Defining Some Words: Omniscience/ Omnipresent/ Predestination Bishop Timothy Carter, PhD
For some reason there seems to be a misunderstanding about what God can and cannot know. This misunderstanding continues to where God is and is not.
Seems to me that maybe we need to clarify some terms: Omnipotence means all-powerful.
Monotheistic theologians regard God as having supreme power. This means God can do what he wants. It means He is not subject to physical limitations like man is. Being omnipotent, God has power over wind, water, gravity, physics, etc. God’s power is infinite, or limitless.
Omniscience means all-knowing. God is all-knowing in the sense that He is aware of the past, present, and future. Nothing takes Him by surprise. His knowledge is total. He knows all that there is to know and all that can be known.
Omniscience is frequently misunderstood as predestination. To think of Omniscience as predestination you will completely misunderstand what the scripture is teaching.
Predestination as in the way that St Augustine and John Calvin understood it is not in line with Omniscience.
God knows everything (1 John 3:20). He knows not only the minutest details of our lives, but those of everything around us, for He mentions even knowing when a sparrow falls or when we lose a single hair (Matthew 10:29-30). Not only does God know everything that will occur until the end of history itself (Isaiah 46:9-10), but He also knows our very thoughts, even before we speak forth (Psalm 139:4). He knows our hearts from afar; He even saw us in the womb (Psalm 139:1-3, 15-16). Solomon expresses this truth perfectly when he says, “For you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind” (1 Kings 8:39).
Despite the condescension of the Son of God to empty Himself and make Himself nothing (Philippians 2:7), His omniscience is clearly seen in the New Testament writings. The first prayer of the apostles in Acts 1:24, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart,” implies Jesus’ omniscience, which is necessary if He is to be able to receive petitions and intercede at God’s right hand. On earth, Jesus’ omniscience is just as clear. In many Gospel accounts, He knew the thoughts of his audience (Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:6-8; Luke 6:8). He knew about people’s lives before He had even met them. When He met the woman collecting water at the well at Sychar, He said to her, “The fact is you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). He also tells His disciples that their friend Lazarus was dead, although He was over 25 miles away from Lazarus’s home (John 11:11-15). He advised the disciples to go and make preparation for the Lord’s Supper, describing the person they were to meet and follow (Mark 14:13-15). Perhaps best of all, He knew Nathanael before ever meeting him, for He knew his heart (John 1:47-48).
Clearly, we observe Jesus’ omniscience on earth, but this is where the paradox begins as well. Jesus asks questions, which imply the absence of knowledge, although the Lord asks questions more for the benefit of His audience than for Himself. However, there is another facet regarding His omniscience that comes from the limitations of the human nature which He, as Son of God, assumed. We read that as a man He “grew in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52) and that He learned “obedience through suffering” (Hebrews 5:8). We also read that He did not know when the world would be brought to an end (Matthew 24:34-36). We, therefore, have to ask, why would the Son not know this, if He knew everything else? Rather than regarding this as just a human limitation, we should regard it as a controlled lack of knowledge. This was a self-willed act of humility in order to share fully in our nature (Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 2:17) and to be the Second Adam.
Omniscience is more like we know something, but we are not currently thinking about it. Let me give an example: What’s your 3rd grade PE teachers name? When you were in the 5th grade in math class who set in the fourth row in the last chair? In your first grade class who was the hall monitor when you came back from Christmas break?
These questions may seem silly; however, these questions show information that is inside of your head that you possess the knowledge of, but it’s not something that you think about on a regular basis. You have this knowledge, but you make the choice not to think about it. Omniscience works the same way. God Knows all things past present and future. He chooses not to be thinking about something at a particular moment in time. However to use the words “ moment in time” when talking about God is not accurate because God is outside of time. God speaks into our time. Yes God is Omnipresent; therefore, He is inside of our time as well this is a great mystery that our minds are too small to understand. but in our spirit we can recognize it is true and we trust Him.
