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Biblical Counseling


For the past 15+ years, I have had the privilege to give talks, present seminars, and facilitate workshops in academic, church, and professional settings. I have compiled my notes from my presentations on the topic of "Biblical Counseling", and I have posted them all here. Lord-willing, I can take a sabbatical at some point, and re-work this content into a book.

I believe Biblical Counseling is an important ministry for the church to provide. Our current climate in the U.S. is in many ways post-Christian, with the church in drastic declining, and the rise of the "Nones", those identifying as "not with any religion". This is due to a multitude of factors, but from my experience, this is because of our wealth and creature comforts, many do not feel the need for a Savior. Another consistent obstacle is the church's inability to contextualize the bible truth and Gospel message with current vernacular, so the message comes off as tone deaf, indigestible. And the most persistent barrier is the hypocrisy of the church. We can never seem to get out of our own way, and the steady stream of Christians doing very unloving and criminal things continues to be a deterrent for people pursuing the Christian faith. And yet, people are flocking to mental health professionals.

For these reasons, the church has an opportunity to provide biblical counseling. To listen instead of preach. To love instead of condemn. To care for souls again, instead of programs, buildings, and numbers. To accept instead of reject. To heal instead of hurt. To welcome instead of saying you are not welcome. To help, instead of not caring.

A military metaphor to illustrate: Biblical counseling is like being in the trenches. It's not dropping bombs from air raids, like we do from the pulpit. It's not military training academy, like we do in discipleship. It's not like boot camp like we might do in retreats, Sunday School or bible studies. It's not humanitarian aid, like we do in helping the poor and needy. It's not like a front line invasion, like we do in evangelism and revivals. It's not even military chaplains giving last rites and baptizing of faith. Biblical counseling is coming alongside another human in the trenches. It's saying, I'll stay here with you. I'll help you get through this.

Biblical Counseling


  1. Introduction

    1. The goal of biblical counseling

    2. The content of biblical counseling

    3. The process of biblical counseling

    4. An illustration of biblical counseling

  2. Biblical counseling in relation to secular psychology

    1. Error 1: Rejecting culture.

    2. Error 2: Becoming indoctrinated with culture.

    3. Understand and Redeem culture

  3. Models of integrating Theology and Culture.

    1. Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture

    2. Greggo’s Artistic Integration

    3. David Powlison’s VITEX and COMPIN positions

    4. Two Kingdom Theology and Kuyperian Perspective

  4. Survey of Theology and Psychology to locate biblical counseling.

    1. Which psychology?

    2. Psychological theories

    3. Which theology?

    4. Systematic theology

    5. Essential and Non-essential issues of theology.

5. The content of Biblical Counseling.

  1. Redemptive history

    1. God’s sovereignty

    2. God’s grace

    3. God’s glory

  2. Justification, Sanctification, Glorification

  3. Theological anthropology

    1. Mind: our thoughts

    2. Heart: our desires

    3. Behavior: our choices and actions

    4. Faith: who we trust

    5. Purpose: what we are living for

    6. Emotions/feelings: Indicate what we want

  4. The heart

    1. Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, united with Christ

    2. Sin nature: an idol factory

6. The structure of Biblical Counseling.

  1. Defined by Scripture (practical theology)

  2. Changing people to become like Jesus (progressive sanctification)

  3. Problem-focused and time-limited.

7. The process of Biblical Counseling.

  1. Love

  2. Know

  3. Speak

  4. Do

8. A Biblical Theology and Counseling: Emotions

9. The 3 Trees Counseling Model (Adapted from How People Change by Lane and Tripp)

Introduction to Biblical Counseling

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:11-32

The goal of biblical counseling

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves (put on, mindset, heart change to be like Christ) with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish (noutheo, give instruction, counsel), one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:12-17

  1. Counseling is a means to an end, to administer God’s grace and truth for the maximum glory to God, for His fame, worth, worship.

  2. The goal is not to make you feel better. God does not exist for us, we exist for Him. When we get that right, then we are living in truth.

  3. Repentance is the primary goal, to realize that life is not about the satisfaction of our fleshly needs, which is idolatry, but to see that life is found in God.

The content of biblical counseling

“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:10

  1. We need to have a biblical worldview (Scripture, redemptive history, theological truths) of our struggles, issues, and needs, that God is sovereign and the author of our lives even in our suffering.

  2. Perfection in Hebrews has to do with fully completing a course, making it to the end of God’s plan. Jesus was made “perfect through suffering” through his full obedience to his mission of incarnation, life, death on the cross; the fulfillment of that Jesus brings the children of God to glory.

  3. What God has done in the suffering of Jesus is in line with what we know of his character and purposes.

The process of biblical counseling

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45

  1. Provide a place and time for true stories (fruit) to be shared honestly

  2. And desires (heart/roots) to be exposed and confessed to God,

  3. And to apply and receive and grow in the Gospel.

An illustration of biblical counseling: Your story in God’s story

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

  1. God writes your story.

    1. Good and bad, things that don’t make sense, mistakes, circumstances that seem unfair, and seemingly unshakable, destructive patterns.

    2. To distance yourself from your story is to distance yourself from the Gospel which is at work within you.

  2. Your story affects you.

    1. Understand why Christ died. “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross”.

    2. Your suffering is the context in which we experience the love of God, both comfort and to change us.

    3. We are comforted in our afflictions as we learn of God’s promises and power. We are changed in our afflictions as we learn to take refuge in God rather than in vain idols.

    4. Don’t ignore your story.

“We write this to make our joy complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:4-10

  1. When I became Christian I just wanted to ignore my struggle with loneliness, parent’s fighting, parents not Christian, addiction to girls, addiction to gambling. My idolatry of seeking people’s approval, academically motivated, dad said, “I’m proud of you” and resenting that. I’m going to perform for love. Nobody loves me for me.

  2. In figuring out our stories, they show us that we’re seekers, knocking, asking, to find our way home. For our redemption with God, for our stories to be known. But as we trust in things other than God, we keep getting more and more lost, more trouble, more confusing, more heartache.

  1. Your story is not your own.

    1. Your stories are revelatory. Your life reveals God. To the degree you don’t honor your own story, you aren’t giving your story for the sake of God.

    2. To not study your own life, is to miss the value of how God has made you. Your life can reveal something about God to others.

    3. Your life is about making God known.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

  1. My suffering is not my own, because it is God’s story.

  2. Hating our story, keeps us from loving for what God wants, be available.

  3. What do you need to be counseled by God for?

  4. Counseling is entering people’s stories with humility and curiosity.

  5. Give people the privilege of having your story heard well.

Biblical counseling in relation to secular psychology

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

  1. This is a community that will PRESERVE (salt) the Truth, and TRANSFORM (light) the world with Jesus.

  2. The philosophy of counseling exists in our culture. We need to think critically about it. How do you engage with secular culture?

  3. Culture: A way of living. The world in which we live, a people created by God interacting with the world God made. We live our lives in “culture”: relationships, traditions, institutions, media, products, nature, and beliefs.

There are two incorrect tendencies in viewing culture:

Error #1: Rejecting Culture

  1. Many Christians incorrectly have a rejection-isolation response to culture. “Our culture is evil, so avoid it”. This leads to a list of things to avoid (movies, music, dancing, etc).

