Summary: The question before the house this morning is: Is God really all-knowing?
March 9, 2003
Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
His understanding is infinite.
Psalm 147:5 (NASB)
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a religious school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The teacher made a note: "Take only one, God is watching." At the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A boy wrote a note: "Take all you want, God is watching the apples."
The question before the house this morning is simply and quickly answered for most of us here: Is God really only watching the apples, or is He all-knowing? I have every confidence most of us would answer with what the Christian family has affirmed over the past two thousand years…God is omniscient - He knows everything that is going on now, and knew it would happen before it happened, just as He knows that two days from now He will look back on tomorrow and remember that he knew it the day before as if it were the day after.
Now, with that on the table, the next question would naturally be, Preacher, why bother with this, seeing that we are in agreement; what are you trying to prove? The reason is elementary - and vital. All heresy creeps into the church a little at a time. The Lord charged pastors to be faithful to preach all the counsel of God in order that each of us will be equipped to refute heresy. It is just that simple. If you have truth, you can defeat untruth. If you know what is true, the false will ring just that more untrue.
In banks they don’t bother showing counterfeit currency to new teller trainees - they simply make them sit there and count money for the first few days - large stacks of money, the real stuff. After that kind of conditioning, an experienced teller doesn’t even have to look - he can feel a counterfeit the second his fingers make contact.
This morning I am beginning a four-part series to state the truth found in the Word of God about Our God. This morning is about His omniscience, an all-knowing God. Then it is All-Powerful (omnipotence), All-Present (omnipresence), and All-Loving (sufficiency in redemption).
Open Theism - a Heresy
Now, the truth we are going to investigate is in opposition to a heresy that is gaining in acceptance in some circles. That heresy is called "Open Theism". Rather than my explaining this term, I want you to hear what the open theology believers say about themselves from their own website:
In the Christian view God knows all of reality - everything there is to know. But to assume He knows ahead of time how every person is going to freely act assumes that each person’s free activity is already there to know - even before he freely does it! But it’s not. If we have been given freedom, we create the reality of our decisions by making them. And until we make them, they don’t exist. Thus, in my view at least, there simply isn’t anything to know until we make it there to know. So God can’t foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He creates these people and they in turn, create their decisions.
In all fairness we need to say that the open theists are not some cult following the orbit of a comet, or counting the hairs on a kiwi fruit. These are folks who have a genuine desire to serve Christ; the question is, What kind of Christ are they serving? A further question could be, If they are people who love Jesus, what is the harm? They love Jesus, we love Jesus - all God’s children love Jesus! The problem with a faulty view of God - no matter how little fault seems to inhabit the view - is that when you are a little off target here, you will miss the target by a mile down the road…you just keep getting farther and farther from the target.
Bruce Ware is the Senior Associate Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of six seminaries funded and owned entirely by Southern Baptists. On a website advertising his book, God’s Lesser Glory, he asks the heresy question:
Christians throughout history have been strengthened by their confidence that God knows everything about the future. But consider this: What if it simply is not true? What if God can only rely on His best guess about tomorrow - just as you and I do?
Would it not affect your trust in Him, your confidence in facing the future, your worship, and your motivation to leave everything in His hands? And yet this is the consequence that has to be faced if you trust what a number of leading voices in evangelicalism are proposing under the doctrine of open theism.