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Biblical Counseling

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‘Biblical counseling is a time period of special pastoral care during which a suffering believer is invited to apply the antidote of medical treasury of Scripture to specific diseases of the soul according to God’s special purposes for this person: restoration, regeneration, strengthening, consolation, edification, correction, wound dressing, healing, etc. – all that a soul needs to continue growing in grace.’ Ron Harris

SEVEN AFFIRMATIONS 

  1. WE AFFIRM that truly biblical counseling is pastoral. Counseling is a function of the shepherding work of the local church leadership. The shepherd’s work includes counseling and the shepherd’s equipping work includes training of counselors. Counseling that is biblical will not replace or usurp the God-ordained leadership position of a pastor-elder. Since counseling belongs in the church, the biblical counselor should support and extend the elder’s private pastoring to individuals in face-to-face interactions focused on application of the Bible.
    Col 1:28, 29; 1 Thess 5:12; Eph 4:11,12,16; Col 3:16; Rom 15:14; Neh 8:8; Acts 20:20, 31.

  2. WE AFFIRM that truly biblical counseling ministers through Scripture. The Bible, as God’s authoritative and sufficient self-revelation, provides the church with the true interpretation of man’s problems and reveals effective solutions to those problems. Common grace activities, such as medicine and legitimate psychology, must be welcomed and employed as providential subordinate aids to the primary categories of Scripture. Honoring the Bible’s claim to sufficiency means using only terms, categories, and concepts that are clearly taught in Scripture for understanding people’s trials and concerns and for giving counsel.
    2 Tim 3:16, 17; 2 Pet 1:3,4; Matt 4:4; Isa 8:20; Neh 8:8; Jas 5:14; 2 Chron 16:12.

  3. WE AFFIRM that truly biblical counseling requires ongoing diligent, exegetical work. The Bible does not present itself as an encyclopedia of proof texts containing all facts about people, problems, and solutions. The call of Scripture is to continually labor and think deeply about the way Scripture speaks to the counselor, the counselee, and what it says about the human problems. Scripture provides sound and genuine antidotes for specific problems in the life of God’s child (particularly, in the case of a defiled conscience). Counseling that is truly biblical is the fruit of careful and conscientious exegesis based upon sound principles of interpretation, applying solid, systematic theology to the specific current personal and societal issues in the life of the counselee.
    2 Tim 2:15; Neh 8:8; Jer 8:8; 2 Tim 3:16, 17; 2 Pet 1:3,4; Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:6,11.

  4. WE AFFIRM that truly biblical counseling spends most of its time where the problem is the greatest – the heart. Biblical counseling is concerned above all else for the guarding of the heart. The Scripture addresses the human heart, and biblical counseling will always focus and labor there. The greatest outward changes, without growth in grace, are but refined hypocrisy that provokes God’s wrath with empty forms of godliness. The smallest step of repentance and faith in its concrete details, even with weakness and failings, is of great worth in God’s sight, though it may be unnoticed by people. The man will not do what the heart does not will. It is the inward man, the castle of the heart, that must be kept, and the one who counsels biblically will labor most diligently in such soul-care.
    Prov 4:23; Jer 17:9, 10; Matt 23:25-28; Lk 6:43-45; Ezek 14:1-6; 1 Pet 2:11; 1 Tim 1:5.

  5. WE AFFIRM that truly biblical counseling is common, not clinical. Part of the authoritative work of the special office of pastor is counseling, and part of the work of the general office of every child of God is also counseling, or personal ministry, one to another. Each believer is to care for the soul of another when the opportunity presents itself. Face-to-face discussions, both casual and structured, by both pastor and church members, of how Scripture applies to problem areas should be common activities of the maturing local church. Church leaders who direct the affairs of their church after the pattern of Scripture should equip, train, approve, commend, deploy, and supervise the informal counseling work of those under their charge. The idea of professional counseling for non-organic problems is foreign to Scripture.
    Col 1:28, 29; Acts 20:20,31; Col 3:16; Gal 6:10; Eph 4:11,12,15,16; 1 Pet 4:10; 1 Cor 14:26; 1 Tim 5:17; Heb 13:17.

  6. WE AFFIRM that truly biblical counseling is good news. Biblical counseling offers what no other system of thinking can offer. Christ, who is the Wonderful Counselor, draws people from inadequate, skewed, futile systems based on human philosophies to His superior, revealed process for effecting change in people’s lives. Patient and gentle instruction, with Christian kindness, should characterize discussion with those who differ. In striving to woo and win those who differ, the biblical counselor should demonstrate the superior treasures of the Truth in a humble and gracious manner that reflects Christ’s character and brings pleasure to the Father of mercies. While there is a need for clear exposure of errant teachings, the emphasis must be on the demonstration of the Bible’s positive alternative. The biblical counselor must invite and patiently teach, not quarrel.
    Isa 8:20; Col 4:6; 2 Tim 2:24, 25; 1 Tim 1:10, 11; 2:1; Eph 4:2,3,14,15.

  7. WE AFFIRM that truly biblical counseling is careful in the use of Scripture. Biblical counseling is concerned with customizing the encouragements, comforts, motivations and directives from the whole counsel of God to particular conditions of the individual. There must be a right dividing of the Word of Truth. Not every Christian, albeit well-intentioned and genuinely caring, will provide godly, biblical counsel. Experience in Christian ministry and even academic and theological degrees do not guarantee one can truly do biblical counseling. On the other hand, one without any degrees or sufficient experience could very easily turn out to be an excellent biblical counselor. The fact that the counselor appeals to the Bible, cites specific teachings, and gives direction and comfort from specific Bible texts – these, in and of themselves, do not make counseling biblical. Biblical counseling exists when one strives to consistently think and act under the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. When the counselor looks at the person, the problem, and the process through Scripture glasses, and then strives to apply the Scripture antidotes in their right season and in their right measure, again according to the teaching of Scripture – then it can be said that one is doing biblical counseling.
    1 Tim 2:15; Jer 8:8, 11; Matt 4:6,7; 2 Tim 3:16,17.


© 2020. International Counseling Institute "Coram Deo"