  2. This is a wrong way to view culture because it is a subtle denial of God’s creation, which declares that all that God made is good. It is the avoidance of the Great Commission to go in the world and make disciples.

  3. Isolating from secular culture also avoids the core issue of our battle with evil: Our battle is not with external “culture” but our sin within. Isolating/rejecting our culture is not our main focus. We must repent in our hearts.

  4. Rejecting culture can lead to a dangerous self-righteousness and judgmental attitude. This view leads to keeping a list of “do’s and don’ts”, and judging those who don’t keep to it.

Error #2: Becoming Indoctrinated by Culture

  1. Other Christians incorrectly have an anything goes response to culture. “Our culture is neutral, so there is no harm in living in it.” Horribly twisting the concept of Christian freedom.

  2. This is a wrong way to view culture because nothing is ever neutral in our world: you have to know that the devil, worldliness, and sinful men are working to conform humanity to live without God. It is not wise to carelessly engage with our culture.

So how then do we live for God in the secular culture?

Understand and Redeem Culture

  1. The goal of understanding culture is to redeem it for Jesus. As disciples following Jesus we must interpret all of life, including our culture, biblically.

  2. “Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17) AND “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). We do this is by,

    1. Know God’s truth to protect you from the lies and deception of evil in culture. Read, study, obey the Word, listen to sermons, go to bible studies.

    2. Live out God’s love in your life practically, so you point to God’s truth.

  3. My prayer is that our generation can think biblically, understand our culture, and live with a biblical worldview. Then we will know when to separate and when to participate. We will be people of influence because of God’s love and truth overflowing in our lives.

Models of Integrating Theology and Culture

Niebuhr’s “Christ and Culture”

  1. Christ against culture

    1. The world outside the church is hopelessly corrupted by sin

    2. “Come out from them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

    3. There is an absolute truth and we can know it absolutely

    4. Strive for holiness

    5. Books: “Our Sufficiency in Christ” (John MacArthur); “Psychological Seduction” (Kilpatrick); “The Psychological Way, The Spiritual Way” (Bobgan); “Levels of Explanation View” (David G. Myers)

  2. Christ of culture

    1. Find harmony in the highest moral high ground between psych/theo

    2. There is good in all of creation and human endeavor

    3. Books: “Inside Out” (Larry Crab); Christian Counseling (Gary Collins)

  3. Christ above culture (Biblical Counseling)

    1. All that is good in human culture is a gift from God but must be mediated by the church.

    2. Views psychological problems as relating to sin.

    3. Book: “Competent to Counsel” (Jay Adams), “Seeing with New Eyes” (David Powlison); Paul D Tripp, Timothy S. Lane; Edward T. Welch

  4. Christ transforms culture (Christian Psychology)

    1. Puritan view- society must be converted to Christianity. Moral majority.

    2. Christian psychology. “A Pauline psychology”

    3. Books: “Limning the Psyche” (Robert Roberts), “Soren kierkegaard’s Christian Psychology” (Evans)

  5. Christ and culture in paradox (Integration)

    1. God ordains culture and science and we should work within these fallen institutions yet God’s kingdom is here-and-now and demands our full obedience.

    2. We exist in the tension living for Christ in culture. We prefer binary positions: good/evil, and resist this paradox.

    3. Cooperate with what God is doing in a person’s life but knowing we are broken vessels. Borrows from secular Content: “love tank “ unresolved grief”, views problem from medical model, that we are sick and need medicine.

    4. Integrationist: “Modern Psychopathologies: Comprehensive Christian Appraisal” (Yarhouse); “Modern Psychotherapies” (Jones, Butman); “Care for the Soul: Exploring the intersection of Psych/Theo” (Jones, Roberts)

Greggo’s Artistic Integration Model

  1. Context

    1. The context domain of integration refers to the physical location of the service being provided whether it is in a church, counseling center, or hospital.

    2. The context of the service provider will dictate what the client is requesting, presenting, needing, and expecting. The setting itself establishes certain entitlements, ethics, and boundaries that need to be honored.

    3. A critical question a counselor needs to reflect upon is, “How do I serve as an ambassador of Christ and glorify God within the cultural and temporal context in which I am placed?”

    4. What is the role of the counselor when they work outside of the ordained ministry of the church in attempting to contribute positively to human welfare?

  1. Contact

    1. The contact domain refers to the nature of the person-to-person relationship.

    2. We are created not only with the capacity for such a relationship but this characteristic is an essential aspect of being human, Gen 2:20-25; 3:8-11.

    3. If reconciling one’s relationship with God is understood as the ultimate goal of healing, then the mission of the priesthood of believers is to restore people to God.

    4. The counseling relationship can resemble the roles that Jesus exemplified in his earthly ministry: priestly (comforting, listening, blessing), prophetic (convicting, preaching, proclaiming), pastoral (teaching, encouraging, challenging), wisdom giver (consultant, advisor, friend), and physician (healer, intercessor).

  2. Contract

    1. The contract domain refers to the agreed upon services, payment, and time frames. This includes the evaluations and procedures that will be utilized, clarification of treatment options, adoption of a reasonable and realistic plan, and evaluating the effectiveness of treatment. There are situations where the contracts are very brief, broad, and simple, while some arrangements have extensive treatment protocols, long-term agreements, and/or documentation requirements.

    2. Ricahrd Osmer (2008) explains that the four key questions and tasks in practical theology are: what is going on? (descriptive-empirical task), why is this going on? (interpretative task); what ought to be going on? (normative task); and how might we respond? (pragmatic task). Practical theology consists of several related sub-fields which include applied theology, which itself is broken into departments such as missions, evangelism, pastoral psychology, and Christian ethics. Christian ethics defines concepts of right (virtuous) and wrong (sinful) behavior.

  1. Content

    1. The content domain refers to the explanation of behaviors, relationships, problems, distress, purpose and meaning in life, solution to our problems, how we change, and the goal of counseling.

David Powlison’s VITEX and COMPIN Positions

Comprehensive internal resources

  1. The Christian faith contains comprehensive internal resources to enable us to construct a Christian model of personality, change, and counseling.

  2. The work of Christ working in his people through his Word produces depth of insight, accurate theory, and effective practice.

Vital External Contribution

  1. Secular psychology makes vital external contribution in the construction of a Christian model of personality, change, and counseling.

  2. Christian truths are integrated with the observations, personality theories, interventions, and professional roles of the mental health world.

