“The Ministry of Biblical Counseling in the Local Church”
CENTURION EDUCATION FOUNDATION
Dr. Andrew T. Knight
What Defines Biblical Counseling?
Andrew Thomas Knight
DMIN Luther Rice Seminary 2014
MABA Clarks Summit University 2018
MRE West Coast Baptist College, 2010
MBS Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004
BB Pensacola Christian College, 1994
December 3, 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Where Should Biblical Counseling Happen.……………………… 1
What is Biblical Counseling.………………..……………………… 2
Who should do Biblical Counseling…………..…………………… 7
Preventative Biblical Counseling..………..………………………… 9
Premarital Biblical Counseling……………………………….……… 14
Biblical Counseling for Addictions………………………………… 17
Biblical Counsel for Divorcees……………………..……………… 20
Biblical Counseling for Strong Marriages…………………..……… 22
INITIAL SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY ………………………………….…. 25
Where should Biblical Counseling Happen?
The Local Church
The purpose of biblical counseling is to do the greatest good for men and women and bring the greatest glory to God. Throughout the study of the psychological counseling model and the biblical counseling model the prevailing thought seems to be which model works and which model is correct? A similar comparison could be made between numerous Christian service endeavors and yet the location of the efforts made bring varying levels of success.
Biblical counseling needs to happen in the God ordained place where God will bless to the greatest extent and where the greatest fruitfulness will be realized. Jim Gent explained it this way, “The local church has a critical and significant responsibility in the world. Simply stated; the local church is the focal point of God’s truth; it is the citadel of truth; it is through the church that God promulgates and disseminates His truth. The local church is God’s ordained means to propagate the truth and to preserve truth. What is being offered here is that the local assembly of believers are the place in which God promised His presence. Matthew 28:20b “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end
of the world. Amen.” Gent’s larger point was that truth is dispensed in and through the local assemblies. I Timothy 3:15 “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” That is not to say that the Word of God does not work elsewhere but that God has ordained His assemblies to reach the world with the Gospel message. To expand this point, while still focusing on the message of the local church, Kenneth Good discussed the autonomy of the local church. “Baptist insist upon that form of government under which each local church is entirely autonomous. As such, the individual, organized assembly is independent of outside control by any other human agency. It is directly responsible to Jesus Christ alone.” Again the reference to church government speaks to the protection and the purity of the message. If truth is communicated to and received by the counselee then the truth will do its work, and bring hope and heal hurting people.
What is Biblical Counseling?
In order to define biblical counseling one needs first to state the obvious that the main tool that is used in counseling is the Bible. Furthermore that the biblical counselor has full and complete faith in the Bible, that all that the human heart and mind need for healing, wisdom, peace and direction are found within its pages. John MacArthur explained biblical counseling this way:
God is the center of counseling. God is sovereign, active, speaking, merciful, commanding and powerful. The Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the central focus of counseling and the exemplar of the Wonderful Counselor. The Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit are the foundational to all significant and lasting change. The Word of God is about counseling, giving both understanding of people and methods of ministering to people.
MacArthur places the Lord Jesus Christ right in the center of both the counselee and the counselor. The nonverbal from MacArthur is that the counselor does not fix people, Jesus Christ fixes people. He made clear that the Holy Spirit is working on the inside to make changes in the counselees lives. To further make the point that counseling is to point people God-ward and to encourage people to give God the glory in and through their relationships as expressed in, Psalms 57:5 “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.”
