And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Overview of Essentials in Biblical Counseling Part 8 The Role of The Church

The role of the church and worship in counseling

            The Christian life is not to be lived in isolation.  Scripture makes it clear that believers love to be with other believers.  The church gathers to worship together and to encourage one another.  In the book of 1 Corinthians we see a strong teaching to publically address sin.  In its sequel we find a strong acceptance of those who have repented of their sins.  In essence, the church ought to be a place in which the counselee works through a cycle of discipleship.  One of the strengths of the church is that believers whom have overcome sin in their lives can testify and help others in their struggles.

            Biblical counseling walks a person through a cycle of growth.  As the counselee is putting off their sins they need to express worship of God, both privately and corporately.  A typical cycle goes from counseling to homework to worship to counseling.

            All this is to promote God centered living.  The focus of counseling is not just for the counselee’s comfort, but for the glory of God. 

            Not only is the counselee to take part in expressing worship in a corporate setting, the counselee needs to hear the word of God preached.  In the church body the counselee must weekly participate in hearing the sermons that her pastor has labored to serve.  Though there is much to be said regarding the benefits of a weekly sermon, let it suffice to say that good biblical preaching will help the counselee to deepen their knowledge and awe of God that will profit their soul.

            Essentially, the counselee needs to be active in a God centered, bible expositing, and encouraging church.


            Biblical counseling is both complex and yet simplistic.  It is complex as sin is a powerful enemy to defeat.  It manifests itself in many camouflaged ways.  The world has helped to equip sinners to ignore, shift blame, and even love our sin.  Sin has a way of enticing us.  It also lays dormant until the most inconvenient or unsuspecting time.  But Biblical counseling is also simple in that Christ is the single answer for help.  It is Christ who both cleanses and empowers the sinner to become a new creation in Him.

            Thus the biblical counselor is an ambassador of God who shares the love and liberality of Christ with fellow sinners for the discipline of discipleship.  This doctrinal process of sanctification is ever showing the sufficiency of Christ.   Biblical counseling and discipleship aim and not just changing the symptoms of a condition shown by behavior, they seek to change the causes of the problem at their source, the heart.  Such counseling is grounded in the word of God and not of the opinion of man.  It holds the sinner to the mirror of the bible to both see their need and yet the completeness of Christ. It brings hope and restoration.

            Counselors are to be humble teachers in the image of Christ.  They, like Christ, are involved in the wok of redemption.  They are to point out not only the sinner’s sin but the solutions afforded by the cross and spelled out in scripture.  The counselee is to take personal responsibility.  This is seen by accepting blame and working in constructive means to change their habits and character.  Both counselor and counselee aim to glorify God by allowing the Holy Spirit to change the person’s heart.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 7 Personal Responsibility and Forgiveness

Personal responsibility before God

            In Nouthetic counseling it is essential that the counselee needs to be led to take personal responsibility.[1]  Many people in secular therapies and in worldly wisdom are well versed in passing the blame.  Some counselees will hold fast to a victim mentality that they believe entitles them to special circumstances of behavior. Blame shifting is one of the sins that most Christians seem to tolerate.  However, scripture is quite clear that we are responsible ourselves for the way in which we respond to circumstances.  Therefore it is imperative in counseling to help the counselee understand that the cross has afforded them God’s help in change.  Again we can bring forth the gospel in application to our daily lives.  James chapter one, 1 Corinthians 10:13, and a multitude of other verses are written for our being equipped to stand in God’s strength rather than succumb to our sin nature.

Equipping the Counselee to Forgive  

Contrary to what is often admonished by the world, the misfortunes of life that happen to us do not afford a right for us to take revenge or to demand our rights.  The counselor can find great relief is given when teaching the counselee about denial of self and of forgiveness.  This responsibility unto God is seen in how Christ behaved in our stead upon the cross and how as we have been forgiven we ought to forgive.[2]

Therefore the doctrine of forgiveness must become a part of the very being of the counselee.  We may need to confront them where there is a need to go and seek forgiveness.  Scripture tells us to examine ourselves before taking the Lord’s Supper, otherwise we may eat it in judgment.[3]  And Jesus Himself spoke of what procedures we must take when confronted with the separation from God that occurs in our unresolved issues with others.[4]

There is also a great demand for counselees, especially those who idolize anger, to forgive others.  We see this in the parable of the unrighteous steward and in the Sermon on the Mount.  If we can lead our counselees to freely forgive we will be setting them on a course of joy and happiness.