Omnipresence means all-present. This term means that God is capable of being everywhere at the same time. It means His divine presence encompasses the whole of the universe. There is no location where He does not inhabit. This should not be confused with pantheism, which suggests that God is synonymous with the universe itself; instead, omnipresence indicates that God is distinct from the universe, but inhabits the entirety of it. He is everywhere at once.
Let me point out something that may be a little difficult to understand at first; Jesus, who is in a glorified body, and seated at the right hand of the Father is indeed Omnipresent. Realizing that this involves some explanation some has been provided below.
The doctrine of the incarnation of Christ is that Jesus, who was the Divine Word (John 1:1), became flesh and dwelt among us (v.14). This means that the word added to His person a human nature. Now, this does not mean that the word has two natures. What it means is that the person of Jesus has two natures. Jesus is 100% God and He is 100% man. In other words, Jesus the man is both the Word and human. That is, He is both divine and human. This is why Colossians 2:9 says, “for in Him dwells all the fullness of deity in bodily form.” Officially, this doctrine is known as the hypostatic Union.
All right, so the Bible teaches that Jesus is both God and Man at the same time. Remember, He has two natures. But we need to understand that as a man–by definition–He can only be in one place at a time, that is, His physical human side is only in one place at a time. There is no instance of a human being omnipresent. Jesus, as a man (yes, He is a man right now, see 1 Tim. 2:5, Col. 2:9) is located in one place in the heavens. But, since He has a divine nature and one of the attributes of divinity is omnipresence, then we can say that Jesus is omnipresent. Let me break it down a little more.
There is another doctrine known as the Communication of the Properties. This is the teaching that in the one person of Christ there are two natures and that each of the two natures has attributes. Furthermore, it states that those attributes of each nature are ascribed to the single person of Jesus. Therefore, we say that the man Jesus, who is also divine, can “claim” the attributes of divinity. Likewise, the attributes of humanity are “claimed” (ascribed) to Jesus as well. Let me give you two examples that substantiate this.
In John 17:5, Jesus says, “And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” How is it possible that Jesus, the man, could lay claim to the glory that He had with the Father before the world was? Jesus the man was born on earth and had a beginning. yet, we see that Jesus was claiming the glory he had with God the Father from ancient times. How? Because He was claiming the attributes of divinity.
In Matt. 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Notice that in verse 20 Jesus says that He will always be with the disciples. How can Jesus the man always be with the disciples? Obviously the command of Christ is not just for the disciples, but for all who claim to be Christians as they carry out the command to “make disciples of all the nations.” We find the answer when we realize that the divine attributes of omnipresence, which is one of the properties of being divine, are claimed by Jesus. Therefore, even though He was a man, He could also say that He would be with the disciples wherever they go and wherever they go.
To summarize, Jesus’ human nature is not omnipresent. but, His divine nature is. However, it is the one person of Christ who shares both natures (communicatio idiomatum), and it is the one person who is omnipresent. Predestination: An Accurate Understanding There is a dispute about homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sin. Just as much as any other sin. There will not be any sin enter heaven. Unless The Father Draw Him (John 6:44). Jesus said “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44). Many refer to this verse in an effort to support a man-made doctrine which says that only those whom the Lord “calls” in some mystical way can be saved. They will say that this calling is some sort of direct operation of the Spirit. Calvinism teaches that man is totally passive and cannot do anything until God zaps him with some special anointing, thereby enabling him to believe. Such an idea is foreign to the scriptures.
Our Lord does draw people to Him, and no one can come to the Lord apart from God’s drawing power. but this is not a matter of God electing to save some of us and condemn others of us arbitrarily. Consider: God wants all to be saved, and the reason some are lost is not because God has unconditionally chosen them to be.
For Whom Does God Desire Salvation?
The good news is that God does not desire anyone to be lost. No one! God is “…patient, not wishing for any to perish.” (II Peter 3:9). God is “compassionate” (Matthew 9:36; Psalm 86:15) God is “…just” (Romans 3:24-26). God is “Sorrowful” that many are lost (Ezekiel 18:23; 31,32; cf. Matthew 23:37). To suggest that man cannot respond to God’s gospel apart from a special anointing or calling that God gives to them, that He does not give to all others, makes God responsible for the lost being lost. but that does not fit with the Biblical description of God’s character and nature.
