Biblical counseling can be condensed into these four basic commitments:
- the rendering of gracious care and hope
- the careful gathering and handling of personal information for a biblical interpretation
- the compassionate ministry of relative biblical truth to the issues, for biblical resolutions
- the practical and specific application of Christ and His Truth to the heart and life of the individual for hope, undivided worship, joy, growth, and change; all for the God’s glory.
Biblical counseling is intensely relative and practical because it relies heavily on the comprehensive gathering of information and dialogue for understanding (Pro 25:11,13). It is intensely biblical because it relies on the Bible and the God of the Bible for every aspect of counseling (2 Peter 1:3-4; Ps 119:45). Even if a person is unknowledgeable about the Bible or uncertain of their relationship to God, a biblical counselor can guide such a person in the all-important quest to a vital relationship with the God of the universe and to know what He has to say about their situation and their hope.
Biblical counseling is counsel based on God’s Word as the ultimate source of truth and restoration for the believer in Christ. For the One-Eighty biblical counselor, there is an operative conviction that God’s Word is relevant to all of life and can be practically applied to every heart and every circumstance of difficulty. While this does not imply that Scripture is the only source of information in the counseling process, biblical counselors are consistent in their detailed biblical analysis of information and their overwhelming focus on the Bible, which alone is infallible, authoritative and sufficient truth for matters of eternal life and godliness (2 Tim 3:16; Heb 4:12; 2 Pt 1:3ff).
Biblical counseling does not set aside real life issues, but works to understand their origin, impact and involvement in the counselee’s life from a biblical perspective. It seeks to hear and understand the counselee, both past and present, to appropriately offer and apply the truths of Scripture (the gospel, who God is, and all the biblical elements of change) to the counselee’s life. One-Eighty counselors hold that while we are certainly influenced (sometimes greatly) by our past events, our suffering, the sin of other’s, and/or our own sin; in Christ, we need not be determined, defined by, or remain enslaved to the same (1 Cor 6:9-11; Jer 31:29-30). And they regularly witness that through Jesus Christ there is restoration where there once was brokenness (Rev 21:5).
Biblical Counseling acknowledges that the counselee possesses both physical and inner-man aspects that interact and affect one another, because he or she is a whole spiritual person (2 Cor 4:16-18). The biblical counselor will often refer the counselee for a medical check-up to address or determine any physical components involved in the issue at hand.
The biblical counselor strives to relate the counselee not to him/herself to bring about healing, but to Jesus Christ and his Truth that sets men free (Heb 4:14-16; Jn 8:32). In doing so, biblical counseling is dependent on the collaborative, supernatural resources that God has provided for change (the work of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the grace of Jesus Christ through the gospel, and the involvement of the local church). As the counselee contemplates and applies who God is and His Truth to his/her heart and life, he/she is over time transformed further into God’s own image by the Holy Spirit’s power (2 Cor 3:18; Phil 2:12).
While behavioral change is important to this process of transformation, change within the counselee’s heart (thoughts, affections, and agendas) is essential as the counselor guides the counselee to a right understanding of God, his/her situation, and how Christians change. And through cultivating the counselee’s faith, gospel motivation and desire for God’s glory, along with prayerful, dependent and diligent work, real change (from the inside out) is possible.
This redemptive transformation that takes place as the counselee’s heart interacts with the Word of God brings hope, encouragement, conviction, repentance and/or healing as needed. When the individual finds Christ sufficient, puts to death the things of the flesh and strengthens the things of the Spirit, joy, peace and glorifying God become realities in his/her Christian walk (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). The biblical counselor is humbly privileged to see God work and to assist in the counselee’s process of spiritual growth and freedom toward God’s glory.