This article is an appeal for biblical counselling by Christians, and for Christians to seek biblical counselling.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2016. 2 pages.

Counseling and the Word of God

Without the Word of God to guide us, we are lost. To be clear, the Word of God will not get you from Chicago to Baltimore like a GPS will, but that is not what the Bible was given to do. The Bible was given, rather, to speak to every issue pertaining to life and salvation, including counseling. When we speak about counsel and counseling, we need to be clear as to what we mean. When we are sick and in need of medication, we naturally visit a doctor who gives us counsel: “Take this medication and you should recover.” However, when we are dealing with spiritual issues, there is no pill to take that will grant health and recovery. In that case, we are talking about man who is a whole unified being, body and soul, and to separate these two as if they are not intimately connected would not be consistent with the revelation God has given us.

There are issues which are clearly spiritual: anger, distrust, discontent, laziness, covetousness, and lust, for example. This is not an exhaustive list, but representative of the wide range of issues a person can struggle with in life. These are spiritual issues that certainly can be affected by and also affect physical issues including our eating patterns, our overall health and fitness levels, and the quality of our sleep. Yet, they are more accurately representative of what is going on in our hearts. In order to get to the root of our behavior and thinking, we need the Word of God to direct and lead us. God will speak to us through the counsel of His Word, a Word that is often ministered to us by others around us.

Every time we give advice to someone, we are giving counsel. We were created to receive and to be dependent on counsel. Adam was dependent on God for good counsel which would give life. At every turn, had Adam turned to God for counsel and advice, he would have lived. Adam did not know everything there was to know; he was not created with preloaded software in his brain that gave him complete knowledge of everything so that he just reacted like a computer. Instead, when God called Adam to name the animals, when he required him to till the earth and be fruitful and multiply, Adam would have needed to rely on the counsel of God to do all of these things. Imagine if there had been no fall: would not man have been reliant on the counsel of God to know how to live in society and so many other things? However, we know that rather than rely on the counsel of God, man resorted to hearing and listening to the counsel of another who was a liar. In listening to this counsel, man fell from God and to this day opposes God’s counsel that is given. Man either will hear and hearken to good counsel and live, or he will hear and hearken to evil counsel and die. The only reliable counsel therefore is that which comes from the Author of life, God Himself. His counsel is life.

What this means practically in counseling situations is that any counselor we hear must always start with, and bring us back to, the Word of God. If you receive counsel from someone regarding life issues who does not believe in God but only believes that we are just a bunch of chemicals, how do you imagine they can give you good counsel? If the counsel they give is based on the thought that your feelings and desires are simply the results of chemical processes, their words will not really free you from your bondage. Only the counsel that arises from the reality that we are account­able to God, that we are to put to death those desires that are contrary to God, that if we are in Christ we have the resources to accomplish this, can give life. This life then, is only possible through the counsel of the Word of God.

There is much that can be learned from creation or general revelation, but when it is not connected to and inter­preted in light of the Word of God or special revelation, it will lead to confusion and bad counsel. We need to know and believe that the Scriptures are sufficient for all that is necessary for life and godliness. Therefore, we need to know the Word better, follow it more consistently, and rely on it wholeheartedly. Not only is the Word of God sufficient to counsel us personally, but it is a Word that is sufficient as counsel in the mouth of a follower of Christ for good in the lives of others.

Today there are many issues which through the counsel of science are considered to be mere physical issues and unrelated to spiritual issues. Take, for example, drunkenness or sexual sin. Science attempts to explain them as being caused by physical and organic issues. The result of this is that these issues are no longer viewed as sin or moral issues and change is either not necessary or possible. If we lack the confidence that Scripture is sufficient to address and bring about change to these life issues, we have believed bad counsel. God has revealed to us that these issues are not the result of some physical problems but that they are spiritual problems. The Bible has also revealed to us that this same Word that points out sin is capable of bringing about change in the hearts of sinners. What this means is that our sin issues — those actions and words which are contrary to the revelation of God — are not to be attributed to some organic problem but to our hearts and minds. And for change to take place, we need the Holy Spirit’s work as He counsels through the Word of God. What will bring about conviction, what will bring comfort, what will bring forgiveness? It will be counsel that comes to us from the revelation of God.

This means, then, as we are faced with various questions in life and godliness, that we have a sure source of truth to which we turn. We have the revelation of God to guide us through the path of life. Clearly, without this as our guide, we will turn aside to other voices that are heard all around us. These voices in our society are loud and persuasive, but they do not give life. It is only when the counsel we receive and act on is from God’s revelation can we be certain that it will yield life. This means that we have great reason to be students of the revelation of God. We need to know and study this revelation in order to not only govern our own lives, and counsel ourselves, but to be able to wisely give advice to others. Paul says that those who are in Christ are to be “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish (counsel) one another” (Rom. 15:14).

Biblical counsel must then be bound to revelation. It is not first of all informed by reason or scientific research, but by God’s revelation in His Word. However, this revelation was not written like we think of a textbook where you can turn to page such and such and find the answer to a ques­tion; rather, it was written to be examined and searched.

God gave His Word to be analyzed, to be believed, to be compared with itself so that its truths might shine forth brightly. The Bible is not a medical textbook that gives diagnosis of physical problems and its treatment, but it is a book that gives spiritual or heart diagnosis and treatment. It is God’s revelation that has been given to not only point out that life is to be found in Jesus Christ, but also what a life that is lived in Jesus looks like.

Therefore, let your words of advice and counsel be seasoned with grace so that you may be able to give an answer to the life issues that come before you. When your spouse, your child, your neighbor, or your co-worker comes to you with pressing life issues, be ready to use the revelation of God to guide you in your counsel. Cry out to God for His Spirit of wisdom and if you are in Christ, you have new eyes to see the things which are hidden from those who are following evil counsel. The counsel they are getting from the world is from below; it is earthly, sensual, and devilish (James 3:15). You must therefore use your eyes to gaze on the Word of God continually so that you might be a blessing to others as you give them good and godly counsel. This will yield the fruit of righteousness (James 3:17-18).

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