More About God — Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence

Title: More About God – Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence

Text: Psalm 147:5, Jeremiah 32:26-27, Psalm 139:7-8

Time: February 20th, 2013

 

A few weeks ago I taught about the three most popular understandings of the One God – Jewish monotheism, Christian monotheism, and the monotheism of Islam. I tried to show that only Christian monotheism explains God adequately. Today, I’d like to go into a further explanation of God in his three most basic aspects – omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all powerful), and omnipresence (all presence). Now the problem with talking about these three aspects of God is that it’s hard to do so without getting abstract and philosophical. I’d like to try to avoid that today, and explain these three things in as down-to-earth way as I can; so I’ll be coming at it from the angle of human advancement and human progress on the planet earth. Hopefully, this angle will help us all understand the infinite God better. What I mean is, over the course of years, decades, centuries and millennia mankind has progress in these basic aspects – in knowledge, in power, and in presence. And if we look at how mankind has progressed in these areas and simply multiply man’s progress many, many times, we’ll get a little glimpse of the kind of God we worship as Christians. I realize that this is not the typical way theologians explain God, but I’m trying to do more than simply explain a theological concept, I’m trying to make God more understandable to our normal way of thinking. Of course, I’ll fall short of truly explaining God because if God is who the Bible describes him, he can’t be fully explained. But I believe that even though we can’t fully understand God, we can understand him more fully as we explore more deeply our understanding of him. For example, if we think about how far human progress and development has advanced in the last few thousand years, and then if we imagine humanity making similar progress in the years, decades, centuries, or even millennia ahead in the future, we’ll begin to get a small glimpse of the enormity of God. Take for instance, knowledge. If you were to place an average person today next to the average person alive, say, two or three thousand years ago, the knowledge of just a typical person today would far outstrip the knowledge of even the smartest person thousands of years ago. Scientists tell us that the basic brain and mental ability hasn’t changed much over the last few thousand years, so it’s just the knowledge base of mankind that’s changed. A high school or college-educated person today would come across as almost a genius compared with the brightest person of many years ago. Well, to get a little glimpse of God’s knowledge, multiply mankind’s knowledge progress over the last three thousand years by, say, one billion years. It’s staggering how much God knows, just as it’s amazing how much we know today, compared to just a few millennia ago. You get the picture. Hopefully, by applying this method, I’ll be able to explain a little about the character of God. Let’s see.

 

First, God is all-knowing or omniscient. Psalm 147:5, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” According to the Bible, the God of the Jews and Christians, is unlimited in knowledge. Now I don’t know about you but it’s hard for me to grasp the concept of unlimited. Yes, I understand that it’s without end or limit, but it’s hard to conceive of someone whose knowledge and intelligence is unlimited, simply because as humans all we’ve got to compare it with is limited human knowledge and intelligence. I know, for example, that my knowledge is limited, and my intelligence is limited too. So is everyone else’s. But in trying to wrap my head around the idea of God’s limitless knowledge, if I can think of it in terms of human knowledge and the progress we’ve made as humanity over the thousands of years of recorded history, then I can at least put the idea of omniscience on a scale I can relate with; at least a little bit. I’m betting the Lord Jesus Christ is returning to the earth before too long, based on what I understand the Bible prophecies are speaking about, and the time frame I think is realistic in inspecting the Lord’s Second Coming to arrive. But if the Lord tarries, and if mankind goes on a few more centuries or even a few more millennia, imagine how much more knowledge we’ll have than we have today. And just as a thought experiment, imagine if mankind continues to increase in knowledge for tens of thousands of years, or hundreds of thousands of years, or even a million years. You get the idea. I think if we could visit the future – again, assuming the Lord doesn’t return before then, which is probably a false assumption, but let’s make it for the sake of our thought experiment – in experiencing mankind’s knowledge a million years from know, we’d be probably so overwhelmed and in awe that we’d be tempted to think we were talking to gods. Not real gods, but such advanced creatures with such vast knowledge, among other things, that we’d be tempted to treat them as gods or divine beings. Of course, we wouldn’t worship them or treat them as gods, because we’d know they were only advanced humans, but we might be tempted to do so based on their seemingly infinite (compared to ours) knowledge. Well, now think of God who truly does have unlimited knowledge. God is a being with such vast knowledge and intelligence that the only way I can even conceive of God’s mental ability is to take familiar human intelligence and multiply it out many, many times. Even though multiplying human knowledge by millions or billions of times still doesn’t reach infinite knowledge like God has, it gets us closer to grasping the kind of mental ability our God holds. It’s awesome. This is one of the reasons why we are inspired to worship God.

 

