Competent to Counsel (Romans Sermon 112 of 120)
August 27, 2006 | Andrew Davis
The Doctrine of Scripture
Introduction: Analyzing Psychoanalysis
I'm essentially preaching a whole sermon on one verse today, so that must be a good verse, and it is. It's a verse, that's the foundation I think of a movement called Biblical Counseling that is growing in strength, to the glory of God in our country and around the world. The November 29th, 1993 issue of Time magazine had as a cover article, a picture of Sigmund Freud with his head kind of unraveling in some kind of a three-dimensional puzzle and getting put back together. One of those artistic renditions, like that. And it asked the question, "Is Freud dead?" When I saw it, I thought it's a good thing that Time asks easy questions to answer. The answer is, yes, Freud is dead. But obviously they're meaning more than just, is his body in the grave. They're really asking a deeper question, "Is the influence of Sigmund Freud and his approach to psycho-analysis, is that dead?" And the answer to that is No. Though Freud has come under some severe questioning even by people who maybe originally believed in his theories.
Yet his influence is increasing. You know the picture of mustache, goatee, a man sitting there dignified with a notepad and a pen, and somebody laying on a couch, and spilling out their lives and telling him their dreams and all this sort of stuff, and he analyzing all of that. That's a lasting image and it's had a tremendous effect on our society, and our culture and a tremendous effect on the church of Jesus Christ. At present, there are over 200 identifiable talking cures in America today, with between 10 and 15 million Americans doing the talking. We live surrounded constantly by people who are feeling in their lives, in their marriages, in their homes, the devastating consequences of sin.
I. A World Crying for Good Counsel
Sins ravages are visible everywhere, in addictions, in dissolving and hurting families, in escalating mental anguish, in increasing temptations, we're surrounded every day by people who are crying out for help. And the world's response is, "Get some counseling." If you can just get some counseling. And more and more counseling is coupled with medications. Prescriptions for mood and behavior altering drugs are proliferating. More and more that seems to be the solution.
Now, all of this, all of this is intensely important for us as Christians, who should be, and who are, genuinely concerned about the welfare of our co-workers, and neighbors, and family and friends, that they would know and love Jesus Christ. Franklin Graham, the evangelist said, the key, one of the keys to evangelism is taking your finger as it were, and rubbing it around the inside of the rim of the cup of their lives, and trying to find the places where sin has left its cracks and that's the place where the gospel can begin to work in people's lives. But psychotherapy stands as a direct challenge to the spiritual healing ministry of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
Remember that Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." That's the essence of the healing that Jesus has come to bring. That's the essence of what the Gospel does, it bring sinners to repentance, to a healed relationship with God and therefore with one another.
A History Lesson on Psychology
Now, psychology over the last 100 years has gone through some interesting twists and turns. It started with Sigmund Freud in his office in Vienna, and he wrote a book on the interpretation of dreams and that started the modern psychotherapy revolution. His basic ideas were that the key to psychosis, mental illness, is what happened to you in the past and many of the most significant issues that happened to you in the past, lie repressed in your memory. Sometimes it comes out in dreams or under hypnotism or other things, but the key is what happened to you in your past. Perhaps your mother was too protective or your father was too harsh, or there was a school bully that beat up on you and abused you in some way. And the purpose of counseling then, is to dredge up these past memories and to deal with them. In recent years, we've heard more and more about these repressed lives and repressed memories, and they're these thoughts that come out that get incredibly bizarre and challenge the way people even see reality. Tales of satanic ritual abuse, and there's no historical evidence that any of it happened but these repressed memories and it's all part of the Freudian approach to healing, bringing out those secret memories.
And if you could just understand them then you could be healed. Now, many of Freud's theories actually showed more about him than they do about the true nature of man. Some of his own psychosis and perversions come out as you study his approach. However, I'll say this, for all the attacks on Freud, his basic ideas still remain and are pervasive in our culture. Man is not responsible. Guilt is imaginary. The key to therapy is digging up the past. These things are still with us. Now, after Freud, came other schools of counseling, like BF Skinner for example. The behaviorist model, the idea there is that man is totally conditioned by external training, by circumstances, by positive and negative reinforcement. To understand behavior, you have to understand the environment that shaped it. To change behavior, you have to change the environment, re-train the mind. So therefore, man is nothing more than a machine to be programmed. And if we're going to see a difference in behavior we've got to change the programming. That's BF Skinner.