Comparing Two Kingdom Theology and Kuyperian Perspective

“Two Kingdom Theology”

  1. There is the kingdom of this world and a kingdom of Christ. (John 18:36)

  2. We have a dual citizenship as Christians. (Philippians 3:18-21)

  3. This world should not be expected to function and look like the realm of grace. (Romans 8:20-21)

  4. We should stop trying to transform the culture of this world into the kingdom of our Lord and instead focus on the church being the church. (Leviticus 20:26, 1 Peter 1:14)

  5. Goal: establish strong Christian counter cultures to show the world how people ought to live. (Philippians 2:14-16)

What it offers:

  1. Emphasis on the church and the means of grace (e.g., preaching, sacraments) (1 Peter 4:10, 1 Timothy 4:13)

  2. Realistic view of our fallen world and the dangers of utopian idealism. (Romans 1:21-25)

  3. Acknowledges that while Christians can and should do many worthwhile things in the world, the church as church has a more specific Great Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20)

  4. Avoids pronouncements on cultural and political matters. (Matthew 22:16-21, 1 Peter 4:3-5)

  5. Takes seriously the already and not-yet of the kingdom. (1 John 3:2, Hebrews 11:7, Romans 8:24-25)

  6. Understands that every nice thing that happens in the world is not “kingdom work”. (Matthew 5:26-28)

  7. A stand against theonomy (God’s social ethic), reconstructionism (priest, king, prophet roles). (Ephesians 6:10-20, Romans 12:2)


  1. An exaggerated distinction between laity and church officers (e.g., evangelism is the responsibility of elders and pastors not of the regular church members) (Ephesians 4:11-13)

  2. An unwillingness to boldly call Christians to work for positive change in their communities and believe that some change is possible. (Ephesians 6:18-19, Hebrews 13:1-2)

“Redeeming Culture”: Kuyperian Perspective (Abraham Kuyper), (Calvin College)

  1. This world belongs to Christ. (Colossians 1:15-20)

  2. His Lordship should be felt and manifested in politics, the arts, education, science, everywhere. (Jeremiah 29:4-7))

  3. The work of Christ was not just to save sinners but also to renew the whole world, we should be at work to change the world and transform the culture. (Genesis 1:28-30)

  4. Goal: Get out there into the culture and bring your Christian world view.

What it offers:

  1. A desire to make their faith public. (1 Peter 15-16, 1 Timothy 4:13)

  2. Passion to confront injustice and help the hurting. (Isaiah 58:6-8)

  3. Appreciation for the goodness of the created world. (Romans 1:20, Luke 19:40)

  4. Christianity is more than sinners getting their ticket punched for heaven. (Ephesians 2:8-10)


  1. Blurs the distinction between common grace and special grace. (John 17:3, Romans 5:10-13)

  2. Blurs the distinction between general and special revelation. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

  3. Can minimize personal redemption at the expense of renewal for this world.

  4. Explicit biblical support for commanding all Christians to change the world or transform the culture is very thin.

  5. Devolves quickly into an indistinct moralism.

A middle Ground (Tension) between “Two Kingdom Theology” and a “Redeeming Culture” Perspective

  1. Focus on the heart of the Gospel, divine self-satisfaction (Glory) through self-substitution (Christ) for the justification for sinners who God loves and the continual sanctification of His people. (John 3:16)

  2. Challenge Christians to show Christ’s dying love to others. (John 13:35)

  3. Uphold the doctrine of hell and the necessity of repentance and regeneration in Christ alone through faith alone by God’s grace alone. (Acts 4:12)

  4. Do good to all people, especially to the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)

  5. Work against the injustices and suffering in our day, and serve the poor and outcasts. (Matthew 10:8)

  6. We are to be salt (keeping the culture from decay) and light (shining in the darkness). (Matthew 5:13-16)

  7. Goal: Work for change where God calls us and gifts us, but let’s not forget that the Great Commission is to go into the world and make disciples, that is followers of Jesus, not go into the world to interpret it, change it, or fix it.

Survey of the Fields of Psychology and Theology

What part of psychology are we integrating?

  1. Physiological: Neuroscience, bio basis, endorphins, dopamine-brain, serotonin-balance/healthy. Neurotransmitters, Critique: what is creativity, cognition, intelligence?

  2. Developmental: Piaget, Bowlby, Erikson, Kohlberg, Vygotsky. Education. Stages of development, attachment theories.

  3. Social: Social Norms, attitudes, persuasion, group dynamics.

  4. Industrial/organization: work places. Productivity.

  5. Clinical: “the couch”, talk therapy, counseling.

We are understanding clinical psychotherapy because it…

  1. Is growth oriented, self-improvement.

  2. Is expressive, self-examining,

  3. Is depth oriented, awareness.

  4. Deals with Sin, mistakes, wrong behavior, wrong thoughts.

  5. Deal with Character, disordered loves and thoughts, reordering desires

  6. Is about the soul, core, center, heart.

Clinical psychological theories

  1. As we understand secular theories, we need to critique them with a biblical world view. The main critiques of secular psychology are:

    1. The wrong view of people as passive in causality (it’s not my fault).

    2. The wrong view of people as victims. Much of secular psychology has deterministic presuppositions. This leads to the process of identifying why I am the way I am (blaming my parents, traumatic events), so that I am no longer responsible for my wrong rebellious thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.

    3. The wrong goal autonomy which removes God from our lives.

  2. “This means that your personal and interpersonal problems can never be evils coming out of your bent, untrustworthy heart. Therefore they cannot be sins against God. Therefore you do not need a Savior's forgiveness to deliver you, and a Shepherd's ongoing presence and power to change you.”

“A purely bio-psycho-social problem has by definition a purely bio-psycho-social solution. If we don't have any problem with God, we don't need anything from God to solve the problem.” Powlison

  1. A brief survey of theories:

    1. Psychoanalytic theory (S. Freud), Assumes that human nature is deterministic. The personality consists of id, ego, superego. It uses repression, denial, projection, displacement, regression. Object-relationships theory: development in relation to others. Its goal is to make the unconscious conscious, to strengthen the ego so that behavior is based on reality and less on instinctual cravings or irrational guilt. Its methods are: free association, dream analysis: uncovering unconscious and unresolved problems.

  1. Psychodynamic theory (C. Jung)

    • Assumes that development is related to intrapsychic and unconscious conflicts, and understanding of childhood experiences are organized around interpersonal relationships.

    • Its methods include transference, dissonance.

  2. Adlerian theory (A. Adler),

    • Assumes that humans have the ability to interpret, influence and create events, that what we are born with is not as important as what we do with our abilities.

    • It assumes we have choice and responsibility for our meaning in life, striving for success, completion, and perfection.

    • It says we have subjective perception of reality, social interest, birth order.

    • The goal is to change faulty motivation, goals and views, and to foster social interest: become a contributing member of society.

  1. Person-centered (Humanistic) theory (C. Rogers).

    • Strong influence on media, Hollywood, “How does that make you feel?”

    • Assumes existentialism, subjective reality: We are faced with choosing to create an identity in a world that lacks intrinsic meaning; and humanism: Each of us has a natural potential that we can actualize meaning.

    • Assumes that humans are trustworthy, resourceful, capable of self-understanding, to make changes, and live effective/productive lives.

    • Its goals are greater degree of independence and integration of the individual, and unconditional positive regard and acceptance.

  1. Gestalt theory (F. Perls),

    • Assumes that humans are manipulative and avoid self-reliance and responsibility, humans have the capacity to self-regulate in their environment if they are fully aware of what is happening in and around them, that the more we attempt to be who we are not, the more we remain the same.

    • We change when we become aware of what we are, as opposed to trying to become what we are not.

    • The goals are to confront and frustrate the client’s escape from responsibility, increased awareness of self, ownership of experience, develop skills to satisfy needs.

    • Its methods include: empty chair technique, confrontation, internal dialogue, making the rounds, rehearsal, reversal, and exaggeration.

  1. Reality theory (W. Glasser),

    • Assumes that we are born with 5 genetically encoded needs drive all of our lives: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.

    • The goal is to focus on unsatisfying or lack of relationships.

    • Focus on what the client can control in relationship. Get connected with the people who bring quality.

  1. Existential theory (Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, James Bugental, I. Yalom)

    • Assumes that people are free to choose who we are and how we interpret the world and interact with the world.