God made salvation available to all. Salvation is available for all men, not just a select few. Jesus died for everyone (Hebrews 2:9; John 3:16). God wants all to come to know the truth (I Timothy 2:4). The invitation is open to all, 24 hours a day. There’s no such thing as waiting on God’s “special call.” (Matthew 11:28-30; Revelation 22:17). He has already issued His call, and it has gone out unto the whole world, so any of us can choose to answer it, or choose to reject it.
How God Draws People Unto Himself?
The context of Jesus’ statement explains how God draws men and women to Himself. There is nothing mystical about it. The following verse in the context (John 6:45) reveals how God draws men unto Himself. “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” Note the words “taught” and “every man” (all drawn the same way; by being taught) and “hear” and “learn” and “come”. These are not mystical words. They are common, everyday words which are used to describe how it is that people are drawn to Christ.
What is it that is taught and heard and learned? The means or method by which God “calls” or “draws” all men is the Gospel. “And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thessalonians 2:14). There is no special, mystical anointing of the Holy Spirit, but rather, the Holy Spirit calls men through the gospel; and it is the gospel that is the power (Romans 1:16).
God draws people unto Himself through the teaching of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is God’s power, his drawing power, to save (I Corinthians 1:18-21). Therefore, all people, when they hear the gospel, at any moment, have the ability to respond to God’s gospel call. They also have the ability to reject it (Acts 13:45-48).
Sinners are saved by God’s grace when they respond in faith and obedience to the gospel that draws them to God (Matthew 7:21). God is always ready for men to repent and obey (Acts 17:30). It is those who will do so that God has predestined for salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:9). This is an important concept to recognize. God has not predestined individuals to be saved or lost, but rather, has predestined the method by which we are saved. If we obey the gospel, we are baptized “into Christ” (Romans 6:3,4). God has predestined all those “in Christ” to be “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the +q+heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). but it is up to us as to whether we will obey or not.
How To Be Drawn To God’s Son And Be Saved
There are not many ways to be drawn to God. In fact, there is only one way to come to the Father (John 14:6). One cannot get to heaven through Jesus apart from obeying Him (Hebrews 5:9). Those who attempt to enter another way are counted as thieves and robbers and will be unsuccessful (John 10:1).
How does one answer God’s call? This is important for you to know because God is calling you. Have you answered? If not, will you? Will you call upon Him? For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21). The people who heard this wanted to know how to do so (Acts 2:37) They were told “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Men must believe and obey (Mark 16:16). Saving faith is alive, not dead, and proves itself by obedience to the gospel. The gospel is God’s call to us by which we are drawn to Him. Our obedient faith needs to be the answer we give His call.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN WHAT WAY THIS HELPED YOU OR HURT YOU. and tag your friends
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 6:15 AM]
very nice Timothy I’d put them in 3 separate posts but lets see
Felicia Goddard [11/10/2015 9:06 AM]
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 9:09 AM]
“Omniscience means all-knowing. God is all-knowing in the sense that He is aware of the past, present, and future. Nothing takes Him by surprise.” you cant be Pentecostal and NOT believe that God is all-knowing of the past, present, and future and absolutely nothing takes Him by surprise.
Timothy Carter [11/10/2015 9:39 AM]
How is this a matter of being Pentecostal?
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 9:44 AM]
any matter in the Spirit (knowing-omniscience, being-omnipresence and doing-omnipotence) is of great pneumatic importance and as such should be in the focus of Pentecostal theology
Timothy Carter [11/10/2015 9:56 AM]
Holy Spirit is at work within the body of Christ. Not everyone is Pentecostal. Many people believe what is inside of my article what you posted and do not identify themselves as Pentecostal or charismatic. They have never had any of the Pentecostal experience of Holy Spirit baptism of speaking in tongues.
Pentecostal theology can cross the lines with Baptist theology and Lutheran theology and so on on many topics because it is basic identities of God He is who we are studying.
