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Why We Counsel from the Bible Alone

In this session I’ll really just be talking about confidence in the Bible. The reason this is so important to me is because this is where it really all starts when people start asking questions. When I’m asked questions—such as, What about this? What about that?—my response is, What does the Bible say? It always comes back to, What does the Word of God say? Sometimes as Christians we start to think, “Well, I don’t really have a good answer because all I do is quote Scripture and is that really sufficient?” The answer is yes, it is sufficient. You don’t have to be an MD; you don’t have to be a PhD; you don’t have to be a philosopher; you just have to be a Christian who trusts in God’s Word. This session is designed to bolster our encouragement and conviction that the Bible really is what we need for counseling.

I teach a couple of classes over at Master’s and on our exams—I’m thinking about the one class I teach most often, the Physiology and Biblical Counseling class—I’ll give some scenarios and say, “How would you counsel this person?” You would be shocked to know that about half of my students will often show how they would counsel this person without using a Bible verse. Therefore, the first thing I say is, “This is a degree in biblical counseling. In the beginning, in the middle, and in the end, you must give me passages of Scripture that you would use.” Granted, to their excuse, sometimes some of the questions aren’t just a clear theological question. It might be something like, How would you interact with a doctor to help serve a patient who has depression? They’re thinking very practically and pragmatically, and sometimes they forget to ask themselves, What are some biblical principles that should weigh into how I would think about how to answer that question? I don’t want to throw all of my students under the bus, but I’m just reminding us as counselors, that if you’re not careful, you’ll begin to do the same thing. Somebody is going to present a problem, and you’re going to answer, “Oh, well, you should do this, you should do that….my aunt, my this, my this…” and you’ll tell a story and you’ll start relating. Then it’s like, well, Where’s the Scripture? I haven’t heard a Scripture yet. Because if you’re not opening the Bible and using the Scripture, then you’re not using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to bring about real change.

Sometimes even a counselee will say, “Yeah, I know the Bible says that, but….” If you’re not careful, you’ll kind of go with them. But no, come back to the Bible and to the Scriptures. Yes, the Bible says that, and that’s where we’re staying. We’re staying right here in this passage (or in another passage) because the Bible is full of power and the Bible is God’s Word. This whole lecture is reminding us of what the Bible is. The Bible is the most important book ever written. It is an eyewitness to the account of historical events, which has shaped the world in which we live. Without the Bible, the world would be a completely different place. You can’t counsel without a Bible. You can’t help anyone without God’s Word. The Scriptures are the starting place, the springboard, and the source of all biblical soul care.

It is not too much to say that the events recorded in the Bible have made the world what it is today. The Bible is foundational to just about everything mankind will ever know or accomplish. The Bible has directly led to massive undertakings of goodwill and service. Because of this book, great projects have been undertaken, hospitals have been built, multitudes have been fed and clothed, and orphanages have been founded. Because of the Bible, biblical counseling is what it is. Biblical counseling is not built on some of the patriarchs of this movement, like Jay Adams, Bill Goode, Bob Smith, or David Powlison—God rest their souls. c

It would be impossible to claim to be an educated person in today’s society without having at least some familiarity with the events contained in the Bible. Millions of people around the world read portions of this book every single day. It is the most published and most printed book in the history of the world. It is printed in just about every known language, and each year, it is the world’s best-selling book. Collectors of rare books treasure the Bible in every form. The Bible was the first book ever put to the printing press. The man who printed it, Johannes Gutenberg, was recently voted as the most important man to have lived in the last 1,000 years. A good number of museums exist today, which are dedicated solely to this very book and the events contained within it. The Bible is available in every corner of the globe, even where it is illegal to own and read this book. It is available in every electronic format imaginable and also in hundreds of apps on your phone. You can find the entire Bible online for free. Famous actors and sports stars regularly refer to the Bible. It was quoted by William Shakespeare many times in his writings.

The Bible has been praised, but it has also been cursed, restricted, banned, desecrated, and even burned. Some have tried to eliminate it. All who have tried have failed. People have suffered exquisite tortures, loss of freedom, and even their lives for printing it. This book is simultaneously hated and loved. Once read, it would be impossible to be indifferent to it for its claims are monumental and beyond exaggerating. It provokes a strong response in either a positive or a negative direction: you will either love it or you will hate it. It is meant to be that way by design. God did not give us the Bible as the least common denominator to be agreed upon by all men of all cultures, but the Bible is so controversial that wars have been fought over its interpretation, governments have been toppled on account of it, and kings have been deposed because of holding onto the truth of the Bible. Worldwide organizations and associations have been formed because of this book and its message, many of them existing for centuries.

