Biblical counseling is glorifying God by assisting believers in their progressive sanctification through the ministry of God’s sufficient Word by the Holy Spirit. Counselors themselves should be prepared to counsel by having a ready heart, a pure life, and right relationships with others. Although formal counseling training is not required, every Christian must be ready to give an answer for the hope that is found only in Christ.
The ultimate purpose of biblical counseling is to glorify God by being conformed to Christ in order to bring exaltation to Him. Counselors should help believers glorify God—the very reason that God created them, saved them, and is sanctifying them. Colossians 1:16-17 states that people were created to glorify God – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (NKJV). All things were created by Him and for Him. Romans 8:28-29 further explains that people are being sanctified to glorify God – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (NKJV). All things work together for a Christian’s good, and this good is conformity to Christ. Christians conform to Christ in order to exalt His holy name because their changed lives bring Him glory.
The immediate goal of counseling is to help people change in the direction of greater godliness. The biblical doctrine of progressive sanctification addresses the change needed in a believer’s life. Progressive sanctification is a process which begins at the moment of our salvation and continues throughout our earthly life, whereby the believer practically becomes more and more set apart to God from sin. II Corinthians 3:18 states that Christians are being transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory by the Holy Spirit – “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 by the Spirit of the Lord” (NKJV). The Holy Spirit uses the Bible as the instrument of sanctification, giving believers the knowledge of Christ, a knowledge that supernaturally sanctifies them. Philippians 2:12-13 further explains how sanctification is the work of both God and man – “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (NKJV). God works in Christians both to will and do while Christians work out their own salvation. The doctrine of progressive sanctification is extremely important in biblical counseling because it offers hope! Christians have hope because they can change to be more like Christ.
The doctrine of sufficiency believes that the Bible has all the answers for living the Christian life. Biblical counseling relates to the doctrine of sufficiency because the Bible contains everything counselors need to be equipped to perform the work God has given them. II Timothy 3:16-17 states that God’s inspired Scripture makes believers complete and equips believers to do the “good works” that He has called them to do – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NKJV). Believers have everything they need in their relationship with Christ and in the revelation of Christ to live lives that bring glory to God by doing the good works which God has called them to do (Mazak). II Peter 1:2-3 declares that believers have everything needed for salvation and sanctification in Jesus – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (NKJV). When Christ called believers, He gave them a true knowledge of Himself, and that experiential knowledge of Him is the means of everything that is necessary for spiritual life and godly living.
Biblical counseling differs from both secular and integrational counseling. The theological pyramid covers six areas: (1) biblical introduction, (2) hermeneutics, (3) exegesis, (4) biblical theology, (5) systematic theology, and (6) practical/applied theology. Biblical counseling covers all six steps of the theological pyramid thus giving confidence to the counselor and the counselee because God’s Word really is sufficient to address every need. Secular counseling only focuses on the practical/applied part of counseling, denying the use of Scripture in any part of the counseling process. Secularists also focus on fixing man’s outward problems without reaching the heart issue. Integrational counseling considers, but is not based on, the other five steps of the theological pyramid, and an integrationist is one who denies the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture even though he will use Scripture in counseling. Since the Bible is sufficient, neither secular nor integrative counseling are valid options for the biblical counselor.
– Hannah S. Bowers