(Biblical Counseling Basics Series)
I became interested in biblical counseling while serving in my first church as an associate pastor. The church in question was of the integrationist model (late 1990s) meaning that psychology was integrated into the Bible. I was unfamiliar with the concept of biblical counseling in its purest form because the Bible school I had attended was also integrationist in its approach to Scripture.
A controversy arose at the first church and through the controversy I began to investigate the claims of Jay Adams and other pioneers within the biblical counseling movement.
Some of the critics of biblical counseling raised the question, does biblical counseling work for everyone?
It was and is a loaded question since no type of counseling works unless a person really wants to change.
A far better question would be is the methodology of biblical counseling applicable to anyone?
The answer to that question is no and my response was a person must be a biblical Christian.
Before Professor Scott discusses masculinity, leadership and decision making he makes it clear what it means to have saving faith. Professor Scott states that saving faith involves:
- Acknowledging the true reason for our existence and God’s full right to our lives and how we live them (Matt. 16:24-26; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 6:20).
- Coming to God in humbleness. Recognizing you have nothing to offer God in your defense (James 4:6)
- Asking Him for his mercy and forgiveness, instead of what is deserved (Lk. 18:9-14)
- Believing in who Christ is and His payment for your sin (1 Cor. 15:3)
- Believing that Christ rose from the dead as Lord overall and sits at the right hand of the Father pleading the case of all who believe (1 Cor. 15:4; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7:25) [ii]
These truths are pre-requisites that must be fully embraced by a person in order for counsel that is biblical to be effective.
Scott goes on to say that many people are self-deceived because they made a profession of faith via a decision for Jesus sometime in their life. He says that a prayer said or profession of faith in a person’s past is not assurance of salvation (although that is frequently implied by those encouraging a person to make such a decision with the add on of once saved, always saved).
Instead Scott emphasizes does the person have saving face NOW!
Professor Scott puts it like this: “Are you believing now? Is it an ongoing (obedient and persevering) belief that demonstrates that you are a child of God. Christ offered this warning to all who would listen, ‘Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt. 7:21a)
For this reason Dr. Scott always starts out with a person seeking counseling with the Gospel. He wants to be sure that they have fully embraced the truths that are essential to salvation.
A person must first be in a right relationship with God in the first place to be in the second place in a position where God can change them. The process of change is called sanctification.
The Doctrine of Salvation is not the only doctrine that must be fully embraced before effective biblical counseling can take place. Another doctrine that must be embraced is that the Bible is true, that it has authority and that it is sufficient to change a person who truly desires biblical change. Part Two will cover the relevance and authority of Scripture in the believer’s life.