What is Biblical Counselling Part II

Published by Camille deVos on

Previously, we shared a post on the five different views of psychology and Christianity, building an argument for why Trellis has adopted the position of biblical counselling. In this post we would like to take the time to explore further, what this looks like in more detail.

There is a lot of different things to talk about when it comes to Biblical Counselling. For those of us in Free Reformed circles our conversations on this topic are only just beginning and we probably have more questions than answers. Considering that these conversations are only beginning, I would firstly like to highlight and begin the discussion looking at how biblical counselling digs deep into our hearts, looking at the work of God in our lives. It is something that is at work in all of us and skills that we all use as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Biblical Counselling is about heart change

As mentioned in our previous post, Biblical counselling moves past actions and behaviours, it looks through our emotions, our motivations and our thoughts to the heart. Every part of our lives flows through our hearts. Therefore, wise biblical counselling is attentive to the heart.

Our God is interested in our hearts as they are the centre for our worship. He is busy working growth, change and healing down to the depths of our hearts. When change happens on a heart level, it flows out to all other areas of our lives.

Heart change happens in the context of a deep personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour. He continues to work growth and healing in us so that more and more we love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength; and our neighbours as ourselves. Through the difficulties, challenges, heartbreak and even through the sins that we face, our God is continuing to draw us closer to him. It is the role of a biblical counsellor lovingly help others to see how this is happening in their own hearts.

Biblical Counselling draws from an understanding of the work of  God in the details of our lives.

We live our life in the details. We live in the commonplace, the mundane, the everyday events. Because that is where we are living our lives, that is where God is busy at work. We often reflect on the work of God in our lives when it comes to the big things, the big decisions, changes and challenges that we face. These don’t happen in isolation. All the little things build up to the big things, all the little moments really count.

Every single part of our life has God at the centre of it. Wise biblical counselling is about learning more about the details of a person’s life and how they connect to scripture. These points of connection are not found in the big moments. They are found in the mundane, commonplace moments of our days. It is there that God is busy, busy working change and growth, busy healing past hurts and restoring to be more like Christ.

So that we may be able to wisely connect a person’s unique life story with God’s greater story, it is important that we start with a strong theology. We need a strong knowledge of who God is as revealed to us in scripture. Our theology is the foundation for how we understand people and events. It gives us the parameters for our understanding of the struggles people face and the solutions to these struggles. Our theology tells us about the personhood of God, the work of God, it forms our understanding of who we are as people created in the image of God, it tells us what God has done for us and what he is continuing to do in us. Without a strong understanding of this, we are not able to wisely minister to those around us.

Wise biblical counselling is growing in a knowledge and love for our neighbour and growing knowledge and love for God. These skills are not special or unique. They are fundamental to living as faithful Christians. 

Biblical Counselling is for ALL of us.

As we know scripture more and more, we learn the problems that we experience in this life are not centred on past experiences, bad thought patterns or incorrect belief systems. They have a part to play, but the problems of this life are much deeper than that. The problems that we experience are because we are broken people, living in a broken world. We are sinful.  We turn our focus from serving The Lord and Creator of the Universe to things that he has created.

This brokenness is found in all of us. While the nature and extent of the brokenness will vary from person to person, we have a common brokenness and a common need for the work of the triune God in our lives. Biblical counselling is for all of us. The principles behind it are not specific to those who are facing intense suffering or in dire need of relief from their mental struggles. These principles are essential for all of us. Biblical counselling looks closely at how sanctification works in all or our lives. As we get to know our bibles more, as our knowledge of scripture deepens, we come to see that our common brokenness leads to a common healing.

There is no clear distinction between those who help and those who are helped. There is not a definitive line between those who counsel and those who are counselled. Just as the principles of biblical counselling are for everyone, everyone is a counsellor.

We are ALL biblical counsellors.

Sometimes we shy away from helping someone, worried that we don’t have the right skills or that we will do more harm in and already difficult situation. Without realising it, we buy into the incorrect and unbiblical view that there are situations that can only be helped or fixed by trained professionals.

The bible teaches us something radically different. It teaches that we are all equipped and able to counsel each other. It teaches us that in the different tasks God has given us, we are all called to speak the truth in wisdom and love.

Still, the bible tells us that we are all biblical counsellors. We are called to care for one-another, to bear one-another’s burdens, love one-another, serve one-another, teach one-another and to admonish one-another. As Ephesians chapter 4 verse 15 – 16 illustrates. The task of Biblical counselling is one for every part of the body:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way to him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

As pastors, office bearers, parents, teachers and brothers and sisters in Christ we are all counsellors. We all bring the hope and comfort of the gospel into the lives of those around us. This is not the just ministry of specialised counsellors who work outside of the church. It is not just the ministry of elders, deacons and ministers or even a counselling elder. Anyone and everyone can and should provide care, counsel and wisdom to those who are suffering.

Biblical counselling finds itself deeply embedded into the interpersonal ministry of the church.

Biblical Counselling happens in the Church.

Healing, growth, change, restoration and sanctification all happen in the context of relationships. They cannot happen in isolation. As mentioned before, the foundation for all of this is in the relationship that we have with the Living God. The way that he has designed it is that this is embedded in the local church.

Sanctification is not a solo journey of self-improvement. It is a process of learning to love and serve God and one-another more and more. It is a process of growing closer to God and to our neighbour. This work needs to happen in the context of community, constrained to a counsellors office it will not work.

The work of biblical counselling needs to happen within the church. Each Sunday again we hear or sing the Apostles Creed. Contained in the creed are the words I believe in the communion of Saints. In confessing those words, we are saying that we believe in the body of Christ as it brings about change and growth in our lives. We are saying that we believe in deep, interpersonal relationships. That we believe that the relationships in the church are a part of our journey of sanctification.

A church functioning as God has commanded is the best possible place for growth and healing.

Let us never stop growing in the way that we show love and care to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us continue to support and encourage the communion of saints. Let us grow toward being a church that is functioning as God has commanded.


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