Bill Johnson

19 Powerful Quotes on Faith & Theology by Bill Johnson

I’m sure most people reading this will know who Bill Johnson is but in case you don’t know, Bill is the senior pastor of Bethel church where I spent 4 years, including 3 years in their school of ministry.

He has massively shaped my life and as you read the quotes below you will see why!

Here are 19 of my favourite quotes of his regarding the topics of Faith and Theology.


[Tweet “Our problem with faith is not the inability to hear His voice – it’s the willingness to hear others.”] [Tweet “Anytime there’s sweat in faith, it’s not faith.”] [Tweet “We don’t believe because we understand. We understand because we believe.”]

[Tweet “Great faith doesn’t come out of great effort, but out of great surrender.”] [Tweet “The biggest enemy to prayer is praying for something you already have.”] [Tweet “Unbelief often masquerades as humility. It becomes a way of life when it is embraced as a virtue.”] [Tweet “Faith doesn’t deny a problems existence. It denies it a place of influence.”] [Tweet “What you know, might be preventing you from what you need to know!”]


[Tweet “The Bible is not a book of lists that confine or restrict God.”] [Tweet “Much of today’s church relies more on a book the early church didn’t have, than the Spirit they did.”] [Tweet “Many Christians miss out on God encounters because they are satisfied with good theology.”] [Tweet “Bible study without Bible experience is pointless.”] [Tweet “Practical atheism is when you act the same way as an atheist does even when you believe in God.”] [Tweet “The mind is either at war with God or it is being renewed. There is no middle ground.”] [Tweet “God will never violate His Word, but He doesn’t mind violating our understanding of His Word.”] [Tweet “The bible was meant to be read by those in love. It’s sad when it’s not.”] [Tweet “You can’t be devoted to the word more than you are to the Spirit. Without the Spirit it’s dead.”] [Tweet “Religion idolizes concepts and avoids personal experience.”] [Tweet “Jesus did not say, ‘My sheep will know my book’.”]


What was your favourite quote? Let me know in the comments or give it a tweet using the links in the quote.

If you have a great quote from Bill you think should have made this list please do share it!

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    • I couldn’t agree more John an absolute heretic! If only people understood that just because something isn’t generally accepted doesn’t mean it’s not the truth. I’m proud to be called a heretic and I’m sure Bill would be too by the dictionary definition :)

      A person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.

    • haha – love you Jeff! Hope you are doing well! Shoot me an email some time and let me know how you guys are getting on!

    • It’s a true statement. Bill Johnson probably spends more time in the Word than most pastors. He’s not putting down the Word; He’s giving honor to the voice of the Living God. He’s acknowledging relationship.

  1. I love the one about God not minding violating our understanding of the Word. So much of my theology has turned upside down in the last 10 years as I have come to understand more of the goodness of God…..and my newer theology is still absolutely and utterly Biblical!

    • That’s such a great key to understand Jan. I think if we were all honest with ourselves we have all changed so much over the years and the Bible didn’t change and neither did God. Ultimately it was just the lens in which we read the Bible! Amazing how powerful our traditions and perceptions can be in shaping who we are and God is to us.

      Thanks for sharing! Hope you are doing well Jan, it’s really nice to hear from you! :)

  2. ‘Faith doesn’t deny a problems existence – it denies it a place of influence’ – needed that one today. So many problems and obstacles that I’m tempted to only see them and not the open door that is in the midst of it all. Good to remember I don’t have to let the problems be the influencing factor. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for sharing Marjory! Praying for you guys that doors would continue to swing wide open on every front for you, Tom and for Beth with the opportunities God is preparing her for! So looking forward to seeing you all in a couple of weeks!

  3. It’s always a pleasure to be challenged by Bill. He has a gift for condensing a bombshell into a few words! Thanks for sharing.

    • He really does – he’s one of the few people that it hurts my brain to listen to for more than an hour or so! haha Just too much glory packed in there!

  4. Love them ALL – and the above comments. Thankful for people like you and Bill who God is using to undo “religious damage” done to so many! Glory to God as the truth sets us free!! :)

  5. Thanks for this list! I first learned of Bill Johnson back in 2004 when someone gave me a copy of “When Heaven Invades Earth.” My life hasn’t been the same since. I can’t get enough of Bill’s teachings, and I’m sometimes left stunned at the depth of his statements. My love for God and my communion with and faith in Him has grown tremendously since I encountered this way of living.

    • You’re so welcome Kevin. So cool to hear that Bill’s ministry has blessed you so much over the years. I had a similar encounter reading his book for the first time in 2007. I dropped everything and moved to California all the way from Scotland! haha – He certainly carries something!

  6. ‘My sheep will know my book’ so good, hilarious. That’s our problem right there. So grateful for Bill and others like yourself, Phil, who continue to declare and describe the good nature of God.