I don’t know about you, but I love God’s Word and my goal for myself as a biblical counselor and for you as a counselor and the people that you counsel is for you to engage with God through His Word. You can’t know God truly without knowing Him through the Scriptures. General revelation is creation and it’s beautiful. Special revelation is God’s Word and it’s life-changing. You cannot have a relationship with God outside of the Bible, and yet, we don’t worship the Bible, we worship the God of the Bible. We worship God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who alone can save us from our sins. To say it another way, the depth of your relationship with God and the transformation of your counselees will be determined by the depth of Bible reading, Bible study and Scriptural meditation that you take part in. It is impossible to say that your relationship with God is better than it has ever been, but your time in the Word is hit or miss. If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then show it by spending time with Him through His Word.

Yet, if we’re not careful, we are very often deceived by that response that we so often give, “Well, I just don’t have time.” Have you ever assigned some homework to counselees and when they came in the next week and you asked, “Did you do your homework? Did you read these passages?”, the answer was, “Well, counselor, I just didn’t have time this week”? I love what Corrie Ten Boom says about this. She often remarked, “If the devil cannot make us bad, then he will make us busy.” Isn’t that the truth? We get so busy that we don’t have time to spend in God’s Word. Shame on us, right?

Why don’t we just be honest and say that it’s not a priority. Let’s just be honest. You didn’t go this whole week without eating food. You didn’t go this whole week without brushing your teeth, I hope. You probably didn’t go this whole week without watching something on some media source, right? But if you went the whole week without reading the Word, something’s wrong. Something is vastly wrong with your relationship with God. You didn’t go this whole week without talking to your spouse, if you’re married, right? I mean you just don’t go a whole week without being in touch with the one that you love. The way that we do that is through God’s Word. I just really think there’s a huge lack of motivation in the lives of people today to study God’s Word. Therefore, the goal of this talk has been to help us better care for souls. We’re talking about biblical counseling. The best way that I know to help you prepare for that Christian responsibility is to motivate you, as the counselor, to spend time in God’s Word today, tomorrow, throughout the rest of this year, for the rest of your life. I want to give you five truths about the Bible that ought to make you want to dig into God’s Word like never before.


A. The Bible is inspired. (2 Timothy 3:16)

We know that the Bible is inspired. It’s inspired. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This word inspired means “to be breathed out.” It literally means “the breath of God.” In this verse, Paul tells us what the Bible is. He tells us about the nature of Scripture and theologians call this truth the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. Have you ever heard that from a pastor? The plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. Plenary means all of it. If you go to a conference and there’s a plenary session, we’re all together. Plenary refers to all the Bible. It’s verbal. It means the very words. The Bible was not inspired in thought; it’s inspired word for word. Then inspiration again means God-breathed. It is given to us by God Himself. It’s not given to us by an angel; it’s not given to us by a person who said they had a vision; it’s not given to us by a committee of religious scholars. It was given to us by God. Just like in creation God spoke the world into being, God spoke His Word into being. Have you ever thought about that? In general revelation, He speaks the world into being; in special revelation He speaks His word into being. We believe that the Bible is inspired by God, not by man.

Second Timothy 3:16 again tells us exactly what the Bible is. It’s God’s inspired Word, and it also tells us what the Bible does. The Bible shows us the way of godliness. The Bible was given so that you could be complete, so that your counselee could be complete, so that where you’re lacking and where they’re lacking, you could be filled up. The Bible gives you all that you need for life and godliness. What your counselees need is the Word of God to make them complete. That word complete means to be well-fitted for some function. It means to be capable and proficient. In the immediate context, it is to complete the man of God—or the pastor or the elder—to do the work of the ministry, and Paul is encouraging Timothy in this way. The truth is the same for every biblical counselor: God’s Word completes you. It makes you capable, qualified, and able to help other people out. When you are counseling from the Word of God, then you are helping others be equipped for every good work.

Therefore, the Bible was given not only so that we can know God and His Son Jesus Christ, but God’s Word is also given so that we can live it out. It is to bring about the life change that God so desperately desires in your heart. It’s teaching you, reproving you, correcting you, and training you. The Bible is to complete us in our hearts and in our minds. The Bible is to be what we look to for affirmation and for our direction. The Bible is to furnish us with everything that we need for service to our great God. The Bible makes us ready to walk in obedience to Christ and to all of His teaching. The Bible is better than any secular philosophy, better than any modern psychology, and better than any cognitive behavioral therapy.

Do you understand what cognitive behavioral therapy is? It’s a psychologist trying to help you put off certain unwanted behaviors and to put on other behaviors without Christ. That’s all that cognitive behavioral therapy is: We’re going to change your way of thinking from this to something that’s more acceptable or something more desirable for you, whatever you want, without Christ. In contrast, what we’re doing in biblical counseling is putting off (Ephesians 4:22), being renewed in the spirit of our mind—who Christ is, what the gospel is, what sanctification is about, the power I have through the Holy Spirit to have the fruit of the Spirit manifested in my life— so that I can put on that new self. That’s what the Bible teaches us to do.

