manipulate manís choices. After all God is sovereign. As Irenaeus said,

 

those who believe do His will agreeably to their own choice, and as, [also] agreeably to their own choice, the disobedient do not consent to His doctrine; it is manifest that His Father has made all in a like condition, each person having a choice of his own, and a free understanding; and that He has regard to all things, and exercises a providence over all, ďmaking His sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sending rain upon the just and unjust.Ē[1]

 

God has given us all the power of choice. Yet God remains sovereign exercising providence over all things.

 

Prov 16:1

The plans of the mind belong to man,

but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. RSV

 

        A manís plans belong to him. He is empowered to plan

        But the Lord has the final answer

 

 

Prov 16:9

A man's mind plans his way,

but the LORD directs his steps. RSV

 

        A man makes his plans according to his own mind

        But the Lord is sovereign over all

 

Prov 15:3

The eyes of the LORD are in every place,

keeping watch on the evil and the good. RSV

 

        The Lord watches in every place both evil and good

 

Prov 17:3

3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,

and the LORD tries hearts. RSV

 

        The Lord tests the heart

 

Prov 19:21

21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established. RSV

 

        A man is free and open to plan many things

        But those choices are incorporated into the established purpose of God

 

Prov 21:30

30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel,

can avail against the LORD. RSV

 

        Man can make his plans freely utilizing counsel, understanding and wisdom

        But no plan of any man can upset, usurp or avail against the plan of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prov 21:31

1 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,

but the victory belongs to the LORD.RSV

 

        Man makes his preparation skillfully

        But the ultimate outcome belongs to the Lord

 

Prov 20:24

4 A man's steps are ordered by the LORD;

how then can man understand his way? RSV

 

        No matter how free and open is the path before man

        The order of the Lord is sovereign

 

 

Acts 2:22-24

22 "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. NIV

 

        The sovereign purpose of God was established by his exhaustive foreknowledge of future events

        The free human activity was incorporated into the set purpose of God

        God foreknew the acts of men to crucify Jesus and made the provision of resurrection

        Humans are held responsible for their own actions

 

The resurrection of Jesus was predicted through David as he spoke moved by the Holy Spirit. The resurrection was not a spontaneous reaction on Godís part when his plan to make Jesus the messiah was foiled by the Jews.

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 2:25-33

25 David said about him:

"'I saw the Lord always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will live in hope,

27 because you will not abandon me to the grave,

nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence.'

 

29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.NIV

 

As I noted before: Nothing catches God by surprise. God is not frantically scrambling about to pick up the pieces of manís choices. Since God knows all things before the foundation of the world--he has planned for all things before the foundation of the world. As a result all things, even all our bad choices, are now become a part of his overall strategy and purpose. God does not wait to observe what man will do and then adjust and react spontaneously. God knows all and as such foreknows all. Therefore, Godís plan unfolds perfectly since he has anticipated the human element and integrated all of manís free and open decisions into his complete strategy. Manís choices are now become an integral part of his determined plan.

 



[1]Irenaeus. Against Heresies 5.27.1. Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, 556 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.