West End Counseling Center Blog

Scott Stephens is the founder and director of Covenant Counseling Center. He is also a counseling pastor at Pendleton Street Baptist Church’s West End Counseling Center, a board member of Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute and a PhD student in the Biblical Counseling program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

A Perspective on Biblical Counseling

I was heartbroken when a pastor told me, “The truth is that we are unable to provide the professional care that many of our members need.” Now, this wasn’t a bi-vocational pastor of a small church. This was a seasoned pastor—one of ten—in a large conservative church with thousands of members. He explained how he had contracted with a local counseling firm to provide “Christian counseling” to couples who were experiencing problems in their marriages. The pastor was convinced that the counseling center could tap into resources that were not available to him in the church.


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Returning Counseling to the Church – Part 2

 The Sufficiency of the Scriptures – Continued
 
The sufficiency of Scripture means that the Bible contains all the words of God that He intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all of the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting Him perfectly, and for obeying Him perfectly.[1] The Word of God contains all that we need to know His will and live a life pleasing to Him.[2]
 
The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 states that even though the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, they are not sufficient to give the knowledge of God and His plan of salvation to His people. God in His goodness determined to reveal Himself to His creation in writing. By doing so, God has provided all things that are necessary to communicate His own glory, the need and means for man’s salvation, how to have faith, and live a life that glorifies Him.[3] We see Jesus emphasize this truth as He was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. In a response to one of the temptations, He rebuked the devil by quoting the words from Deuteronomy 8:3, “man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4).[4] The words that have been provided for man to live a God-pleasing life are found in His special revelation, the Bible.
 
The sufficiency of Scripture is the foundation of all biblical counseling because true biblical counseling is Bible-based. From the Bible we understand who man is, the nature of his problems, why he has these problems, and what must be done to solve them. For counseling to be worthy of the name of Christ, the counselor must be conscientiously and comprehensively committed to the sufficiency of the Scriptures.
[5] Scripture is completely sufficient for understanding human nature and the necessary processes of change that are essential for wise and effective biblical counsel. The Scriptures are the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, and faith and life.[6] It is for this reason that we must boldly proclaim the sufficiency of the Scriptures and prove to those who are misinformed that ministering from the Word of God is more than adequate for helping those who are suffering and have spiritual problems.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 127.

[2] Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry. 37.

[3] Hanserd Knollys, William Kiffin, William Collins, and Benjamin Keach, The London Baptist Confession of 1689, Chapter 1. Kindle;   “G.I Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith For Study Classes (Phillipsburg NJ: P&R Publishing), 1.

[4] RC Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton IL: Tyndale House),15.

[5] Heath Lambert, Sufficiency: Historic Essays on the Sufficiency of Scripture, 17.

[6] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, 221. Quote from the Westminster Confession of Faith.


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Returning Counseling to the Church

The Sufficiency of the Scriptures-Part 1
 

In his book The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, Heath Lambert explains that “’counseling’ is the word our culture uses to describe what happens when people with questions, problems, and trouble have a conversation with someone they think has answers, solutions, and help.” Counseling is something that ministers of the Gospel do every day. As a ministry and a “theological task,” it must be based in God’s Word, the Bible.[1] 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states that God’s revelation to us through the Scriptures is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. This verse tells us that God’s Word is able to provide us with the necessary foundation for sound ethical and moral action and thought.[2] The term “all Scripture” beginning the verse is referring to Scripture in its every part.[3] The apostle Peter writes that God in His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him that is provided in the Scriptures, so that we may become “partakers” of His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3). The Scriptures are clear that it is Jesus Christ who is the foundation of truth; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6). Christians believe that God’s truth is expressed in His Son, Jesus. All truth is found in Him and there is no other source. What God claims is true is what He has revealed to us in the Scripture.[4] Everything we know about Christianity and living a life that glorifies God has been revealed to us by Him in His Word. Idle speculation about God is a fool’s errand. If we wish to know Him in truth, we must rely on what He tells us about Himself in the Scriptures.[5] Peter 1:21 tells us that God gave prophets the words of the Bible and they were written down with the guidance and superintendence of the Holy Spirit. The human writers who penned the wisdom of the Scriptures did not write their own ideas or opinions; they wrote words that were given to them by God. The difference of style between the writers clearly shows that the men who wrote the Scriptures were not just taking dictation from God, but they were controlled by the Holy Spirit in such a way that the words and ideas were inspired. Louis Berkhof wrote, “Revelation and inspiration stand in the closest possible relation to each other. As far as special revelation is concerned, it may be said that one is inconceivable without the other.” In quoting Charles Hodge, Berkhof adds, “The object or design of revelation is the communication of knowledge. The object or design of inspiration is to secure infallibility in teaching…the effect of revelation was to render its recipient wiser. The effect of inspiration was to preserve him from error in teaching.” [6] The Scriptures are evidence unto themselves to be the Word of God.[7] 2 Timothy 3:16 describes the message that God has given to us in the Scriptures as being θεοπνευστος, meaning “God-breathed.” This Greek word can also be translated “God-inspired.” B.B. Warfield wrote in explaining θεοπνευστος, “The Scriptures owe their origin to an activity of God the Holy Ghost and are in the highest and truest sense His creation. It is on this foundation of Divine origin that all the high attributes of Scripture are built.”[8] Psalm 19 tells us that the law of the Lord is perfect, His testimony is sure, His precepts and His commandments are right, to fear Him is clean because His rules are true. The verse goes on to say that all of this is to be desired more than the finest gold or the sweetest honey because by understanding His Word, we are warned. By heeding His Word we are rewarded. By having and keeping His Word we are able to live a life that recognizes sin and avoids it (Psa. 19:7-14). In Hebrews the Word is described as “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, or joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

[1] Heath Lambert, The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, 21.

[2] Robert L. Plummer, 40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible (Grand Rapids MI: Kregel, Inc., 2010), 53.

[3] This is a Logos definition of θεοπευστος and the explanation of “all Scripture.”

[4] Adams. Is All Truth God’s Truth?, 2.

[5] R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton IL: Tyndale House,1992), 3.

[6] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 144.

[7] John Murray, “Witness of the Spirit” Free Grace Broadcaster: God-breathed Scripture Issue 239. (Pensacola FL: Chapel Library, 2017), Kindle.

[8] B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 245-96.


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Called to Counsel

Pastors, We Are Called to Counsel God’s People
Saint Augustine wrote in his work titled On Christian Doctrine in AD 397, “Let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to the Master.”[1] Most committed evangelical Christians will agree that the truth which comes from God, the truth that is provided by Him in His revealed Word, is absolute truth. Yet, the statement “all truth is God’s truth,” has provided a catalyst for well-meaning Christians to support the belief that man’s spiritual problems can be solved by information apart from the Scriptures. As mentioned before, most will agree that truth is revealed in special revelation, the Bible, but they place equal authority on the truth that is given to man through general revelation. As a result, many Christian churches that should provide care for people’s life-problems have willingly relegated that care to secularly trained professionals, many who have theories of care that exclude God. By doing so, sufficient care by using the Scriptures for people within the church has been replaced by an insufficient care that is based on man-generated ideas affected by the noetic effects of sin.

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