In addition to MacArthur’ biblical perspective on counseling is an important point made by James Beck and Bruce Demarest in their point was to contrast Evolutionary Psychology with biblical counseling. They stated, “Self-denial is putting Christ first, putting our own personal agendas second, and following Christ even if it means following Him to our deaths.” Thus a major philosophy that the counselor teaches his counselees, especially in marriage relationships to shift ones relational worldview from self to Savior. This view goes beyond changing “Me first” to “You first” to putting Christ first in one’s marriage or other relationships. With regard to marital relationships, no one gets divorced because they have the other ones best interest in mind. Christian relationships then are not self-serving but rather for God’s glory and the others highest good. Matthew 16:24: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Thus the counselor for any relationship needs to point out to the counselee that the standard that Christ gave as a follower of His was to deny one’s self. Biblical counseling involves edification. MacArthur explained this way, “How will biblical counselors develop greater skill in the care of souls? How will we become wiser practitioners, thinkers, apologists, and Christian men and women? The task of edifying biblical counselors demands advances that are both exegetically sound and case-tried. It demands that we think well about many issues.” The case was made for the care of souls as the counselor edifies the counselee in and through the issues that are being dealt with. The argument was advance that the way to be a greater help in the edification of counselees is to better prepare oneself in the areas of apologetics, hermeneutics and case study on applying biblical truths to people and their challenges.
MacArthur made the argument for the supremacy of Scripture as the source for the care of the soul. His argument was for counselors to direct the counselee(s) to the Scriptures for their greatest good and God’s greatest glory. His robust language expressed it like this, “Far greater than all the universe of general revelation is the glory of God revealed in His Word, because it alone transforms the heart of man!” He further argued that the Bible has the effectiveness to teach and help counselees in their need. He expressed it like this, “Only the Word of God can effectively instruct believers concerning how to glorify Him.” His position is that of pointing the counselee(s) toward Christ rather than pointing them toward self. This is the focal point of biblical counseling to see Christ not man, and also to see problems and priorities as God sees them. The biblical counselor helps those in need to look to the Wonderful Counselor for the answers and challenges of life.
The foundation for biblical counseling is plainly theology. Timothy Clinton and George Ohlschlager believed that theology was the foundation for counseling and stated it this way:
Theology is primarily the articulation of a specific religious belief system itself (doctrine). But it also includes reflection on the nature of believing, as well as declaring concerning the integration of commitment with personal and c ommunity life. The Christian theologian seeks to set forth a coherent presentation of the themes of the Christian faith.
The biblical counselor will employ the use of theology in the counseling curriculum. The counselee will be directed to know God in a more intimate way as answers to life are sought. Douglas Bookman offered an elaborated explanation of biblical counseling. The theme of the book that he helped to write along with John MacArthur is biblical counseling. The main point of this book was to contrast biblical counseling with Evolutionary Psychology. The authors’ position was that because of the supremacy of Scripture the EP approach is dismissed, and is not seen as authoritative in counseling. By definition, the biblical counselor is one who is persuaded of and allegiant to a Christian worldview, that is, one that functions within a frame of reference that consciously sees all of the realities and relationships of life from a perspective that is biblically coherent and consistent, and thus honors the God of Scriptures. The one element of such a worldview that most dramatically distinguishes it from all pretenders is the commitment to a theocentric perspective on all of life and thought. Thus any model of counseling that is authentically biblical will be framed, designed, and executed in happy submission to the biblical demand that our lives be lived out entirely for the glory of God! In short, biblical counseling is animated by a Godward focus.
Bookman’s definition certainly expanded other aspects that biblical counseling touch on. Within his definition one’s worldview was referenced. Certainly one’s worldview is influenced and possibility strengthened toward a more biblical worldview by biblical counseling. He mentioned the alignment between biblical counseling and the Scriptures. Finally, he brought into his definition of biblical counseling the theological term theocentric perspective of life. In other words Bookman was saying that a goal of biblical counseling will cause people to live their lives in such a way as to bring honor to Christ. Thus when Christ is the focus of your lives relational problems are greatly diminished.
Who should do Biblical Counseling?
