Summary: Orthodox Christians have always held that God has absolute and exhaustive knowledge of everything, including the future. But how is He certain about the future?
Sometimes, there are statements made in the Bible which are very meaningful, yet easy to overlook.
I believe that this passage in the Sermon on the Mount is one such statement.
Jesus is telling us something about the nature of God in this passage which is so sublime that it should cause our very knees to buckle beneath us, and yet we often read it without giving any serious consideration to the weightiness contained therein.
This verse makes a very powerful statement in a somewhat subtle way.
It tells us that God knows our needs before we even ask of Him.
That may seem like a very simple thing, especially since orthodox Christianity has always affirmed God’s omniscience, His knowledge of all things.
We know that God knows everything; He is OMNISCIENT.
Omniscience is one of the three major “Omni” definitions of God.
Omniscience - All Knowledge - there no limit to His knowledge
Omnipotence - All Power - there is no limit to His power
Omnipresence - All Present - there is no limit to His presence
It would stand to reason that He Who is omniscient would know what we need before we ask.
But this inspires an important question, “How does God know all things?”
There is actually an entire philosophical system which says God does not actually know the future with exact certainty.
Open Theism teaches that God is not aware for certain of the future free acts of individuals because they have not yet been decided.
An Open Theist would say that he believes in God’s omniscience, but he limits the definition of that term.
He would say God knows “all things which can be known” and since the future free choices of people “cannot be known” then God “cannot have that knowledge”.
This errant theology leaves God in the dark when it comes to future events and is rightly described as a heretical teaching.
We rightly deny the teaching of Open Theism... It is HERESY.
Orthodox Christians have always held that God has absolute and exhaustive knowledge of everything, including the future.
But how is He certain about the future?
Some propose that God can simply “foresee” the future.
But the problem is this belief in this “bare foreknowledge” view is that it makes God the passive observer of history.
In this view, God only knows what will happen because He can see that it will happen.
From this perspective, He is not really managing history, He is just witnessing it beforehand.
This is not the Biblical teaching.
Though, admittedly this is better than the view of Open Theism.
At least the one who holds to “bare foreknowledge” accepts that God knows for certain the future, the Open Theist will not even accept that.
The biblical view is that God knows all things because He has declared the end from the beginning.
Isaiah 46:8-11 “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”
We call this declaration the Decree of God.
A Decree is an official order handed down by one in authority; to say the “Decree” of God is to say that He has ordered the world in such a way.
I want to quote from the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.
Note: I realize that these confessions are not Scripture, but the writers of them were committed to Scriptural truths and invested their lives in making these truths clear for future generations like ours.
1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass.
- Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
- In all this God's wisdom is displayed, disposing all things, and also His power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.
You see, we believe that God has decreed all things.
But we do not believe that this makes us puppets or that it makes God the author of sin.