Then there is Carl Rogers who came up with this reflection approach to counseling. "Human beings," said Rogers, "are basically good and like all living creatures, they will try always to make the best of their existences. Evolution has given us everything we need for being all that we can be." A counselor's job according to Rogers then is to help the person find their own solutions to the problems that they face. The idea is that they know themselves and their situations far better than the counselor ever could or would, therefore, the counselor's job is simply to reflect back to the counsel-ee, their own feelings and their own thoughts. The goal is to help the person reach their own highest potential. And so the counseling session involves the counselor simply repeating back to the person what they're saying. Like a mirror. So it would go something like this.
"So you're saying that you'd really like to quit your job, but you're afraid of the consequences." Or, "you feel that your husband doesn't appreciate you the way that he should," or “it seems to me you feel like you wish your son would be a little more responsible," or "you feel like you're on a roller coaster, going up and down, and there's no way to get off." Listen, if you ever come to me and I start doing that sort of stuff, just slap me. Okay. I'm going to cut right to the heart of the matter, alright. That's called reflection. Okay. The key question in this kind of counseling is, "How does that make you feel?" So we're trained to ask that question over and over. How does that make you feel? And so we write down how it makes the person feel and at some point, after 14 years of counseling they'll stumble upon the solution that was embedded in their own heart and lives, all along.
Twenty-first century counseling: widespread chaos
I was reading one particular author, Dr. Arthur Janov who was a secular counselor, and he's analyzing his field of expertise, he's not a Christian, but he's analyzing the field so that he can lay it waste and bring his own counseling approach as the primal one, the central one. But his analysis, I think, is mostly accurate about the field of psychotherapy in America today. He said this. "In no other area of medicine is there such disagreement about the nature of a disease, what its symptoms are, how it manifests itself, not to mention its causes. In short, the field of psychotherapy today is nothing less than chaotic." He went on to talk about the whole different ranges of approaches that psychotherapists are using to try to heal people. He talked about obviously prescribing drugs, using hypnotism, analyzing guilt into oblivion, acting out kind of therapies like gestalt, where you get to act out what you're really thinking and feeling. Or using mild shock treatment, re-training people to think differently about their actions and to redefine them. Biofeedback therapy, day dreaming and image therapies. And what Janov says, as he looks at all of these things is that none of them, not one treats the genuine causes of neuroses, they only ever treat the symptoms.
Well, the sad thing is that the Christian church is kind of imitating these types of approaches in what it's called, what is called Christian counseling. And I'm going to make a distinction, this morning between Christian counseling and Biblical Counseling. Not all Christian counseling is biblical. You can get a lot of Christian counseling that's not biblical at all. Now, my training at Gordon-Conwell an Evangelical seminary in Massachusetts was essentially Carl Rogers mirroring techniques with a thin veneer of Christianity painted over the top. And I mean a really thin veneer. I took that book, it was sitting on my shelf. It's been sitting there for the last eight years. I hadn't looked at it once, and good thing too. It wouldn't have help me at all.
But I took it down and I skimmed it very, very carefully, and I did not find anywhere, a single Scripture quote in over 250 pages. Practical Psychology for Pastors is the name of the volume. It was written for the Christian pastor, but there's no scripture, there was a whole chapter on dealing with anger and anxiety. I can think of a couple Bible verses that might help. Not one of them were quoted. This is how I was trained to do counseling, in my seminary. It was a good seminary. Biblical in every other way, but in this one way it wasn't. And we were told that in our counseling sessions, we should refrain from doing any of the following with the people who come. We should refrain from ordering, directing or commanding, warning or threatening, giving advice, making suggestions, providing solutions, persuading with logic, arguing or lecturing, moralizing, preaching, telling them their duty, judging, criticizing, disagreeing, blaming, agreeing, approving, praising, shaming, ridiculing, name-calling, interpreting or analyzing, reassuring or sympathizing, consoling, questioning, probing, withdrawing, distracting or changing the subject. Now, you may be wondering with me, what's left for me to do? I think I ought to just buy a big mirror, and set it up in front of the person and they can talk to themselves because that's all I'm doing.
