What Is Counseling?

One of the mantras here at Counseling One Another is “counseling is a targeted form of discipleship.” It’s a truism that, frankly, I seek to find multitude different ways of saying through this blog. However, today I’ve decided to simply reiterate what I said in my book, Counsel One Another: A Theology of Personal Discipleship.

Jesus’ command to His followers was nothing short of a mission of spiritual reproduction. The verb form of mathetes means “to instruct with the purpose of making a disciple. Matheteuo must be distinguished from the verb matheo (which is not found in the NT), which simply means to learn without any attachment to the teacher who teaches. Matheteuo means not only to learn but to become attached to one’s teacher and to become his follower in doctrine and conduct.” In other words, the task of the church is to lead others not merely to acknowledge the Son of God as having come in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (though that is an essential point in a doctrinal system that is truly biblical; see 1 John 4:2–3), but to lead them to become submissive Christ-followers who are willing, by faith, to live and die for Him and for His message. In his classic work, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman describes how the first disciples reckoned with the reality of Jesus’ call to obedience, explaining that “following Jesus seemed easy enough at first, but that was because they had not followed Him very far. It soon became apparent that being a disciple of Christ involved far more than a joyful acceptance of the Messianic promise: it meant the surrender of one’s whole life to the Master in absolute submission to His sovereignty. There could be no compromise.” This is the honest reality of being a true disciple and, therefore, the church must take the initiative to pursue a biblical approach to ministry that will produce believers who live in obedience to Christ.

My point is simply this: the content of the Great Command [Matthew 28:18-20] demands a commitment to biblical counseling since discipleship is the very core of counseling. Counseling that is merely therapeutic massaging of the bothered soul is not counseling as God defines it. True biblical counseling is that which functions within relationships which exist as fruit of the ongoing command to make disciples of Jesus Christ by moving others farther down the road of obedience to His Word. Jim Berg rightly asserts, “Biblical discipleship is not primarily a program. It is a certain kind of relationship Discipleship is helping another believer make biblical change toward Christlikeness—helping others in the sanctification process.”

If you are intentionally involved in the lives of other believers, helping move them forward in their walk of obedience to the Word, then you are a biblical counselor. Keep counseling, my friend, keep counseling!

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