    • Goal is to find deeper meaning in life and to accept responsibility for living. It addresses fundamental issues of life, such as death, aloneness, and freedom.

    • Emphasizes your ability to be self-aware, freely make choices in the present, establish personal identity and social relationships, create meaning, and cope with the natural anxiety of living.

  1. Cognitive-Behavior Theory (A.Ellis), situation -> thought -> behavior

    • Assumes that we have dysfunctional ways of interpreting the world (through schemas or beliefs) that can contribute to emotional distress or result in behavioral problems.

    • Based on Behavior theory: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, positive reinforcement.

    • Humans are the producer and the product of their environment.

    • CBT is based on the scientific method: concepts are tested and revised to produce empirically based interventions

    • Related is Rational Emotive Behavior Theory: humans contribute to their own problems by their interpretation of the situation.

    • The goals of CBT include achieving new conditions for learning on the assumption that learning can remove the problem; minimizing emotional disturbances and self-defeating behavior by acquiring a more realistic view of life; reduce blame, learn to deal with difficulties.

    • Its methods include: Relaxation and breathing training, desensitization, exposures; disputing irrational beliefs: catastrophizing, selective abstraction, overgeneralization, magnification and minimization, personalization, labeling and mislabeling, polarized thinking.

  1. Family systems (J. Haley, S. Johnson, V. Satir, J. Gottman)

    • Assumes that the problem is with the structure of relationships.

    • It is based on boundaries (where individuals begin and end) and power hierarchies.

    • The goal is to restructure the system.

  1. Postmodern theories

    • Assumes that there is no one true reality.

Everything is relative; each person’s view of the world is customized and is considered truth.

Its method is social constructionism that reality is found without exploring whether it is rational or accurate. The client is the expert.

  1. Summarizing these theories makes 1 Corinthians 13:12 so clear: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

  2. Tripp and Lane explain it this way, “The bible says that your real problem is not psychological (low self-esteem or unmet needs), social (bad relationships or influences), your past, or your physical body. These are influences but your real problem is your spiritual problem: your rebellious heart against God. You have replaced God with something else and as a result your heart is hopeless and powerless. Ultimately: your real problem is a worship disorder.”

Which Theology? What part of theology are we integrating?

  1. Reformed Theology a. Sola's b. TULIP c. Omni's

  2. Biblical theology

    1. Theology develops through scripture.

    2. God’s Redemptive history – heilsgeschichte (German)

    3. Example of biblical themes: Tabernacle, temple, bread, priest, prophets, king, covenant, sonship, remnant, water, city (Eden, Jerusalem, Zion)

  3. Historical theology

    1. As theology has developed and is developing in history.

    2. Church history: Crusades, inquisition, church father’s, popes, reformation, awakenings, revivals.

  4. Dogmatic (creedal) theology,

    1. Nicene creed. 325

    2. Doctrine is developed in different denominations/traditions

    3. Anabaptist/Baptist, Calvin/Armenian response to one another.

  1. Apologetics: “apologia” speaking in defense.

    1. Defending the faith through systematic use of reason.

    2. Christianity compared to other worldviews.

    3. Reason for the existence of god, the inerrancy of scripture.

  2. Narrative theology

    1. Narrative presentation of the faith rather than dogmatic development

    2. Person’s relationship with God unfolding as a journey rather than an intellectual assent to certain doctrines.

  3. Systematic theology

    1. ST is an imperfect attempt to develop a more accurate approximation of God’s perfect truth.

    2. ST is biblical, systematic, practical.

    3. A doctrine is what the whole bible teaches us today about some particular topic:

      • Theology proper: God, holy, Love. Trinity.

      • Communicable/non-communicable attributes.

      • Bibliology: revelation; inspiration (1 Peter 1:21); inerrancy (Psalm 12:6); Authority and Sufficiency (2 Timothy 3:16); Canon

      • Christology: divine/human; incarnation; life, death, resurrection of Jesus; Christ/Messiah

      • Pneumatology: indwelling; fruit, gifts; illumination. Pentacost- Acts2

      • Anthropology: Imago Dei- thought, emotion, will-choice, conscience.

      • Hamartiology: actual sin ; original sin

      • Angelology: spirit beings, angels, demons, Satan, “Satan’s greatest scheme is deceiving us to think that he isn’t there.”

      • Soteriology: Salvation, regeneration, justification (God views us as Christ), sanctification, glorification

      • Ecclesiology: Church, institutional structure, ordination, sacraments, practices, worship of God; evangelism; missiology.

      • Eschatology: End times. Return of Jesus, kingdom of God.

What are the essentials and non-essentials of a professing Christian (Protestant, evangelical)?

  1. Essential issues of faith: Apostle’s Creed I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from then he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

  2. Non-essentials issues of faith. (Issues of Christianity that depends on interpretation of the bible. Non-essential: means that all views in each issue are accepted as Christian)

    1. Denomination Baptist, Methodist/Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Pentecostal/charismatic (Assembly of God, Full Gospel, Vinyard, Hillsong), Evangelical Free, Lutheran, Reformed, Congregational CMA, ECC, PCA, PCUSA, EFC,

    2. Sacraments Lord’s supper: memorial or real presence? Monthly, weekly, quarterly? Baptism, covenant theology

    3. Women in ministry Egalitarian, complementarian. Ordination, teaching

    4. Free will/predestination Calvin/Armenian.

    5. Work of the Holy Spirit Cessation: Miracles, Speaking in tongues, prophecy. Gifts of the Spirit.

    6. End time: Pre- /a- /post- millennium Pre- /post- tribulation

    7. Alcohol/dancing. Abstinence, permissive.

    8. Instruments/music, worship style Hymns, liturgy, Traditional, contemporary

The Content of Biblical Counseling

Redemptive History

  1. God’s sovereignty- Because he rules heaven and earth, I do not live in anxiety and fear.

    1. “God is the author of your story” good AND bad

    2. John 16:32-33 But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

  2. God’s grace- is his response to our rebellion. Because of his grace we can have relationship with Him.

    1. What is grace? “charis”- gift, God’s divine favor. Grace is not deserved or owed and cannot be earned. Grace is giving someone something good that they do not deserve. -> the outrageous generosity of God. (Matt 20:14-15)

    2. Like the Pharisees we tend to insist that people become perfect before entering the kingdom of God. In doing so, our churches can become legalistic, places of boring, rule-keeping instead of places of true life and joy. (Luke 15)

    3. Asian cultural values that work against our accepting God’s grace: distant fathers- fear of intimacy, and internalized shame.

  1. God’s glory- we are made for his glory and are called to display his glory in everything we do. Sin makes us glory thieves. There is no deeper joy and satisfaction than to live committed to his glory.

    1. Glory- weight, kavod, Numbers 14:10. Heavinesss, worthiness of the glory of God.

    2. Doxa- light. Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

  1. Why do we need God’s redemption?

  2. Every good and bad thing in the bible had a purpose. It is the unfolding of God’s wonderful story of redemption, which reached its crescendo with the coming of Christ. All of the battles, journeys, trials, kingdoms, revelations, and miracles; all of the political and personal intrigue, were part of a careful plan to bring the world to this point. God is telling his people that he will restore what was broken.

  3. Human beings are worshipers. Worship is not just something we do, it defines who we are. Everybody worships, it’s just a matter of what or who we serve.

