When Knowing Your Bible is Not Enough


I have known my Bible as long as I can remember.  I grew up a “pastor’s kid” who spent most of my waking hours in church.  There was Sunday School, Children’s Church, VBS, and Wednesday Night Church.   When my parents became missionaries overseas, we attended a Missionary Kid School.   This resembles Christian School, but adds an extra dimension of theological intensity.  I could say the books of the Bible backwards & forwards.  I learned all the Bible study methods.  I read the Bible for homework, memorizing countless verses for a grade.  By the fourth grade I could argue Calvinism versus Arminianism on the playground, and very often did.  After high-school came Christian college, and more Bible study.  Somewhere along the line, while striving for that “A” grade in Bible class, I failed to take God’s Word to heart.

I made the mistake of treating this book like a textbook. . .just another part of my education.  Knowing about the Bible did not equal spending time with God, or having a personal relationship with Him.

Somewhere along the line I failed to take God’s Word to heart. 

My time with the Lord did not become powerful in my life until I could read it for no other reason than I wanted to know God more, to understand more of what He is about. In the past…

I have read the Bible like taking my medicine.

I have read the Bible to better myself, like working out (out of love for myself)

I have read the Bible to be a better mom or wife (out of love for my family)

I have read the Bible because of Christian peer pressure (out of love of approval)

I have read the Bible as a “good work” to earn God’s favor and avoid judgement

I have read the Bible so that my kids would see me, and mention it at my funeral.  (“my mom was always in the Word. . .”)

When I can set all of those things aside, and open the Bible to commune with God, and find out more about Him, everything changes.  He is infinite and mysterious, & I want to know Him more.  The focus needs to be off of me, and in pursuit of Him.  Odds are, you have some wrong-thinking about God.  I know I very often do.  Maybe always.  I need to be regularly corrected about His character, His purposes for me, His eternal plan, His priorities, and His view of me.  That’s what happens when I read His Word.

Set all of those things aside, open the Bible to commune with God, find out more about Him, and everything changes.

He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through a Book. I cannot know the One True God apart from His word.  I can know ABOUT God from my friends, my pastors, my parents, or podcasts, but I cannot know the One True God apart from His Word.  And how can I LOVE what I do not KNOW?

Today, my time in the Word usually looks like this:  I read through a book of the Bible at a time in a quiet place.  Often at night before bed.  There is no set amount. . .sometimes it can be a few verses, sometimes chapters.  I have a one-year-bible that I use, because I want to read it all in an orderly way.  I am not an achiever.  I will not read the whole Bible in a year.  Sometimes I need to think about just a few verses, and cannot move on until I have let them sink in.

I can know about God from my friends, my pastors, my parents, podcasts, but I cannot know the One True God apart from His Word. 

*THE KEY FOR ME:  I am reading in expectation that God has revealed Himself in these pages. . .and that this is important for me to know.  There is always something new.  I have been amazed many times by a jolt to my heart as my mind and my emotions are hit by the Truth of Who He Is, when they have been drifting away.  I have felt rebuke, correction, training, comfort, strength, peace, joy, conviction. . .during this time.  Sometimes my heart has reacted without my head understanding why.

This is no ordinary book.  It is meant to be read & understood by everyone from children to little-old-ladies. . .you do not need special training.

Look to the Word to know your Creator, and it will change your heart.  It will not return void.  It is supernatural.  I have experienced the truth of Hebrews 4:12:  “For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Often times, it does take a lot of discipline, but I have come to a place in my life that I know I simply cannot live without it.

How can I love what I do not know?

What does your time in God’s Word look like? What is your motive in reading? If you claim to know God, but don’t spend time knowing Him, how can you love what you do not know?

However you choose to spend time in the Word, begin by remembering that it’s not about how many verses you can memorize, or theological points you can recite, it’s simply about knowing more of who He is, and who you are in Him.


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Jen Ratzlaff is a wife and mother of three who currently resides in Clovis, California. She devotes her time to her family and her home, and to trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus. Jen is moved by the power of God’s Word to change lives, and desires to pass it on. Her life-blood is coffee, and she loves a good biography and a comfy chair.

  • cheryl

    I loved the reminder of the “why”. Made me realize i had already forgotten what I read this moorning–the truth that was going to guide my day today.

  • http://www.korimauchphotography.com Kori

    Thanks so much for this, Jen. My precious friend, your sister, shared the link on her facebook page and I’m super thankful she did. Needed this reminder.

    • Jen Ratzlaff

      Praise the Lord, and I am so glad you have my sister in your life. . .she is the best!

  • Janie

    Eloquently stated, Jen. And SO true. Praying that I would always be careful to do the same…to delve into the revealed truth of the Bible for the purpose of knowing HIM and in turn to be made more like him in the process. Loved this.

    • Jen Ratzlaff

      Thank you so much Janie!

  • Beth Nicoletto

    Jen, I know I’m like, WAY late to the party, but seriously this post has really stuck with me since it was published and I read it. It hits home and is AMAZING! Thank you SO much!!

    • Jen Ratzlaff

      Thank you Beth! Thanking the Lord that He is using this.

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