B. The Bible is inerrant. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

It’s also inerrant. The Bible is inerrant. That word inerrant literally means “without error.” Scripture, in its original manuscript and properly understood, does not affirm anything that would contradict the truth. Proverbs 30:5-6 says: “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” According to Charles Feinberg, inerrancy means that when all the facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything that they affirm, whether that has to do with doctrine or morality, with social, physical or life sciences. Wayne Grudem states that inerrancy means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to the fact. We’re saying that it is without error. You have to understand and appreciate this idea that the Bible, and even some of the majestic facts about the Bible, are without error.

It’s all about His glory, Christ, and redeeming the lives of mankind to be restored in a right relationship with Him. That, in and of itself, is a testimony to this unity of the Bible in how it is without error. It does not contradict itself. People say all the time, “Well, the Bible contradicts itself.” I just say, “Can you show me where?” Usually, they have nothing to share. If they’ve been a little bit well-versed and they start to say, “Well, the Bible says you’re saved by works, but over here it says you’re saved by faith,” I may respond, “Well, let’s talk about that. It’s a great passage out of James chapter 2. Let’s talk about how you’re saved by faith, but it’s a faith that works.” Do you follow what I’m saying? There’s really no contradiction. You just begin to explain what the Bible says.

The Bible was considered authoritative as soon as it was written down. We didn’t have to wait for the councils to affirm the Bible. It was already authoritative the moment it was written. Did you know that we have hundreds of Hebrew manuscripts (thousands if you count the Dead Sea Scrolls)? We have thousands of Greek manuscripts. In fact, we have over 5,600 manuscripts. Do you know what the next closest work (second best) to that is in the literary world of ancient literature? Homer’s Iliad. It talks about the Trojan War and dates back to 700 B.C. Do you know how many original manuscripts we have of the Iliad? 643. Not bad. I mean 643, that’s pretty impressive, but not compared to 5,600.

I’m trying to say that the Bible is a literary book that has great literary integrity. To say that somehow, “It’s just written by man. It’s just a hodgepodge group of stuff swarmed together somehow by a bunch of church councils” is not being true to its literary integrity. The church does not give authority to Scripture; the Scripture gives authority to the church. The New Testament is thought of as being canonized in 397 A.D. at the Council of Carthage. But I’m letting you know, it was already official, it was already authoritative, it was already circulating way before 397 A.D. I repeat, the church doesn’t give authority to Scripture; the Scripture gives authority to the church.

The Old Testament was authored by prophets who wrote it, and the best rule of the canonization of the Old Testament would be that Jesus quoted from it. If Jesus quoted from it, that’s good enough for me. Done. When He says, “It is written,” it’s the word graphic, referring to written down Scripture. When He says, “It is written” and quotes Old Testament Scripture, that is more than enough affirmation that we would ever need for the canonization of the Old Testament.

The New Testament was authored by apostles who wrote it down according to the Holy Spirit’s oversight and superintending work. The New Testament was written by the apostles and their close associates and accepted by the early church as Scripture because of these three things:

  1. Authorship (had to be written by an apostle or a close associate). By the way, just so you remember, Luke was not an apostle, and Mark was not an apostle. Mark probably wrote for Peter and Luke probably wrote for Paul, but they wrote the gospels. You didn’t have to be an apostle, you had to be an apostle or a close associate of an apostle.
  2. Consistency. It had to have consistency. It had to be largely accepted by the first century church and recognized as such. What I just want to affirm here is that it wasn’t hard to tell what was in and what was out as if there were huge debates about, Should this book be in? and, Should this book be out? It was by and large accepted: 66 books, 39 Old Testament, 27 New Testament. Now, occasionally you’ll hear a quote of someone saying this or that, but it was never seriously considered as being either true or not true. It was very consistent.
  3. Accuracy. It had to teach the same truths as the orthodoxy of the Christian Church from the Old Testament and the New Testament alike.

Now, just so you know, there were other books that some people would say should be in the Bible, such as the Apocrypha that the Roman Catholics would state should be inspired. Those books simply are not inspired and it’s not hard to see why. One of those books called the Gospel of Thomas failed to be included in the Canon of the New Testament because it was deemed to be heretical by the early church because it wasn’t consistent. It was deemed to be inauthentic. It was probably written not by the Thomas of the Bible, but by a different Thomas at a later date. It’s inconsistent with the rest of the New Testament. In fact, just so you know what we’re talking about, let me read you a quote from the Gospel of Thomas and you assess whether or not it’s difficult to determine if this should be considered Scripture or not.

Here’s the quote from the Gospel of Thomas, verse 1:14. It says this: “Simon Peter said to them, ‘Make Mary leave us for females do not deserve life.’ Jesus said, ‘Look, I will guide her to make her male so that if she too may become a living spirit resembling you males, for every female who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.'”