  4. Foolishness is the deadly combination of arrogance and ignorance. The core presupposition of fools is that there is no God.

  5. Sinners tend to respond sinfully to being sinned against.

  6. The world’s philosophy is deceptive because it cannot deliver what it promises. It may be well researched and logically presented, but it is not centered on Christ. Because sin nature is what is wrong, true hope and help can only be found in God’s solution. Any other answer will prove hollow.

  7. Christ came to break our allegiance to self-absorbed agendas and call us to the one goal worth living for. His kingdom is about the display of his glory and people who are holy. The kingdom agenda is to control our hearts and transform our lives. Repentance is a radical change of heart resulting in a radical change in the direction of one’s life.

  8. Christ came to restore people to the purpose they were made for: to live every aspect of their lives in worshipful, obedient submission to him.

Justification, Sanctification, Glorification

  1. Justification: Romans 8:1

  2. Sanctification: John 17:17, 1 Thes 5:23

  3. Glorification” Romans 8:30, Colossians 3:4 “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Theological Anthropology: Who We Are

  1. Mind- what are my thoughts?

    1. Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

    2. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.

    3. 2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

    4. John 17:17, Romans 12:2

  1. Desires/Heart- what do I want?

    1. Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10 "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

  2. Behavior- what am I doing? What am I choosing?

    1. Heart before behavior, Tree illustration- if you have an apple tree, out will come apples. If you have an orange tree, out comes oranges. You’re not going to an apple tree and say, “I wish mangoes come today”. What is in you will come out. If no fruit comes out, maybe you depend on yourself and you go to grocery store, and buy some scotch tape and fruit. Then I think I’m an awesome looking tree. But after a few days it all ROTS. Because it is not connected to Jesus. That’s what trying to change your behavior without heart change is like. Heart fuels your behavior.

    2. Psalm 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. WORD: Sin stopping power

    3. You cannot change your heart, only God can change your heart. Word does not change us. God uses it to transform us.

  1. Faith- who am I trusting?

    1. When we sin, we are trusting in the wrong thing to get us what we think we want.

  2. Purpose- what am I living for?

    1. Are you living for God or yourself?

    2. Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

  3. Emotions- Indicate what you want

    1. You’re happy if you’re getting respect. Anger: you are not getting respect.

    2. Depression: "nobody likes me" or "one person doesn’t like me." Or “my plan failed”.

    3. Worry: "I might not meet my standard." "I might mess something up, and not get love and acceptance from my chosen ones."

    4. Loneliness. "Where are my worshipers?" So they may engage in video games (feel respected being one of the top ten high scores), or pornography, or TV, or watch sports.

    5. Frustration: "this is not according to my standard"

    6. Regret: "Man, I messed it up", I didn’t earn respect, I’m not liked anymore, or I’m not loved, or not meeting my standard.

    7. Conflict: "Somebody’s not liking me" or "Somebody’s not respecting me," or "Somebody’s not loving me or accepting me," or "I’m not learning," or "It’s not going according to the way I want."

The Heart

  1. Sin nature: Desire gone mad.

    1. Psalm 14:1-3 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

    2. Romans 1:28 - 32 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    3. "Our deepest problem is not experiential, biological, or relational, it is moral. Our immorality before God distorts our identity, alters our perspective, derails our behavior, and kidnaps our hope.”

    4. Foolishness is the deadly combination of arrogance and ignorance. The core presupposition of fools is that there is no God. Foolishness believes that there is no perspective, insight, theory more reliable than our own.

    5. Rebellion is the inborn tendency to give in to the lies of autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-focus.

    6. Inability- we are unable to do what is right.

  1. Two realities of our heart: Galatians 5:13-26

    1. Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The reality of the war for your heart, the war between God’s kingdom and kingdom of creation in you.

    2. Union with Christ. The reality of your identity as a child of God and the resources that are yours in Christ.

    3. 1 Timothy 4:16. You are to be rooted in the Word, and passionate about bring the Living Word, Christ, to lost, blind, and struggling people. You are called to put flesh and blood on who Christ is.

    4. John 1:14 Grace and truth are a person: Christ

    5. John 17:20-23 Agenda: For the world to see and know Christ.

    6. 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2 Called: to be ambassadors, to represent Christ. This acknowledges that our lives belong to the King.

      1. The message of the King (truth).

      2. The methods of the King (power).

      3. The character of the King (love).

    7. The Spirit nature is permanent

    8. Understand your purpose: we are made to glorify God

    9. Understand others (non-Christians, Christians, spiritual leaders): don’t judge them because we all have sinful nature => Always have God’s view on them. In that moment, they are the most important person in the world.

The Battle in our Heart: James 4:1-10

  1. An army of desires in a world at war.

  2. God loves you too much to make room for other lovers. His jealously is not a threat, but our hope.

  3. The dual nature of Christians: Christian life is not about perfection but direction. In each moment, we choose Spirit desire and watch our senses- sinful nature.

  4. NOT ALL BUT ANY. 1 Timothy 4:15

  5. Christians are to live by the Spirit. How? By changing our thought process. When we meditate on things that are destructive and not glorifying God, we must repent immediately. Choose to connect with God.

It's all about the Heart

  1. Luke 6:43-45. There is an organic relationships between the roots of the plant and the fruit it produces.

  2. Our goal is that God will work heart change in us that results in new words, choices, and actions.

  3. Sin is idolatrous. I do wrong things because my heart desires something more than God.

  4. Whatever rules the heart will exercise inescapable influence over the person’s life and behavior. What is functionally ruling your heart in this situation?" Matthew 6:19-24

  5. The deepest issues of our struggle is not pain and suffering, but the issue of worship, because what rules our hearts will control how we respond to suffering and blessing.

  6. You can learn a lot about a person by looking at the fruit of his life. You can learn a lot about a tree by looking at its fruit. There is a relationship between the quality of the fruit and the quality of the tree. So, the same thing applies to human beings: You come to understand a person by looking at overall “fruit” of the person’s life. What is this fruit? It can be a wide variety of things: our choice of words in any given situation; our thoughts or plans; our feelings; our choices or actions; our relational interactions; our hopes and dreams. Or to get more specific: it is our financial choices; our parenting; the quality or state of our marriage; our feelings of sorrow, confusion, anger, or joy; the quality or state of our relationships; our discipline or lack of discipline in doing devotionals; our attendance or lack of attendance in church; etc.

  7. A person’s life is an overflow of his heart. A person’s life is the overflow of what we find in his heart. What a man says or does is based on what we find in his heart. That is, his heart is the “control center” for his entire life.

  8. Christians will demonstrate a mixture of redemptive and fallen fruit in their life. A redeemed heart will try to live redemptively. On this side of glory, redeemed hearts are still tainted by sin, so they will also manifest sinful fruit. In contrast, unregenerate hearts (non-Christians) can only live sinfully. While it is true that non-Christians can do kind things, Scripture says that even a man or woman’s kind acts has sinful motives (Romans 14:23 “Everything that does not come from faith is sin”). A non-Christian ultimately lives for himself, and that will be manifest in how he lives his life and the fruit that is born from his life.

  9. Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

  10. “What type of treasure do you store up?”

