Is Jesus Omniscient? (2 of 2)

(Continued from yesterday)

But what about the 6 incidents raised in the question? Let’s look at them one by one:
Lk 2:46-47 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
Jesus was not asking the teachers questions because He did not know the Scriptures. He was using the rabbinic method of debating by asking questions, or answering questions with questions. They were amazed at His answers, not the other way around.

Mt 26:37-39 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Jesus was deeply grieved & distressed not because He did not know what to expect, but precisely because He knew how much He had to suffer when the sins of the whole world are placed on Him:
Mt 20:18-19, 22 Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up. … But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?”

Mt 4:3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
Satan was not doubting Jesus’ identity. He knew that the Son was God and therefore omniscient. But Jesus emptied Himself of the independent use of His omnipotence. Therefore Satan tempted Him precisely with respect to whether this emptying is real, whether He would use His own power to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger, and in doing so not fulfill the will of the Father. Of course the tempter failed.

Lk 2:40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
• Lk 2:52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

This is nothing but the humanity of Jesus. As man Jesus has a human body which grew and increased in wisdom. As God He is omniscient, but He voluntarily suspended the independent use of His divine knowledge & power in dependence on the Father.

Mt 24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Another example of Jesus not using His omniscience independent of the Father. He submitted to the Father in all things.

Jn 2:3-4 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”

Jesus waited because His hour or time had not yet come:
Jn 7:6, 8, 30 So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. … Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” … So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.
• Jn 8:20 These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.
• Jn 12:23, 27 And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. … Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
• Jn 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, …
• Jn 16:32 Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.
• Jn 17:1 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,

Jesus is always in communion with the Father, & knew when His time of crucifixion & resurrection was not yet or has come. There is no need to assume that He was ignorant of what’s going on.

Is Jesus Omniscient? (1 of 2)

Q. Did Jesus empty Himself of omniscience when he became a man? If He did, it would explain the following:
1. A 12-year old Jesus stayed in the temple with the teachers to ask questions (or to teach the Pharisees?).
2. Jesus was really worried the night before the cross for He did not know what was to happen during His death or because He knew the sufferings He was to go through.
3. Satan knew that Jesus was not omniscient and tried to tempt Him in the desert.
4. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52
5. Matt 24:36 Only the Father knows. That would mean that Jesus may know now after His resurrection.
6. Mother Mary had to prompt Jesus to perform His first miracle. (or she was just used to asking Jesus to solve any problem she came across as Jesus was the eldest male of her family).

A. No, Jesus did not empty Himself of omniscience in the incarnation. Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence are divine attributes, characteristics of the essence of God. Jesus is God and God is eternal. He does not change in His essence.
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
If Jesus ceases to possess these attributes, He would not be God. Then in what sense did Jesus emptied Himself? In at least 3 ways:

1. He took on the limitations of being a man:
Php 2:6-8 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
For example, as human, He:
• Got hungry Mt 4:2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
• Grew weary Jn 4:6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well.
• Became thirsty Jn 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”
He willingly accepted the limitations of being human.

2. He emptied Himself of the glory He had with the Father:
Jn 17:5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
His glory was veiled during His life on earth until His resurrection, except for a moment during the transfiguration:
Lk 9:32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him.

3. He gave up the independent use of certain divine attributes, doing always only the will of the Father:
Jn 5:19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
• Jn 5:30 I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
• Jn 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

But what about the 6 incidents raised in the question? Let’s look at them one by one.

(To be continued)

Foreknowledge or Foreordination?

foreknowledge foreordination 1

Q. My Sunday school teacher explained that there are two views with respect to our salvation. The foreordination view says God foreordains everything that comes to pass according to His good pleasure. The foreknowledge view says God foresees who will believe Him, and chooses them based on this foreknowledge. I spoke to people in my cell group and their opinions are divided. Which is correct?

A. My short answer is the foreordination view is the biblical one. Here is my rationale. The key issue is the sovereignty of God. Both views agree that God chooses the elect before the foundation of the world
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

However, their reason for God’s choice differ. The foreknowledge view asserts that God foresees who will believe in Jesus, and chooses these to be saved:
1 Pet 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

In this view, the final decision of who gets saved rests with man, whether he believes in Jesus. God simply confirms man’s decision by choosing those who would believe. Man is sovereign, God is not, in the matter of salvation.

The foreordination view, on the other hand, claims that God chooses according to His purpose, the kind intention of His will:
Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
• Eph 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

In this view God’s choice is not pre-conditioned by man’s action. He does whatever His hand and His purpose predestined to occur (Acts 4:28). God is sovereign, man is not.

Logically, the foreknowledge view cannot be true, because by definition, God is sovereign. God is the Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe, with authority over everything. If God is not sovereign, then God is not God. How can man the creature dictate the final outcome and God the Creator simply rubber stamp? It just does not make sense. But then how do we explain 1 Peter 1:2?

To begin with, foreknowledge is simply a subset of omniscience. Since God knows all things, of course He knows what will happen before it happens, including who will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. But His choice is not based on man’s action:
Rom 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
• Rom 9:16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Man’s will does not have the final say, God’s purpose does.

Secondly, foreknowledge mean more than prior knowledge. It includes that, but is not limited to cognition. The word “foreknowledge” translates the Greek noun prognosis, which means both foreknowledge and forethought, pre-arrangement:
Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Jesus was delivered over by the pre-arrangement, not just prior knowledge, of God. It was His pre-determined plan.

Furthermore, foreknown means more than being known beforehand. The Greek verb proginosko can also mean predestined, foreordained:
1 Pet 1:20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
“Previously known” would be inadequate, only predestined would do.