  7. I knew there was a reason I loved your perspective. I came across your website, but not through any of Bethel associations. Here’s a quote or part of one I heard Bill say a few months ago: “God’s ability to redeem a hellish situation is so profound, that the church has jumped to conclusions assuming God designed the hellish situation.”

    In my view one of the greatest lies the enemy has duped the church in believing.

    • That’s great Dan – it’s amazing how God makes the world so much smaller and puts us in touch with people we need to be in touch with.

      That’s a really powerful point! I wrote a whole bit about that in my article on suffering. So many people are so amazed by how good God is at turning things around for good they start to assume the things He turned around were His idea in the first place! Very sad but extremely true!

      I think you could well be right – it’s certainly a big lie much of the body believes!

      • I’m trying to recall the words of Bill about … “entrusting the world to those who love not the world”. Do you know the one I mean?

  8. Love the last one.
    One of my favourites is ” If you engage with the Holy spirit because you want to merely be effective in ministry, then you’re developing professional intimacy…and what do we call people who are intimate as a profession?” ;-)

    • Yes Jennifer, that second one on faith is a biggie! It’s amazing that we in the church has subtly turned faith into the hardest work there is, when of course it was supposed to be a replacement for work ha ha

  9. Thanks for posting!
    Indeed… “The mind is either at war with God or it is being Renewed… So to those on this path, enjoy the roads of transformation… because we are saved when we believe in Jesus however, we are transformed when we see He believes in us more. Besides, Loving those who love us is easy… but inserting “love” to those who don’t, is the action that “hope” requires.

    • That’s really good Lynn. I love that, saved because we believe in Jesus – but transformed because he believes in us. I’ve heard Kris Vallotton say that as well.

  10. “God will never violate His Word, but He doesn’t seem to mind violating our understanding of His Word.”

    This was my favorite!

    • Oh man! Ain’t that a good one! We really need to learn that our interpretation of the Bible isn’t the final word on God! Because let’s face it we frequently completely misinterpret the Bible!

  11. One of Bill’s quotes that I read in his book Face to Face with God that gave me a “Wow!” moment was when he wrote “Jesus is perfect theology.” If theology is “The study of – ology” “God – theos” and Jesus really is the complete expression of the Father, then whenever we do want to know what the Father is thinking about healing, how to treat sinners, deliverance, demons, etc. we can look to Jesus and see exactly what the Father thinks about everything. This truth could help solve a lot of doctrinal and theological issues that some Christians have.

    • Yes, I love that Nate. There is not greater “Study of God” than Jesus Christ! The perfect image of the invisible God!

  12. All of them were so, soooo good. Bill always blows my mind. But my favorites were,
    “Religion idolizes concepts and avoids personal experience.”
    “The Bible was meant to be read by those in love. It’s sad when it’s not.”
    “God will never violate His Word, but He doesn’t seem to mind violating our understanding of His Word.”

    I’ve been a Christian almost my whole life and had never heard of Bill Johnson up until I came back to the Lord. People always rip on him..calling him a false teacher/apostle, and Bethel a cult, etc. And I always believed it because discernment is really important to me. I thought I was doing myself a favor by staying away! But now I’m realizing that Bill isn’t religious and flaky, he’s the exact opposite. His podcasts always challenge me to be more bold in my walk with the Lord. He’s awesome. And you’re awesome! Thank you for posting these quotes. (: God bless you.

    • Yup – it’s amazing the things people will say about people they will never really listen to themselves.

      I’ve yet to hear someone who has listened to Bill for an hour or so and come to the conclusion that He’s a heretic and wishy-washy. The guy is incredible and one of the most stable, integral and grounded men of God I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. And I sat under his teaching for several years. I should know!

    • Hmm — too true. In fact He rebuked the leaders of the day for thinking that knowledge of the book was the same as knowing God.

      We definitely need to be careful not to fall into the same trap where we value the book so highly (and we should value it massively!) that it supersedes our need to have relationship with God!

  13. Love these man! Keep em coming!

    A few other gems:
    -“Not understanding something is OK, but restricting your spiritual life to only what you do understand is not!”
    -“We don’t justify God according to our theology. He justified us according to His.”
    -“The walk of Faith is to live according to the revelation we have received, in the midst of the mysteries we can’t explain.”

    I’ll throw in a humorous one I just heard. For other readers, it’s completely true in the context he is speaking.
    –> “Sometimes God’s power has been missing so long from the church that when He shows up they think it’s the devil.”

    Blessings to you brother!

  14. ”Much of today’s church relies more on a book the early church didn’t have, than the Holy Spirit they did.” haha! I’ve never thought of it that way, wow! so people like Timothy didn’t have the KJV bible… lol!