Idol Factories

  1. Calvin said that the human heart is an idol factory.

  2. As Christians, God is to be our first and foremost priority in all things. Idols are anything that stands in the place of God. Any good gift that God have given us—money, work, relationships, material possession, plans, hopes, and dreams—any of these things can be turned into an idol. Everything in life should have its own proper “weight” and influence on our life. Idols are things that have grown to a place where they have too much influence over our life. Idols are dangerous because they can control our life, and more specifically, can control our hearts. Parsing out the influence of idols in our heart can be one of the single most important things you do to help those who you are counseling.

  3. A good way to explore idols in someone’s heart is to ask questions that get at desires, motivations, plans, hopes, and dreams. You can ask someone:

What do you love and hate?

What do you want, desire, crave, lust, and wish for?

What desires to you serve and obey? What do you seek, aim for, pursue?

What are your goals and expectations? What makes you tick?

What foundation of life, hope, and delight do you drink from?

What really matters to you? What do you fear?

What do you tend to worry about? Around what do you organize your life?

Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape, pleasure, security?

What or who do you trust? Whose approval of your performance matters?

On whose shoulders does the well-being of your world rest?

Exposing and Repenting of Heart Issues: Luke 6:43-45 Situation: “What’s going on?”

Fruit: “How are you responding to what’s going on?” (emotions, actions, reactions)

Roots:“What do you think about what’s going on?” (thoughts about God, self, others, life) “What do you want?”

Reaping: “What happened afterwards?”

In Conclusion

  1. Biblical counseling defines humanity with a biblical anthropology.

  2. The heart is the control center for life. When we care for people, we must seek to understand their hearts and help them to pursue a change of heart.

  3. Idolatry compromises our ability to live faithfully as believers.

  4. Do not put too much weight and importance in circumstances.

  5. Define your life according to your heart.

  6. "Our deepest problem is not experiential, biological, or relational, it is moral. It distorts our identity, alters our perspective, derails our behavior, and kidnaps our hope.” "Human beings are worshipers. Worship is not just something we do, it defines who we are. Everybody worships, it’s just a matter of what or who we serve." Paul Tripp

The Structure of Biblical Counseling (BC)

BC is defined by Scripture (Inspiration, Inerracy, Authority, & sufficiency)

  1. How is that we, as counselors, find God’s wisdom? We find it in His Word. God’s Word is foundational cornerstone from which we as Christian counselors provide our advice, encouragement, and comfort.

  2. To find God’s wisdom, a biblical counselor needs to be in God’s Word regularly. He or she must be characterized by a lifestyle of mining the deep well of Scripture to shape the content and the method of his or her counseling.

  3. Authority means that someone has charge over another. The Scriptures have authority over all aspects of a believer’s life. Luther once called Scripture the “Norm of Norms.” It is the rule of faith and practice by which we measure all of life.

  4. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  5. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

  6. How is the Bible authoritative in counseling? The Bible is authoritative:

  • in explaining people and their problems;

  • in shaping and defining the content and parameters for counseling;

  • in pointing people to the only solution for their sin—redemption in Jesus Christ and sanctification by the Holy Spirit.

  1. Sufficiency of the Word. To say that something is sufficient is to say that it is enough for what it intends to do. The Bible claims for itself that it will never return void and that it will accomplish all that it sets out to do. Isaiah 55:11: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

  2. In counseling the Bible is sufficient:

  • To instruct us on salvation and a life of godliness;

  • providing everything needed to define and speak to the wide variety of life’s problems;

  • in guiding and defining what we believe, what we say, and how we do our counseling.

  1. The Bible is not meant to be an exhaustive “encyclopedia of proof texts containing all facts about all people and all diversity of problems in living.”

Biblical Counseling is changing people to become more like Jesus

  1. God created men and women to be image-bearers. And, as image bearers, we reflect God’s likeness in what we think, say, and do. Genesis 1:26-28

  2. The goal of biblical counseling is to mold people into the image of Christ. We want them to live a life that reflects godly priorities, and not worldly priorities or ungodly passions.

  3. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

  4. Both Explicit AND implicit theology. Just because you call yourself a Christian does not mean every aspect of your life reflects Christian values. We all struggle with sin. This sin can often manifest itself as a difference between our functional and confessional beliefs. Our functional (explicit) theology is the assumptions and principles we live by, many of which are worldly. Our confessional (implicit) theology is what we know to be true according to the Bible.

Examples of functional theology might include:

  • Someone who was abused will grow up with a functional assumption that relationships are not safe.

  • Someone who is very independent will live with a functional assumption that self-reliance is a virtue and dependence is a sign of weakness.

In contrast, our confessional theology teaches us:

  • God made us for relationships and brought us into a family of spiritual relationships when he saved us.

  • We are made to live in dependence on God; and to live interdependent on other believers. We are not meant to live as lone-ranger Christians.

  1. For every Christian, even the most mature of believers, there can be struggles with momentary atheism. That is, there are moments in their life where they are more defined by worldly thinking and ungodly assumptions rather than biblical thinking. Biblical counseling works to identify the world’s influence on a person’s life (their functional theology and momentary atheism), and it tries to redirect the Christian to more Christ-like ways of thinking and living their confessional theology explicitly. In so doing, we help shape believers into the image of Christ.

  2. Biblical counseling points to repentance and belief as the most important means of change in a person’s life.

Repentance is a turning away from sin.

Belief is a trusting in Christ as Lord and Savior of our entire life.

When we first become Christians, there was a turning from our old life-styles of sin and unbelief, and a turning to Christ by putting our trust in him. Every day, in our Christian life, we must continue the same battle—turning away from sin and turning to Christ in faith. So, the most important change in biblical counseling is spiritual growth—encouraging a lifestyle of repentance and belief.

Biblical counseling is problem-centered and time-limited.

  1. Whereas discipleship is relational-driven, biblical counseling is problem-centered. Discipleship will occur between two people so long as they are able to maintain the relationship. In contrast, people come to biblical counseling looking to find answers for their problems. Once the problems have found some form of relief, usually biblical counseling comes to an end. Obviously, biblical counselors care about maintaining good relationships, but the need to build the relationship is not primary parameter which defines how long two people will meet.

Biblical counseling is not a psychological theory/model

  1. Psychology and counseling work hand in hand to come up with ways to help people change their behavior, thoughts, or moods. Unfortunately, secular psychology is grounded in worldly, humanistic false assumptions, and it shuns anything that deals with the God.

  2. The danger in defining our counseling with secular psychology is that we will reduce change to just human terms and define change without God. It will be change by our own human strength, with our own human wisdom, and using our own human strategies.

  3. In contrast, Biblical counseling will look to God and His Word to define change. BC will encourage people to live in dependence on God. And, BC will seek God’s wisdom, and not our own.

In Conclusion

  1. BC is a way to way to help people with their problems, difficulties, and suffering.

  2. BC focuses on God’s wisdom through His Word, and not our own opinions or insights.

  3. BC is the privilege and opportunity to speak into another believer’s life, with the hope of bringing lasting spiritual change.

The Process of Biblical Counseling

  1. God uses his people to accomplish his purposes. "God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.”

  2. God never intended us to simply be the objects of his love. We are also called to be instruments of that love in the lives of others." Eph 4:11-16

  3. "God transforms people’s lives as people bring his Word to others." (Thesis of the book, Speaking the truth in love)

  4. "Each person has been carefully crafted and placed to do their work. Each of us has been gifted, called, and positioned to do our part in God’s kingdom work. Our histories, personalities, abilities, and maturity levels differ, which is how the Redeemer intends it. He is sovereign over it all."