1 Pet 1:2 could therefore be translated “chosen according to the prearrangement of God”. So both logically and biblically, I believe the foreordination view is the correct one.

Can Jesus Sin? (1 of 2)

impeccability 2

Q. I know Jesus did not sin, but can He? If not, how is His temptation real? If you say He couldn’t sin because He is also God, wouldn’t that be the same logic as saying He couldn’t die because God can’t die? But Jesus did die.

A. In theology the question you posed is called the “peccability” (can sin) or “impeccability” (cannot sin) of Jesus. Both sides agree that Jesus did not sin:
2 Co 5:41 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
• Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
• 1 Jn 3:5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

But could He? Those who think He can sin feel that for His temptation to be real, He must be capable of falling under the temptation; otherwise why bother? It’s just for show! They emphasized the true humanity of Jesus, and humans can fall.

Those who feel He is incapable of sinning emphasized His deity within His dual nature. God cannot sin, so Jesus can’t sin. I believe this side is correct, for the following reasons:

1. Logic
Jesus has two natures – He is fully divine (100% God) and fully human (100% man):
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
• John 1:14 And the Word (Jesus) became flesh (man), and dwelt among us,
• Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

Now which of these two natures submit to the other? Obviously the human nature submits to the divine nature, otherwise what kind of deity would it be? Can it even be deity if it submits to humanity? So if His deity always dominates and His humanity submits, He cannot sin.

2. Attributes
People sin usually for two reasons:
a. they do not have the power to resist the temptation,
b. they were deceived – they do not have the knowledge.
But Jesus as God is omnipotent and has infinite power to overcome any temptation. He is also omniscient and has infinite knowledge so He can’t be deceived. So He cannot sin.

An objection could be raised that Jesus as man was not omnipotent and omniscient, so He could have failed. But the counter-argument is that even though He emptied Himself (Php 2:7) i.e. He laid down the independent use of His power and knowledge, His attributes are part and parcel of His nature and cannot be eradicated.
Php 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

To give a trivial example, my car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 sec. Just because I pick up speed gradually and do not use all that power, it does not mean that the power is not there. Besides, as man Jesus always do the Father’s will and kept His commandments:
John 14:31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.
• John 15:10 just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
• Heb 10:7 “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’” (also v 9)

Therefore He cannot sin.

(To be continued)

God Omniscient?

omniscience 2

Q. God already knows how many righteous men were in Sodom and Gomorrah. Why did He have to come down and check?

A. The omniscience of God is well established in Scripture e.g.
Ps 147:5 Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.
• Heb 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
• 1 Jn 3:20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.

God is all-knowing or omniscient.

Yet that had not stopped skeptics from attacking the Bible and discrediting God. Gen 18:21 is one example:
I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.
They claimed “Didn’t God know? How can He be omniscient if He didn’t?” So how are we to understand this verse?

First of all, while we subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible generally, we also acknowledge that the Bible uses figures of speech. One such figurative use is anthropomorphism, the attribution of human forms or attributes to non-human entities, including deities and inanimate objects. God is a Spirit and omnipresent, so He does not literally go “down” from heaven. He does not have human eyes to see as we do; He just knows. When the text says “see if they have done … if not, I will know”, it implies:

1. God will examine the facts of the case before He judges. He is not seeking information that He didn’t already have, but is demonstrating that He ascertains the accused’s guilt before sentencing. The Judge of all the earth deals justly (Gen 18:25):
Gen 11:5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.

2. God’s “going down to see” is not a fact-finding mission for Himself, but for Abraham’s benefit. He had chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice (Gen 18:19). Doing righteousness includes making intercession on behalf of others. God already knew there were less than 10 righteous men in Sodom, but Abraham did not. By “going down to see” He is giving Abraham an opportunity to petition, and to teach him how wicked Sodom really was.

God is omniscient, but atheists don’t know Him and resort to foolish arguments. Pray for them as Abraham did.

Knowledge of Good and Evil (1 of 2)

knowledge good evil 3

Q. What is the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 2:17? What did the serpent (Satan) say it is in Genesis 3:5? In Genesis 3:7, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they realized they were naked and felt ashamed, this is not knowing good and evil. What did God mean in Genesis 3:22 ?

A. This is a good question, missed by many Christians. There are two levels of meaning. First, the literal. The knowledge of good and evil is moral knowledge to discern, to refuse evil and choose good, based on the following:

Discern good and evil:
2 Sam 14:17 Then your maidservant said, ‘Please let the word of my lord the king be comforting, for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and evil. And may the LORD your God be with you.’
• 1 Kgs 3:9 So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
• Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Knowledge of good or evil:
Deut 1:39 Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.
• Isa 7:15-16 He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

Second, the figurative. Good and evil is a figure of speech, an antithesis, a contrast of two things which are direct opposites. Biblical writers use two extremes to represent everything in between. A well-known example is Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that:
• neither death, nor life, i.e. all physical beings;
• nor angels, nor principalities, i.e. all spiritual beings;
• nor things present, nor things to come, i.e. all time;
• nor powers, i.e. all forms of power;
• nor height, nor depth, i.e. all space;
• nor any other created thing, a catch-all phrase;
will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here Paul used 10 things, including 4 pairs of antithesis, to indicate that nothing will be able to separate us from God’s love. Everything is included, with no exceptions. In Gen 3, good and evil is used as antithesis to represent all things in between; knowledge of good and evil therefore means all knowledge i.e. omniscience.

(To be continued)