That’s in the Gospel of Thomas. What do you think: Scripture or not Scripture? I’m saying there’s no contest. There’s no argument. It’s black and white. If something is clearly written by an Old Testament prophet, a New Testament apostle or a close associate, is consistent, and is accurate; it’s God’s word. You should never ever doubt again for one single minute that the Bible somehow is not inerrant. It is locked solid. It’s inspired by God. It has no error.

C. The Bible is infallible. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

That word infallible means that it’s unable to mislead or it’s not liable to fail. Simply, since it’s infallible, it will never fail. It’s impossible. Everything God’s Word says will come true. The Bible is internally non-contradictory and doctrinally consistent. Isaiah 55:10-11 says:

“‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.'”

God’s Word never fails. The Word of God simply will not fail. Every word will come true. Every promise is secure. Every prophecy will be confirmed. Everything about the Word of God is trustworthy.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said: “If I did not believe in the infallibility of Scripture, then I would never enter the pulpit again.” I would say, “If I didn’t believe in the infallibility of Scripture, then I would never enter into the counseling office again.” But I do believe in the infallibility of Scripture. I know it’s not going to fail. I know the promises that God gives are true, not only in preaching, but they’re also true in counseling, which simply means that if you will repent, turn to Christ, and apply His principles, He’ll help you in your situation to glorify God, receive joy, and make a difference in how you live your life. You may not be able to change the circumstances—that’s not what we’re talking about. They may or may not change, but you can have joy. You can have integrity, character, and focus and have a glorifying experience in your situation as you seek to glorify God. I mean, why counsel from the Bible if the Bible is not a trustworthy source? If the Bible is only half of what we need, then, why would you use it? Because it would only be half-helpful. But it is trustworthy. We know that. The character of the Bible is a reflection of God’s unchanging character. It does not change with the tide or with the times. God’s Word is steadfast and immovable, just as He is. The fact that the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible leaves us to our fourth truth, that the Bible is sufficient.

D. The Bible is sufficient. (2 Peter 1:3)

To say that the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, through the gift of faith. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith. Peter said it this way in 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has granted to us all things…”—there you go, thanks for saying it for me—”…that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

Through God’s Word, we have everything that we need. We’re saying that it really is sufficient for everything we need. We don’t need outside sources to help teach us how God wants us to live. We don’t need any further revelation. We don’t need any new scientific discovery. Make sure you take that and think about that. We don’t need a new scientific discovery to somehow help us in the biblical counseling office. We’ve got everything we need right here, from creation, from the Word of God given to us. We don’t need psychologists telling us why people do what they do.

Do you know how many people in the church depend on things like, “This research shows this” and “Did you know that there’s oxytocin that’s released to give you a pleasurable experience when you do a certain thing”? I think that can be really fascinating, but I don’t have to know that or understand that to counsel from God’s Word. People get into that all the time: “Well, there’s this;” “There’s that;” “This is fascinating.” I think, “I enjoy studying things too. I think it is somewhat interesting, but it’s not life-changing. It doesn’t change your life like the Bible does.” I’m not going to lean on that, depend on that, or implement that in my counseling.

The best news of all is that the Bible does give us answers to life’s biggest questions like, Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? The Bible answers all of those questions. God answers those questions for us through His Word, which is inspired by Him, which is without error, which will never fail us, which is sufficient and it’s all we need for life and godliness.

With this being truthful, I’m encouraging you not to be like one of my students who forgets to use the Bible in counseling. With every one of my counseling hours—generally an hour per case—I typically tell my students (so I’ll tell you) that you should spend about half your time collecting data, asking questions, maybe reviewing some homework, and hearing new struggles they faced during the week. Somewhere, I’m always kind of looking at the clock. I usually have my phone sitting there next to my Bible. I’ll just kind of click it every once in a while as the counselee is talking. What I’m always doing is I’m looking for the half hour. When I get to half an hour, I’m like, “Okay, you know what? Thank you so much for sharing how your week has been. Open up your Bible to Ephesians chapter 4 and I’m going to take the rest of our time and give you some encouragement from God’s Word.”

I find that what a lot of counselors do is they let the counselee dictate the case because the counselee thinks that the counselor wants to hear him or her talk the whole time. What you want to teach them is that you only want to hear them talk half the time. You do want to hear them talk. Empathy, connection, learning. You do want to hear them talk. For how long? Half the time. Half the time is yours; half the time is mine.

I’ve got a lady right now and she is a talker. I mean this lady can bring it. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Tears come and that always gets me. I’m like, well, I can’t interject because she’s crying. She’s crying, every day, all day, beyond normal. There’s something there. Just this past week, I said, “Ma’am, I am so sorry to hear about that. I can see that’s greatly affected you, but part of the goal of biblical counseling is not only for you to share what’s going on and how it’s affected you, but it’s for you to listen. It’s for you to listen, and I have some things I want to say to you about those things that you’ve been saying. So, open your Bible…” She was like, “Oh yes.” She kind of sat up, right?