Another facet that is essential to counseling is helping the counselee to recognize that by holding onto unforgiveness or to sinful habits they are in fact idolizing sin.  We need to illustrate that by holding onto their sin they are rejecting the sovereignty of God and trying to be their own masters.  Further, they are looking for satisfaction in that which is not of God.  This is why in Galatians chapter five Paul teaches that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.[5]  As a counselor who loves those for whom Christ died we are compelled to share with them these truths.

[1] Romans 14:12,  Hebrews 13:17
[2] Matthew 18:23-35
[3] 1 Corinthians 11:27
[4] Matthew 5:23-24
[5] Galatians 5:21

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 6 Essential Areas of Thought for the Counselor to Address

Essentials areas of thought for the counselor to address

            The counselor will do well to incorporate theology and doctrine into the discipleship of the counselee.  Theology is crucial here.  It is the pattern and plan of knowing God and His expectations.  The counselor helps the counselee build a biblical framework of theology that finds its roots and branches connecting other doctrines and thus enriching the entire life of the counselee.  This helps the counselee to glorify God and to grow beyond the period of counseling.  It opens their heart to the vast intricacies of God.  Theology essentially shows the cause and relationship between the various teachings of the bible.  It helps the counselee to stand like a tree firmly planted by a stream in the storms and drought of life.[1]

The counselor, by way of biblical authority is fulfilling the great commission.  As we are to go and make disciples the counselor is helping people to grow in grace.  Not only is he sharing the gospel, he is living it out alongside fellow Christians.  The essence of the result is that the counselee becomes aware and adept at solving other sinful patterns in life and in turn should help disciple others.


The authority of the Bible and the role of the Holy Spirit

            One of the first and foremost doctrines that the biblical counselor operates from is the authority of scripture.  It is related as God’s word.  It is therefore inerrant and applicable in every day growth.[2]  Being the word of God it is the sole authority on dealing with sin.  The biblical counselor aims to deal with the sins that are the root problem of the counselee.  As the authority of God’s word is established, that sin separates us from God, and is the root cause of most problems, then we can fully address the solutions God had wrought through the cross. If a counselee has a high view of sin they consequently have a low view of God.  The gap between is often the measure of how they perceive their need for God.  Reverse these effects and the gap widens.  It is a wide gap between man and God, once recognized drives the Christian in love and devotion to God.

            Often people come to biblical counseling after the failures of other methods to address and resolve their problems.  Scripture plays a vital role at this very point.  Whereas the counselee has failed and may have an “I can’t” attitude, scripture says that in Christ they can success.  We need to use scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 10:12 to illustrate that though they may be tempted, God will not allow something to push then into sin.  The response to temptation is their choice.  The same verse assures us that in turning to Him we can overcome, we can stand against what is befalling us.  We also can turn the person to James chapter one for a long list of truths that will help us in our fight against the trials of life.

            Just as Jesus said “that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free”, biblical counseling takes its directives from the truth of scripture.[3]  In this manner we are truly getting to the heart of a person’s life and giving them a true solution.  This methodology does even more.  It creates a worship of God in both spirit and in truth.[4]

            The authority of the bible gives validity to the means with which the biblical counselor counsels.  Without this, counseling becomes opinion and short lived.

            The Holy Spirit is not to be belittled in counseling.  He is our Supreme Counselor.  It is only He who can take information and turn it into a conviction.  Thus when we are counseling a person we must emphasize the Spirit’s role.  By turning a person to John chapters 14 through 17 we can equip the counselee with the promises of God to help.  When this is coupled with the truths of Romans chapter 8 there is sufficient encouragement to both depend upon and credit the Holy Spirit.  It ought to be considered essential that the counselor walk with the counselee into an abiding union with the Holy Spirit.  The counselee ought to come to understand that the Spirit helps us understand scripture and enables us to pray.  He also is our conscience.  We need to heed the promptings of the Spirit that will come evermore apparent in our lives when we seek His holiness.  Without the activity of the Holy Spirit our efforts may work a temporary effect, but will ultimately fail to change our character.  As a matter of fact, if we engage in Biblical counseling without a true presence of God in our lives we will often work a great determent to the counselee.[5]

