Sean Scott's Blog

The Difference between Knowing God and Knowing the Bible, by Zac Poonen

with 11 comments

It is much easier to know the Bible than it is to know God – because you don’t have to pay a price to know the Bible; all you have to do is study.  You can be immoral in your personal life and impure in your thought life, and still know the Bible very well. You can be a well-known preacher and yet be a great lover of money at the same time. But, you can’t know God and be immoral in your life. You can’t know God and be a lover of money. That’s impossible! And that’s why most preachers take the easier path of knowing the Bible rather than knowing God.

I want to ask you: Are you happy with just knowing the Bible or is there a desperate hunger in your hearts to know the Lord? The apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:8-10 that his greatest longing was to know the Lord better. He considered everything else as rubbish compared to knowing the Lord. Paul gave up all his pearls for this pearl of great price. The secret of Paul’s ministry is to be found not in the years that he spent studying the Bible at Gamaliel’s seminary, but in his personal knowledge of the Lord.

“Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ personally” (John 17:3). We have perhaps defined eternal life as living eternally in heaven. But that was not how Jesus defined it. Eternal life has nothing to do with going to heaven or escaping hell. It has to do with knowing the Lord. To know God intimately and personally has been the passion of my life and the burden of my heart. I know that my ministry can have Divine authority only as I know God personally. And so, in all of our churches, I have sought to lead people to a knowledge of God Himself.

There is more Bible knowledge today than ever before in history. For nearly 1500 years after the day of Pentecost, there were no printed Bibles available anywhere. Only in the last two centuries have Bibles been so freely available. Today, we have so many versions and concordances and study-helps.  But do you think all this increased Bible knowledge has produced holier Christians? No. If Bible knowledge could produce holiness, we should be having the godliest people in history living today. But we don’t. Satan himself would have been holy if Bible knowledge could produce holiness – for no one knows the Bible as well as he does. We have so many seminaries today teaching the Bible to thousands of students.  But, are the godliest people in the world today found in those seminaries? No. Many seminary graduates today are worse than the heathen.

Some years ago, I met a seminary graduate from one of India’s top evangelical seminaries, who had stood first in his graduating class. He told me that after three years in that seminary, his spiritual condition was worse than when he first joined it. What then did that seminary teach him? It had taught him facts about the Bible and about Christianity. Satan himself could have graduated as first in the class, from such a seminary.

What was the use of that young man learning Hermeneutics, and what the “higher critics” had said, and what the root-meanings of Greek words were, if he hadn’t overcome anger, bitterness, lustful thoughts and the love of money? With his newly-acquired certificate, he would soon become a pastor of a church. But, what would he teach the people in his church, whose biggest problems would be moral and not theological? He wouldn’t be able to help them at all, in any of those areas. This is how God’s work around the world is being destroyed.

Only if you know God yourself, will you be able to lead your flock to know Him. If you have victory over sin in your own life, you’ll be able to lead your flock also to victory over sin. Then they too will be equipped to go out and serve the Lord – with authority and power. Do you think the devil is impressed by anyone’s Bible knowledge or degree-certificates? Not at all. Satan fears only holy, humble men and women who know God.

May God help us to lead our younger brothers and sisters to know God.


Written by Sean Scott

November 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

11 Responses

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  1. […] reading here. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  2. ( Note: I cannot presently endorse Zac Poonen )

    This article raises a very important point, but it doesn’t stand on its own two legs : clarification is needed.

    What Zac is pointing out is concerning a head-knowledge of Scripture, and not a heart/spirit knowledge.

    Why did God inspire the Scriptures, old and new testaments?

    If we know the reason WHY He gave us the Scriptures and what HE expects us to do with His Words, and if we understand that in the New Covenant His words are written by His Spirit in our spirit/heart, then we have a clearer understanding of the role of Scripture in our lives.

    In both John 1 and Hebrews 4 (and elsewhere) the Word of God is Personified as being Jesus Christ, therefore without submission to Jesus Christ as LORD, personally, there is no heart understanding, only a dead head-knowledge, which Zac has rightly pointed out, is prevalent in these last days.

    ian vincent

    November 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    • This article raises a very important point, but it doesn’t stand on its own two legs : clarification is needed.

      I agree. I also don’t think that Zac is saying the biblical knowledge is useless, because it’s of utmost importance. Like you said, I think Zac is pointing out dangers of having
      biblical knowledge without having a life that is submitted to Jesus Christ.

      In both John 1 and Hebrews 4 (and elsewhere) the Word of God is Personified as being Jesus Christ, therefore without submission to Jesus Christ as LORD, personally, there is no heart understanding, only a dead head-knowledge, which Zac has rightly pointed out, is prevalent in these last days.


      Sean Scott

      November 5, 2011 at 4:38 am

  3. “Head-knowledge” is bad?

    That doesn’t mean we throw away our intellect.

    God communicates by His Spirit to our spirit, and then, our mind and will must be subservient to His Spirit in our spirit.

    We see this in Paul : totally taught by the Spirit, but not bypassing or short-circuiting his intellect.

    Our intellect is not by-passed (not “park your brain at the door”), rather, it becomes obedient to and under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. Only a submitted man CAN be taught the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit.

    That’s why SO MANY people we meet on the internet do not understand what we are talking about, bcos they have never truly yielded their whole life to Jesus, they still live for themselves, so the Holy Spirit cannot teach such a person, they are left to their own intellect or to be taught by demons.


    Also, there is often presented a very foolish dichotomy : and that is one of having to make a choice between The Scriptures/Bible or The Spirit : some present it as if you have to choose between these two options, which is nonsense.

    They even mockingly refer to the Bible as being, “The letter”, and the Spirit as being, “Freedom from the letter”, but when you meet these people you see that their personal life is a joke.

    ian vincent

    November 5, 2011 at 1:20 am

  4. And when such an unsubmitted, carnal Christian ALSO has a very sharp intellect, then, put those two factors together, then you have a “great leader” in Christendom.

    ian vincent

    November 5, 2011 at 1:25 am

  5. I enjoyed this tremendously! Yes, we need to live a spiritual life & not a fleshly life , like the world”. We are aset apart people, a royal priesthood!! :).

    Rosemary Mijares

    September 18, 2012 at 6:01 am

  6. Thanks bro.. Zac it great blessing for me


    February 28, 2013 at 1:17 am

  7. God thank you for this is a wonderful revelation… Lord open our heart and mind to know you and you alone…thank God…


    April 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm

  8. Yes i want to know GOD and experience d power of d resurrection


    October 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

  9. This is absolutely true and he explained it so simple that you have to have help to misunderstood it.

    Dalene Prinsloo

    May 5, 2016 at 4:50 pm

  10. Very good teaching that is so needed for the church today!…….So blessed and learning from Zac Poonen teachings….God bless Him!

    Tanya Scott

    June 30, 2016 at 8:00 pm

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