A Biblical Counseling Worldview Part Two
Author: John Henderson
Category: Blog, Counseling, Ministry, The Gospel
These five distinctives and ten statements of biblical counseling hopefully provide some structure and support for our biblical counseling worldview.
In a previous post, we discussed particular truths and distinctions that make the biblical counseling worldview unique. This lesson continues that discussion by considering five distinctives of biblical counseling that hopefully provide some structure and support for your counseling worldview: biblical understanding of people, the centrality of worship, the church, biblical love, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
As these worldview distinctives compose a kind of creed about biblical counseling, these ten statements are helpful in defining our understanding of counseling ministry.
BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING OF PEOPLE
A biblical understanding of people is essential to biblical counseling, seeing human nature as composed of inner person and outer person, these constantly joined and interdependent, with the inner person being dominant.
Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man. (Matthew 15:17-20)
- A right understanding of people requires a right view of depravity and sin. Sinfulness is not primarily about doing sinful things, but an entire way of life that devalues God and exalts Self at the very core.
- An appreciation for the role of the physical body, social factors, and demonic influences affecting, influencing, and pressuring the soul. At the same time, an appreciation for how the soul expresses itself through the body and how the body influences this expression.
- Utter dependence upon the grace of God for salvation, from justification through sanctification unto glorification. We are futile to please God or be transformed apart from Christ’s work and His Spirit’s power.
- Whatever rules our hearts, rules our lives, whether the Spirit of God or the sinful flesh (Galatians 5:16-23). The reason we think, feel, and act as we do can be explained by the ruling orientation of our souls. Master, mission, and treasure of our hearts drive and shape everything else.
So we pray for heart transformation, not behavioral modification. We are not interested in producing moralistic people, but people whose hearts have been captured and filled by the Spirit of God and are learning to find all their joy and satisfaction in Jesus Christ.
THE CENTRALITY OF WORSHIP
Worship is natural and unavoidable in human life; worship happens in the hearts of all people, everywhere, and all the time. God created us to worship. God created us with capacity to worship. God calls us and recreates us in order for us to enjoy and offer pure worship.
- We are worshipful beings, whether consciously or not, rightly or wrongly, truthfully or falsely, compelled by the Holy Spirit or compelled by the sinful flesh. Beholding the splendor and beauty of creation will always provoke worship, either of God the Creator or creation itself (Rom. 1:18-32).
- Fear, in a biblical context, may be viewed as an expression of worship and reverence, whether toward God or Man. We always worship what we fear and fear what we worship (Isaiah 41:10; Luke 12:4-7).
- Lust, craving, and sinful passions express a kind of false worship. “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)
- The gospel aims to redeem and sanctify our worship. It turns us from idols to love, serve, and honor the living God (Colossians 3:1-4).
Look at Paul’s train of thought in Colossians 3:1-5. Since we have died with Christ and our lives are “hidden with Christ in God,” and since we will be “revealed with Him in glory,” we should consider ourselves dead to the various forms of false worship he lists in verse 5, in order to “put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge.” (Colossians 3:10)
Listen to how Paul confronted those who tried to worship the apostles at Lystra. “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God.” (Acts 14:15)
The Church is “the organism” that our Lord has redeemed, established, composed, commissioned, and enabled to spread the gospel and apply His abundant gifts to bring about radical change in the hearts of His people to the glory of His grace (Ephesians 4:11-16).
- All believers from all ages across all cultures throughout the whole world compose the Bride of Christ. We are constantly tempted to forsake our one Husband and pursue other lovers. We are constantly seduced by wisdoms and trophies of the world and must be continually returned to pure and simple devotion to Jesus Christ.
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)
Counseling one another toward deeper devotion to Jesus Christ has always been apart of our devotion to Jesus Christ. Our gratitude for his love and our love for him compels us to speak of him and introduce others to him and counsel others to abide in him.
- All believers from all cultures throughout the whole world also compose the Body of Christ – the family of people called, redeemed, and sanctified to represent him on earth. We are constantly tempted to forsake our one Head and pursue other missions. We are constantly seduced by wisdoms and systems for life and world transformation and must be continually returned to pure and simple duty to Jesus Christ. Counseling has always been one of our God-given assignments, a privileged responsibility to “speak the truth in love” to one another. (Ephesians 4:15)
Counsel that flows from God is always expressed in love, “for God is love.” (I John 4:8b) By love, I mean joyfully self-sacrificing for the eternal good of others and the glory of God. Paul understood the importance of biblical love as an outworking of biblical faith, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (I Corinthians 13:1) He helps us understand the nature of biblical love.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8a)
“Love is patient” – It remains steadfast in troubled times and circumstances. When we care for another person, we try not to rush them toward perfection, criticizing them with every failure. Love accepts the longevity and difficulty of the Christian life.
Love is “kindhearted” – That is, love is charitable. It is generous with time, energy, emotion, money, or whatever resources may be needed to care for others.
Love “is not jealous” – it puts aside rivalry, resentment, and lust for victory. We don’t contend with people for the sake of winning, or being right. It also means we serve others for their true good, not for us to possess and use them.
Love “does not brag and is not arrogant” – Love refuses to exalt itself.
Love “does not act unbecomingly” – In other words, we act in a manner befitting the title, “children of God.” (John 1:12b; I John 3:1b)
Love “does not seek its own” – We don’t seek first our own personal interests, but the interests of others (Philippians 2:4) When we love God, we seek His glory rather than our own.
Love “is not provoked” – This means we are willing to bear patiently with difficult human relationships – neither easily angered nor prone to quit in frustration.
Love “does not take into account a wrong suffered” – it doesn’t hold grudges, return evil for evil, and respond to others from resentment and spite.
Love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness.” – We grieve sin. We don’t rejoice in it. We mourn our own sin rather than revel in it.
Love “rejoices with the truth” – God exists and speaks in truth. He hates falsehood.
Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”
In other words, “Love never fails.” True love never ends. The one who truly loves is willing to persevere in love, unable to cease their affection, because the Spirit of God works strongly within his or her heart.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is the Person who brings about good life transformation. He opens blind eyes, softens hearts to receive the message of Christ crucified and resurrected, and compels our sanctification. He is our Helper, the One who comforts us in affliction, seals us, teaches us, and brings us to repentance. The Spirit grows our faith and conforms us into the image of Jesus Christ.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)
The more we see and marvel at the glory of Jesus Christ in the Scripture, the more the Holy Spirit conforms us to His image. He helps us understand, believe, and obey the Word of God. He helps us counsel the Word in grace and truth. He helps us speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
Since the Holy Spirit is the One who helps, convicts, and transforms us, counseling ministry should be full of prayer. When we are prayerful we prove how much we depend on the Lord for strength, comfort, and wisdom. We prove how little we think of our own ability, and much we rely upon the power of God.
A Biblical Counseling Worldview Part Two is part of the ABC’s Equipped to Counsel Certification certification program, which 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 May 31, 2017