"So you feel that such and such etcetera." Obviously some of those things I would never want to do, but others, it seems that's exactly why they've come to me that they would have some insight and know what to do. In this approach, when the time came to give solutions, the basic role was to help them solve their own problems. Christian counseling all over the country, is often very little more than worldly counseling. One of the insights I gained from going to a counseling and Biblical Counseling seminar in the last year, is that the basic approach of secular counseling, the basic premise is, that the heart of man is essentially good and the problems are on the outside, therefore all the problems come from outside, and the solutions all come from inside. Brothers and sisters, you know, the Bible teaches the exact opposite, the problems come from inside, and the solutions come from the outside, a Savior named Jesus Christ. The Word of God that comes from the outside in and gives us good counsel. That is a significant insight I believe.
Now, one of the problems with counseling with the Christian counseling, is that pastors are told and Christians are told even more, that they are not qualified to solve these kinds of problems, and they should refer people as quickly as possible to trained professionals. Now, in 1970, a man named J. Adams, brought a radical revolution to this whole approach with a book entitled Competent to Counsel. He got his title from the verse that I'm preaching on this morning, Competent to Counsel, brought about a revolution and something he called Nouthetic Counseling. Now, I'm going to define Nouthetic Counseling for you in the sermon this morning. But basically, it has to do with Biblical Counseling. The basic premise is that the Bible is sufficient to solve people's problems, it is sufficient for the cure of souls. His ground-breaking work has led many to call Jay Adams the father of Biblical Counseling. Five years after the first publishing of Competent to Counsel, he started a ministry that we know as NANC. 1975 National Association of Nouthetic Counselors.
And the center piece of NANC is that the Bible is sufficient for the counseling needs of God's people, and that God's people completing goodness and knowledge are themselves Competent to Counsel.
II. A Church Competent to Give Good Counsel
The Bible is sufficient, the people of God, fully trained are competent to administer those treatments. And the key verse on Christian counseling is Romans 15:14. Look at it with me, if you would. And there it says, "I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and competent to counsel, one another." So we live in a world surrounded by people who need good counsel. The second point I want to make to you this morning is that the church is competent to give that good counsel. The two fundamental doubts of secular psychology is number one, the insufficiency of scripture for the cure of souls and number two, the incompetence of common Christians for the cure of souls. Those are the two basic assumptions. Sadly, the Church acts like it agrees with these basic premises. More and more psychology is weaving its way into ministry. More and more pastors get up and preach, not so much the text, but they preach psychology to the people.
So also in pastoral counseling, and in actual Christian counseling, there's very little Biblical wisdom or insight given to people who need it so much. And so the church acts like most problems of the soul can only be solved by trained psychiatrists or at least by professional counselors. So therefore, assuming that most serious problems will have to be solved by medications anyway, and buying into the presuppositions that the Bible is insufficient to solve human problems, and afraid of getting sued, and in awe of secular degrees, PhDs and all that in highfalutin terms like obsessive-compulsive disorder, and transference and blocking and all these kinds of things, and fear of the commitment, that it will take to really get down and dirty in somebody's life and try to help them grow through very troubling sin problems. For all these reasons, and some others, the church abandons its ministry of curing souls and leaves it to the trained professionals who are not for the most part, using the Bible to do it.
But let's understand a fundamental thing. Psychology is literally the study of the human soul, that's what the word means, it's the science of the soul. And my friends, if this Bible is not sufficient for that, then what was it given to us for. The Bible is sufficient to study and analyze and cure the human soul from its sin problems. Amen. And so I believe the fundamental conviction as Christians, we have to have is the answers are found in this book. Let's try to find what they are.
Paul’s Context: The Roman Church
Now Paul's context we already know, he's writing to the Roman church. He's well-acquainted with their faith. He'd never visited them before. He doesn't know them personally. But he says in Romans 1:8, "First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world." They were a very famous local church because they were there in the heart of the capital of the Roman empire. Now, Paul has completed over 14 chapters of doctrine and exhortation. He's in his 15th chapter now.
And Paul's assessment of them in verse 14, is he says, "I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers that you yourselves are full of goodness, and filled with all knowledge, competent to counsel one another." He's persuaded, he's satisfied about them, he's investigated their conversion and their spiritual growth since they were converted. He is convinced about the statement he's about to make, Therefore, I say to you that it's not a given that every Christian is competent to counsel, not in the way the Paul means in this verse. He had to be persuaded or convinced that they were competent to counsel. But I also believe that every Christian could be competent to counsel other Christians on these matters.
