(image courtesy ya-webdesign.com)
By Spencer D Gear PhD
God knows all things, past and present. This is the attribute of God’s omniscience? What is it? If he knows all things, why did he fashion human beings who would soon defy his command?
1. Theologians define omniscience
These evangelical theologians define omniscience as:
‘Historically, the omniscience of God was a straightforward doctrine: God knows everything—past, present, and future’.
This is confirmed in passages such as Gen 6:5; Job 21:22; 36:4; 37:16; Ps 139:2-4, 17-18; 147:4-5; Isa 40:28; 42:9; 46:10. In the New Testament this teaching is affirmed in Matt 6:8; 10:29-30; Acts 15:17-18; Rom 8:29; 11:33; Eph 1:11 and Heb 4:13.
‘His omniscience can be arrived from a number of his attributes. These include His infinity, His causality, His necessity, His knowledge of reality, His eternality, and His absolute perfection’ (Geisler 2003:180-181).
Dr H C Thiessen: ‘He knows Himself and all other things, whether they be actual or merely possible, whether they be past, present, or future, and that He knows them perfectly and from all eternity. He knows things immediately, simultaneously, exhaustively and truly. He also knows the best ways to attain His desired ends’ (Thiessen 1949:124).
Louis Berkhof: ‘The knowledge of God may be defined as that perfection of God whereby He, in an entirely unique manner, knows Himself and all things possible and actual in one eternal and most simple act. The Bible testifies to the knowledge of God abundantly, as, for instance, in I Sam. 2:3; Job 12:13; Ps. 94:9; 147:4; Isa. 29:15; 40:27-28’ (Berkhof 1941:66).
Dr Wayne Grudem gives a simple definition: ‘God’s knowledge may be defined as follows: God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and dental act’. He used Job 37:16 and 1 John 3:20 to support this view’ (Grudem 1999:88).
2. God created human beings to sin?
Is that reasonable or is this a sign that He’s a wicked God who creates or endorses evil?
(Adam & Eve in garden scenery, courtesy publicdomainvectors.org)
These are penetrating questions that any thoughtful person could ask, which is what a person did on a blog. Since God is all-knowing (Ps 139:4, 7-12; Matt 10:30; Heb 4:12-13; 1 John 3:20), he would have known Adam & Eve would sin by making the wrong decision to eat of the tree. Why, then, did God bother to tell them not to do it?
‘If all humans are meant to be sinners, why did He even create us in the first place already knowing that we would be so imperfect?’
This leads to the questions: What place do sinners have in God’s redemptive plans? My human mind would think of another way to do it of making human beings so they could not sin (taking free will away from them) and making the crucifixion of Jesus unnecessary.
That’s my befuddled human thinking and not the mind of God.
Let’s examine a few reasons why a holy God who knows everything would make human beings, knowing they would sin.
2.1 There was fellowship in the Trinity but …
for those who pry into mysteries’ (Confessions, Book XI, ch 12.14).Don Stewart explains:
Before any finite creatures were created, God existed. Although God is a unity, He is a compound unity made up of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity was conscious of the other two. Therefore God was never alone. There was love and communication within the members of the Godhead before humanity was created. Consequently there was no need on his part to create the human race. God did not need anything. Therefore the reason for the creation of humankind cannot be found in something lacking in the nature of God (Was God alone before he created the universe?)
The Psalmist hit the mark to help us better understand this dilemma: ‘what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?’ (Ps 8:4 NLT).
3. God doesn’t tell us the reason.
God could have chosen not to create human beings who would not fall into sin. However, they would be robots who had no power to choose anything, including agreeing with God or refusing his offer of salvation.
As to why he still created humankind with the knowledge that humanity would bring sin into the world we are not told. We are only told that he has done it this way. Since God has not explained his motives it would be fruitless for us to speculate. No one knows the answer because God has not revealed it to us (Don Stewart).
Let’s ponder a possibility:
4. Sinful human beings to glorify God!
God has provided an answer to this mystery that He knew people would sin, but he created human beings anyway. The reason for creation of the universe and human beings starts in Genesis 1:27,
‘So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’ (NLT).
What’s the point of an image?
An image is to image. Images are erected to display the original — to point to the original, glorify the original. God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God — images of God, seven billion statues of God. So that nobody would miss the point of creation. Nobody (unless they were stone blind) could miss the point of humanity, namely, God — knowing, loving, showing God (Why did God create the world? John Piper).?
God created human beings and the universe for his glory. Even sinful human beings still retain the image of God and he wants to use all these people to bring him glory.
Isaiah spoke to the Israelites:
I will say to the north, ‘Let them go!’
And I will say to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from far away.
Bring my daughters from the farthest places on earth.
Bring back everyone who belongs to me.
I created them to bring glory to me.
I formed them and made them” (Isa 43:6-7 NIRV)?
As far as I can see, that’s why God created human beings who sinned. They were formed from the beginning, sinned from the commencement, but they were created to bring glory to God.
4.1 Meaning of bringing glory to God
I found James N Anderson’s explanation to be powerful:
If God’s primary purpose in creation and redemption is the display of his glory, what does that tell us about why he allowed the fall? Both logically and chronologically, the fall comes between creation and redemption. Without a creation there could be no fallen creation; without a fallen creation there could be no redeemed creation. Salvation presupposes sin; restoration presupposes a fall. Thus it’s reasonable to infer that God’s primary purpose in allowing the fall was to showcase his glory both in the original creation and also in his powerful and merciful restoration of that creation from its rebellion and corruption (The Gospel Coalition 2017).
How can Christians bring God glory? We glorify God by our faith, worship, and humble service.
5. Works consulted
Berkhof, L 1941. Systematic theology. London: The Banner of Truth Trust. Also available online at: https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/berkhof/systematic_theology.html#communicable (Accessed 1 March 2020).
Geisler, N 2003. Systematic theology, vol 2: God, Creation. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.
Grudem, Wayne 1999, Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.
Thiessen, H C 1949. Lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
VanDrunen, D 2019. 3 Ways to Glorify God in Your Life. The Gospel Coalition U.S. Edition (online), 24 June. Available at: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-ways-glorify-god-life/ (Accessed 1 March 2020).
 Christian Forums.net 2018. Bible Study: Adam and Eve, 9 January, HeIsRisen2018#1. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/adam-and-eve.73372/ (Accessed 10 January 2018).
 This is my response at: ibid., OzSpen#28.
Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 01 March 2020.