Who is qualified to counsel?
Who is qualified, who should be doing counseling? We’ve already said from Romans 15 that to a certain extent every believer should be applying the scripture and helping others. It’s not just that pastors who do this, but all of us should be involved in growing in our ability to do this. I referenced earlier, though, Galatians 6:1 and this further helps us to define who should be counseling. And he says, “Brethren, if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one.” The point I would make from that is the qualification to restore people who are struggling with the effects of sin on their souls is not merely academic. Getting a PhD in psychology will not necessarily qualify you for this. Even getting a PhD in theology will not necessarily qualify you for this. He says you who are spiritual. What does it mean to be spiritual? Well, a few verses earlier, Paul is describing the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. I think what he means by spiritual is those who are characterized by Christlikeness, those who have the fruit of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s believers who are mature in Christ.
This is not something you can learn in a seminary. It’s great to learn truth, but it’s people who are qualified. You can look at the qualifications for church officers of elders and deacons and people whose lives reflect. Though none of us will do it perfectly ’cause only Christ does perfectly. But those whose lives reflect godliness and the qualities like you have of the fruit of the spirit. And also along with character, you need to know the Bible. Richard Gans after he’d been offered the opportunity after he’d been trained in psychotherapy, he was offered the opportunity to teach psychology in Christian colleges, which he turned down. He then spoke with another advisor and he said do you want to be able to say to people thus says the Lord when they have a problem? And you better know what the Lord says. And that is to be biblically mature, to learn the scriptures.
What we’re trying to do in this course is to show you how the Bible addresses the kinds of problems people face. This course is not going to fully equip you. This course is going to give you a foundation in which you will build for the rest of your life. You don’t need to take this course to do this, just study the scriptures. I think the course will help you do that, but that’s what we need. Of course, now given that you need to be spiritually mature and know that Bible well, this would disqualify unbelievers from counseling people with the problems of their soul especially counseling Christians. So counseling is the responsibility of all of us. That’s kind of overwhelming. Well, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9 “God is able to make all grace abound to you. It’s that always have all sufficiency in everything you may have abundance for every good deed.” God will help you. God will help you to grow.
Actually a lot of the benefit of study biblical counseling is the first person you want to counsel is yourself. There’s so much here in terms of, you know, you’re going through these problems, and one reason I can talk about issues of worry and fear and anger and conflict is because I’ve had to live through those things. I’ve dealt with my own sin and continue to deal with my own sin. But I’ve also seen the power of the word of God by his spirit rooted in the gospel in my life and the lives of the people I’m around. And then some of you will be particularly gifted, and in the body, God has by his spirit given different gifts to different people. And some have gifts of serving and not speaking. Some have speaking gifts. I think among the speaking gifts is not just preaching publicly to dozens or hundreds but also people who can sit down, one on one or two on two and open the word and help people. But those are gifts that can be refined and developed. Our goal in church, as I said, is that everybody can do some and there’d be many who could help in difficult situations. Then you would even have a handful of people in any given church who are really gifted and equipped to help one another.
Ultimately counseling is God’s work
And ultimately, counseling, caring for souls, is Gods work. It’s in Christ alone that people have hope. And by the way, that’s a great thing about doing things our way. There are people who’re humanly speaking in this world they seem hopeless. There are marriages that seem to be hopeless. There are people that a psychologist would say you know, you’re an alcoholic, you’ll always be an alcoholic you’re a pedophile, you’ll always be a pedophile. But by the power of the holy spirit, like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 6 when he says such were you, yeah the gospel transforms people. And he does amazing things, seeing couples who thought their marriage was over and as they humble themselves before God and show gospel grace to one another marriages are saved.
People who’ve been diagnosed as having some problem that’s going to be lifelong, as God works again in their hearts that the spiritual aspects of the problem are powerfully dealt with. In the power of the spirit, rooted in the word, as the deeds of the flesh are suppressed and mortified and the fruit of the spirit comes forth. Secular counsels don’t get to see that. And I think I’ve got the best job because we have the answers that God has given. And we have his spirit working with the word.