Today, we continue a brief series covering the ten basic categories of theology and relating them to our walk with the Lord and to our personal, one-another ministry that we call ‘counseling.’ We have already thought about the doctrine of God and the doctrine of the Scriptures. Today, I want us to think about the doctrine of Christ (Christology). Actually, much more narrow than that, we need to think about how the lordship of Christ affects the life of the true believer and how Jesus’ role as the ultimate Reconciler must impact the effort God expects us to put forth in order to be reconciled to others.
The Doctrine of Jesus Christ
Every matter of counseling is somehow related to a person’s relationship with God or people, other image bearers. In other words, biblical counseling is always relational—aiming at and working toward reconciliation, which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, makes possible. He died and rose again to reconcile rebellious sinners back to their holy Creator (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 2:24). He did this by dying a substitutionary death in place of guilty sinners (Isaiah 53:1-12, esp. vv.4-6). Through His death, Christ propitiated (satisfied, appeased) God’s wrath against sin (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10); and demonstrated the love of God (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16), the mercy of God (Romans 12:1; Ephesians 2:4), the grace of God (John 1:17; Romans 3:24); and the righteousness of God (Romans 3:25). Christ died and rose again to free us from the power and penalty of sin, to be Lord of the dead and of the living, so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again for us (Romans 14:7-9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). It is reconciliation with God, through Christ, which makes reconciliation with other people not only possible, but part of what it means to be a true Christian, a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.
In addition to thinking about Jesus’ work of reconciling us to God, another aspect of Christology that we need to think about is His lordship. In biblical counseling the unbiblical Savior-Lord dichotomy is often confronted, and that rightly. It is unfortunate that the term “Lordship Salvation” was coined and then so negatively received by some. For me the key issue is: What is the nature of faith that truly saves? Is it alive or is it dead? Does it produce good works or is it merely intellectual assent to historical facts about Jesus? Does it result in a new creation or is it merely another add-on to a religious system? The Bible teaches that if a person is truly under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, his/her faith will be a repentant faith, which contains an element of submission. Granted, this submission will not be consciously directed toward every sin in his life all of the time (for we all have ‘hidden sins,’ still), but rather it will be a basic and foundational kind of submission that is characteristic of the new heart that God gives at the moment of salvation. Saving faith is empty-handed, but submissive; it receives the gift of God and rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ as full payment for one’s sin debt. It is faith in Him as one’s personal Sin-bearer that saves. Knowing Jesus means loving and obeying Jesus as Lord: “If you love me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).