The Sanctification process

            One of the tenants of scripture for Christians is the ongoing sanctification process.  This is why biblical counseling can also be called discipleship.  We find in the process of turning form the old man to the new (sanctification) that we all are incomplete and in need of change in some area.  This should also call us to humility and to not look down on one another, but to be redemptive.[6]  The counselor needs to teach that the Christian life is a process.  This will greatly aid the counselee in their frustrations and expectations.  It needs to be shown that justification is a one time event, and sanctification is an opportunity to glorify God in lifelong perseverance.[7]  Therefore, it is essential that the counselor equip the counselee with the tools for growth over a long haul of life rather than a temporary victory.


            The bible speaks about habit.  Since habit is a reflection of character, and character is at the root of our problems, a counselor need to address the doctrine of habit in a counselee’s life.  A counselor can illustrate the good, bad, and neutral forms of habit.  Since counselees come for help in changing their lives, it will help them greatly to understand the habitual patterns that lead them to failure.  But again, information is not enough.  In order to change a habit a new practice must replace the old.  This is the essence of the renewing of the mind and put on and put offs.  It is also formative to the counselee to both put on practices of right thinking and to amputate the very means of sin.

            One key essential in counseling is what we call Radical amputation.  Radical amputation is a term given to “cutting off one’s hand or plucking out one’s eye” when it causes them to sin.[8]  Obviously this is hyperbole.  A person will still sin in the heart even if these gateways are blocked.  But the idea is to completely remove the temptations and the feeding of sinful habits.  An example of this would be removing a computer from a person’s home if they sin through internet pornography.   The counselor must take this action to help the counselee remove gateways to sin.  If a person is having an affair at work they may need to not only break off the relationship, but also seek a transfer or new employment.  When a counselee is serious about honoring God they will deny self and take the necessary steps of repentance.

Emotions and Response

            Emotions are strong forces.  A counselor will find it essential at some point to discuss the role they play in changing the heart.  Many people become enslaved to their emotions and use them as excuses for their behavior.  Distrust is an example of an emotion a wife may have against her adulterous husband.  She may even say that his presence in the home is a source of stress. We need to counsel the woman on how she lets her emotions get in the way of reconciliation and restoration.  Some emotions such as anger, brooding, and jealousy are more easily seen.  Some emotions, such as panic attacks, are more difficult to explain as not being actual physical factors.

            Since people respond with emotions to every situation we need to illustrate that to be children of God we must respond biblically rather than sinfully.  Emotional responses may be habitual.  They also often drive our decision making for quick fixes or self serving means.  The goal of the counselor is to bring the counselee to a greater maturity in Christ in that we respond as James and Paul says with joy in the various trials.[9]

[1] Psalm 1
[2] Colossians 1:9-14
[3] John 8:32
[4] John 4:23
[5] Hebrews 6:4-6
[6] Galatians 6:1
[7] Galatians 6:9, Matthew 24:13
[8] Matthew 5:30, 18:8
[9] James 1:2, Colossians 1:24

Friday, January 20, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 5 Homework

The Role of homework in counseling

            As mentioned above, homework is essential in counseling.  It is the connection between counselor and counselee that works to provide data and a regimen of working through problems.  Counselees do homework as a means of moving beyond their habitual problems to live victoriously in Christ. We seek to change habit patterns with a practical application of scripture for homework.  As the process progresses, counselees will be given a structured plan of homework that is tailored to their problem.

            Data gathering is the main function of homework for the counselor.  It is not the sole means, but it drives the counseling sessions.  Counselors will review homework for a clue to habits, changes, and progress in the counselee.  It is by means of successful victories, evidenced in homework, that the counselor will know when to let the counselee discontinue regular counseling sessions.

