The Ultimate Authority for the One-Another Ministry We Call “Counseling”

Scripture alone provides power and authority for counseling and soul care since it is the Word of the living God who created and redeems us. There is nothing we may experience which God does not directly or indirectly address in His Word. The Bible truly is sufficient to minister to the soul as we deal with the manifold problems men, women, and children face in our broken world because Scripture is the revelation of the living God (Psalm 19:7-11). Therefore, let’s reflect on three characteristics of Scripture that build our confidence in its unique ability to heal and transform us from the inside out.

Scripture Sanctifies Us

The Word of God confronts us when we get off the right path and shows us how to get back on, and it trains us to live godly lives so that we mature and become equipped to serve God: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Because the Word of God is a living book, it has the power to expose our motives and transform the inner man—the heart—which consequently changes our behavior; that is, it produces righteous living (Hebrews 4:12). According to Jesus, Scripture is the Spirit’s primary tool in the process of sanctification (John 17:17). Therefore, we should test every truth claim made by any person by the standard of Scripture, which is the mind of God in written form (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). This does not mean we cannot benefit from extra-biblical (not un-biblical) knowledge that, when filtered through the Word, may amplify our awareness of human suffering. However, its help is always subordinate—never equal—to the authority of God in Scripture. We must interpret any knowledge we gain through general revelation or common grace by using the flawless lens of Scripture.

Scripture Is the Mind of God

The word inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) means “God-breathed.” It does not refer to breathing into someone an inspirational thought, but is the act of God whereby He breathed out His will—His thoughts and words—through chosen human agents. Scripture is the mind of God in written form. It is the divine will in writing and inerrant in the original manuscripts (Matthew 4:4, 5:17-18). Henry Thiessen defines inspiration well when he writes, “The Holy Spirit so guided and superintended the writers of the sacred text, making use of their own unique personalities, that they wrote all that he wanted them to write, without excess or error.”[1] Therefore, Scripture does not merely contain truth—it is Truth with a capital T. Scripture is the final authoritative standard of truth and the instrumental cause of faith and sanctification (Romans 10:17; John 17:17), empowered by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). Everything contrary to it is an error.

Scripture Contains Its Own Authority

The authority of Scripture is a by-product of its inerrancy and infallibility. Some professing Christians claim to have an authoritative Bible while at the same time deny its infallibility. This is impossible. The authority of Scripture flows from its divine origin and, since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18), it too was flawless in its original form. Not that what we now possess contains errors, for God has been faithful to preserve His Word through millennia. The Dead Sea Scrolls are one example of this. Without an infallible Bible we have no authority to counsel people regarding what they must believe and do, or how God expects us to change. However, because we possess the infallible Word of God, we also possess divinely delegated authority to counsel according to its precepts and principles. We can and must say to others, “Thus saith the Lord,” and “this is what God requires of you.” Jay Adams writes, “The ministry of the Word in counseling… is totally unlike counseling in any other system because of its authoritative base. This authoritative character stems, of course, from the doctrine of inerrancy. If the Bible were shot through with human error, and were no more dependable than any other composition—if it were not God-breathed revelation—this note of authority would give way to opinion. But, because the Bible is inerrant, there is authority.”[2] Jesus says to us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Therefore, I think Wayne Grudem says it well when he writes, “The essence of the authority of Scripture is its ability to compel us to believe and to obey it and to make such belief and obedience equivalent to believing and obeying God himself.”[3]

As we seek to grow in grace and truth in our ministry to others, let us revel in our possession of the infinitely superior wisdom of God in Scripture, empowered by the Spirit, and its ability to accomplish within us what man’s wisdom can never perform!

[1] Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949), 65.

[2] Jay E. Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 18.

[3] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 82.

Print this entry