Since God is infinite and wise, he is infinitely wise. We can trust him to see us through difficult and confusing times.
This attribute is called “communicable” or “shareable” or “transferrable” because God made us in his image and graces us humans with the capacity to enjoy a certain level of wisdom.
Here are key words in theology. The noun means can mean “stepping-stones” or the “steps” to reach an end. And the word end almost always means the goal (think of the end zone in football). Knowing this is important for the next section.
What do theologians say?
Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof defines wisdom by comparing it to man’s (deficient) wisdom and knowledge:
The wisdom of God may be regarded as a particular aspect of His knowledge. It is quite evident that knowledge and wisdom are not the same, though they are closely related. They do not always accompany each other. An uneducated man may be superior to a scholar in wisdom. Knowledge is acquired by study, but wisdom results from an intuitive insight into things. The former is theoretical, while the latter is practical, making knowledge subservient to some specific purpose. Both are imperfect in man, but in God they are characterized by absolute perfection. (p. 69)
Then Berkhof connects God’s wisdom to adapting means (stepping-stones) to ends (goals as in end-zone). Now Berkhof defines it more formally: Wisdom is that “perfection of God whereby he applies His knowledge to the attainment of His ends in a way which glorifies Him most” (ibid., emphasis original).
Wayne Grudem admires Berkhof and borrows from him often. He writes: “God’s wisdom means that God always chooses the best goals and the means to those goals” (p. 193). God’s wise decisions will “bring about the best results (from God’s ultimate perspective), and they will bring about those results through the best possible means” (ibid.).
Norman Geisler teaches what the Hebrew and Greek words are, along with a basic definition on a human level:
The basic Hebrew word for wisdom is chokam (chakam); the Greek word is sophia. Both means “wisdom” or “skill.” Wisdom has to do with the ability to choose the right means for the desired ends. Knowledge is the apprehension of truths in the mind, while wisdom is the application of truth to one’s life, as the book of Proverbs amply illustrates (see also James 1:5) (p. 515).
Geisler continues by relating the term to God:
Since God is infinite and wise, He must be infinitely wise. This is called omnisapience [all-wisdom]. So as applied to God wisdom refers to His unerring ability to choose the best means to accomplish to accomplish the best ends. As such, God’s wisdom is rooted in several other attributes: His omniscience provides knowledge for his wise choices; His omnibenevolence [all goodwill] assures that they will be good choices; and His omnipotence [all power] enables Him to achieve His ends by the means he chooses. (ibid.)
This attribute or perfection of God means that his knowledge of everything enables him to apply it to bring about his goals.
What do the Scriptures say?
I use the NIV. If you would like to see the following verses in many translations or in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
Job says of God in these two verses:
His wisdom is profound, his power is vast …. (Job 9:4)
To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. (Job 12:14)
To create the entire universe, God has to be infinitely wise.
How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. (Ps. 104:24)
Here wisdom is personified and poetically depicted as God’s creation, though it was one of eternal attributes:
The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; 23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. (Prov. 8:22-23)
Isaiah prophesies about Jesus:
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord (Is. 11:2)
It takes infinite wisdom to create the universe:
He made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. (Jer. 51:15)
Daniel praises God:
Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. (Dan. 2:20)
God’s wisdom is so great, no one can fathom it:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Rom. 11:33)
The last verse in Romans says:
To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Rom. 16:27)
God’s wisdom is seen in the entire plan of redemption reaching back to the very beginning:
We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. (1 Cor. 2:7)
God’s wisdom is made known through the Church to spirit beings in the heavenly realm:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10)
In Christ are all the treasures of wisdom:
Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:2b-3)
Christ is worthy to receive our praise for his wisdom:
In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12).
How can I know God better?
Wisdom is transferrable to us humans. We can make the right decisions, by God’s grace and Spirit. It begins by bending the knee to God, another way of saying it is to fear or revere him:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Ps. 111:10)
In that verse, above, one good way to get the fear or reverence in us is to praise God. We are finite, he is infinite, so knowing this elicits praise from us.
In the next passage, God is very willing to grant wisdom to us. Note how knowledge and understanding are synonyms:
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Prov. 2:6)
We shift over to the New Covenant Scriptures (New Testament).
Christ himself is our wisdom:
It is because of him [God] that you are in Christ, who has become for us wisdom from God (1 Cor. 1:30).
Since we are in him, we don’t have to listen to worldly wisdom, but we have access through Christ to God’s wisdom. Jesus enables us to be wise.
We can ask God for wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
Here is a great description of heavenly wisdom:
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)
If we exhibit those characteristics, then we follow the way of wisdom. Good character is part of wisdom; without it, wisdom is false or fake. That verse offers us discernment when someone claims to have wisdom about life.
The best news of all about God’s omnisapience is he will guide us through the most difficult times in our lives. He will achieve his end or goal in our lives, no matter how difficult the circumstances are. He will gladly and generously give you wisdom to solve the problem, to fight enemies, or to be still and know that he is God (Ps. 46:10).
Written by James Malcolm
ARTICLES IN THE SERIES “DO I REALLY KNOW GOD?”
Do I Really Know God? He Is Wise