  5. "The combination of truth wrapped in self-sacrificing love is what God uses to transform people."

  6. Being biblical means that my counsel reflects what the entire bible is about.

    1. The bible is a narrative, a story of redemption, in which we are invited to join in.

    2. Jesus is the main theme.

    3. Our deepest problem is that we seek to find our identity outside of the story of redemption.

Biblical Counseling Model: Love, Know, Speak, Do


  1. Build relationships by entering their world with humility and curiousity.

  2. Foundational love: Luke 14:26-27, 1 Corinthians 13; Rom 8:31-39.

  3. Redemptive relationships. God has a higher purpose for our relationships than our personal happiness. He wants our relationships to be the context for the change He works in us.

    1. Enter their world: Let them know you have heard their struggle and will stand with them. Built trust in the relationship, provide hope in God, show your commitment to the process.

    2. Incarnate the love of Christ: Colossians 3:12-17.

    3. Identify with suffering: God is sovereign over all things-even suffering. God is good. God has a purpose for suffering.

      1. The bible explains the ultimate reasons why we suffer-> because of the fallen world, our flesh, sin, and the devil. Hebrews 2:10-12, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.

      2. God is the source of compassion. God wants us to share in Christ’s suffering. We have hope in a fallen world.

    4. Accept with agenda: Titus 2:11-12. Our justification must never be separated from our sanctification. God’s grace always leads to change.


  1. We assume too much because we think everyone’s the same and because of our past experiences. Hebrews 4:14-16.

  2. Ask better questions and listen. Ask people to define their terms. Ask for concrete real life examples. Always ask “why?”

  3. The redemptive importance of good questions: This is helping blind people embrace their need for Christ.

  4. Biblical understanding of the information.

What is going on?

What does the person do in response to what is going on?

What does the person think about what is going on?

What does the person want out of what is going on?


  1. Biblical understanding of confrontation. Leviticus 19:15-18

  2. Confrontation flows out of a recognition of our identity as the children of God. Confrontation does not force a person to deal with you, but places him before the Lord.

  3. Confrontation should not only focus on failure and sin, it should confront them with the Gospel. Romans 8:1-17.

  4. We need to hear the gospel again and again.

  5. The Gospel is what turns idolaters into worshipers of God.

    1. What does this person need to see that he does not see, how can I help him see it?

    2. Confession, “What do I need to admit to and confess?” When Truth confronts us, we deny, explain away, accuse, blame, defend, argue, rationalize, or hide. Confession is essential to the process of change.

    3. Commitment, “How is God calling me to live?” Don’t soften God’s call for concrete commitments in heart and life. Commitments should be directed towards God.

    4. Change Apply commitments to daily living.

  6. 2 Samuel 12:1-7. Be surrounded by people who love us enough to confront us.


  1. Your whole life is premarital counseling. God is preparing you for the wedding for which you were created and redeemed. Live now with the end in view- being united with Christ face to face.

  2. Train people in the decisions, actions, relationships, and skills of Christ-centered, biblically-obedient living.

    1. Establish direction. Know where you are going. What does the bible say about this situation? What are biblical goals and methods?

    2. Clarify responsibility. Understand “who is responsible for what?” Faithfully obey God in things God has called me to do. Identify things that are beyond my ability/control and entrust them to God. Christian life- trust and obey. Romans 12:14-21.

    3. Establish your identity in Christ. Know who you are, whose you are, whom you serve. Ephesians 2:6-7; 2 Peter 1:3-9; Philippians 2:1-12.

    4. Accountability. Provide structure, guidance, assistance, encouragement, warning.

In conclusion

  1. We need God and his truth to live as we were meant to live.

  2. Each of us has been called to serve, beginning with family and church.

  3. Our behavior is rooted in the thoughts and motives of our heart.

  4. Christ has called us to be his ambassadors.

  5. Love and share in people’s struggles, extend God’s grace.

  6. Speak the truth in love.

  7. Be a part of what God is doing in the lives of others.

A Biblical Theology and Counseling: Emotions


Emotions are our reactions. Emotions indicate what is on our hearts and minds.

A biblical theology of emotions

Creation Genesis 1:31; 2:9; 2:25

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Fall Genesis 3:10; 4:5-6; Ephesians 4:26

“And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

“but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?[b] And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[c] you, but you must rule over it. Cain spoke to Abel his brother.[d] And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”

Redemption Genesis 3:15; Colossians 3:1-17; Philippians 2:1-5

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[e] and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy”

Restoration Rev 21:1-4

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

A systematic theology of emotions

Bibliology 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Matthew 5:18; Psalm 119

Theology Proper Genesis 6:6; Exodus 20:5; Deut 32:36; Psalm 7:11; Zeph 3:17; John 3:16

“And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”

“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me”

“For the Lord will vindicate[g] his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.”

““God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.””

Theological Anthropology Psalm 42:5; 43:5; Luke 15:17

Salvation 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:1

Sanctification Philippians 2:12

Ecclesiology Ephesians

Eschatology Revelations

Stages of Emotional Development

0-3 Months Stops crying when picked up.

6 Months Smiles and laughs when played with.

9 Months Stiffens body when scared and shows fear of strangers.

12 Months Dependent on familiar adults.

2 Years Demands attention, directing, and has tantrums when frustrated.

3 Years Becomes less egocentric, shows feelings and concern for others.

4 Years Learns coping skills. Able to share, take turns.

5 Years Comforts others in distress and will respond to reasoning.

Elementary (5-10) Concrete learning about emotions: vocabulary, coping with, and expressing emotions.

Middle (10-13) Puberty changes and growth, identity formation, peer pressure, parental conflict.

High (14-18) Individuation, independence, abstract reasoning, and goal setting.

19-21yo Increased processing skills to engage with delayed gratification, investment principles.

Emotional Intelligence skills







The “3 Trees” Biblical Counseling Model


The 3 Trees Biblical Counseling model is taken from Luke 6:43-45. Jesus explains the connection between our behavior and our heart.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45

We need to address our hearts to understand why we struggle with the same behaviors over and over again. We need the cross to transform our hearts.

  1. Heat: What is going on?

    1. Questions:

What happened? Who was involved? What stressors are you facing (relational, work, school, church, finances)? What are your responsibilities? What did you do that you shouldn’t have done? Who are the difficult people in your life? When do you feel alone, misunderstood? When do you feel overwhelmed? What are your temptations? What do you fear? What are you worried about? What are you struggling with?

  1. False assumptions/irrational thoughts:

Do you minimize how painful life can be? Do you expect life to be free of trouble? Do you try to control your life? Do you assume that you can manage your way out of anything?

  1. Biblical truths:

God comforts you in the middle of genuine difficulties in a sin-stained world. (James 1:1-15). You can develop humility and discipline in the wilderness. (Deut 8:2-14). When you are in a situation, you are never outside of God’s love. God may be taking you where you do not want to go to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. (Psalm 46).

  1. Bad Fruit: How are you responding to what’s going on?

    1. Questions about emotions, behaviors, actions, reactions: What did you feel, think, say, do? What is your bad fruit? Where have you slacked off? When have you given into anxiety, bitterness, unbelief, anger, or envy? Who have you spoken rudely to? Where have you blamed others? When have you accused God? What are you not doing that you should be doing?