You just have to take control again of the situation because they will wear you out. Counselees are like kids at night when you’re trying to put them to bed: they just keep talking and they keep talking because they don’t want to go to bed. Somehow that’s how counselees are. They’ll just keep talking and you just have to say, “You know what, I’ve got God’s Word right here. All the answers, everything you’re talking about, there’s answers to it right here. We’ve got to spend time in it. We’ve got to open it. It’s time to do some Bible study. It’s time to open this book and begin to address what’s going on in your life.” That’s what we’re talking about.


The second thing that I want to talk to you about is how the Bible impacts your life. All four of these come from 2 Timothy 3:16 that we looked at already, but basically these are four things in detail that I wanted to talk about.

A. God’s Word teaches the mind. (Romans 12:1-2)

Remember that 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching…”

We’re saying that God’s Word teaches the mind. It really does. It teaches you in your mind so that you can comprehend and learn. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Do you know what the word for transform there is? It’s from the word metamorphoō. What does that sound like? Metamorphosis. What is metamorphosis? It’s a transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Do a caterpillar and a butterfly look at all similar? Not really. You might be like, “How could that become that? I don’t get it.” That’s what God does. That’s what He’ll do in your counselees. God’s Word can transform this person who was so full of themselves, so prideful, so arrogant, so sinful, so idolatrous, just like it has you and it has me. It’s still transforming us. All of a sudden, we understand as God’s Word tells us—again, Romans 12:2—”but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for transformation. How long does it take for something to be transformed? It takes some time, right? How do my kids get transformed from being boys and girls to being young men and young women? (I have several kids in the middle of puberty right now and we have a whole lot of voices cracking in my house, just like mine is right now.)

My 11-year-old came in the other night. He’s like, “Dad, I think I’m going through the transformation.” I said, “Son, what are you talking about?” He’s like, “Dad, I’ve got a couple of hairs right here. I just saw two right here.” I said, “Hudson, congratulations. You have entered puberty.” This same kid, Hudson, is a little funny; he’s our third boy. I had given the other kids the talk about the birds and the bees. We share that by using Passport to Purity, which is a great resource to help talk through this transition with your kids from the Bible and from some biological standpoint. It’s a tool that we used and then we’d stop and talk about it. I took my oldest son, Nate, through it, then I took my son Micaiah through it, and now it’s Hudson’s turn. He’s like, “Dad, are we going to do the talk?” Because we just did it this past summer. He’s like, “Dad are we doing that talk thing?” I said, “Yeah, we’re going to do that talk thing.” He’s like, “Is this about sex?” I answered, “Yes, it’s about sex.” He’s like, “Can we bring my older two brothers? I need moral support.” I asked the older two brothers, “What do y’all think about going through it again with your little brother, Hudson.” They said, “Dad, we’d love to.” They came and we went through it all again with all three of them, and I realized that my oldest son and my next son needed to hear it again because there were a few things in there that they just didn’t quite catch the first time. This is a beautiful transformation. I got sidetracked, I’m sorry.

My point was, it takes time, right? A boy doesn’t become a man in one night, so your counselee does not transform in one session. That’s why it’s so important for us to open the Word again, and again, and again, and again in 8, 10, 12, or more sessions. If you don’t have 30 minutes in there every time to give conversation from God’s Word, then they might not be transformed. You make sure that you’re counseling from the Word of God because it’s the Word of God that teaches the mind. It’s not you. It’s not your ability. It’s not your illustrations, though they can be helpful. It’s the Word of God that brings that transformation about and it happens in their mind as they are renewed.

I like to tell people that you’ve got to take your medicine, right? I just tell them when I’m assigning homework and Scripture, “You have to read this and spend time in the Word not only in the one hour I have you. In the 167 hours of your week, you better be in God’s Word reading and studying so that you can be changed.”

B. God’s Word reproves the sinner.

Back to 2 Timothy 3:16, remember that we’re talking about how God’s Word is profitable for teaching and for reproof. That word reprove means “to rebuke.” The word carries the idea of rebuking in order to convict of misbehavior and false beliefs. We ought to rebuke each other in love and in the right attitude. This ought to be happening at home, in our church, and in our biblical counseling sessions. We are calling our counselees back to the Word of God and back to the truth of Scripture. That’s why 2 Timothy 4:2 also says, “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove…”—that means to rebuke—”…rebuke…”—it’s a similar word—”…and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Again, we have to be willing to call each other out.

When I was a PA working in Savannah, I lived with some other young professionals, and we called our house “the R&R house.” It did not stand for rest and relaxation. Because we were all hungry for God’s Word and we were encouraging each other, we nicknamed it the R&R house, which stood for “Rebuking and Rebuilding.” We were really trying to follow Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” We would debate theology—and sometimes it got a little overheated—but we would have good times of rebuking and rebuilding. That’s what we’re doing in counseling, we’re rebuking and rebuilding. You’re tearing down a wrong way of thinking, a wrong way of reproach, so that you can help rebuild with God’s Spirit and God’s Word.