    • Absolutely Lighton – in fact if you think about it when Paul was writing his letters to other churches/people he would probably never have imagined that he was writing something that would considered to be “the word of God” at the time.

      We need to always put the Bible in it’s right place. It is incredible and is there for our instruction and guidance. But it is there to function as those things THROUGH the Holy Spirit… not instead of the Holy Spirit.

  15. Mine would be a combination of two: “Our problem with faith is not the inability to hear His voice – it’s the willingness to hear others.” and “Much of today’s church relies more on a book the early church didn’t have, than the Holy Spirit they did.”

    IMO, the second one is a significant contributor to the first one. In my own life, it has always been about information gathering ABOUT God, rather than relationship building WITH God. I love that we have the Bible and love to really dig in for deeper understanding of the text, but when it comes to hearing God speak, I no longer expect Him to do it solely through the Bible. He speaks in and through so many things; we just have to learn to listen.

    • Great thoughts Kevin! I think that’s the most important revelation to have on the Bible. That while it is very important, it does not replace a living active relationship with God.

      When we put our relationship with God first, the Bible brings us to spiritual life.

      If we put our knowledge of God first the Bible leads us to spiritual death.

  16. “What you know, might be preventing you from what you need to know!”
    How we all need to be aware of this.
    Thanks for posting these Phil x

  17. One of my favorites, and I think it is from Bill: “Fear is simply faith in the wrong person”. Thanks for sharing, I have a similar list of quotes from Kris Vallotton, some are so deep and some make me crack up :).

  18. Great faith doesn’t come out of great effort, but great surrender.

    Many Christians miss out on God experiences because they are satisfied with with good theology.

    The bible is meant to be read by those in love. It’s sad when it is not.

    I think I was lucky enough to have been a late bloomer insomuch as I was born again 6 years ago and no prior experience with religion. This allowed me to experience the Early years purely spirit led whilst attending life groups where we went through parts of the bible. Without the experiences of the Holy Spirit working in my life my passion would not be stirred the way it is by sermons or teaching alone.
    I still want my experiences to be spirit led, but I do read the bible and allow the spirit to promt me and challenge me when I do so.
    Be great to hear you again some time: deffo felt the spirit working through you when I heard you!

    • Thanks for sharing Terry – it’s sometimes a blessing in disguise to not grow up in the “church”… hopefully that won’t always be true :)

  19. “You can’t be devoted to the word more than you are to the Spirit – because without the Spirit it’s dead.”

    The same goes with prayer I guess.

    Thanks for these gems Phil.

  20. Bill Johnson has taken simple truths and made them sound profound, but to me he has taken simple truths and made them sound confusing. That’s one way to have a ministry. If you have to unpack it for a month then the revelation is probably a little truth mixed with something not true. This is the common trait of much of these ministers that are confusing the simplicity of the Bible to sound profound. Referring to the Bible as “the book” is in my opinion dangerous. Sugar coated how you want “my sheep know my voice” if it does not align with the book as Johnson calls it, it’s probably not His voice.

  21. I would suggest you try quoting Jesus or any part of the Bible over this heresy. You say you are proud to be a heretic, but being a heretic is definitely not something to be proud of. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to point followers to Jesus, not to give you magical powers. When Jesus healed, he told those healed to tell no one (Luke 8:56; Matt. 8:4; Mark 7:36). The Holy Spirit was sent in Jesus’ name to remind us of Jesus’ teachings and to bear testimony to Jesus’ work. To say that the Holy Spirit is to be our main focus instead of Jesus (“The Word” John 1:1) is heresy and blasphemy.

  22. I wish that I could verbalize just how inadequate I feel when I read anything that has to do with Bill Johnson or Mike Nickel. See my problem is simple. I have been saved since I was a child. I know who my Savior is. I recognize His voice. And His voice has continually said that the Bethel movement is damaging. I say this because I have seen too much that is contrary to the Word. I’ve been bashed for not having a “ton” of faith. I’ve been ridiculed for not being open to the Holy Spirit. Someone even told me that I’m not really a child of God because I refuse to be “slain in the spirit”. So in essence according to the worlds standards I am not a “real” Christian. Someone needs to break down this great doctrinal divide and get to the truth. Enough of the hocus pocus. Enough of the gold dust floating around. The only tangible thing I can grasp is the Word of God and more importantly God Himself. I choose to chase God. Not an emotional high.

  23. Hey Phil-Thanks so much for your site!!!
    When I view your site today, it looks like the 19 quotes are not actively linked/showing????
    Was going to send you a general message about the global legacy link not working too, though I did find GL when I googled it.
    My original reason for visiting today (love your site/mission): I was looking for some quotes Bill did on Apostleship (the apostle like anointing?) in the body. I vaguely recall the series or teaching(s) he did on this subject. Have you run across any?

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