    2. Examples of bad fruit:

      1. Magnify/catastrophize. The circumstance is the lens in which you are seeing the entire world. Blowing things out of proportion. Losing perspective. “My life is over”.

      2. Minimize/denial: “It’s no big deal. I’m fine.”

      3. Escaping the pain. You try to numb the pain by satisfying your urges, desires, needs: parties, drinking, drugs, sex, material things to numb, ease, distract, and escape reality.

      4. Using people: trying to earn people’s approval to make you feel loved.

      5. Become prickly and hypersensitive. “Why is everyone out to get me?” and avoiding them all together.

      6. Vengeance. You are filled with murderous thoughts, control, self-pity, and anger. “What’s wrong with everybody?”

      7. Paralyzed. Risk averse, failure-mode; “I quit life”.

      8. More bad fruit: Complaining, laziness, anger, gossip, envy, lust, bitterness, avoidance, pride, indifference, rage, swearing rants, blame, judgmental spirit, greed, lack of self control.

  2. Bad Root: What do you want?

What do you think about what is going on? What is your interpretation? Are you rationalizing, making excuses for yourself? What are you living for? What is your purpose in life?

  1. Questions about God, yourself, people, life:

What has captured your heart? What do you think about most often? What cravings, desires, and beliefs are ruling your heart? What do you love more than God? What do you want? What do you desire? What do you crave, long for, wish? What do you seek? What are your personal expectations and goals? What are your intentions? What do you feel like doing? What do you think you need? What makes you tick? What really matters to you? What are you living for?; Whose performance matters to you?; Who are your role models?; What brings you the greatest pleasure? What do you see as your rights? What do you feel entitled to?

  1. Examples of bad roots:

“I worship myself. I serve myself. The world revolves around me.” “My time is to fulfill my own desires.” “When I am wronged, I deserve revenge.” “Sexually, I obey my physical urges.” “I want things for myself.” “I say things to make me look good and you look bad.” “I want what you have, and I don’t want you to have it.”

  1. Reaping: What are the consequences of your heart and behavior?

    1. Sin is self-destructive and has consequences. How have your desires and behavior affected you?

    2. Sin affects others. Humbly, think about how your behavior has affected others.

  2. The Cross/The Redeemer/The Gospel: Who is God?

What does God say? What does God do in Christ?

Who am I in Jesus? How do I live for Jesus, my Savior, my King? This is the most important tree.

If you skip this tree you will be either: depressed and anxious from your awareness of sin (bad tree) or arrogant, legalistic, and self-justifying with your performances (good tree). The Gospel is the source of authentic, God-honoring heart and behavior.

  1. The cross defines your identity and purpose in life. Christ lives in you through the Holy Spirit giving you a new heart with the power to live out a new life. (Gal 2:20)

  2. New goals for life: To live with integrity, to know myself biblically as God sees me in Christ, to create a climate of grace in my relationships, to forgive, to be generous, to serve (Rom 12:14-21). To live with grace and truth, to speak honestly with love, to live for God.

  3. Ultimate goal of everything: The chief end of life is to magnify Christ. To give maximum glory to God.

  4. Keys to daily living in the spirit: Believe in Jesus. Depend on God. Seeing who you are in Christ. You are justified (1 John 2:1-2), You are adopted (John 3:1-3). Repentance. Fight and die to sin and self-dependence, and receive God’s love and power. Obedience. What has God called me to do?

  5. God is not surprised by your struggle. God speaks to you through the bible. Christ enters your struggle. Jesus will help you. You can go to God with confidence. (Heb 4:14-5:10)

  6. Questions: God loves you. Are you receiving the love God has for you? Is God getting bigger in your life? What are the implications of the cross in your life? Why did Jesus die? Do you find your sense of identity in Jesus? Are you living in the reality of Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection? In what specific ways are you not letting God shape your life, situations, and relationships? How does the Gospel motivate you to change this specific sin? How does the cross increase your desire to live for God? Will you turn from the lies you have believed? Do you believe in Jesus?

6. Good Root: What do you want?

How can you re-order and prioritize your desires?

Do you love God more than the things in this world?

  1. Expose and address functional saviors. Academic success, financial and career security, physical appearance, achievements, comfort and pleasure, the approval and love of people, popularity: these motivations can replace your good root to live for God. What functional saviors do you trust in more than God?

b. Questions to confront self-righteousness, self-justification, self-salvation projects: What do you love more than God? What are your personal expectations and goals? What are you studying/working for? What do you feel like doing? Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, and escape? Who do you have to please, whose opinion counts? Whose value system do you measure yourself against? What do you feel entitled to?

c. Questions to grow biblical good fruit: What does Scripture teach about this circumstance? What are the truths about God and life? What is God calling you to do? What specific Scripture encourages you and that you can hold on to?

7. Good Fruit: How are you responding?

  1. What commitment can you make? What changes do you want to make in your life? How authentic is your behavior? Do you genuinely want to do that? Is there joy, strengthening, and thankfulness for your labor?

  2. What is the connection and consistency between what you say you believe, the motivation in your heart, and how you are living your life? How are you spending your resources, time, money?

  3. What decisions do you need to make for Jesus?

8. Reaping fruit: What is the effect of your redeemed heart and behavior?

  1. Am I seeing the fruit of the Spirit produced in my life? And are others seeing this fruit as well? (Gal. 5:22-23)

  2. Do I show a growing trust in God’s sovereignty over the circumstances of life?

  3. Do I increasingly reflect the peace and praise that come from understanding the role of suffering in the lives of Christians?

  4. Do I progressively demonstrate the kind of loving actions that flow from a willingness to give up myself for the sake of others?

  5. Do I give evidence of the transforming work of the Spirit in our willingness to stand for the truth as God’s people?

  6. Does my life model for others what it means to follow Jesus?

  7. Am I sharing testimonies of God working in, through, and around my life?


Christ-centered Biblical Counseling: Changing lives with God’s changeless truth edited by James MacDonald

How People Change by Paul Tripp

Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the human condition through the lens of Scripture (2003) by David Powlison

Speaking the Truth in Love (2005) by David Powlison

The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and context by David Powlison

Other resources:

When People are Big and God is Small: Overcoming peer pressure, codependency, and the fear of man by Edward Welch

Age of Opportunity: A biblical guide to parenting teens by Paul Tripp

Blame it on the Brain? Distinguishing chemical imbalances, brain disorders, and disobedience by Edward Welch

War of Words: Getting to the heart of your communication struggles by Paul Tripp

Addictions: A banquet in the grave, finding hope in the power of the Gospel by Edward Welch

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in need of change helping people in need of change by Paul Tripp

Christian Counseling and Education Foundation: Restoring Christ to counseling and counseling to the church. How do the riches of the Gospel impact my life and my efforts to help others? Our mission is to equip the church to be this kind of transforming community.

Biblical Counseling Coalition: Promoting personal change centered on the Person of Christ through the personal ministry of the Word.

Association of Biblical Counselors: ABC exists to encourage, equip, and empower people everywhere to live and counsel the Word, applying the Gospel to the whole experience of life.

National Association of Nouthetic Counselors: NANC exists to help pastors and those who would be ministers of the Word of God by providing help and encouragement. NANC is first and foremost a certifying organization.

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