A Definition for Biblical Counseling
Author: John Henderson
Category: Blog, Counseling, Ministry, The Gospel
Biblical counseling can be defined as a fluid event and process of a Spirit-empowered Christ follower providing face-to-face ministry of the Word to others.
Biblical counseling is a process of focused discipleship. It is one aspect of discipleship. It is an aspect of discipleship focused on the application of God’s Word and walking in God’s Spirit when dealing with matters of life as a whole. Biblical counseling can be defined as a fluid event and process, as part of the Great Commission, when a follower of Jesus Christ in the service of the Holy Spirit provides face-to-face ministry of the Word to others.
The form and flow of Biblical counseling, I believe, does not have to be strictly defined. Biblical counseling may occur in a single moment. It may occur among believers following a bible study or after a church service in the parking lot. Biblical counseling may happen between two people on a park bench or in a schoolteacher’s classroom or in a pastor’s office. The giving and receiving of God’s truth for life may be called an event.
And while Biblical counseling may exist as an event, it is most effective and best understood as a series of events; that is, as a process. The process of encouraging sanctification, bearing with the suffering of others, and applying the truth of God’s Word in a careful way takes time. It takes time to believe and follow the gospel more fully each day. The grace of God, the power of His Spirit, and faithful human effort are needed during the process.
Therefore, for the counsel to be Biblical it must be rooted in God, exalting of Jesus Christ, enabled by the Holy Spirit, and offered in love.
Rooted in God
Biblical counseling gets its motivations, hopes, content, methods, and power from God and according to His Word. For Biblical counseling to be rooted in God, it must acknowledge God as the Creator of all things, uphold the sovereignty and authority of God, remain confident in God’s eternal work in His people, rely upon God’s Word for knowledge, wisdom and direction, embrace characteristic’s of God’s counsel including compassion, patience, wisdom and mercy, and be devoted to God’s glory.
Exalting of Jesus Christ
The gospel changes us. The gospel changes human hearts. The gospel is the core message of Biblical counseling. Therefore, our counsel must uphold the deity of Christ, His incarnation, the sufficiency of His wrath-bearing death, His resurrection, His future return, His present and future kingdom, and His judgment of the world, among many other truths. We ask the question, “Does my counsel present Jesus Christ as the one mediator between God and man and the Person toward whom my sanctification is focused?” There is no other way, no other road, no other person leading to glory, peace, joy, love, unity, humility, purity of heart, clarity of conscience, and hope. Any promise of good and eternal change apart from or in addition to Christ is a false gospel.
Enabled by the Holy Spirit
We live in the service of God’s Spirit, not the other way around. We don’t use Him to serve our purposes. He uses us to serve His purposes. We are His ministers of grace. More than simply referring to the Holy Spirit, we actively trust the Holy Spirit to enable our counsel, give understanding to the minds of the counselee, as well as soften and transform their hearts. Every good and lasting change in the souls of people come by the Spirit’s power.
Offered in Love
The relationship between the counselor and those he or she counsels should be filled with and shaped by Biblical love (1 John 4:7; Colossians 1:28-29). Shaped by Biblical love means motivated by affection for God and genuine compassion for others. It means we seek the eternal good of the person or people we counsel. We should be less interested in the applause of people, and more interested in their spiritual health. We should be less concerned with receiving glory from those we serve and more concerned with helping them give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:26-30). Of course, faithfully holding to these principles will be dependent on the spiritual condition of our souls. Our “mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.” (Luke 6:45)
As Biblical counselors, and believers, we seek the Lord for His grace in these areas. That He would help us know Him and His Word humbly and rightly. That we would learn to counsel according to the Word of the Lord, full of patience and good fruits. That we wouldn’t try to fix people and their problems, but love them well, counsel them with wisdom, and help them see and trust our Savior Jesus Christ.
A Definition for Biblical Counseling 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 2, 2021