Two Criteria for Competency in Counseling: Goodness and Knowledge
Now, Paul gives two criteria for competency in counseling. Notice neither one of them talks about a degree from an accredited higher institution. He says, "I'm convinced that you yourselves my brothers are full of goodness, and filled with all kinds of knowledge." Full of goodness, filled with knowledge. That's the criteria that he gives.
1) Full of Goodness
Now first, full of goodness. Now, I said already, the essential problem of Freud and Skinner and especially Carl Rogers is that they're coming at it from a perspective of the basic goodness of the human heart, basic goodness of the human heart. Well we've already had our basic anthropology, back in Romans chapter 3. Romans 3 told us, "There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God, all have turned away, they have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one." In this Jesus already established, very plainly, when the rich young ruler came to him, and said, "Good teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus picks up on this word good. He said, "Why do you ask me about what is good? No one is good but God alone." That's Jesus assessment of the human race So, how did the Roman Christians get to be full of goodness? Now that's a very fascinating question, isn't it? If Romans 3 is true, that, there's no one naturally righteous, no one who seeks God, all have together turned aside and there's no one who does good, not even one. Then how is it that now he's making the statement that they're full of goodness?
Well, I say to you this, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to make wicked sinners good. Isn't that awesome? The Gospel has the power to make evil people good. The blood of Jesus Christ has that kind of power. And so, in Ephesians 5:8-9, it says, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light. For the food of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord." We were, apart from Christ, darkness, but having come to the gospel, believing that Jesus's death on the cross, his blood was shed for us, having faith in Christ, we were cleansed of all of our sins, the righteousness of Jesus Christ was imputed to us and we were made good in the sight of God.
But Paul goes beyond that. Not just good positionally, he says, "You are filled with goodness, full of goodness." Now, that's a different matter. It's built on the foundation of the imputed or given goodness that we receive by faith in Christ. But then there's a building on that goodness, it's what we call sanctification. And so by the power of the Holy Spirit, we become more and more filled with goodness, as it says in Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control." Goodness then is something that the Holy Spirit works in us by His power as we grow gradually and become more and more like Jesus. And so we can actually be full of goodness.
Now, my question in the matter of counseling is, "Why is it important, essential even, to be full of goodness?" Well, true counseling must involve a genuine love for the person you're ministering to. You have to genuinely love them. You're trying to help them, it's a genuine commitment to their well-being. Without genuine goodness ulterior motives could pollute the counseling session. For example, some counselors, secular counselors charge as much as $135 an hour, for the counseling session. Is there not a temptation for that kind of money to string the person on for 15 years? We're making real progress. Keep on coming we'll see again, Tuesday, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, $135 a week. What a temptation that is, but if you're full of goodness, you're not into that. You want to see them genuinely move past these sins, put them to death, by the power of the Spirit, see triumph and victory in their lives. Full of goodness is essential to good Biblical Counseling.
2) Filled With Knowledge
Secondly, he says filled with all knowledge. Literally, it says, Having been fulfilled with all knowledge. It's a strong statement of their full training having been completed. They are fully trained as Christians. Now, we're not talking about omniscience. You don't have to know every single Biblical doctrine, it's not that, but rather you are fully trained. Jesus talked about that, "No student is greater than his master, but when he is fully trained it is enough for the student to be like the master." So there is a point of being fully trained, and he says "You Roman Christians you're fully trained." Now, this implies a full training in Christian doctrine, a knowledge of the deep things of God. Well, how does that happen?
Well, no one is born again into the Christian faith having full knowledge. Basically you subject your mind constantly to the renewing influences of the Word of God. You sit under a good preaching or teaching ministry. You imbibe as much of the scriptures as you can. You saturate your mind in the Word of God, and over time you can reach a level where the Apostle Paul might say about you, "You are filled with all kinds of knowledge."
Now, why is it essential to be filled with knowledge in order to be competent to council? Well, let me tell you something. If you're just going to do Rogers reflection, you don't need to be filled with anything. You actually kind of need empty yourself and forget about yourself and just reflect back constantly. And that's the allure of it, it seems so Christian, it seems so other-centered. You don't have an opinion in the world, you don't have a thought about anything, you're just reflecting back what they're saying. But I say to you, the people who are desperate for wisdom and counsel, they need to know what the Word of God says about their situation, and they don't.