            The most essential piece of homework for the second session is the Personal Data Inventory (PDI).[1]  This homework form is an extensive questionnaire of the thoughts, background, habits, concerns, life situations, and past counseling history of the counselee.  Upon completion of the PDI the counselor reviews each answer with the disciple during the second session in order to gain a clear understanding of why the counselee is attending counseling.  He also uses this as a time for the answers to be expounded upon, probing for more details. This is essential to the progress of the future sessions.  The PDI often reveals core issues that are deeper than symptoms that the counselee may believe they need to address.

Because there are certain physiological conditions that may affect behavior, the counselor should also assign the Health History Questionnaire as homework in the initial session.  It is essential that the counselor investigate physiological conditions that could be the cause of improper behavior. This is intended to gather data that will help the counselor know if a person has had thyroid or diabetic problems or other conditions that may influence their abilities.  It will also reveal what medicines they are taking.  This is important as some medications have behavior altering side effects.

 Another critical piece in solving problems for counselees is dealing with the stigma of labels assigned to them from psychologists.  For example, a person who believes that they are bipolar may blame mental illness for their actions and thusly attempt to solve their failures through pills rather than accepting responsibility for sin.  We may find situations where we will have to discuss the diagnosis of mental illness and psychological labels and how they are often assigned.  This is in contrast to verifiable data and to biblical teaching.  We must be very careful when discussing medications with clients.  Only a trained physician should recommend or change prescriptions for a counselee.

For the counselor, the homework assignments are designed to find information about habits and thoughts that must be understood.  When a counselor is not completely sure of a pattern, motive, situation, or cause of a person’s behavior then they should assign specified homework.  This may include assignments regarding marriage failures, personal habits, personal struggles, and interpretation of scriptures.  Constantly there are new and improving assignments developing for data gathering.  Biblical counselors need to be continuing their education in order to be aware of these advances.

            The second role of homework is for the direct benefit of the counselee.  Whereas the counselee and counselor meet only once a week, homework fills the void with daily assignments that cause the counselee to think about and understand the problems and solutions relevant to their needs.  Just as we daily need God and not just on Sunday, homework brings to practice the presence of God on a daily basis.

Homework is to help a counselee to begin with action for change, even when they do not have the emotional feeling to do so.  The changing of habits is rarely enjoyable or easy at the beginning. Thus the counselor uses homework to motivate and direct a counselee to do that which is necessary to begin new character traits. 

            Through Paul’s admonitions to put off and put on, counselors seek to create patterns of behavior that accentuate this truth.[2]  A homework assignment for an angry wife may be to daily perform and record three acts of love for her husband.  This puts into motion proper behavior.  As the sessions continue the emotional character of love and forgiveness will follow.

            Homework also helps in renewing the mind.  As James commanded us to “receive the word implanted”, we are to be “hiding the word in our hearts”, that we would not sin.[3]  Homework is designed to help the counselee think godly thoughts.  Here God softens the heart and brings truth to fruition.  The homework serves to become a constant prompter to follow the ways of God.  Without mind renewing homework the counselee will never take to heart the truth that sets them free.

[1] I say second session as usually the first session is reserved for explaining the nature of Biblical counseling and the requirements of the counselee to honor God, do what God says, and to complete the homework.  The counselee takes the PDI home and returns it prior to the scheduling of a second session as a way of signifying commitment to biblical counseling.
[2] Eph 4:24, Col 3:10
[3] James 1:21, Psalm 119:109

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 4 The Role of the Weekly Meeting

The role of meeting in counseling

            One of the most essential factors for the process is the encouragement and training the counselee receives through weekly meetings.  These meetings will be structured to make the best use of time and to keep the counselee moving forward in the best possible manner.  The following elements serve both parties in the process toward this goal.

