by J. T. Hall
The preaching and teaching of the Scriptures is crucial to the health of the local church. When writing to the young pastor Timothy, Paul charged him to “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Tim. 4:16). However, truth merely communicated is not enough; it must be applied. Just as a newly awoken man is foolish to look at himself in a mirror and walk away without fixing the hair that is out of place, so it is foolish to know the truths of God’s Word without applying them to life (Jas. 1:22-25).
This is where Biblical Counseling comes into play. As a discipline, Biblical Counseling is meant to help bridge the gap between hearing the Word and doing it. It is about taking what the Bible says to believers and showing how it applies in everyday life.
The Scriptures are not void of references to this type of ministry in the church. When writing about how God has designed the church to mature into the fullness of Christ in Ephesians 4:15-16, Paul says that the main way believers mature in their Christian walk is through speaking the truth in love to one another. “Speaking the truth” is simply talking about the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, in all its depth and range of application.
Following this section, Paul explains in 4:17-24 that unbelievers live in sin because they do not know the transforming power of God’s grace. However, the main difference for believers is that, through knowing Christ, they are able to put off the old self and put on the new! The gospel enables us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, in true righteousness and holiness.
Before Paul gets to a big section of charges about how we are to live, he again connects holy living with speaking the truth to one another. In verse 25 he says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that this sanctifying truth-speaking is not about a picturesque experience where you climb up a mountain to hear wisdom from a guru of the Christian life. Rather, this is mostly played out in the day-to-day relationships we have with brothers and sisters in Christ. The seemingly ordinary conversations had around the dinner table or at the baseball game may be opportunities for iron to sharpen iron (Pro. 27:17). As believers grow to look more like Christ, it will be evident that the God who saves is the God who sanctifies.
This is the passion of Biblical Counseling: to see the truth of God’s Word connect with lives of the children of God, for the glory of God. No matter how insurmountable the situation may seem, Peter testifies that God has granted to us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). With an unbroken track record of victory against the odds, God should be trusted and embraced, and his methods for growth put into action.
Some resources for Biblical Counseling include (all are links to websites):
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC)
Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF)
Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC)