O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139:1-6 ESV
God cannot learn. This is an idea of God’s omniscience I had never pondered before today. There is no new knowledge to God; nothing can be added to his knowledge, for He is aware of all knowledge.
A.W. Tozer in his book The Knowledge of the Holy puts it this way: “To say that God is omniscient is to say that He possesses perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn. But it is more: it is to say that God has never learned and cannot learn.” (Tozer, 1961, p. 55)
We as humans have a tough time grasping this truth. We can state it as “God knows all” but when we say it in a negative form like: “God cannot learn,” something in us tweaks and has trouble now grasping something we thought easily grasped. We as finite human beings always learn and are always learning. Our brains take in and give off so much information that to say someone can’t learn is so foreign we balk at the very thought of it.
Yet God is so knowledgeable that learning is impossible, for God to learn would be for God to admit he didn’t know something and that some other being had information He Himself did not possess. It would be to admit flaw and the Bible says that God is perfect and without flaw. (Matthew 5:48)
Tozer, in The Knowledge of the Holy also says: “We have seen that God had no origin, that He had no beginning that He requires no helpers that He suffers no change, and that in His essential being there are no limitations.” (Tozer, 1961, p. 56)
Tozer here is going through the list of attributes of God in which he already discussed in the book, but when you look at this list, God is so other than us! He is so close, yet so foreign, so attainable yet so unattainable. He is Holy, set a apart and so hard to conceptualize. These attributes especially that of Omniscience is what I believe causes hang ups for those who don’t believe.
How can we be made in God’s image, yet Him be so foreign some may ask. My answer may not be the best, but it’s simple: we have to have faith that it is true, we all believe in something and having a being who created everything in this world not be unattainable seems awkward at best. I mean think about it: this world has been here for at least 10,000 years and we still have no clue as to how all things work. Why would we expect to know the maker?
God’s omniscience freaks me out a bit, but it is also very amazing to think that He knows so much that He can never learn anything!
I love that God is a mystery. I love that I can’t box him up and put a bow on Him. I love that He is so very “other” (or Holy) that I can’t even scratch the surface of who He is. He graciously gives us glimpses as to His true nature…but even those revelations stump us and make us dig deeper! Oh how I love that about God! Plunging the depths of His ways, plunging headlong into the bosom of who He is, drowning in the wealth of it! It’s unparalleled in its amazing-ness!
A.W. Tozer was a man of a great wealth of knowledge and he has even today, some great insights on who God is, was and will forever be. Tozer discusses how easy, yet hard it is to understand the omniscience of God and says it is easier for us to understand these deep truths by thinking in what God is “not” rather than what “God is.” To illustrate this, he says in The Knowledge of the Holy ” And that abrupt statement by God Himself, “I am the Lord, I change not,”[Malachi 3:6] tells us more about the divine omniscience than could be told in a ten-thousand word treatise, were all negatives arbitrarily ruled out.” (Tozer, 1961, p. 56)
I agree, Tozers negative statement: God cannot learn caught my attention and made me better understand God’s omniscience! God is deep, vast and Holy! We serve a Mighty God!