The Christian’s basis for counseling, and the basis for a Christian’s counseling is nothing other than the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is his counseling textbook.
“Why?” you ask. “After all, the Christian doesn’t use the Bible as his basis for scores of other activities in which he engages—such as engineering, architecture, music—so why should he insist that the Scriptures are the basis for counseling?”
The answer to that question is at once both simple and profound (because of its simplicity don’t miss the profundity of its implications). The Bible is the basis for a Christian’s counseling because it deals with the same issues that all counseling does. The Bible was given to help men come to saving faith in Christ and then to transform believers into His image (2 Tim. 3:15). The Holy Spirit uses it as an “adequate” instrument that He says has the ”power” to do so. That, in substance, is what these verses say.
But note, too, in these verses God assigns this life calling of transforming lives by the Word to the “man of God” (a phrase Paul picks up from the Old Testament designation for a prophet and uses in the pastoral epistles to refer to the Christian minister). And, let me repeat, the Holy Spirit strongly declares that the Bible fully equips him for this work.
So then, it is because counseling—the process of helping others to love God and their neighbors—is a part of the ministry of the Word (just as preaching is ) that it is unthinkable to use any other text (just as it would be unthinkable to do so in preaching). A ministry of the Word is not when it is based on substitutes.
The Bible is the basis for a Christian’s counseling because of what counseling is all about (changing lives by changing values, beliefs, relationships, attitudes, behavior). What other source can provide a standard for such changes? What other source tells us how to make such changes in a way that pleases God?
That is why other foundations for counseling must be rejected. Not only are they not needed (the Bible is adequate—the unique One, Who is the counselor proved that by His own counseling ministry), but since they seek to do the same sorts of things (without the Scriptures and the Spirit), they are also competitive.
God doesn’t bless His competition! Nor does He bless disobedience to His Word by His servants.
As future ministers of the Word, be just that—only that, and nothing else but that—ministers of the Word! Do not forsake the Fountain of living water for the cracked cisterns of modern counseling systems.
This short article first appeared in Kethiv Quere, the student publication of Dallas Theological Seminary, in 1977. It was later reprinted in Jay’s book Theology of Counseling.
Adams, J. E. (1986). A theology of Christian counseling: More than redemption (xiii–xiv). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resource Library.