C. God’s Word corrects the fallen.

We’re not just beating them down and leaving them down, right? We’re rebuking incorrect thoughts that are contrary to Scripture and then correcting those thoughts. In the secular Greek literature, this word for correction is used to describe setting up an object upright after it has fallen over. The word even carries over the idea of setting something straight after it has been broken, like the doctor setting a bone. I’ve been taught in medical school (PA school) that when someone breaks a bone and it heals, you have osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoclasts break down bone and reabsorb it; the osteoblasts build new bone structure. When a bone has been broken and it heals, rarely does it break in the same place again because there’s more glue in the osteoblasts rebuilding the osteostrength of that bone to where if the same amount of pressure were put on it again, it would probably break somewhere else. It’s not going to break in that same place because God fixed it through the healing process. We’re just saying that this correction that we’re looking at is supposed to be good, healthy, and strong. There was a broken bone, but now it’s been made straight. Now that it’s straight, Lord-willing, it’s not going to fall again. I mean, we can fall again, but the idea is that we really want to see correction in such a way that it’s so shored up that the problem is really fixed.

When thinking about correction, I also use the analogy of us teaching my kids to ride a bike. Different people use different stuff—the Strider bikes and all this stuff. For some reason, the way we taught our kids to ride their bikes was that I would take a towel and wrap it around their chest and pull it up in the back and I would hold it. I think that the reason I did it this way was because I had so many skinned knees. This way if the bike goes down, I could hold him and the kid would be hanging from the air, but at least he didn’t skin his knee. The point that I’m trying to say is as they’re riding their bikes, I’m running next to them and I’m holding the towel with a little bit of tension so that if they fall, I could quickly pull it. While they’re riding, what are you doing as a parent? You’re giving a little bit of coaching and you’re like, “Hey, a little left, lean left, lean right…” You’re just giving constant correction, and it takes a long time to get that kid to ride a bike (for some kids it takes longer than others).

That’s what you’re doing in counseling. You’re holding onto your counselee with encouragement, with love, and with God’s Word. You’re like, “Hey, don’t think like that; think like this. Hey, don’t respond that way; respond this way.” You’re giving constant correction back and forth and back and forth because you want him to ride right down the middle without your help, without your intervention, in a way that can help him. That’s just what I envision when I think about correction. It’s constant, it’s kind, it’s gracious, but you’re pointing it out on a regular basis.

D. God’s Word trains the righteous.

The connotation here is that we need training throughout all of our life. All of us need to be training. We need to be trained by God’s Word. I’m thinking about Hebrews 12:11: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” There’s just that reminder that there’s a constant, long-term training that God works in us to help us, to complete us where we’re lacking, and to help equip us for every good work. That’s true of the pastor in the context of 2 Timothy. Remember that the man of God is the pastor, but I’m just saying that we can also apply that to all of us. We all want to be equipped for every good work. We’re all workers for God. We’re all ministers of the gospel even if we’re not all formally pastors. We’re to be doing and be equipped for every good work. That’s what God’s Word does. It impacts our lives.


Now, one of the things that we want to focus on too is that the Bible must be understood correctly. Three things to remember when studying your Bible and helping teach others how to study the Bible as you’re giving them homework would be:

  1. Make observations.
    This is the first step. It’s just real simple. Make observations. What does the text say? For example, Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” When I read that verse (Ezra 7:10), you should be asking questions such as: 

    – Who’s writing? Ezra’s writing.
    – Who is he writing to? He’s writing to the post-exilic people who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem.
    – Where is this taking place? It’s taking place in Jerusalem.
    – What are the cultural distinctives of that setting? They just spent seventy years in exile, and then they come back and Zerubbabel rebuilds the temple. Then Nehemiah is going to rebuild the wall and Ezra is going to refocus on rebuilding the people to have a heart for God.

    It’s important to just make observations. It’s essential for you to teach your counselees how to study the Bible. A good study Bible could be a great resource for you to start if you’re asking, How do I study the Bible? Start by making observations. Then continue to the next step….
  2. Make interpretations.
  3. Make application.

The point that I’m saying is that one good study tool to help you would be a study Bible. If your counselees don’t have a study Bible, I would encourage you to encourage them to get one so that they can have a little bit of help and coaching along the way.

You want to observe, you want to interpret, and then you want to help them apply it. This is what you want to get to, but you don’t start here. In counseling, if you just walk in, read something, and start applying it, that would be like me as a pastor getting up, reading something, and then just giving all of the application—which by the way is what a lot of America does.

I lived in Houston for eight years. When I moved to Houston, I was working as a youth pastor. The first week I arrived in Houston to serve at this church, there was an article on the front page of the Houston Chronicle that said: “On the eighth day, God created Joel Osteen.” I just wanted to throw up, right? That’s disgusting. If you’ve ever seen Joel Osteen or listened to him, he’ll get up and he’ll read one verse or a couple verses. Then he’ll hold up the Bible, give some type of chant about believing the Word of God, and then he walks over to a different position and talks the rest of the time. He barely ever even tries to approach what he just went through. There’s no expository preaching. He just reads a verse, gets a concept, tells an illustration, and then says that now you can have your best life.

