This article was written by Lilly Park and published by BCC
Through biblical counseling, we have the privilege to share the gospel with non-Christians and Christians. Why would a Christian need to hear the gospel? Once saved, always saved, right? It’s true that God’s power will guard the faith of believers and that believers will persevere in their faith (1 Pet. 1:4-5). This truth comforts us when we’re discouraged in our Christian life and are tempted to doubt our salvation. Scripture also reminds us that the good tree produces good fruit (Luke 6:43-45). God knows whether our religious acts are merely external.
Confront False Beliefs
Even as Christians, we can be tempted to disregard the gospel for our circumstances or internal struggles of insecurity, fear, and anger, to name a few. We wonder, “Where is God?” or “Why is this happening?” When change doesn’t happen fast enough, we might start to question God’s goodness or the power of the gospel. In moments of despair, our beliefs about God are tested. Unknowingly, we expect God to prove His love for us by fixing our problems or making us happy.
Ultimately, we wrestle with the meaning of “Who is God?” Well, the lie is that God is good until life is hard. In response, we need to correct false beliefs about God (“God doesn’t care about me,” “God could never forgive me”) with true teachings on God’s love, mercy, and patience. Along with distorted theology, we identify wrong views of self (“I can never change,” “I must be perfect for acceptance from God or others”) and others (“My spouse is the one with problems, not me,” “My parents expect perfection even though they haven’t expressed this to me”).
Teach the Gospel
The gospel is always relevant, but we point out different aspects of it depending on the person’s struggle and situation. Here are a couple of real counseling examples. A person attends church for years or even decades but doesn’t understand the gospel. Maybe the church primarily taught “what to do” and “not to do” as a Christian. Maybe the church emphasized evangelism but not discipleship. In both cases, we could make assumptions about that person’s spiritual maturity based on church attendance, church membership, family reputation, or “Jesus” answers. But, we must take time to hear their testimony and their understanding of the Christian life, even if we have known them for years.
Let’s say we’re meeting with Julie, who is struggling with anger. We ask good questions to understand the situation, her struggles, and relevant issues from her past. We use biblical counseling skills and resources to discern what’s going on in her life and heart. Maybe Julie is like Nicodemus. Jesus challenged his religious beliefs and told him he needed to be born again (John 3:1-21). Maybe Julie is a Christian but wants to punish those who sinned against her. Her anger consumes her thoughts and emotions.
Sometimes, individuals who grew up in the church are more reliant on an intellectual knowledge of God rather than a personal belief in God based on biblical truth. They know about the existence of God, can defend the Bible, and have learned to pray to Him when life is hard, but that’s the extent of their relationship with God. We must guard against solutions that could be reduced to Christian mug phrases: “Just pray more.” “Trust God more.” “Go to church more.” Rather, teach how to pray biblically, the meaning of trusting God, and the importance of accountability.
More than Coping
With non-Christians, we share true hope found in Christ and provide practical help. Maybe they tried everything they knew. As a desperate last measure, they’re willing to meet with a biblical counselor. They heard about free counseling at your church or community counseling center. On many occasions, God has used these opportunities to transform hearts. Biblical counseling is about the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). It’s making disciples by pointing people to Christ. We’re either sharing the gospel with those who don’t believe it or reminding Christians of the gospel they have forgotten.
The gospel is central in biblical counseling, and it’s for Christians too. Sometimes, I ask myself, “Why am I a Christian”? It’s a way of not taking my salvation for granted by examining my life and beliefs about God. I need help remembering the gospel every day, even after being a Christian for decades.