The ministry of biblical counseling ought to be the goal of every mature believer. The local church is a place for worship and fellowship, but it is also a place for healing and a place for service. I Thessalonians 5:11 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” Paul instructed the church members at the church in Thessalonica to encourage and build up one another in the faith. William Goode discussed this mandate for believers to be involved in counseling others. He explained, “Counseling is the responsibility of each believer and its only rightful arena is the church. These truths carry a strong implication: the pastor’s involvement and leadership is critical.” This idea that all believers have some responsibility to be a counselor diminishes the idea, rightly so, of the cast system within a biblical church. There are no clergy or laity just members. I Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” The “priesthood of the believer” was coined by Martin Luther, and though a protestant it is a good term. The idea is that all believers have the truth of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit and thus have the major spiritual tools needed to care for the soul of another. The Apostle Paul taught the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 4:11, 12 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” Good restated it this way, “God wants these problems solved, and He has raised up pastor-teachers to equip the saints to do just that.” Pastors must teach and train more members to do the all counseling and ministering that needs to be done. Also, adding again to the place of counseling Good said regarding the local church as a place where training counselors takes place. “For the biblical counselor, the training ground must be the local church.” The local church is the primary place for training other believers to be biblical counselors, for one reason, because that is where the believers are on a weekly basis. Furthermore the local church is the primary place of service, as it is the focal place for
Christians to worship. Therefore biblical counseling can be taught in the church regularly.
Clinton and Ohleschlager discussed the challenge pastor’s face while counseling people with a wide variety of challenges and a plethora of worldviews that collide with godly admonition. They explained, “Most pastors are not negative regarding the advisability of such care, but they’re fearful because so few in the church are prepared to undertake the challenge. It was Paul who told the Roman believers of his great confidence in their ability to handle such a ministry of transitional care.” Paul expressed his confidence in Romans 15:14 “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” The idea of admonishment is both positive and negative. The first aspect is to warn another believer of potential oncoming danger. Certainly any parent would warn a child about not being too close to a hot stove or pull a child out of the way of a moving car. Equally so any Christian, especially older Christians to younger Christians, would warn against spiritual or practical dangers to other Christians. The positive counsel is to exhort, that is to encourage other Christians. Every believer has the ability to encourage others.
Clinton and Ohlschlager further made the argument that all believers are equipped for ministry. They explained, “All believers are gifted by the Holy Spirit for ministry. The church cannot be effective unless all believers utilize their gifts to serve the body of Christ” (local assembly). They have made the same argument that MacArthur made in that all believers have been equipped by God to accomplish a task or mission for man’s greatest good and God’s greatest glory. One of the tasks to be accomplished is biblical counseling. Paul confirms the Holy Spirit’s working in and though believes for this purpose in I Corinthians 12:1-3 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Spirit is responsible for endowing believers with spiritual gifts to be used to counsel other believers.
Preventative Biblical Counseling
What the meaning of the phrase “preventative biblical counsel is, is the idea that major life challenges may be headed off when biblical teaching and mentoring is consistently taught and exemplified before young people. Relationship patterns are formed early in children’s lives and thus teaching must begin early. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Since biblical counseling is in a sense biblical teaching, one then could say that parents, teachers and youth workers are counseling children before they need counseling. Counseling is often thought of as a corrective measure, but teaching biblical relationship principles to children and teens is directive. John Piper gave a biblical approach to how men and women should relate to each another as follows:
The tendency today is to stress the equality of men and women by minimizing the unique significance of our maleness or femaleness. But this depreciation of male and female personhood is a great loss. It is taking a tremendous toll on generations of young men and women who do not know what it means to be a man or a woman. Confusion over the meaning of sexual personhood today is epidemic. The consequence of this confusion is not a free and happy harmony among gender-free persons relating on the basis of abstract competencies. The consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity.
As seen in Piper’s list of relationship problems which are a direct result from unbiblical thought toward relationships has been destructive to many lives. So preemptive biblical counseling begins to teach the young person biblical principles regarding relationships. In doing so the biblical counselor is providing directive counseling that this counseling will prevent relational problems when young people grown up and thus prevent the need for corrective biblical counseling.
