Paul David Tripp lays an essential biblical counseling foundation, and on it builds practical ministry strategies in his book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. If you have ever wondered questions like “Who are biblical counselors?” or “How do they use the Bible to help a counselee?” or “How can I start doing biblical counseling in my everyday life?” then you will greatly benefit from this book. Tripp explains foundational truths and particular strategies for biblical counselors in a clear and valuable way.
Who Are Biblical Counselors?
Tripp writes that all believers have the calling to be “instruments of change in his [God’s] redemptive hands” (page 18). Everyone counsels in one capacity or another, and the “core issue is whether that counseling is rooted in the revelation of the Creator” (page 46). A biblical counselor grounds his counsel not in his own insight, but rather in what God has said. This premise is both the counselor’s defining mark and his confidence. Tripp writes, “We are not what people need. Our purpose is to connect them to a living, active, and redeeming Christ” (page 146). Our confidence is not in our own wisdom or resources but in the wisdom and resources of Jesus.
How Does a Biblical Counselor Use the Bible to Help a Counselee?
Tripp clarifies how biblical counselors do not use the Bible to help a counselee: “We cannot treat the Bible as a collection of therapeutic insights. To do so distorts its message and will not lead to lasting change” (page 9). Again Tripp writes that “Need-driven, self-focused, solution-defined ministry may use the Bible, but it is not truly biblical” (page 25). Using the Bible is a prerequisite to biblical counseling, but not an inherent indicator of faithful biblical counsel.
Biblical counselors does not size Bible verses to fit counselees’ problems. Rather, they show counselees how their stories fit into the greater biblical narrative, a story whose main character is not themselves but Jesus Christ (page 27). In this way alone does a counselee experience the riches, hope, and help of the gospel. Tripp writes, “We need a message big enough to overcome our natural human instinct to live for our own glory, pursue our own happiness, and forget that our lives are much, much bigger than this little moment of life” (page 27).
How Can I Start Doing Biblical Counseling in My Everyday Life?
In the second part of the book Tripp covers four responsibilities of a biblical counselor: “Love, Know, Speak, Do.” Love is a call for Christians to enter into a relationship with their counselees. Tripp roots this in the biblical reality that God enters into relationship with us, a relationship which “is the only context in which the lifelong process of change can take place” (page 110). Know is a call for Christians to ask deep questions that reveal the hearts of their friends. Speak is a call for Christians to bring “God’s truth to bear on this person in this situation”(page 111). Concerning this step, Tripp writes that “God intends confrontation to be an expression of our submission to him in our relationships with others….if we love God above all else, confrontation is an extension and expression of that love” (pages 200-201). Do is a call for Christians to join the process of helping their friends walk the path of God-centered, Christ-honoring change with the Redeemer and the resources they have discovered from Scripture (112).
Though not meant to be an exhaustive manual, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands covers areas of crucial theology and practical methodology in an accessible and biblical way. This book benefits Christians of all walks of life, and helps them to better understand what it means to speak the truth in love.