The Origin of Counseling Ministry (Part One)
Author: John Henderson
Category: Counseling, Ministry
Counseling ministry has existed from the beginning of the world, originating with God in the Garden towards mankind and for mankind to share with others.
A Big Picture for Biblical Counseling
Counseling is not a new kind of ministry or activity. People didn’t create it during recent centuries. Since the beginning of the world, God has offered His Word for counsel. His Word is truth, touches every aspect of human life, and expresses His nature and purpose for the eternal good of His people. The counsel of God reveals Him and leads down a road of joyful fellowship with Him.
From the Garden Onward
Godly or “biblical” counsel began in the Garden of Eden. Counsel happened between God and Adam soon after his creation. God created Adam and then God counseled Adam concerning the blessed course of life and the cursed one, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) The counsel of God was truthful, His word on issues of life, and loving. His counsel revealed Himself to Adam and guarded a right relationship with Adam.
If Adam and Eve had followed the counsel of God, then they would have lived. They disobeyed and died. They died spiritually and began to die physically, just as God had counseled. Later they would walk banished from the Garden under the weight of curses given to them. Yet their disobedience and death created another moment for counsel in the Garden. As part of His curse upon the Serpent (Satan), God gave promise of ongoing conflict between the Serpent and the race of mankind as well as a promise of ultimate victory through the seed of woman.
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)
Redeemer-focused counsel begins in Genesis 3:15. When we look back with the cross of Christ in mind, Christ-centered counseling began here. The entire Old Testament anticipates Jesus Christ and this passage gives an initial sense of His coming. God offers a message of hope in a coming Deliverer, the promise of a Savior who would once for all defeat the enemies of God and the enemies of God’s people.
These words acted and continue to act as sources of comfort and blessing to all who place their hope in Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve probably found great joy in the promise of a Person who would arise as the seed of Eve and right what they had wronged, bring to life what they had brought to death, redeem those who had become enslaved to sin, and destine for glory those who had become destined for eternal wrath.
On a day sometime later, according to Genesis 4, there came another moment of counsel between God and humanity. When Cain and his younger brother Abel brought their sacrifices to the Lord, God regarded the sacrifice of Abel, but God did not regard the sacrifice of Cain (Genesis 4:4b-5a). So Cain’s “countenance fell.” In other words, Cain became angry and full of self-pity. God counseled Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
Once again, the counsel of God was truthful, His Word pertaining to life and godliness, and full of His love. God revealed Himself to Cain throughout the conversation and offered Cain opportunity for restoration and fellowship. Cain disregarded God’s counsel. Sin mastered him and he murdered his brother.
From God Outward
True biblical counsel comes from God and can be shared with others. Sometime after God gave counsel to Adam in Genesis 2 and before the events recorded in Genesis 3, Adam repeated to Eve the counsel God had given him. We know this because Eve was able to answer the Serpent’s questioning of God’s counsel with knowledge God had given directly to Adam (Genesis 3:2-3).
Consider also God’s counsel to Moses in order for Moses and Aaron to counsel Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1-7). There was God’s counsel to Samuel in order for Samuel to counsel Saul (I Samuel 15:1-3, 10-23). The book of Isaiah begins with God giving counsel through the prophet to a chosen audience, “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the LORD speaks.” (Isaiah 1:2a) The message of Joel opens with a similar statement, “Hear this, O elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the earth.” (Joel 1:2a)
There are many examples of this kind in the Bible: God revealing Himself through His Word so that mankind may live fruitfully and enjoy all the delights of fellowship with the Lord. Then, those who have been given His revealed Word, convey His Word to others so that others may also hear, believe, and live well by God’s Word. As long as we have the revealed Word of God on earth, there is to be biblical counsel on earth.
“Counsel” has existed from the beginning of the world. It originated with God in the Garden. God offered counsel to mankind and called mankind to share it with others in order to display His glory and serve the best interests of His people. Biblical counseling is simply one aspect of God’s chosen means to fulfill His eternal purposes for His creation.
The Origin of Counseling Ministry (Part One) is part of the Association of Biblical Counselor’s Equipped to Counsel Certification program. Our biblical counseling certification helps develop a biblical philosophy of counseling that emphasizes the call of all believers to take part in the work of counseling and discipleship.
Posted on August 15, 2016