Second, God is all-powerful or omnipotent. Jeremiah 32:26-27, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’” The rhetorical question the Lord God asks through the mouthpiece of the prophet Jeremiah implies that in fact there is nothing that God can’t do. Think about that. A Being who has the ability to do anything. Limitless ability. Limitless power. That would make God with infinite ability, or never ending ability. Now as humans we are all too well aware that we, individually and collectively, are limited in our ability, in our power. Our scientists still can’t cure cancer. There are many, countless things, that we simply can’t do. But again, think about how much progress we’ve made as humans over the last two or three thousand years. To return to the same analogy I used in the first point, imagine someone from the past, say two or three thousand years ago, visiting our modern age today with all our ability and progress. The ancient person would be overwhelmed by how much we can do today. It would seem almost supernatural or miraculous. Modern medicine can cure so much more today, whereas people in the past would have perished from treatable sickness, injuries or diseases. In today’s world we have the power or ability to launch astronauts into space, visit the moon, and return to earth. This alone is something ancient people could never conceive of in their wildest dreams. Now project our power or ability today, again, by thousands, millions or even a billion years – assuming we don’t destroy ourselves by our own power – and we can begin to get an idea of the awesome power of God. I remember one famous scientist, Noble Prize winner Francis Crick, stated that he believes there might be intelligent life out in space that perhaps could be millions or even billions of years ahead of us in progress. I don’t believe he’s correct for a number of reasons, the biggest being I don’t believe in space aliens at all. But for the sake of another thought experiment, let’s go along with his line of thought for now. If an alien race were ahead of us in intelligence and ability by one billion years, and if we were to encounter them, they’d probably come across as god-like and awesome. Another scientist once said, following the same thought experiment, that these advanced aliens would probably already know how to control the weather on their planet, they probably would also be able to extend their life span to hundreds or even thousands of years – if they hadn’t already figured out how to eliminate death altogether! Now let’s think about God Almighty. God is smarter and with more knowledge than any imaginable advanced creature could ever be, even in theory; and God is more powerful than any amount of human progress or advancement could ever take us, or any race. If it’s hard to imagine infinite ability or power, then think of the billions and trillions of years God has advanced ahead of us as mere humans, or even how much more advanced he is over any hypothetical advanced beings elsewhere. God is so much more than we can even think! That’s another reason why we worship him.

 

Third, God is all-present or omnipresent. Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” This passage written by the inspired prophet King David speaks of God’s omnipresence. It basically says that there’s no place where God isn’t; God is everywhere by His Spirit. The basic truth of this description of God is that he’s present everywhere. Now this is probably the hardest aspect of God for us to imagine because as humans we can only be in one spot at one time. Or as a human race, we are limited where we can all be at one time. For example, we live on the planet earth, so we can be in all continents and all countries as a collective humanity. But because we are limited, finite creatures, we can’t be everywhere. But God isn’t limited like we are because he isn’t limited by physical location. He is spirit, so he can be all places, all at once. Again, this is really hard to imagine. But let’s try using another example. I think the best way to approach omnipresence is to use computers. I remember once a few years ago buying the computer software program Sim City. I loaded it up on the computer of a friend’s I was visiting, but then got called away to dinner. After an hour or so a family member came up to me and said, “You better get over to the computer fast because your Sim City program is doing something.” I looked at the computer and the simulated city I created was on fire and burning. If I had continued playing the game I would have sent fire trucks to put out the fire, but I decided to end the game because it seemed like it required too much time. But with newer editions of Sim City you can actually create people with personalities that live out their lives in the computer program. Now where I’m going with this is this – imagine the whole world, the whole universe, as a huge program inside of God’s computer with God watching the whole thing. Just as it is possible for me to watch all the people in my small-scale Sim City program, so too it’s possible for God to watch all people at all times on his large-scale program. Now multiply the same idea out to extend to the far reaches of the universe, to every star, planet, moon, asteroid, and so forth, and you’ll see that God truly is all-present, omnipresent. Of course, because God is spirit, he can do this without the help of any technological or electronic device like a computer. Because God isn’t limited to any physical location or any restraints of time or space, he can easily be everywhere all at once.

 

Today, I’ve tried to explain the unexplainable in describing God’s omnipotence, his omnipresence, and his omniscience. I haven’t even scratched the surface in describing the true aspects of God. My illustrations are crude compared with the real truth of God. But I hope I’ve open up your minds a little bit to think bigger thoughts about God than you’ve ever thought before. The problem is the idea of infinity, because we just aren’t capable of truly grasping it. God is infinite and this causes problems for our thinking of him. So my solution to this problem of infinity is to scale down our thoughts about God to something more manageable, say, by taking known human ability and multiplying them by a factor of thousands, millions or billions. These are still huge numbers, and they still give our limited minds problems, but at least we can get a glimpse of God through them, and they don’t overwhelm us too much. If the Lord tarries and humanity survives another thousand years, how would we react to the ability of humans in their advanced state? Like I said before, we’d probably be awed and amazed, just the same reaction someone from the ancient world would react if they could visit us today. Now then imagine God as possessing more knowledge, more intelligence, more power and ability, and being able to be everywhere all at once by virtue of his vast powers, and you are beginning to catch a glimpse of how awesome God truly is. That such a great Being exists is the greatest miracle of all. God is a supernatural miracle of infinite proportions. It’s so beyond us that it literally blows our minds. In another message I’ll talk about still more interesting aspects of God, such as his agelessness – he’s always been in the past and he’ll always be in the future. He exists in eternity past, he exists presently, and he’ll always exist in the future. And it’s also not possible for God not to exist. These are all foundational truths about the God we worship and serve. If you feel a little overwhelmed, you have a right to be – these are the greatest concepts theologians and philosophers have grappled with for thousands of years. But they are inspiring to think about nonetheless, because they open up our minds to greater things than we normally deal with on earth. For example, we think about our lifetime and our eventual death; yet we serve a God who has no start of life and has no end of life. His existence is on another level beyond ours. Yet, he loves us enough to invite us to join him in his eternal future existence in heaven. Have you said, “Yes,” to God’s invitation to you? All you need to do is receive his Son Jesus Christ by faith, which takes getting honest, acknowledging your sins, repenting of them, and accepting salvation by grace. God’s got a great future planned for you. Are you willing to join that future?

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