View Cart

Giving Hope in Counseling

Truth In Love 417

The importance, difference, and power of biblical hope in the counseling process.

Jun 5, 2023

Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast, I have with me Dr. Lance Quinn. He is the Vice President of The Expositors Seminary and on the Pastoral team of Grace Emmanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida. He’s been involved with biblical counseling movement for over 30 years. Having served as a fellow and a board member of ACBC for some 25 of those years, Lance and his late wife Beth have eight adult children and currently fifteen grandchildren. Lance, it’s always good to be with you, brother. Thanks for joining me today. 

Lance Quinn: Hey, it’s great to be with you, Dale. 

Dale Johnson: Now we’re going to talk about this idea of hope and I think this is so important, I love to think about this idea. This is something that biblical counseling truly offers in a way that’s anchoring and enduring that no other system is able to offer genuinely. So Lance, why do you think this biblical concept of giving hope is so important for the people that we have the opportunity to counsel?

Lance Quinn: Dale, you know as well as I do that people come in to receive help from us. Most of the time, I would say they’re wanting help but it’s probably almost always tied to if not every single time tied, to a lack of hope, they’re frustrated, they’re discouraged, they want help. And usually, one of those components that they need the most help in is to be hopeful and to try to respond to whatever challenges, tests, trials they’re undergoing, and hope is that component that will surely give them a kind of encouragement and a way forward. So, you know, this is one of those of the seven I’s that’s known very well in ACBC circles, and that’s giving hope to your counselees. I think it’s absolutely vital. 

Dale Johnson: I agree and I think this is one of the key things that sets our type of counseling apart and what we’re talking about is giving a particular type of hope. And as I mentioned earlier, I mean anyone who does counseling is trying to give a person hope of some sort, but we’re talking about based on the finished work of Christ, based on the revealed word that God has given us it is a different type of hope that we’re describing here. And so, I want you to describe this difference between the world’s definition of hope and the biblical concept of hope and help us to understand what that difference would look like. 

Lance Quinn: Well, the apostle Paul is a primary author in the New Testament, you know, thirteen epistles, and he might actually, Dale, be called the apostle of hope because he talks about hope so much, and he differentiates between the sorrow of the world and the hope of the believer. You know, he says we are not like those who grieve but who have no hope. We are those who are most hopeful. Because, to quote the statement of Jesus himself in the gospels, if you are fearful of a person who can kill the body, then you’re in deep trouble because Christians will be persecuted. Christians will be mistreated, they’ll be martyred, as we know from the first century onward, And so, the idea of hope is embedded in the Christian Life. In fact, we called Jesus our blessed hope, the hope of his return. So don’t fear someone who can kill the body, fear Him that is God Almighty, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

So, Paul maximizes that in his teaching and he keeps a resounding gong of hope by saying there’s continuity between this life and the life to come. You know, so many people are thinking only of this life. But we have this great continuity because there is a life to come in which, and for which we have great hope. 

Dale Johnson: And that’s what, as you mentioned, Paul, that’s what he’s setting his mind upon. He talks to Titus, he says, this is, I’m looking and longing for this blessed or glorious appearance of the Lord Jesus, which he describes in so many other texts that that is his hope and I think that’s one that one of the things that we forget about in counseling, we want to help things imminently, which is not a bad thing. But sometimes that causes us to be blinded or skewed to the true hope that the Lord gives us in His word, which is eschatological. It’s that which is to come where he will make all things right and new, and that’s a huge difference, and it’s intended to anchor our soul in the here and now.

So, why do you think this concept, maybe even this reality of living in Christian hope particularly the hope of the Gospel that we talked about, the gospel of Christ is very critical and a fundamental principle for Christians and therefore very useful for us in counseling?

Lance Quinn: Well, if you remember the apostle John speaks in 1 John that this hope of Christ’s return is the kind of hope that purifies us. So, you and I are not just looking at the future as though that’s the hope. The hope is in the here and now, the hope of the resurrection, our resurrection because of Christ’s resurrection, the hope of Jesus’ return is that which instills hope in the here and now for us. Because I know this is not all there is to life, there is a hope to come when we will have no pain, no sorrow, no tears, no suffering.

You know, as you mentioned in the introduction, my dear wife, Beth, three years ago went to glory, and she was banking on that hope and our eight children who all believe in Christ, their hope, our hope, my hope, your hope, the counselee’s hope is firmly fixed to the hope that Jesus will return and as He is preparing us for His return, that very fact that truth, that promise purifies our lives because His hope is our hope. His promise is our promise. 

