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Philosophy of Ministry

MISSION STATEMENT

ABC exists to encourage, equip, and empower people everywhere to live and counsel the Word, applying the Gospel to the whole experience of life.

  • Encourage: ABC provides a fellowship of believers committed to life transformation through the Living Word.
  • Equip: ABC promotes training in biblical counseling and points to resources that deal biblically with all of the issues of life.
  • Empower: ABC provides excellent materials for growth in Christ and for use in effective biblical counseling.

BIBLICAL COUNSELING PRESUPPOSITIONS

I. God, who made all things, exists and He alone, as the creator of all things, interprets the meaning of things and events. Being created in the image of God, we know that we are dependent on God for the truth. As sinners we suppress this knowledge and reinterpret the universe on the basis that we give all things and events their meaning. Special revelation, which not only informs us but, is also redemptive, is needed to deal with our hostile suppression of the truth. We will hear this redemptive word, the gospel of Christ, only as the Holy Spirit of God brings us to repentance and faith.[1] 

II. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit or traditions of men. [2] 

III. Biblical counselors recognize that the chief understanding of change in those who are professed believers must be grounded in the doctrine of sanctification. If conformity to the image of Jesus Christ is not the central goal of change then change itself must be viewed as merely superficial as it falls desperately short of Biblical transformation. Any system of psychology, “Christian” or otherwise, that fails to acknowledge and operate according to this supposition cannot by nature be categorized as Biblical counseling.

IV. The chief aim of counseling non-believers is that they would be evangelized by the Gospel of Christ so that the fundamental change necessary for their life might occur. 

V. Biblical counselors believe that the primary element of transformation is not inherent in man, but is given to him by God in the form of grace. Grace always propels individuals towards holiness, goodness, godliness, and righteousness. Without such grace, authentic soul change within the counseling process is unattainable. 

VI. Biblical counselors view human experience as always transpiring within the realm of God’s sovereignty. A believer’s suffering (physical or emotional) should not be viewed as arbitrary, but purposeful as it provides a context in which the Holy Spirit equips, empowers, and encourages people to live Christ in all things. Counseling that ignores the sovereignty of God in all circumstances is human-centric as it ultimately seeks to make sense of existential reality independent of the greater reality of God’s divine purposes. 

VII. All people need the counsel of God, which stands in direct contrast to the counsel of our own hearts, counsel of the world, and counsel of others who are conveying the wisdom of man rather than the wisdom of God. God’s wisdom is fundamentally different and antithetical to man’s wisdom. We receive counsel from God through His Word as the Holy Spirit illuminates and reveals truth. We receive/provide true counsel from/to others only as the counsel is shaped by and accurately reflects the counsel of God. Biblical counselors know that Scripture alone stands sufficient in providing a comprehensive understanding of the psychology of man and they do not mix or “integrate” any other false psychologies with the truth of God’s word. 

VIII. Biblical counselors view human struggle from a model of depravity rather than a model of deprivation. Theoretical approaches that are built upon a deprivation model assume an individual’s emotional/mental condition is the direct consequence of unmet psychological needs, poor socialization, genetic predisposition, or emotional wounds. Such a view inherently classifies the human heart as neutral and/or passive. Biblical counselors, however, stress a model of depravity, and recognize the active, perpetual, and intentional influence of the law of sin on the heart of Man. Depravity is viewed as having an active role in thinking, emotion, perception, and living. This depravity always moves individuals away from God and towards self-indulged, self-seeking, and self-absorbed ways of living. Properly understood, the flesh is the greatest enemy with which an individual must contend within life and the counseling process. 

IX. Biblical counselors recognize that individuals who have been reconciled to God by faith are considered perfectly righteous “in Christ” as a result of the finished work of the Cross. Such individuals have been given a new nature that is being divinely transformed by grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, a significant aspect of counseling resides in helping believers in the Lord, Jesus Christ recognize their proper identity as saints of the living God. As such, ultimate evidence of human change resides in God’s finished work as understood in the Gospel, and does not ultimately rest in modern psychological constructs such as symptom relief, sobriety, marital harmony, etc.

X. Biblical counselors seek to reflect the love, compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience of Jesus Christ. They are called to be quick to listen, to encourage the timid and the weak, and to speak the truth in love. Should confrontation or rebuke be necessary, it should be done in a spirit of humility, remembering that authority to do so is not given based upon status, ability, or credentials, but because God’s grace alone has permitted them to speak such truth as His ambassadors and servants of the Kingdom.

XI. Joyful living develops as people learn to live with a reverent fear of God, not by training counselees to place more trust and confidence in themselves. The secular concept of self-esteem stands in direct opposition to the “dying to self” message of the Gospel.

XII. Biblical counselors submit themselves and their counsel under the authority of the Church and it’s leadership. They seek to involve pastors/elders in the process of counseling as deemed necessary and appropriate by God’s Word. This would include areas such as support, discipleship, and church discipline.

XIII. If thinking, behavior, or emotions are classified as symptoms or “disorders” according to secular models of psychology, but are classified as sin according to Scripture then Biblical counselors are wise to address such thinking, behavior, or emotions according to a Biblical understanding while using Biblical terminology. This should always be done with an appropriate understanding on the part of the counselee as to the nature of sin, and how it contributes to their current issue(s). An emphasis on confession and living repentantly before God is essential. God’s grace should also be stressed as to avoid a legalistic or “self-help” mentality that would only serve to exacerbate a counselee’s presenting problem(s).

XIV. Biblical counselors seek to radiate the joy of living a Christ-centered life. A dependence on God in prayer is a vital aspect of their lives and ministries. They seek to conduct themselves in a manner that brings glory and honor to God. They earnestly follow the same precepts of Scripture that are evident in their own counsel to others.

Consider the following verses: Hebrews 12:7-11, I Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 4:22-24, I Peter 4:1-2, James 1: 2-4, Romans 8:28-29, James 4:1-8, 2 Timothy 4:2, Romans 15:14, Galatians 6:1, 1 Timothy 4:16, 2 Timothy 2:24-25, Psalm 139, Titus 2, Romans 8:5-8, I Peter 4:12-19, Jeremiah 17:5-10, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Acts 17:28, 2 Peter 1:3-4, Romans 5:17, I Corinthians 15:10, 1 Timothy 5:20-21, Luke 17:3, Psalm 32:11, Psalm 35:27, Matthew 5:43, John 13:24, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:22-24, Philippians 1:9, Psalm 111:10, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Proverbs 4:7, Proverbs 8:14, Matthew 18:15-19, Matthew 15:19, Psalm 112:1 

©2005 Copyright Association of Biblical Counselors 

[1] Graeme Goldsworthy, “Is Biblical Theology Viable?”, Explorations 11 Interpreting God’s Plan: Biblical Theology and the Pastor, General Editor ? R.J. Gibson, 1998, Paternoster Press, p. 36. 

[2] Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, Section VI