            Encouragement and hope are the essence of the promises of God.  As Christ has said that “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, the counselor is a conduit of this truth.[1]  God is glorified as the counselor points the child of God to the word of God and the sufficiency of God.  Most persons in counseling are there because of frustration, aggravation, or a recognition that they are in trouble.  In either situation they need hope.
            Hope may well be the most essential part of keeping a disciple on track for sanctification.  Each week as the counselee comes for discipleship the counselor is blessed to be the giver of hope.  The counselor sees that hope and encouragement help to motivate the counselee to continue in their efforts, even if there has been failure since the last session.
            Data gathering is a process that is always continuing in the weekly meetings and in homework.  Some homework is specifically designed to give the counselor more information.  It may look for patterns, repetitions, points of failure, attitudes, and other facets of thinking and behavior.  Data may be gathered in reviewing the homework or even the sharing of stories behind situations.  The trained counselor will also gather data in the passing comments or actions of a counselee.  These things are called halo data.  Reaction to questions by facial expressions and body language may also be considered as halo data.  This data is observed in the peripheral. Someone may change the subject or grind their teeth while discussing issues.  These responses often indicate areas that need further probing for data to make and effectual time of discipleship.
            When a counselee is weekly attending sessions a sense of accountability develops.  They know that the counselor will hold them to deadlines.  They also can expect that they will be giving answers as to their behaviors and homework efforts.   They are expected to build upon the lessons of the previous session.  Should they fail in some area they know that they will have to answer for their actions, but also, gain insights for improvement and encouragement.
            Objective opinions of the counselor will also play a major role in counseling.  Though the counselor is aiding the counselee, they are not taking sides.  Here is where biblical counseling differs greatly from secular thought.  The counselee is held responsible for their actions by the word of God as taught by the counselor.  The counselor will not allow excuses and yet will not be taking sides.  They simply will represent God and hold the counselee to the truth.
            One of the essential roles of meeting with the counselor is confrontation.  Though unpleasant, confrontation is the turning point of all counseling.  Adams suggests that there are three implications in confrontation; implication of a problem, the presupposition that an obstacle that must be overcome, and that something is wrong in the life of one who is confronted.[2]  It is here that the counselee faces the reality of their behavior resulting from sin and its ongoing consequences. They are confronted to make a life altering choice. Confrontation can be met with denial or repentance.  In many cases the counselee may shift blame and responsibility.  Either way, the counselor uses confrontation as a means of helping the counselee by getting to the very heart of their problem.
            The meeting time then plays an important role in the thinking of the counselee.  Because many come with a preconceived diagnosis, based upon what they have been told or heard on television, the counselor will also have the task of helping the counselee to think biblically about their life.  Biblical thinking about their condition is a critical step in the process.  Often the world calls sinful habit being bipolar, or a mental illness.  For example; alcoholism is the definition the world gives to a “disease” of failure to resist the temptation to consume alcohol.  The bible calls it being a drunk. Again, language is important.   As a counselor we can not treat the cause unless we properly aim at its target.  The world often seeks to treat symptoms, but the biblical counselor aims to see God change the heart of the person.  We can also use this to build hope in the counselee.  Once they recognize the problem as sin they can place hope in Christ to pay for and overcome that sin.  The world has recovering alcoholics; in Christ we can have new creations.
Praying with the counselee
            In counseling the role of prayer is imperative.  The counselor can build a great deal of hope in the heart of a counselee just by praying with them.  As the counselor prays with the disciple it will provide several helps.  First it helps them to realize the depth of the counselor’s care and compassion.  Second it models for them how to pray.  Many counselees will suffer from an inadequate prayer life.  After a few weeks it may be quite helpful to get the counselee to lead in prayer.  When married couples come for guidance we ought to have them pray together.  Thirdly, prayer puts the focus on God as being our helper, not the counselors.  Fourth, we can use prayer to teach on of the most essential doctrines of the church.  Therefore, participation in prayer equips the saint for growth beyond the counseling room.

[1] John 8:32
[2] Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel,  p.44.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 3 The Role of the Counselee

The role of the counselee in counseling

            The counselee must be willing to change.  To do so then necessitates that the counselee is submissive to the counselor.  For effective discipleship the counselee should understand that the counselor is looking unto their best welfare and though forceful, it is all done in an effort to break the habits of life that are not honoring to God in order that new character place.

            In the process of change, counselees begin by understanding their problem and the subsequent habits of that setting.  However, understanding the issue is not enough.  Counselees, in order to become God honoring, need to actually change from the old fleshly self to a new spiritual creature.  Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that in Christ we are a new creation, however we still fight against the flesh. [1]   We read in Galatians about fruits of the flesh and fruits of the spirit.[2]  These then address the command that we are to be holy in Christ.  This requires action.  Paul counsels us to put off sin and fleshly desires and to put on the righteousness of Christ.[3]  The counselee needs to understand the difference between temporary change and of character, or heart, change.  We should illustrate to the counselee how under observation, a person may act in a way that is expected.  Yet, when not observed a person may act entirely different.  This is not  the permanent change we are seeking.  The same is true in the process of counseling.

