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This fall I attended the "For the Church" conference at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and receieved a free book from the Association of Biblical Counselors about how the Bible is enough to counsel people through every situation in life. Here are 20 things I underlined as I read the book:


…any counseling that was worthy of the name "Biblical" should be conscientiously and comprehensively Christ-centered. It will make much of who and what Christ is, and what He has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection. It will emphasize what He is doing for us right now in His intercession for us at the Father's right hand and what He will do for us in the future. It will also emphasize the Holy Spirit's present ministry in the believer's life.  (Dr. Wayne Mack)


If we want to understand the nature and causes of a person's human difficulties, we need to understand the ways in which a person is unlike Christ in his or her values, aspirations, desires, thoughts, feelings, choices, attitudes, actions, and responses. Resolving a person's sin-related difficulties requires him to be redeemed and justified through Christ, receive God's forgiveness through Christ, and acquire from Christ enabling power to replace un-Christlike (sinful) patterns of life with Christlike (godly) ways of life.  (Dr. Wayne Mack)


Another major distinctive of truly Biblical counseling... it is conscientiously and comprehensively church-centered. The Scriptures clearly teach that the local church is the primary means by which God intends to accomplish His work in the world. The local church is His ordained instrument for calling the lost to Himself. It is also the context in which He sanctifies and changes His people into the likeness of Christ. (Dr. Wayne Mack)


…Christian counseling is conscientiously and comprehensively Bible-based, deriving from the Bible an understanding of who man is, the nature of his main problems, why he has these problems, and how to resolve them. For counseling to be worthy of the name of Christ, the counselor must be conscientiously and comprehensively committed to the sufficiency of Scripture for understanding and resolving all of the non-physical personal and interpersonal sin-related difficulties of man. (Dr. Wayne Mack)


We have no standard by which we can evaluate whether something is true or false except the Word of God. Thus while we can be confident that whatever we share with our counselees from the Word of God is true, we should have a healthy skepticism about any theory or insight that does not proceed from Scripture. If it is not taught by the Word of God alone, it may be error. (Dr. Wayne Mack)


People need counseling either because they are personally experiencing and manifesting sinful attitudes, desires, and behaviors; or they are personally suffering from the influence of people who manifest … sinful patterns... (Dr. Wayne Mack)


...professing Christians have two options: either they must yield to the Bible's teaching on this matter or they must abandon the idea that the Bible is inerrant and authoritative. It is either inerrant and authoritative and also sufficient, or it is none of those things. If the Bible claims to be sufficient and it isn't, then you cannot say it is inerrant and authoritative. Given what the Bible teaches about itself, you simply cannot have it both ways. (Dr. Wayne Mack)


When it comes to counseling people, we have no reason to depend on the insights of finite and fallen men. Rather, we have every reason to place our confidence in the sure, dependable, and entirely trustworthy revelation of God given to us in Holy Scripture because it contains a God-ordained, sufficient, comprehensive system of theoretical commitments, principles, insights, goals, and appropriate methods for understanding and resolving the non-physical problems of people It provides for us a model that needs no supplement. God, the expert on helping people, has given us in Scripture counseling perspectives and methodology that are wholly adequate for resolving our sin-related problems. (Dr. Wayne Mack)


…if the proposition to be considered by the believing community is that "The integration of Christian theology and secular psychology ought to be done!", the case must be made that there is some intrinsic inadequacy or imperfection in the Scriptures which demands that insights be gleaned from secular psychology which will redress those deficiencies and enable Christian counselors to more effectively help hurting people. But the Scriptures make explicit claim to sufficiency, especially with regard to issues of fruitful living (2 Timothy 3: 15-17; 2 Peter 1:3). (Dr. Doug Bookman)


The problems, needs, and struggles of real people—right down to the details must be rationally explained by the categories with which the Bible teaches us to understand human life. (Dr. David Powlison)