Maybe a Christian couple, a husband and wife want to know how to have a godly marriage after perhaps each of their families were divorced and they grew up in homes that were not filled with Christian influence. And they don't know how to do it and they're running into some problems now with conflicts and they don't know how to resolve conflicts. Or someone else is struggling with habitual lust through internet pornography. Or somebody else is battling depression in their daily walk, perhaps they've even toyed with thoughts of suicide, though they know it's a sin, but they're just discouraged, they're depressed.
Somebody else wants to know how to discipline their children so that they can grow in grace and they can be fruitful, productive Christians, when they're done being trained. Maybe somebody else is battling laziness and procrastination. Or maybe a wife is married to a non-Christian husband and he neglects her, mocks her faith. Or another person has an alcoholic family member and they want to intervene in some way and help them break their sin pattern. This and 100 other cases come into the life of the church and those folks, they don't just need reflection. They need to know what the Bible says about those situations. The Scripture says very, very plainly that everything we need for life and godliness has been made known to us by the Word of God, by the promises of God. 2 Peter 1 says that. The Bible is sufficient to handle every sin and character case we could ever face in life, the Bible is sufficient for all of it. But you need to be full of knowledge in order to wield the sword of the Spirit, well, skillfully to know which verses to apply to which situation full of knowledge is essential. And as a result, we are competent to counsel one another. Paul's phrase is able or powerful or competent, qualified perhaps, a sense that we have this ability then to counsel one another.
III. How Should We Define “Good Counsel”?
Well, thirdly, how should we define good counsel? Here we've left out one word, and it's the word noutheteo. It's from that word that we get the nouthetic and National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. Now, the word nouthetic is odd to everybody. You shouldn't look at it and say, "That's an odd word. I guess I'm not used to those kind of words." I think that Jay Adams specifically wanted to retain the word so that we could bump into the concept and try to understand what noutheteo means. It's a Greek word, and it's made up of two smaller Greek words. Nous meaning the mind and Tithemi meaning to put or place It has to do with putting something into the mind of another person, making them mindful of something.
And the basic premise of this kind of counseling is that the mind leads and the life, the body, follows where the mind goes. It is bad thinking that leads to bad living. If you want to live differently, you have to change the mind. The Biblical word for the change of mind, is repentance, and by repentance, we can change the way that we're living. That's the basic premise of Nouthetic Counseling. Jay Adams frequently translated the word, to confront nouthetically. The basic idea here is that of warning or admonition. A sense of a serious word given in a serious situation. Paul uses the word in Acts 20:31, that's his final address to the Ephesian elders. Very serious and somber moment, and he's got the leaders of this local church around and He says to them. "So, be on your guard. Remember that for three years, I never stopped warning each of you, night and day, with tears." With tears, warning them for three years, night and day. Noutheteo. Note the passion, note the love, note the sense of warning Be on your guard against false teachers who are going to come in your midst, like ravenous wolves, not sparing the flock. He's warning them, warning them about the danger of sin.
A second use we see in 1 Corinthians 4. The Corinthian Church was, in their own minds anyways, upwardly mobile. Trying to get better and better off in the world. Thinking... Having all their neighbors and their family and everybody think better and better of them, going up. But as they're going up, they're passing the apostles who were going down, like Jesus, down, becoming more humble, more rejected by the world. Paul says it seems to me that we're the off-scouring of the scum of the earth. But look at you, you're getting better and better. And so he writes very poignantly in 1 Corinthians 4, trying to show them how they're not thinking properly, about their lives in this world. And so he writes this, after all of that, he says, "I'm not writing this to shame you but to warn you as my dear children…" Again the affection, a sense of danger for them that they're not seeing the Christian life properly.
Or again in Colossians 1:28. Paul says this really sums up his whole ministry. "We proclaim Him, admonishing [there's the word] and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ." This is both Christian and non-Christian. There's a sense of warning somebody based on the gospel and then continuing to warn and admonish in an ongoing sense.
And then fourth, Paul says we should be doing this for each other all the time. In Colossians 3:16 he says, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom." So we're supposed to be doing this for each other. This noutheteo, we're supposed to be noutheticing each other all the... Is that the right word? I don't know, noutheing each other. We're supposed to be nouthetically confronting one another all the time. There are many other uses of the word but I've given you those four to give you a sense of what the word means? Let's sum up the Biblical evidence then. Good Counsel is Nouthetic Counseling and it involves a loving concern, like a father for children or like a brother for another brother.