            Therefore the counselee has a role in actively pursuing righteousness while crucifying the flesh.  Honestly repentant believers will therefore be submissive to the training they are given.  They will accept that they must put off old habits and practice new ones.  To do this they will participate in homework, scripture memory and application, and activities that may be assigned.  Most will struggle at first.  But the counselor is an essential ally in the Nouthetic process of victory.

            In order to proceed with counseling, the counselee needs to make three commitments.  They need to commit to honoring God, doing what He says, and complete the homework.  Without these three rules of engagement counseling will fail.

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 6:12, Romans 7:5-28
[2] Galatians 5:16-23
[3] Colossians 3:10, 12

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 2 The Role of the Counselor

The role of the counselor in counseling

            The counselor should see their own personal need of constant discipleship.  It behooves the counselor to be humble and sympathetic with the shortcomings and sins of his counselee.  Quite often dealing with other people’s sins will bring about a revelation of our own personal condition.  God can greatly use this in the life of a counselor to improve his abilities.

The counselor’s attitude should be that of an ambassador of God.  Essentially they are a bridge of understanding for the one who needs encouragement, direction, and explanations of the grace of God.  For a counselor to be effective he or she must be equipped with many additional characteristics.  A heart of empathy, an unbiased attitude, and skill at being firm yet establishing hope are all indispensable.

            A shepherding counselor seeks to honor God and love the counselee by dealing with the cause of the problems, not just the symptoms.  And no better imagery comes to mind than that of shepherd.  As in Psalm 23, the counselor is taking a suffering person and leading them step by step through valleys and pastures, training them in righteousness.  The counselor will answer to God for his faithfulness to the bible as God’s word for life. 

To be effective, the counselor calls sin sin.[1]  We must remember that language is important to biblical counseling.  He does not soften the reality of transgressing against God.  In the same context the counselor does not soften the abundant forgiveness and restoration of God when one repents.

            Each week it is the counselor who evaluates the progress of the counselee.  This is critical to giving hope as well as keeping the student on track for success.  Many counselees will try to manipulate situations or dominate the discussion.  The counselor however must be keen to these diversions and prepared to keep the goal of sanctification in sight.

            Because the counselee is looking to a counselor for help, the counselor must again be humble and a man or woman and of impeccable character.  They should posse great listening skills and communication practices.  Patience will also be required as they attempt to train sinners in righteousness while being a sinner themselves.  The problems of counselees will weigh heavy upon their own hearts and will reveal their personal sinfulness. 

            That being said, the counselor must be someone who has a solid theology, knowledge of the word, and of prayer.  An excellent counselor is one who has experienced deliverance from a gripping sinful habit, and recognizes their present shortfalls.

            Counselors are the pace setters of the weekly meetings.  Many counselees come to a biblical counselor after having experiences with secular psychologists.  Some will tell the counselor their previous and self diagnosis.  Counselees that have accepted the labels of psychology will need to see how God views them.  Others will inadvertently command much of the session time by zealously talking about their thoughts on the matters at hand.  These presuppositions of the counselee can become problematic.  They tend to focus on problems rather than solutions.  By monopolizing the time they are in effect avoiding the truth and listening only to what they want to hear.  The role of the counselor is to pilot the ship of sanctification.  The counselor needs to be aware of these pitfalls to progress and should lovingly but firmly direct each step of the process.

            In all that the counselor does it is essential that they build hope into the life of the counselee.  Through theology, listening, and even confrontation, the counselor, equipped by God, can see incredible results through the building of hope.  Without instilling hope the disciple will give up.  With hope from the counselor they will exercise faith and persevere in the trials ahead.  The counselor’s most direct access to the heart is with the hope found in the scriptures.

[1] What the bible calls sin a counselor should call sin.  It lessens the severity of the offense against God to call adultery an affair.  By agreeing with God in the language of the bible the counselee can begin to see the widespread consequences of their sin as not only against their victim, but even more so against God.