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 10:28 AM]
In the Early Church on the Day of Pentecost they were ALL Pentecostal, “for they heard them ALL speaking in tongues.” It was only after that that some became just orthodox, catholic, baptist, Methodist, congregational, Wesleyan and so on. But it was not so in the beginning. Pentecostal is not a denomination – it is the original state of the church from which some later failed 🙂
Timothy Carter [11/10/2015 10:37 AM]
Yes I agree it is not a denomination it is a TRUTH of God’s Word.
How weather there are those who reject truth the Bible plainly tells us this.
As they reject truth they are still for some reason still pursuing God.
As they continue to pursue God they will learn things that will cross paths with the truth.
Ricky Grimsley [11/10/2015 10:57 AM]
How many scriptures do yo guys need to see that god does not exhaustively know the future?
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 12:46 PM]
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 7:35 PM]
John Conger Same argument goes against your examples from the apostles Peter and John. Or are you saying the apostles Peter and John interpreted the Scriptures wrongly when they said God is all-knowing?
John Conger [11/10/2015 7:39 PM]
Haha in saying if ANY scripture doesn’t fit in your idea of God then then problem is your ideas not the scriptures. You cannot accept one as definitive while ignoring the others because they are inconvenient. How do you fit those scriptures into your ideology?
Ricky Grimsley [11/10/2015 7:39 PM]
Open-theists believe God is all-knowing. He knows all that can be known. Its the same as being all powerful. He has all power that is possible. Can God make a square triangle or a rock that is too big for him to pickup and so on. Can God go back in the past and make something never happen?
Ricky Grimsley [11/10/2015 7:45 PM]
It does seem that while i adjust my beliefs to take into account all scriptures that the majority of the church starts from a preconceived idea and ignores what doesn’t fit.
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 7:48 PM]
John Conger plain and simple – straight from the Bible
ap.Peter “Lord, thou knowest all things (John 21:17)”
ap.John “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:20)
Are you saying that the apostles and the Early church were wrong?
Ricky Grimsley [11/10/2015 7:51 PM]
Everyone in this conversation believes that god knows all things.
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 7:52 PM]
Ricky Grimsley you still have not answered where from God takes the knowledge that does not yet exist if not from Himself?
John Conger [11/10/2015 7:54 PM]
Once again, I believe Good knows all things that can be known. And once again, his do you fit those scriptures into your ideology? Or the scriptures of God’s emotional reactions to mans behavior?
Ricky Grimsley [11/10/2015 7:54 PM]
He gets knew information from what choice we make. Thats why he tests us.
John Kissinger [11/10/2015 7:55 PM]
I fit them the same way that Peter and John, the apostles and the Early Church did. Same question to you John Conger: Where from God takes the knowledge that does not yet exist if not from Himself?
Ricky Grimsley [11/10/2015 7:57 PM]
If my people who are called by name will humble themselves and pray….. Then i will….
How many examples do you want. He knows what we need before we pray but we dont receive because we dont ask or we ask amiss?
John Conger [11/10/2015 8:02 PM]
Haha how did they explain it?
John Kissinger [11/11/2015 5:53 AM]
they explained it with the statement that God knows all things – plain and simple. Do you not have the Johannine corpus in your Bibles?
John Conger [11/11/2015 8:12 AM]
Yep he knows all possibilities. But since every detail of the future isn’t written yet … Nice dodge.
John Kissinger [11/11/2015 8:15 AM]
So how do you insert John 21:17, 1 John 3:20 in your theology? God knows everything BUT NOT right now? Doesn’t this subject God to time?
John Conger [11/11/2015 8:27 AM]
Um dude, did you actually read that article? It pointed out how misrepresenting what open theists believe in order to win an argument is wrong. I believe completely in God ‘s sovereignty and he will make things happen to fulfill his word…”so that scripture may be fulfilled”. But I also believe that in the very least he limits his knowledge of the future probably to experience the relationship with man. Too many take one or two scriptures and hover over them and are afraid to factor in any other scripture that doesn’t easily fit into their ideas. Baptists do it, oneness, trinitarians, etc. Acknowledging that not every detail of the future is written in stone is all I do. If you don’t believe it that’s fine with me. Wish you the best