Don’t be like that in the counseling room. You’re teaching. You have a responsibility to teach your counselees how to study the Bible. Don’t go straight to the application because that’s what Osteen does: he goes through some application, but he didn’t do any observation nor any interpretation. Obviously, he didn’t do any expository teaching. He’s going right for the application. You don’t want to be like that. You need to beef up your knowledge of the Word of God. I’m not saying that you can’t counsel until you’re an expert. I’m just saying that you’ve got the rest of your life to be growing so that when any counselee comes in, you are so well-prepared because of a vast knowledge of Scripture to help them with what they’re going through. That’s the joy of us continuing to grow as counselors. It’s a great joy for us.

I’m not saying that to shame you or make you feel bad. I’m saying that to encourage you to respond with a heart of, “I want to study more. I want to be better prepared because I hate that feeling if someone comes in and I have no idea what to tell them.” When that happens to me, I’m just like, “Alright, salvation, sanctification. We’ll just start there. Now let’s go to Ephesians 4. Let’s go to Colossians 3. Let’s go to James…” Let’s just go somewhere and start with something, and then maybe you’ll start to put it together. But between this week and next week, you better be ready to say, “You know what? I want to prepare for my session. I’m going to get a little something put together, a place that I want to go where I think I could take them.” That ought to be invigorating to you. That ought to be encouraging to you that you are getting to do that.


A. What is the main point of your Bible?

I’m going to say that it’s Jesus. We could talk about it as the glory of God, that redemptive thread or redemption, but somehow, it’s all related and it points to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus said it best when He was with two travelers on the road to Emmaus. In Luke 24:44, He said, “…These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses [the Pentateuch] and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” He’s just reminding us that the whole point of the Pentateuch is: You need a better covenant mediator than Moses; His name is Jesus. You can start with Genesis 3:15 and talk about the protoevangelium that Satan would strike Christ’s heel and that Christ is going to crush Satan’s head. Then all the way through the rest of the Old Testament points to Christ, points to Christ, points to Christ. I just want you to remember that because the whole point of your Bible isn’t just to be another lesson and it’s not just to be all theoretical or head knowledge, but it’s to point to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

How about John 1:1? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Verse 14 says: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

I’m just reminding you that the main point of the Bible is to point to the redemption of mankind, and the redemption can only happen because of a redeemer, Jesus Christ. A Bible without Christ would only be a religious book focused on works. A Bible without Christ would be sufficient in condemning you, but not in saving you. A Bible without Christ could tell you about the judgement of God, but it would not be able to tell you about the mercy of God. The point of your Bible is to point you to the love of God found in Jesus Christ.

B. Who are you most influenced by?

Hopefully, it’s not Joel Osteen. Hopefully, it’s not John MacArthur. Hopefully, it’s not your favorite whoever. The person who’s had the biggest influence on your life should be Jesus Christ. You want to get there in every session. Let’s look to Christ. Let’s be encouraged by Christ. When Paul talked about being crucified with Christ—”It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”—Paul didn’t say, “I died on the top of Mount Nebo with Moses.” Paul didn’t say, “I’ve been taken up on a fiery chariot like Elijah.” Paul didn’t say, “I have been beheaded like John the Baptist.” Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ.”

Abraham did not grant us faith; David did not bring us into the kingdom; Stephen did not die for us; but Jesus did all of these things. Jesus gave us faith; Jesus brought us into the kingdom of God; and Jesus died in your place so that you could be set free. I would say that if you’re counseling and you go those 30 minutes without mentioning Jesus, without reminding your counselee about the gospel, and without talking about Christ, then you have failed as a counselor. That’s my conviction. If I preach a sermon and, when I get to the end of the sermon, I don’t point people to Christ, then I have failed to accomplish what I believe God would want me to accomplish in each and every passage of Scripture, somehow pointing to the glory of God through Christ and the redemption of mankind. You’d better be bringing that in the counseling office. If not, I will come find you. I will come find you and I will pull you out of that counseling office. I would say, “You are now in remedial ACBC training until you understand that you’ve got to talk about Jesus.”

C. Who do you want to be most like?

Who do you want to be like? You want to be like Jesus. You don’t want to be like Tom Brady. He’s done; it’s over. You want to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. You want to follow in His example, and you can’t be like Him if you’re not studying Him. You can’t be like Him if you don’t know who He is. First John 2:6 says that whoever says that he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. The Bible not only points us to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it also points us to how Jesus lived. In the Bible we see how Jesus chose and discipled the twelve apostles. We see how Jesus had compassion on the poor and the outcast. We see how Jesus had patience with the confused. We see how Jesus confronted those filled with religious pride. We see how Jesus showed mercy to the repentant. We see how Jesus provided for people’s needs. We see how Jesus suffered under persecution. We see how Jesus related to His Father throughout His time on Earth. We see all of this in Jesus because He is the Wonderful Counselor. He is our Mighty God. He is an everlasting spiritual father and He is the Prince of Peace.