It definitely involves a sense of danger or warning. Now, you might say, "Why do we need a warning? Everything's fine in my life." Do you realize you have two mortal enemies of your soul outside of you and one mortal enemy of your soul inside of you? The two outside of you are the world's system, and Satan who runs it. The mortal enemy inside of you is called your flesh or your sin nature, which is actually attracted to that stuff out there. You are in great danger and so am I. And we will be as long as we live in the tent of this body. And so we need to be warned, we need to be protected from our own sin and from the sins of others and therefore, we have to be admonished by the Word of God.
Now, Jay Adams gave three aspects of Nouthetic Counseling. First, there's a problem to be solved, there's a problem that needs to be solved. Second, the problem is solved by verbal means. Now, I'm not going to talk this morning about the role of medications in all this. I think the human mind, the brain is incredibly complex. There are brain chemical issues and all that, but let me tell you something, no sin issue in life was ever solved that way.
Even if medications were used in a way that would please the Lord, it's to clear the space, so that the Word of God can then deal with the sin problem in the person's life. It's not chemicals that solve sin problems, it's repentance and the blood of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Word of God, that's what solves sin problems. So there is a problem to be solved. Secondly, the problem is solved by verbal means. And the third is that the purpose of the counseling is to benefit the counselee. Now there's Nouthetic Counseling, that either does go on or doesn't go on in the Bible. Adams sites the example of Nathan. One of the most courageous men in Biblical history went to face David after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Bathsheba's husband to cover up his adultery, and then a year later, he's still sitting in his sin, and Nathan comes and tells a parable that draws him in to the point where he is very upset, and then Nathan points a finger and says, "You are the man." He's confronting him, nouthetically.
And then there's Eli who had sons that were sinning wickedly. They were priests in the priestly family, and he never confronted them. Finally, when it was too late, in 1 Samuel 2:23, he says to his sons, "Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours?"
Nouthetic Counseling has much more to do with what than it does with why. Have any of you parents ever asked your kids, "Why did you do it?" And then listened to what came back. There is no possible answer. You can try for years and you'll never figure out the why questions. We already know the answer to the why question. Because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, that's why. We don't need to plumb the depths of why. Instead Nouthetic Counseling focuses on what. What happened? Remember how God said to Cain concerning his brother Able, "What have you done? What have you done?"
Nouthetic Counseling starts there. What have you done? What problem is in your life? What approach have you taken to solving it? What does God's Word say about this? You see it focuses on the what, not on the why. And the purpose of the counseling is to benefit the counselee.
IV. All Christians Can and Should Grow in their Competency in Counseling
Fourthly, I say to you based on this text, that all Christians can and should grow in their competency to counseling. I already said, not every Christian is fully competent to counsel. Paul had to become convinced, or persuaded that the Roman Christians were full of goodness, complete in knowledge and thus, competent to counsel one another. It's not automatic. Some Christians make very little progress in their sanctification over decades and decades of church attendance. They would not necessarily be competent to counsel. But others make remarkable progress in even short amounts of time and they are full of goodness, and complete in knowledge and therefore competent to counsel. Now I think that any Christian, spirit-filled Christian is more competent to counsel, than any non-Christian on most issues. Just the basic knowledge of scripture that you have is better than some worldly philosophy that's going to screw you up.
But I believe every Christian should become more fully competent to counsel than we are presently. We can keep growing, we can keep moving and there's proof from the text. Look at Verse 15. Paul, look at his train of thought. He says they are already full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to counsel one another. But verse 15, KJV gives us, "Nevertheless, on some points I've written you very boldly by way of reminder." You see? So even a congregation that is competent to counsel, can still get more training or be reminded, be further sharpened in their ability to counsel their brothers and sisters in Christ. And so he wrote the book of Romans. And so now you're more competent or more trained than you were before you read Romans. So there's ongoing counseling training needed for all Christians. The fifth point I want to make to you this morning is that Biblical Counseling is essential to the two infinite journeys that God has set before each Christian and before this church. The two infinite journeys are the center piece of our ministry here. The internal journey of growth to become more and more like Jesus Christ, that's called sanctification, that's an infinite journey, because it takes infinite power to do it
The second infinite journey, is worldwide disciple making based on the great commission, "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I've commanded." Do you see how Nouthetic Counseling fits into both? How would you prepare yourself to become a better counselor except by immersing yourself in the Word of God and growing in your own goodness and in your love for others who are hurting and who need you to do it. That will help you to grow as a Christian. It'll help other people to grow as they get the good counsel from you. It also helps you when you're having problems that you could go seek some good counsel and get over your problems too. It helps the internal journey. It also is fundamental to the external journey. Paul said, "I wrote you about these things because I was given the grace of God to be a minister of Christ Jesus so that I could present the Gentiles perfect before the throne."
