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  • Writer's pictureKalia Xiong

Understanding Biblical Counseling

Updated: Jun 3



What’s Biblical About Biblical Counseling?


When you face trials, is it a habit for you to go to your place of escape or comfort zone instead of praying and submitting it to the Lord?  The Word of God is authoritative and your source of comfort to help you through hardships. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul explains that God's revelation through His Word is His instruction to His people so that they understand how to have a right relationship with Him and with others. In your weakness, God cares for you and His Word is true to protect you from the lies of sins. How so? You may have heard of the term biblical counseling and wondered, “What is it? Why do we have biblical counseling?” Or, “Who should receive biblical counseling?” 


Let’s begin with a definition: “Biblical counseling is counseling, a personal ministry to help those struggling with personal and relational problems.”[1] It is a ministry of the Word of God into people’s lives to help “individuals, couples, and families know Christ better and handle life in God-pleasing ways whatever their situations.”[2] 


Biblical counseling is not about how well you exercise your wisdom or abilities to help another, but it is about you depending on the Word of God and His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4–6) to help you counsel others to see the sufficiency of Christ amid their trials and tribulations. Therefore, since God is perfect, His Word is perfect and the Scriptures provide for us a biblical worldview with biblical commands, warnings, and principles that help us know how to navigate the issues we encounter. Next, I will share four fundamental truths of biblical counseling. 


Every Believer a Counselor


First, I want to encourage you to know that biblical counseling is not only for qualified individuals like pastors or licensed counselors, keeping in mind that there are and will be times when more accountability is needed from someone who is appropriately trained, but all believers are called to counsel one another. The apostle Peter writes that God in his divine power grants us all things that relate to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him so that we may become “partakers” of His divine nature (2 Pet 1:3–4). Here, Peter reminds us that God’s divine power has fully equipped us with everything we need in life to live as God has called us to. 


We have access to the Bible and the Holy Spirit. We are to look to Jesus who sets the standard for what is good, pure, and holy. We are called to help restore others in gentleness, lift each other’s burdens, and pray for one another (Gal. 6:1–2; Jas. 5:16; Col. 1:9–12). We counsel on the basis of divine wisdom from God (Col. 2:3). If a friend asks for your advice on something, or says they need instruction for parenting their child, or your fellow church member is going through a struggle, practical ways where biblical counseling may be helpful are by asking good questions, praying, and pointing them back to Christ through Scripture so that they lean onto Christ Jesus to find hope.


Simply put, biblical counseling begins when the average-joe Christian asks the basic questions: “How are you doing?” and “How can I pray for you?”


Gospel-Centered Responsibility


Secondly, as a covenant member of a church, we have a responsibility when doing biblical counseling and it begins with being Gospel-centered knowing that sin corrupts us and that we need a Savior, Jesus Christ, to help us in our sinfulness. Scriptures describe us as sinners by nature and by choice, and without God's mercy through grace, we could not save ourselves. However, it is possible to be born again through faith in Jesus Christ. 


This realization helps us see our sinful nature, but our real hope for everlasting change is in God. In doing so, we must confess our sins, repent of our sins, and turn to Christ (Acts 3:19). To do that individuals must acknowledge and be wholly dependent on the Holy Spirit. With God’s grace and the person and work of Christ, they can be transformed with a new heart that bears the fruits of the Spirit.  


Transformed by the Power of God      


Third, we need to understand the basis of biblical counseling which is by the power of God that transforms a person from the inside out, creating a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). The individual does not change his/herself through self-effort. When counseling, we need to understand the basis of biblical counseling which understands the dynamic of the human heart. These aspects of the heart—cognition, affection, and volition—involve sin competing against the fruits of the Spirit.[3]

 

Hence, our hearts can respond rightly with the help of the Spirit to any given circumstance for which you can “pray for and with the person, use the Word of God by drawing to Scripture together, listening (Prov. 18:13), insightfully drawing out the desires of a person’s heart (Prov. 20:5), lovingly speak gospel truths to help people grow in Christ (Eph. 4:15–16), wisely instruct and teach (Rom. 15:14; Col. 3:16).” [4] 


Biblical counseling helps Christians in their sufferings learn that Christ Jesus is sufficient for life and godliness. When we help people who are hurting and walk alongside our brother/sister-in-Christ, it is not primarily to solve their problems, but rather to help them understand their sin and often change their responses to their situation through the help of the Spirit.


Rooted in the Word


Fourth, we need to be rooted in the Word to be able to understand Scripture and apply it to our spiritual growth. Doing your part in memorizing and imprinting Scripture on your heart is not only beneficial for personal, spiritual discipline, but knowing it well can help us in applying truth during biblical counseling opportunities. In 2 Peter 1:5–8, Peter says to make every effort to increase these spiritual areas: virtue, self-control, and godliness. The more we know and understand the Bible, the more we can trust that Christ is the answer to helping us respond to the daily things in life.


For example, as you do your daily Bible study, think of someone in your congregation who is suffering and in need of hope. How will this passage help in their situation? Through the knowledge and wisdom of the Word, we remind them that we were designed to know God and to imitate Him (Eph. 5) since we are now in union with Christ. As we embrace God’s Word, we then submit our allegiance to Him, and His Spirit works in us to grow in Christlikeness. In all, biblical counseling is about depending upon the Word of God and His Spirit to help you point others to Christ through their hardship. 


The Ministry of Biblical Counseling


Biblical counseling is for all believers, and each church member is called to counsel one another in love unto Christ. Additionally, biblical counseling is Gospel-centered and depends on the work of the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts. Lastly, we are to be rooted in the Word of God in the wisdom of Scripture and apply it to our spiritual growth trusting in Him to restore us into Christlikeness.


I hope that this article will give you a better understanding of what biblical counseling is and how it can be used in serving our fellow church members; not just to help them with a problem, but to help them see the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


 

Footnotes


[1] Robert D. Jones, Kristin L. Kellen, and Rob Green, The Gospel for Disordered Lives (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2021), 10.


[2] Jones, The Gospel for Disordered Lives, 10.


[3] Jeremy Pierre, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2016) 16.


[4] Jones, The Gospel for Disordered Lives, 10.

 

Kalia Xiong (BA, College of Saint Benedict) is happily married to Neng for four years and has been a member at C3 for one year. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology and is currently a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, in pursuit of the MA Biblical Counseling program. Her work as a BA Counselor/Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Case Manager at the Wilder Foundation, focuses on providing healthcare services to people with severe and persistent mental illness. She enjoys sightseeing and making travel memories with her husband, being an aunt to her nephews and nieces, Asian bakeries, helping the church, and fellowship with the women’s Bible study.

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