Dale Johnson: Yeah, even the centerpiece of the Christian message that Christ rose from the dead. I mean, Paul alludes to that so many times in the New Testament to set our affection on that because it is an assurance that what we are hoping in will come true. I even think of Romans chapter 5, I mean, how can we not when we think that this is the type of hope the Bible says that we anchor our self on, and it will never put us to shame. This work that the Lord does in our hearts through difficulty and suffering, and I want to talk about that a little bit.

Would you say that Christian hope is especially important for those who are hurting, those who are suffering, and talk about how we encourage or counsel those who are in a situation where they’re hurting and suffering? 

Lance Quinn: Well, you’re right, and this is probably a great place to qualify ourselves. We’re not talking about a sort of slap-happy hope, sort of a giddiness. People are hurting, death is real, physical pain, as I mentioned a moment ago, martyrdom, persecution of Christians. Now we don’t experience that in the United States to any degree compared with other countries of the world. And yet those countries of stalwart Christians are experiencing massive attacks on their faith. That’s why I love what Peter says in 1 Peter that we are born again to a living hope.

So, I think the difference between the world and their view of hope is, “Hey, get me out of this jam. I don’t want to have difficult circumstances, I want to buy my way out of it. I want to sort of try to psych myself out of the pain that I’m in.” But when Christians come and they’re hurting, and they’re discouraged, they’re downtrodden, they want the hope that comes from God’s Word and that living faith. So that when God says, I promise you that you will be with me and that I’m preparing a place for you. We can bank on that because of our faith, you know, this is 1 John 5. This is the victory over the world, dash our hope, right? Our faith, our trust, our love for Christ. Those are the passages that I think are so very important because hurting Christians need hope. And we’re here to provide it for them. 

Dale Johnson: Yeah, it’s often said even about biblical counseling and ACBC, that we can be harsh at times, and I don’t know how we could be harsh. You know, when we think of the plethora of the New Testament that describes this hope, which is intended to be a comfort and an encouragement, and one of my favorite passages in Hebrews 6:19, it’s an anchor to our soul. It is something that because of the steadfast, faithful love of God that He has demonstrated through His promises in our Lord Jesus Christ, the writer of Hebrews describes, it is the thing that keeps us stable in this ever tossing and turning world. It is the hope that we have to provide for people and to give to people.

I want you to talk a little bit about in the New Testament; if you were to just describe, you mentioned Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, could be called the apostle of hope or the writer of hope. Talk a little bit about the New Testament. What books do you think maybe speak most about this crucial sense of Christian hope that we can anchor our self in?

Lance Quinn: You know what comes to mind immediately are First and Second Thessalonians because obviously, those are books that Paul wrote to a brand new church, really I mean, it could have been three to six months, the birth of this church in Thessalonica, Greece, and Paul knew that in a pagan environment with a new church and the multiplicity of gods and all of the sinfulness of pagan idolatry, he says to them, wait for the Lord from heaven, he’s coming, and he mentions hope and the return of Christ. And what we call by theological term “eschatology” the end times, and he’s almost using those two books as a way of saying that your hope is in the return of Christ. And if you are reading 2 Thessalonians, for instance, and you’re reading in Chapter 2, this is sort of a little benediction before the end of the book itself, there’s a benediction at the end, but this is one that’s sort of embedded in the middle of this epistle. And in verse 16, it says this “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish them in every good work and word.” I love that phrase, “eternal comfort and good hope through grace.” It’s the way the ESV translates it, and of course, Jesus is arming them for the battle, but He’s also saying the battle is going to be victorious. Hope, which is a way of saying not “I hope so”, but “I am convinced”, you know, the overcoming of the world through our faith that first John 5 is a way of saying what is said here by Paul the good comfort and hope through Grace is that God will keep His promises, so it’s bound up and determined upon the very veracity of God’s word. 

Dale Johnson: Yeah, and I love to mention the passage in Hebrews 6. He goes on in verse 20 and says Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. He is saying this is secure behind the curtain. This is secure because of our God and the faithfulness and steadfastness of our God whom He’s proven to be true.

Lance, you know, it’s really if we could have this conversation every morning and anchor ourselves back on this hope of Christ, we would be better off. I think we would walk in a way that is joyful and more at peace. And this is equipping us to help our counselees. And brother, thank you for this conversation. 

Lance Quinn: Thank you.

Helpful Resources:

Click here for more information about ACBC.