The simplest way to discover why a person does, says, thinks, or feels certain things is to ask, "What do you want? What desires. made him do that? What yearning led her to say that? What longings, animate me when I follow that train of thoughts and fantasy? What did they fear when they felt so anxious?" Such questions are plain common sense. (Dr. David Powlison)


…often the object of our desire is good, and the evil lies in the lordship of the desire. Our will replaces God's as that which determines how we live. John Calvin put it this way: "We teach that all human desires are evil, and charge them with sin—not in that they are natural, but because they are inordinate.” in other words, the evil in our desires often lies not in what we want, but in the fact that we want it too much. (Dr. David Powlison)


People frequently talk about what they want, expect, wish for, desire, demand, need, long for. Pop psychologies typically validate these needs and longings as neutral givens. Little do people realize that much of the time they are actually describing sinful usurpers of God's rule over their lives: inordinate desires, lusts of the flesh, cravings. They are being honest about what they want, but they aren't interpreting their experience rightly. (Dr. David Powlison)


Many counseling systems are obsessed with locating the reasons for current problems in the distant past. The Bible's worldview is much more straightforward. Sin emerges from within the person. The fact that a pattern of craving became established many years before even that it was forged in a particular context, perhaps influenced by bad models or by experiences of being sinned against only describes what happened and when. The past does not explain why. (Dr. David Powlison)


People seek out counseling when they are troubled with problems in their lives. God provides power to overcome these problems through the grace of his Son, Jesus, and he explains how to access that power in the Bible. This all means that the topics addressed in counseling conversations are the same topics God unpacks in Scrip-ture. The biblical counseling position on the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling is, therefore, nothing more or less than simple faith in the love of God to give us powerful grace in the midst of trouble, and to explain how to access that grace in the pages of Scripture. (Dr. Heath Lambert)


…God reveals in Scripture what we need to know for addressing problems we face as we live life and pursue godliness. These are the topics addressed in counseling. The Lord does not need to furnish us with exhaustive information about every item in the field of psychology to keep his promise to reveal in Scripture his power for our problems. (Dr. Heath Lambert)


As Christians, we are people of the book. We are fundamentally committed to the Word of God. This commitment must extend to the conversations we have. Whether we call these conversations evangelism, discipleship, lunch at Wendy's, talking with a neighbor in the backyard, counseling, or even psychotherapy, God has not allowed Christians the option of having conversations that are not grounded in and do not point to the Word of God. All Christians must pray that we would strengthen our commitment to the Bible not weaken it. (Dr. Heath Lambert)


…if man's condition is not accurately identified and addressed in the Bible, then sin is not the problem and Christ is not the answer. But the Bible makes clear that both body and soul will be restored by Christ. This means that the condition of man, the whole of man, is directly related to the curse of sin, and hope is found in Christ. (T. Dale Johnson, Jr.)


There is no form of psychology which has the tools or power to conform us to Christ. The depths of the human heart are always out of reach for the short-armed wisdom of man. Only the sword of God's Spirit can reach the depth of our human hearts to change and shape man to become more fully human, reflecting the character of God. Only the Spirit by the Word can correct all that was damaged by the sin in our inner man which limits our flourishing and hinders the fullness of humanity. Incorporating other sources of wisdom as necessary for life and godliness is a proclamation that the Bible is lacking. (T. Dale Johnson, Jr.)


All things created and now under the curse of sin, including our human body and soul, can only find their full restoration in Christ. If we offer explanation outside of that reality, then Christ is not the redeemer of that problem. If, however, sin, both corporate and personal, is the cause of all that is broken, then Christ is the answer and God's special revelation of Christ is all sufficient for the restoration. This restoration is the subject of counseling. If we miss these key points, then the Bible becomes less relevant for daily life and we fail to see the depth of the kindness of God in providing a sufficient resource for life and godliness. (T. Dale Johnson, Jr.)

To get your own copy of the book you can order it from 10ofThose, or directly from the ACBC.