Preventative relationship counseling must hold to the premise that unless committed Christian parents, teachers, pastors and every church member take seriously the biblical mandate to teach and mentor children in a Christian worldview then one can expect that children will grow up with an incorrect worldview of marital relationships. The basic truth that deals with one’s worldview is found in, Luke 6:48 “He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” Young people need to be taught to have a worldview of relationships that is built on the foundation of biblical principles. Simply said, if Christians do not teach children and teenagers what a biblical relationship is then the world will and the consequences can be devastating to the couple and to a local church.
John Stormer discussed these foundations that served families so well for over a hundred years. Stormer documented how the foundation of marriage became under assault by the reformers in public education. Stormer wrote:
America was once a society which had its roots in the Bible. The founding fathers were the product of western civilization. That civilization developed over several centuries after Gutenberg invented the printing press and published the Bible. In a Bible-based society, America grew great on the twelve foundational concepts. They were proclaimed in the nation’s churches and taught in the nation’s homes and schools.
Stormer researched the history of public education and public policy back before the founding of the country. He drew a direct connection between public education that has grown incrementally toward secularism and the growing dysfunction and destruction of the family. The primary principles that apply to relationships and ultimately preventative biblical counseling are: “(1) The Sanctity of Marriage and the Family, (2) No Sex Outside of Marriage, (3) The Sanctity of Life, and (6) There are Absolutes of Right and Wrong.” Stormer’ evidence and arguments for these foundational principles have and will uphold the foundation of the family relationship, but without these foundations the family is destined for destruction.
For those committed Christian adults that commit to the preventive biblical counsel of those young people in their homes, Christian schools and local churches these foundation principles are the cure for relational problems before the problems can even accrue. If these relationship foundations are installed in the little hearts and minds before young people reach their teen years they will have the principles and hopefully the convictions to prevent relationship patterns that might otherwise cause major relationship failure later in life.
Preventative biblical counsel also begins with instilling in believers, preferably when they are young, to develop their worldview around the concept that a biblical marriage is for the purpose of glorifying God and the glory of the woman. But for this conviction to take hold in the hearts and minds of young people they must have a worldview that believes that the Word of God is truth and that it applies to every aspect of human relationships. Nancy Pearcey made this plea for the worldview of young people to be challenged in an intellectual way. She wrote:
Not only have we lost the “culture,” but we continue losing even our own
children. It’s a familier but tragic story that devout young people, raised in Christian homes, head off to college and abandon their faith. Why is this pattern so common? Largely because young believers have not been taught how to develop a biblical worldview. Instead, Christianity has been restricted to a specialized area of religious belief and personal devotion.”
The argument that Pearcey has built throughout her book is that without a comprehensive biblical worldview the believer is overcome by the influence of the world. The greatest battleground for competing worldviews is in the marital relationship. What Pearcey is saying is that if the young people are not equipped with a biblical worldview they will be lost to the world. Pearcey explained:
We constantly see young people pulled down by the undertow of powerful cultural trends. If all we give them is a “heart” religion, it will not be strong enough to counter the lure of attractive but dangerous ideas. Young believers also need a “brain” religion—training in worldview and apologetics—to equip them to analyze and critique the competing worldviews they will encounter when they leave home.
The apostle Paul challenged his hearers to not only think biblically but to have a biblical worldview. Paul challenged the religious of his day. He challenged the philosophers worldview on life, death, and eternal life. He got right down to the thoughts and heart attitudes when he penned:
Philippians 4:8, 9 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Paul was drawing a connection between one’s thinking and one’s living out the Christian life, and in the context of this writing living out relationships in a biblical worldview. To keep from having marriage problems the prevention begins long before a couple walks down an isle and says their marriage vows. Preventive counseling begins as children and teenagers. As the young people are mentored into mature Christian adulthood they adopt the relational skills that will help them live in Christian harmony holding each other in high moral regard.