Monday, January 16, 2012

An Overview of Biblical Counseling Part 1

These days I am thrilled with my studies in Biblical counseling.  The deeper I study the more I am humbled for my very being abd in awe of my Creator.  I also find great hope.

Recently I finished up counseling a dear sister.  Over a relatively short time the truth of scripture took hold by the work of the Holy Spirit in her life.  She now redily testifies that "She didn't need pills but needed what was in the bible."  Now there are times where medication is necessary.  But we ought to look to find that our Savior died on a cross to not only give us the grace of forgiveness, but to set us free from bondage and effects of sin.

It is my hope that over the next few days these posts will help you to gain insight to the methodology and implimentation of Biblical counseling.



            Though there are a myriad of viewpoints in secular psychology, and five main vistas of counseling that use the scriptures as some reference, this paper will focus from the single viewpoint that the bible and its teachings are sufficient in itself for counseling.[1]

The scope of this paper is to highlight the essentials of counseling others. Biblical counseling is merely an intense form of discipleship, usually focusing on a particular issue.  It should be apparent that discipleship from the bible is treated as the only viable work of grace for the Christian in behavior.

            This paper will attempt to briefly cover those aspects of discipleship and biblical counseling that structurally support effective spiritual growth.  Working from the admonition to be holy as Christ is holy, and pursuing the earth long trek of sanctification, biblical counseling seeks to fulfill the believer’s purpose in Glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.[2]

The role of the gospel in counseling

            Without the gospel all counseling is in vain.  It would be of no use to work in the motives and mind of a person, to even see lasting change in their behavior, and still miss the glory of God.  The greatest need for the counselee is a saving relationship with Christ,  This is why we evangelize the lost before we counsel them.  The gospel is the motive of all biblical counseling.  It is what empowers us to change by the working of the Holy Spirit. [3]

            Counselees need to be aware that they were bought with a ransom price by Christ Himself.  The gospel message evokes in us not only a thankful indebtedness, but a love for God.  Discipleship stems from the realization of being saved from wrath, as a free gift of God.  Further, God is glorified when we are discipled and the sanctification process is a joy of our life.  The turning from sin to God is an act of worship.

            Biblical counseling and discipleship are often called Nouthetic Counseling. This term was first utilized by Jay Adams.[4]  It refers to the admonishment from scripture to be a disciple.  This view of counseling sees the scriptures as sufficient for addressing the sin issues that plague man.[5] It reveals that we need to be taught of God.

            As stated above, anyone who is in biblical counseling needs to be a Christian.  If not, all that we do should be considered evangelistic pre-counseling.  We thus take such opportunities to evangelize non Christians.  The entire structure of biblical counsel is predicated upon the counselee having a saving relationship with Christ.  Outside of this relationship the person is powerless to change.  Inside the relationship we can illustrate the entire bible as being promises based upon the character and covenant of a redeeming God.  This is what is essentially different in biblical counseling than all other methods or even integrations. Biblical counseling bases its hope in God.

            Therefore, if the gospel is central to the discipleship of a counselee, the bible must also be considered as such.  Second Timothy chapter three is a treatise on this fact.  It simply outlines how in last days people will seek counsel that appeases themselves, and the remedy to such is by the grace of God through His word as fact and goal for living.  For biblical counseling we find it essential to share its distinctive difference from secular counsel. 

            With the truth of God’s word and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit we can also safely say that modern psychology has no place in counseling.  Christians for centuries have found that God’s truth can set them free.  This axiom has never changed.  To integrate any other teaching would be to both dilute the power of the gospel and to shift glory from God to man.  Therefore, the biblical counselor will have to use sound theology and good communication to share with counselees the promises of God for their sanctification.  It must again be stressed that biblical counseling is not like any other methodology.

[1] Johnson, Eric ed., Psychology & Christianity; Five Views., Downers Grove, IVP Academic., p.40.
[2] 1 Peter 1:16; and Vincent, Thomas. ed; The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture, Carlisle, PA. Banner of Truth, p.13
[3] (Colossians 1:9-14 and Romans 8:5-9)
[4] Adams, Jay. Competent to Council., Grand Rapids, Zondervan. 1970. p.44
[5] 2 Timothy 3:16-17