Counseling and the Bible

Pastoral counseling would not be as such without the Bible. As Christians, our primary source of wisdom for faith and morals is Sacred Scripture. Without the Word of God, our counsel may only be based on the hollow and deceptive philosophies of man. According to Allen Brabham: “The shepherd role of the pastor, the closeness that exists between pastor and parishioners, and the working of the Spirit through Scripture afford pastoral counselors an ideal teaching opportunity.” However, pastoral counseling is more than just teaching, otherwise, it would have no difference with preaching, which is primarily didactic in nature. While counseling also involves teaching, it is in reality a sharing of one’s life in God in a more personal and individualized manner.

St. Paul the apostle said that “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 competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). Moreover, the author of Hebrews posits that “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12, ESV). It is clear that unlike the wisdom of man, when correctly used, the Word of God has power, power to affect and change people’s lives. Jesus himself prayed to the Father that his disciples shall be sanctified by the truth, and this truth is the Word of God (John 17:17) as Jesus himself is the “way the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Some people may counter by saying that the Bible is an outdated ancient document irrelevant to our present-day issues and problems. Granting that we in the 21st century are culturally, linguistically, and chronologically far apart from biblical times, surely nonetheless, the issues and circumstances illustrated and addressed in the Bible are human issues which transcend time, language, and culture. Because the Bible is the Word of God, it is just as immutable and eternal as its divine Author. The Word of God convicts man of sin; it brings the message of salvation; it produces faith; it ushers in new life; offers cleansing to the believer; gives unerring guidance; it offers discernment; produces knowledge; and offers protection against sin.

Of course, as pastoral counselors, we must be careful in our use of Scripture. The apostle Paul exhorted the young bishop Timothy to keep a close watch on himself and on his teaching, for by doing so, he will save both himself and his hearers (1 Timothy 4:16). This he could do by doing his best to present himself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Just like in preaching, we should likewise observe good and established rules of hermeneutics when quoting and applying Scripture to the various situations of our counselees.

The Bible is a Christian counselor’s best manual as it was authored by God who created us. As said in the movie “The Guru,” The B.I.B.L.E. is our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

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