And so, therefore, I want you to admonish one another. I want you to train one another, I want you to use the Word of God to help each other through sin problems, so that we can finish the worldwide mission among the Gentiles. And so, I say that Nouthetic Counseling, Biblical Counseling is essential to the internal journey of becoming more and more like Jesus and the external journey of worldwide evangelization. Let me speak very practically. We have a community of people all around us who need to be reached with the gospel. We can do a number of things, but I'll tell you this, if we had a developed healthy, strong Biblical Counseling ministry and we offered Biblical Counseling to people for free and urged them to come and get Biblical solutions to their problems, I think we might see a river of people getting baptized here as they came to realize, they never come to faith in Christ at all. They don't have any foundation. And so along with the counseling these folks give the Gospel and we're going to see people saved, it's already happening in local churches around this country as they see a Biblical Counseling model even to evangelism and outreach.
Now, what application can we take from this text for ourselves? Well, first, I hope it's already happened this morning.
Understand Biblical Counseling
I'd like you to understand the difference between Biblical Counseling and Christian counseling. Not all Christian counseling is Biblical Counseling. So therefore, I hope you understand, Nouthetic Counseling and what it means. What Biblical Counseling, that's the first application, understand Biblical Counseling. It is the basic idea that the Bible is sufficient to solve people's sin problems.
Seek Biblical Counseling As Needed
Secondly, can I exhort you to be discerning from this sermon time on, to never again settle for anything less than Biblical Counseling? If you're sitting down with a counselor, and they're not opening the Word of God with you, they're not sharing from the Word of God, they are not going to help you ultimately. So therefore seek nothing less than Biblical Counseling for your own counseling needs.
Thirdly, can I urge you to get trained yourself in Biblical Counseling. I would urge you to consider the NANC Conference is coming up three times in this fall, September 8th and 9th. It's not too late, it's not too late for you to go. And what you're going to find there is a whole world opening up to you that shows the practical application of the Word of God in everyday issues that people face. That maybe even you're facing right now in your life. So, get trained.
Use the Word of God to Solve Problems for Friends, Co-Workers
Fourth used the Word of God, then to help solve problems for the friends and family and people around you in your life. Assume that the Word of God has the solution and minister the Word of God in their lives. Do it with your co-workers, people are going to open up to you be available to that. And then start showing them how the Word of God can be brought to bear on the problems of their lives. Yearn to be a Biblical counselor, a fully-trained competent to counsel, man or woman here in this church, so that you can use your wisdom to minister to men and women as they have needs.
Pray for a Developed Biblical Counseling Ministry Here at FBC
Fifth, pray for a developed Biblical Counseling Ministry here at FBC. It's going to take time. The vision I have for using counseling as an outreach tool in this community is going to take years and years to see it come to full fruition, but no time like the present. Let's start now, let's start this September, let's start with some of the training that Scott Markle and others are going to be doing on Wednesday evenings. Biblical training, be part of that. Say I want to be trained, I want to learn how to use the Bible to help people.
Pray for Evangelistic Fruit
And then finally pray for evangelistic fruit, as a result of all this. Wouldn't it be exciting to see people brought to faith in Christ that way? See them get up in the baptismal area and just say, "This is what God's done in my life, my whole life, has changed. I came to realize that I didn't know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Everything has changed. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for the Gospel and for the Word that has the power to change lives." Oh, I want to hear those testimonies. Pray for evangelistic fruit. And if you're here today and you've never given your life to Christ, Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, he's the one that gives the good advice through the Word and through other believers. Come to faith in Christ. Trust in him, that his blood is sufficient for your sins. That's why he came. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Close with me in prayer please.