A Question I Was Asked:

Does God Really Know Everything We Will Do Before We Do It?

Hello, I'm just wondering what your thoughts are about coincidences in the life of a Christian. The website 'Got Questions' states that when Jesus said, 'by chance a Samaritan passed by' that comes from two Greek Words referring to 'supreme authority\ operating in the situation.' In other words, coincidences are God ordained. But I have difficulty believing that everything that happens happens because God ordained it. If I stub my toe on the table leg day after day, I'd just put it down to coincidence or my negligence. Surely, even as Christians we are able to influence our own life, for better or worse, according to the decisions we make. I believe that God certainly leads and directs certain events in the lives of those who love Him. But within that ringfence I suspect we have freedom to choose as well; and sometimes our choices coincide with other people's choices and it's nothing to do with God or Satan having influence over our lives. Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

UK Apologetics Reply:

The simple and quick answer is that both are true, so that:

if a person wants to develop strong arm muscles, those muscles will not become very strong unless regularly subjected to pulling against some resistance or weight - that is how muscular people become muscular. For many, their spiritual character also never becomes really strong without getting continual battles and arm-wrestlings with the enemy. .

1. Having regular accidents, though they are avoidable, might be part of one's own tendencies and personal make-up (I take accidents here just as an example).

2. However, since God knows all things (Isaiah 46:9-10, but see the other Scriptures revealing God's complete knowledge [divine onniscience] at the article's ending), He knows that a person might have that tendency or any other tendency and yes, He allows that situation - or any other - to affect you. In fact, God made you that way. We are all made differently; God wants this and allows it. God did not create automatons or robots.

God does not allow any person to live a constantly trouble-free, or incident-free life, in fact He wants our lives to have 'snags' - how else will we learn? Just think about this: the Bible states that God knew of us well before our human births occurred (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4). If His knowledge of us is that extensive, He would certainly know where one has a habit of maybe clumsily stubbing one's toe! But it's more than that: it's the way He made you and - yes, toe stubbings included!

Just stop and ponder that God allowed Saul to become Israel's first king even though He knew Saul had a flawed character. Humanly, one might think, oh well, He was probably surprised that Saul turned out how he did, but the answer is no, He did know, but Israel had lessons to learn, we all always have lessons to learn and, yes, God allows it and wants it.

Yes, my questioner is right, we do have absolute freedom to choose, but - whether we know it or not - we can do nothing at all apart from God. I failed my first three driving tests. Was that over-confidence, sloppiness, nervousness or negligence on my part? Most certainly, it was probably all of those things, but did God also intend it? Definitely, I believe that He did. So, yes, many years of Bible study have shown me, I believe, that He knows everything that will happen to us, even silly mistakes, and - eventually - we will find every single one to have been beneficial.

But What About Sin?

But what about sin, one might ask, surely God does not want us to sin and yet do we not sin? In the matter of sin, it is just a little different; we are drawn and enticed by the wiles of Satan (James 1: 13-15), but, yes, God does allow it to happen to us. Why? Again, it seems for our eventual good, we might then - hopefully - eventually become battle-hardened in our tussles and wrestlings with Satan, but we always should remain in a continual state of repentance and recognise where we may have succombed, never trying to justify/excuse ourselves.

People are different; some Christians may develop sterling character with comparatively few wrestling matches with Satan, for others such things become part of their lives. John Wycliff said, "The higher the hill, the stronger the wind; so the loftier the life, the stronger the enemy's temptations." This is certainly the experience of many Christians but not, I think, every single one. Just think about this: if a person wants to develop strong arm muscles, those muscles will not become very strong unless regularly subjected to pulling against some resistance or weight - that is how muscular people become muscular. For many, their spiritual character also never becomes really strong without getting into continual battles and arm-wrestlings with the enemy.

Okay, I have digressed a bit here but my points are:

1. We can never do anthing without God being aware of it.

2. If Christian believers, God knows us and walks with us. Yes, He will be aware of our failings and weaknesses, in fact He made us that way, yes, even down to the way you or I banged our knee yesterday!

Another Related Question...

But another related question is this: God knows us better than we know ourselves, yet can He put His complete knowledge of us aside in His day-by-day dealings with us? Yes, I believe that He can. So when Judas first became a disciple God may well have answered his prayers, putting aside His fuller knowledge of what Judas would eventually do. He probably dealt with the young disciple Judas exactly where Judas stood at that point in time. He will deal with you or I on a day-by-day basis, He is able to enter and look into human time and space limits to consider our everyday predicaments - even though He Himself is not subject to such time and space constraints. So although fully aware of how you and I will eventually turn out, He can put that aside as He deals with us and our daily prayers.

Just a Few of the Scriptures Revealing God's Omniscience (Full and Total Knowledge)

Job 28:24; Job 37:16; 1 Samuel 2:3; Psalm 139:4; Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 49:9; Isaiah 55:9; Matthew 10:30; Hebrews 4:13.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.(Hebrews 4:13).

Robin A. Brace. December 14th, 2015.