Premarital Biblical Counseling
Premarital biblical counseling is a continuation of discipleship. In the continued context of preventative biblical counseling, premarital biblical counseling seeks to instruct young adults in a biblical worldview of marital relationship. Colossians 3:18-20 summarize a biblical family in just a few brief words and yet clearly and distinctly. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” If young couples have a worldview that their marriage is to glorify God rather than please self it is a vastly different worldview with a vastly different outcome. Colossians 3:23, 24 illustrates this ideal. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Chip Ingram has illustrated and communicated the difference between the Hollywood worldview of relationships and a God centered worldview of relationships in an instructive way. He explained, “The revolutionary method begins by establishing that a spiritual component is the only foundation broad and strong enough to sustain the rest of the relationship. This spiritual component includes a clear understanding of God’s entire prescription for love, sex, and lasting relationships.” Ingram made the argument that since the Hollywood worldview of relationships begin in the wrong place it is not possible for relationships to end up in the right place.
What Ingram has done was to reveal the deception and failure of the worldview of dating when he contrasted it with the worldview that he pointed to in Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ingram explained that this is the biblical principle that will formulate a biblical worldview of relationships. Ingram further explained, “Our love for others flows out of our sense of being deeply loved. Instead of constantly looking for the right person, God tells us to become the right person. Instead of looking for love, God tells us to realize that love has already found us! God loves us as no one else ever can.” This contrast is biblical and powerfully influential in the counseling ministry to demonstrate to couples the way most people think, including Christians, and to challenge them to embrace God’s worldview for a biblical relationship. As young people are taught and accept this biblical worldview of relationships many relationship problems can be eliminated before the problems have opportunity to develop. As a result of teaching the biblical worldview of marriage relationships the amount of marriage counseling that might otherwise be necessary may very well be greatly diminished or not needed.
Part of the purpose of premarital counseling is to make sure the couple has a right worldview of marriage. Secondly, that the couple have the convictions and foundational beliefs that will give their relationship the strength to endure for a lifetime. Norman Wright discussed these foundational principles. He called them pillars. Wright asked the question, “What are the factors necessary for a lasting relationship? What would you say? What foundation stones or “pillars” are essential for strong relationships” Wright was building the case that a couple must have a biblical worldview in order to have a lasting relationship. He explained, “There are actually many (pillars), but what is needed in any relationship, especially a lifelong marriage, are the following: love, trust, respect and understanding.” The biblical foundation being taught here is derived from I Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Charity being the Old English word for love. As a young couple prepare for a lifetime relationship they are building these foundations into their lives and their marriages. These foundations are critical to their worldview in order for lasting relationships.
Much of premarital counseling is actually educating the couple as they prepare for this important transition to married life. Norman Wright described premarital counseling this way, “Part of this teaching involves helping the couple to understand themselves and what each one brings to marriage, to discover their strengths and weaknesses, and to be realistic about the adjustments they must make to have a successful relationship.” What Wright is talking about pulling back the curtain of who each marital partner is so that the couple may either move forward with their plans to marry of they may decide otherwise. Wright says that, “One of the main purposes is to help the couple eliminate as many surprises as possible from the impending marriage. By eliminating those and helping them become more realistic about the future, marital conflict will be lessened.” His intent of premarital counseling is instructive and too much degree works to prevent marital problems. The premarital marriage counseling is significant help for the couple as there are many complexities with two personalities and lives coming together.
Biblical Counseling for Addictions
Biblical counseling with regard to additions requires first an understanding of the human make up. Neil Anderson was helpful in describing from a biblical standpoint the different parts of man and how additions and how to overcome them. Anderson explained it like this, “To understand the gospel and who we are in Christ, we need to look at the creation account and the subsequent fall of mankind.” He documented the creation of mankind by referencing Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Anderson then describes the different senses of body and soul this way, “Sufficient to say, we have a physical body that relates to this world through the five senses, and the inner self that relates to God and is created in His image.” He referenced Genesis 1:26, 27 to point to the significance man has. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Anderson further explained the parallel between the Trinity and the human makeup, “Being created in the image of God is what gives us the capacity to fully think, feel and choose.” His case that he is building here is that people are made in God’s image, that is, people have great significance to God. And that people are free moral agents that are able to make decisions on their own, and are responsible for the ones they make.