Let’s make no doubt about it. The Bible points us to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If that’s what the Bible is about, it’s what your counseling should be about as well.


Because the Word of God is inspired, inerrant, infallible, and sufficient, it is also invincible. The Bible is incapable of being overcome or conquered. The Bible is invulnerable. It is indestructible. It is indomitable. It is unyielding, unflinching, unbending, and unshakable. The Bible makes its own claim to its validity. It does so not by just stating that the Word of God is inspired, inerrant, infallible, and sufficient, but also by painting a picture of its own power and effectiveness. That picture is painted with the following seven sacred symbols of Scripture where the Bible owns its own supremacy:

  1. The Word of God is a sword that pierces.
    Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” The Word of God is a sword that pierces. It is not a Q-tip that tickles. It is not a feather that floats in the wind. It is not a leaf that withers. The Bible is sharper than a scalpel. It is stronger than steel. It is more pointed than a spear. Pick up the sword and use it. Should we use pamphlets in counseling? Yes. Should we use books in counseling? Yes. Should we use all kinds of biblical resources in counseling? Yes, but don’t forget to use the Bible.
  2. The Word of God is a mirror that reveals.
    James 1:23-25 says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

We’re just saying that the Bible is that mirror. The mirror gives you self-knowledge. It enables you to see yourself as who you truly are. It exposes your sin. It shows you your error. It points you to how the law of liberty is only found in Christ. You don’t have to convince a counselee of their sin; you just need to be faithful to point them to the Bible and let the mirror of the Word do its work.

  1. The Word is a seed that germinates.
    First Peter 1:23 says,”…since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…” This is a sovereign, monergistic work of regeneration. Spurgeon said, “I’d rather speak five words from this book, than 50,000 words from philosophers.” We understand that the Word is a seed that germinates. It’s growing in that person.
  2. The Word of God is milk that nourishes.
    First Peter 2:2-3 says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
    We know that the Bible—the Word of God—is a milk that nourishes. We are to never outgrow the craving that we have for the Word of God. That’s what I always thought when I saw my kids sucking that bottle and hungry for that milk. I’m like, “Man, I want to be like that with God’s Word,” because we all know this verse, right? I mean, I don’t want that to ever go away. Now, I understand that there is another passage that teaches that we want to move to the meat and keep growing, but just the idea of hungering. We are to never outgrow the craving we have for God’s Word. Milk has nutrients, antibodies, and protein, and the Bible has everything you need in your life for godliness. Drink in the muscle milk of God’s Word and have your soul nourished and replenished.
  3. The Word of God is a light that shines.
    Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
    We live in a very dark world. The Word of God is a lamp, giving necessary light to the sojourners traveling through. God’s Word gives enough light for the next step, and it also shines ahead towards the path of life. The light of Scripture shines brightest in the darkest places of the world. When a counselee has lost all hope, point them back to the light of God’s Word.
  4. The Word of God is a fire that consumes.
    Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD…”
    It’s a fire that consumes and burns up. It consumes all that is resistant to the Word of God. The Word of God is a consuming fire. This is a red-hot book. The Scriptures are sizzling. This is the hottest message the world has ever heard. When you are called to preach or to counsel or to evangelize, I’m calling you, as this verse does, to proclaim the fire of God’s Word.
  5. Last but not least, the Word of God is a hammer that shatters.
    Jeremiah 23:29 again says, “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
    This is a picture of a hammer that pulverizes a rock. We are to use the sledgehammer of God’s Word. The Word of God smashes pride. The Bible scatters self-righteousness. The Scripture shatters worldly claims into smithereens. This hammer is harder than the hardest heart. This hammer is harder than the stoniest soul. This hammer is harder than the most forged deception.

Therefore, in counseling, we are to wield the sword, set up the mirror, scatter the seed, serve the milk, set out the lamp, spread the fire, and sling the hammer. That’s what God has called us to do and may God use this lecture and these verses to remind you of the value and importance of Scripture so that you would have great confidence in using the Word of God in your counseling. How has your confidence been solidified in a sufficiency of Scripture, just kind of shoring up your own conviction that it is true, that it is God’s Word and that you should use it? Are you confident that God’s Word will bring change and hope in your life? And in the life of your counselees? Don’t lose hope. Keep clinging to God’s Word. It takes time. You be faithful. How will you utilize the Bible differently in your counseling? Maybe you’ve been doing too much pamphlet. Maybe you’ve been doing too much book. Maybe you’ve been doing too much story time. Just get back in the Word. Counsel from the Bible. This is what transforms people’s lives.