Christian Counseling: Foundational to problem solving is a person’s relationship to God. Christians have God as their savior and the sanctifier of their souls. The unsaved, those that are not Christians, have no access to God’s loving care for the problems they are facing. Indeed, often their problems are not only a product of their sins; these problems are often a part of the temporal judgment of God for these sins. In addition, eternal judgment is the ultimate sanction that awaits the unsaved after this life as a result of godlessness. So, the unsaved person not only does not have God as his or her helper with this life’s problems, indeed, they are at enmity with God; they are His enemy and He is theirs. The only hope for the lost, in this world or the next, is Jesus Christ.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given
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Candidates for Christian Counseling
to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, NIV)
So, Christian counseling is for Christians. Only Christians are in the place to be blessed of God. But, who is a Christian? Functionally, how do we define a Christian? A functional or visual definition of a believer, or a child of God, is a person who is a member of an orthodox Christian church, a church with some doctrinal or creedal commitment to the historic Christian faith. Notice that this definition does not focus on experience or profession. You can be lost and have an experience or profession, and indeed many people are.
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:22-23, NIV)
Of course, you can be lost and be a member of a church as well. However, church membership is a visible testimony (although in some cases a false one) that you are a disciple of Christ, a starting point in problem solving.
Again, notice that this is a definition of a functional
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Christian, that is, one who is functioning like a Christian. No one knows the heart of another; we cannot determine a person’s faith by looking into their soul.
Even if a person is a member of a Christian church, we cannot look into their heart and know their spiritual condition. Cheap words are common in religion. Such words are referred to as having the talk but not the walk. However, Christians should indeed have a walk, and the most immediate element of a Christian walk is membership in a Christian church. As a result, no person is accepted as a functional Christian who is outside of a Church of Jesus Christ. And indeed, in the history of Christianity, all such as have made some sort of profession or had some sort of experience, but did not bring themselves under the care and discipline of a Christian Church and thereby partake of the Christian ordinances, were simply considered lookers or seekers, not Christians. When a person comes under the care and discipline of a Christian church, when that person is admitted to the Christian ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, then we can see what appears to be a Christian. If a person removes himself or herself from the authority of the local church, that person becomes a functional unbeliever.
Why is this important in problem solving? The believer has access to three sources of power and help in solving problems, they are, the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the Church of God.
Christian Counseling cannot exist without these three. First, the unsaved person cannot make sense out of the Bible and therefore cannot use it properly in problem solving, and second, the Spirit of God dwells only in His children, not in the lost. He is therefore not present in power to apply God’s word in solving problems in the lives of the lost. But, why is the third, the Church of God, so important in Christian Counseling? There are two reasons; first, it is the responsibility of the church to help you with your problems. This is the “care” part of the care and discipline contract between a member and their church. A church that is not willing to get its hands dirty in helping people solve problems is not only uncaring, it simply does not care. Surprisingly, many conservative churches do not care. They go through the outward motions of pretending to care (e.g. hospital visits, etc). But when major problems occur in the church family, many pastors simply want that person or family to go away. They don’t know what to do, and many don’t intend to find out what it takes to minister the Word to people with problems. Indeed, many conservative churches have turned serious caring over to the modernists. Although the modernists are not theologically equipped to provide Scriptural ministry, they at least try in their own humanistic way. They provide mental health therapy, psychologically based marriage counseling, soup kitchens, clothing closets, and do other things that indicate they are not afraid to get their hands soiled caring for the people of this world that have problems. Some years ago, when orthodox Christians abdicated from their cultural responsibilities, and they did indeed abdicate, the modernists moved in and filled the vacuum with humanistic solutions. So, unless you are a member of a church that understands its caring responsibility and practices it, you do not have one of God’s major sources of help for your problems. If that is the case, it would be wise to find another church, one that obviously does care.
What is the one surefire way to determine if your church really cares? If you come for Christian Counseling, and the pastor refers you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or professional counselor-you are in the wrong church! They have not equipped themselves to care for you.
Second, the next word in our care and discipline phrase is “discipline.” God provides for the purity of His Church. Those that are not living the Christian life should not be allowed to defame the Savior’s name by inappropriately applying the name “Christian” to their lives. Therefore those that are having problems are told in Matthew chapter eighteen how to approach these problems and solve them in a Christ honoring way. We will give you a great deal more on this subject later; simply note here that this is critical to problem solving.
One other point, Christian counseling can have a most adverse impact on those who are not Christians. Because they are not empowered to do what God requires; they will ultimately fail. Having failed in Christian counseling, they are in danger of writing off the whole Christian message. At some later date, having the claims of Christ pressed upon them, they will be inclined to respond, “Oh, I tried Christianity; it didn’t work.” They did not try Christianity. They tried acting like a Christian in the flesh; that never works. But they will not know the difference. The only thing they will remember is that “Christianity didn’t work.” As a result, they will be inoculated to the gospel. Christian counseling for the lost is dangerous. However, evangelism for the lost is the starting point to solving all problems.
So, we stand reminded of the obvious, Christian counseling is for Christians.