Biblical Counseling: Why It Matters and How to Get Involved
The question is asked from time-to-time, what is biblical counseling? Is it a fad? What makes it really biblical? Is it different from “Christian counseling?” If so, how?
Biblical Counseling Defined
One of my favorite explanations of biblical counseling comes from a pastor who cared deeply for his congregation. Richard Baxter, seventeenth century Puritan, noted the purpose of biblical counseling is “for resolving of their doubts, and for help against their sins, and for direction in duty, and for increase of knowledge and all saving grace” (The Reformed Pastor). Although written almost 400 years ago, this definition is still accurate because it draws from one of the commands we are given in Scripture about caring for one another. That command comes in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, when Paul exhorts us to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Biblical counseling’s goal is putting these exhortations into practice. Counseling that is biblical is anchored in Scripture. It is centered on Christ and the gospel. It has as its goal spiritual, relational, and personal maturity as evidenced in desires, thoughts, motives, actions, and emotions that increasingly reflect Jesus (Ephesians 4:17–5:2).
We believe that such personal change must be centered on the person of Christ. We are convinced that personal ministry centered on Christ and anchored in Scripture offers the only lasting hope and loving help to a fallen and broken world. Biblical counseling must be grounded in sound theology. Change only comes about as the result of the working of the Holy Spirit and prayer. The Holy Spirit brings about lasting change in the lives of God’s children. The change is directed towards sanctification, not relief from suffering (although God graciously does often provide relief). Ultimately, biblical counseling is rooted in the life of the church.
It is also our conviction that all of us counsel the Word. We may not all undertake a formal counseling arrangement, but we provide counsel in the advice we give, the encouragement we offer, or the silence we maintain. But as we see in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, there is an extent to which we are all called to function in life together as counselors. The issue is not some type of “certification” or formal position. The issue is knowing and growing in Jesus as Lord and Redeemer. That is the special qualification for biblical counselors.
Events and Resources
Towards this end, 15 men and women from OBC will be attending CCEF’s annual conference in Virginia Beach. CCEF stands for the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, and over the last few decades it has provided our church and thousands of others a rich supply of resources. If you are interested in learning what resources CCEF offers, please check out their website or consider attending a future conference.
A Request for Prayer
This weekend Jared and Lori Bridges, Mike and Betsy Pickett, Rick Brock, Matt and Dolly Huggins, Tracy and Colleen Dugan, Jeff and Jean Conn, Ken and Karen Sullivan, and Rod and Cyndi Fillinger will be attending this week. The theme of this year’s conference is “Side by Side.” What does it look like to really help another person? As we find grace and wisdom from God, are we providing wise and loving care to one another?
It looks to be an excellent time of equipping and fellowship in the work of the Word. Please pray for these counselors, for their spiritual growth, and for a passion to demonstrate the love of Christ as we share with those who need to know or be reminded of God’s mercies and love.