What God Doesn ‘t Know
As mortals, it’s difficult for us to really attain the mind of God (Romans 12:1-2). We cannot even think clearly in terms of God’s environment–eternity. In our flesh, we can’t get past the temporal restraints of time and space. Nowhere does this truth come into play more, than in the argument of predestination. Does God predetermine our steps, or does our free will overrule the mind of God, and His intent?
On the one hand, the Calvinist says that Exodus 5:16 tells us that it is God’s will to choose. He chooses some for salvation (John 15:19), and He chooses some for acts of service (Acts 9:15). He chooses individuals (1 Peter 1:2), nations (Isaiah 45:4), and the Church (Ephesians 1:4). God is the one who chooses–not man (Romans 9:17ff, Philippians 2:12ff). God elects the chosen according to His own will, and He even gives them the faith to believe the gospel.
On the other hand, Arminianism emphasizes man’s free will, and since free will implies free choice, each individual can choose to accept or reject God’s free gift of salvation. Each person can resist God’s offer of salvation (1 Peter 1:10), and even lose his salvation (Galatians 5:4). The Holy Spirit can be resisted, and God doesn’t interfere with man’s free will (Acts 7:51). God’s choice of the elect was based upon His foreseeing into the future that they would respond to His call. He selected only those who would freely believe the gospel, and faith is not granted to the sinner by God. It is solely the result of each person’s own free will to decide to believe, so the ultimate cause of salvation is the sinner’s choice of Christ–not God’s choice of the sinner.
This brings us to the title of this article, “What God Doesn’t Know.” Most would agree that God is omniscient–the very definition of deity; i.e., that He knows everything. He created all things when He chose to speak the universe into existence (Genesis 1:3); i.e., he was able to do simply by speaking, or thinking. He knows and understands everything about everybody–not just in our temporal state of time, but throughout eternity (again, God’s environment which is difficult for us to comprehend).
Yes, God’s omnipotence makes all of these things the same for Him: knowing; creating; choosing; speaking; doing; determining; thinking; and, understanding. God is immutable, and He can’t separate Himself from His deeds or His knowledge. When He spoke man into existence, He not only knew what each man would do throughout his life and eternity, but he determined it–every single little thought or deed of every person. How could He not know all of this when He created man?
OK, so one might then get into the argument which is characterized by the (somewhat light-hearted) question: If God can do anything, then can he create a rock so big and heavy that He’s unable to lift it? Can God determine things that He doesn’t know? I propose that even if this were true, an omniscient God must somehow know even what He doesn’t know, by the very definition of deity.
However, what about forgiving and forgetting sin? When we confess our sins, and God forgives us (1 John 1:9), how is He then able to forget our sin (Isaiah 45:23)? I believe that this simply means that He no longer holds us accountable for that sin, not that He would be unable to recall it into His memory if He chose to do so. That forgiven sin became a non-issue, no longer stored on the same godly hard drive as un-confessed sin.
No, there’s nothing that God doesn’t know. That’s part of what makes Him God. As a result, we can add another word to the synonyms for knowing, thinking, determining, etc.: pre-determining, or predestination. In conjunction with the work of creation by an omniscient God, predestination is a necessary part of that creation. If He created (knew / determined) it, then it must follow that He predestined (determined) it.