The counselee that is dealing with addition may or may not yet be a Christian, but certainly if the counselee is not a Christian, the first order of business is for the counselee to understand their fallen nature. Anderson explained the fallen nature like this, “What happened to Adam and Eve spiritually because of the Fall? They died. Their union with God was severed and they were separated from God” He referenced Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Anderson point out the tragic change because of original sin, “Innocence was replaced by guilt and shame; therefore the need for a legitimate sense of worth has to be restored.” The counselee must be shown that he is spiritually dead and that to be brought into a relationship with Father God one must be saved. John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is the starting point for the counselee to see their sin the way God sees their sin. Before the counselee comes to this point he may not think there is any problem in his life, he may just not like the consequences of his actions. Once the counselee comes to this point he can make a positive change in his life. The theme of Anderson’s book as well as Jim Berg,s book, that will be referenced, is that only Christ can make permanent, transforming change in one’s life. As Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It is Christ not self-determination or mans’ wisdom but God’s strength that changes and upholds people.
The counselee that is not saved or has just been saved in counseling sessions has likely never had it occur to him that he was lost or that he was a slave to his flesh. This is where counseling and discipleship cross over each other. Paul stated in Romans 8:13 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” The drug user will eventually kill oneself if he continues down this destructive path. Jim Berg uses Scripture to explain that the believer is no longer under bondage to this sin of drug addiction. Berg stated, Romans 6 teaches us, however, that because of Christ’s death and Resurrection, we have been “made free from sin” (6:22). We no longer have to obey its pull to go our own way.” What Berg was saying was that the counselee must be taught to be controlled by the Spirit of God rather than give in to these fleshly impulses to use drugs.
The other aspect of the changed life that Berg discussed may also be a new concept to the counselee the through the changed life one now wants to live to glorify Christ. He referenced II Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Berg discussed those that saw the Shekinah glory and equates this to the radiant continence of the victorious believer. He stated, “As God shows them His in His Word, they experience a very specific change. By God’s Spirit, they display an ever-increasing reflection of those “glories” in their own lives.” As the counselee begins to be changed into the image of Christ, and more of the bondage of sin falls away, the counselee reflects more and more the image of Christ.
Biblical Counsel for Divorcees
As the local church seeks to minister to those within their membership as well as those outside their membership divorce is a widespread problem that pastors and others that counsel within the local church must deal with. A study by George Barna demonstrated that the level of divorcees among non-Christians and Christians are similar. Barna found, “In fact, when evangelicals and non-evangelical born again Christians are combined into an aggregate class of born again adults, their divorce figure is statistically identical to that of non-born again adults: 32% versus 33%, respectively.” Pastors and other counselors have a widespread problem with divorce to deal with. Needless to say in the local church this issue must be dealt with according to biblical principles and mandates. Divorce is always a challenging problem to deal with, and with children that may be involved as well as family members and friends in the church the need for wisdom from on high and the need for grace is significant. Pastors and other counselors are honor bound to teach, counsel and edify those that come to them for help skillfully using the Word of God to help bring about healing and hope.
Jay Adams dealt with whether Christian couples should divorce or remain togther? Scripture makes this situation clear. I Corinthians 7:10, 11 states, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” Adams added to this this way, “The basic, twofold command in these verses is that neither the Christian wife nor the Christian husband may divorce one another.” Adams then moves on to deal with the clause that states, “let her remain unmarried.” His argument is that if one will contest that they have a biblical marriage and quote Matthew 19:9 “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” One should go back to the command in I Corinthians 7:11 and “remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband:” Adams stated, “He is saying, stay unmarried in relationship to all others. Or, he says (better still), repent right away and remarry the man you wrongly left. Indeed, if she does remain unmarried for a space of time, it is in order to allow for the possibility of reconciliation. Adams argued from Scripture that the intent is to preserve the marriage if the couple can possibly reconcile together.
Biblical Counseling for Strong Marriages
Strong marriages are a result of strong foundations and principles that uphold them. As pastors and counselors these foundations are not learned by themselves but must be taught. As previously mentions much of counseling is discipleship. When it comes to marriages it is the local church that is at the front lines as a defense and proponent for marriage. The first foundation of marriage understands God’s purpose for marriage, “Our understanding of marriage principles begins with the fact that God created man and woman district from all animals and plant life. Imprinted on man’s very being is the image of God, so that man is a personal, rational, and moral being possessing intellect, emotion, and volition (Genesis 2:19-20; 3:6-7).” When counseling couples it may go without saying but the counselor should strive to get the couple to see their marriage in the be scheme of God’s plan in their lives and marriage.
The second foundation Steele and Ryrie stated, “In discovering the purposes of God in marriage, the bottom line is the covenant of marriage given in Genesis 2:24 and repeated by Christ and the Apostle Paul (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7-8; Ephesians 5:31).” The counselor again must impress upon the couple the Third Person in their marriage, the Lord Jesus Christ. And when they make or made their vows Christ was present. When the couple makes a vow to each other they are making that vow to Christ as well.
The third foundation it the bigger picture of marriage is the society is made up of marriages. Steele and Ryrie explained, “When one considers the signs of our times, it calls to mind the desperate question David posed in Psalms 11:3 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The very foundation of society is marriage, the home, and the family. If this foundation is destroyed we are set adrift on the sea of human solution that never work.” The couple must have impressed upon them the gravity and significance of every marriage. Alone with the joy and light heartedness of getting married the couple should see themselves as in part making up the very fabric of the human society. Pastors and counselors carry a lot of weight as marriages are attempted to be knit back together and new couples are instructed to help them lay solid foundations for their new and upcoming marriage.
This discussion on the counseling ministry in the local church began with a brief ecclesiological argument for counseling’s greatest effectiveness to be done in the local church. Both Good and MacArthur provided material for a definition, as well as Scripture as to describing biblical counseling. This study found that all members of the local church ought to be involved to the ministry of biblical counseling and the edification of other members. A definition of preventative biblical counseling was offered for consideration. Premarital counseling is a staple of every local church ministry and is important to the next crop of families. An ever increasing problem in the local church is additions. A biblical response to this problem was given as pastors stand in the gap trying to save souls and lives. Another epidemic in local churches are couples devoicing, and pastors and counselors in the local church seek to hold these families together with biblical counseling. Lastly, biblical counseling for strong marriages was discussed. The foundations of Scripture will encourage couples to have a biblical worldview of marriage, a God view of their marriage and how marriages can last a lifetime.
INITIAL SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Anderson, Neil. Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2000.
Barna, George, “New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released,” The Barna Group.
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Beck, James R. and Bruce Demarest. The Human Person in the Theology and Psychology: A Biblical Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 2005.
Berg, Jim. Changed into His Image: God’s Plan for Transforming Your Life. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1999.
Clinton, Timothy and George Ohlschlager. Competent Christian Counseling. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2002.
Gent, Jim. The Local Church: God’s Plan for Planet Earth. Old Bridge, NJ: Smyrna Publications, 1994.
Good, Kenneth H. God’s Blueprint for a Church. Rochester, NY: Backus Book Publications, 1987.
Ingram, Chip. Love, Sex & Lasting Relationships: God’s Prescription for Enhancing Your Love Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003.
MacArthur, John. Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005.
Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2005.
Piper, John and Wayne Grudem. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991.
Steele, Paul E. and Charles C. Ryrie. Meant to Last: A Christian View of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1984.
Stormer, John A. None Dare Call it Education: The Documented Account of How Education “Reforms” are Undermining Academics and Traditional Values. Florissant, MO: Liberty Bell Press, 1999.
Wright, Norman H. Premarital Counseling: A Guidebook for the Counselor. Chicago, IL: The Moody Bible Institute, 1981.
_______. Relationships that Work and Those that Don’t: The Singles Guide to
Looking for Love in All the Right Places. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1998.