Let's discuss discipleship from the perspective of a Biblical Counselor. Since the word "counseling" can have different meanings in our culture today, it is important to define our terms and what we mean by the term “biblical counseling.”
An important foundational truth to remember is that the Bible is clear that biblical counseling is discipleship that takes place in the context and community of the local church. That is, biblical counseling is not independent from church life but can happen outside of the church building. When we refer to the church, we are referring to the body of Christ; God’s people. Therefore, biblical counseling takes place between Christians. Men counseling men, and women counseling women. Additionally, biblical counseling does not take place separately from discipleship.
Colossians 1:27b-28 supports this concept stating that “…Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
First, a person can only be made perfect (or complete or mature) when they are born again. Therefore, counseling must lead to salvation before it can progress to sanctification. Second, counseling is about Jesus and “Christ in you,” for the power to become who God wants us to become: namely, someone who is Christlike." (Eph 4:14-16)
Biblical counseling includes the community of believers. It establishes relationships and provides resources for every Christian to bless and encourage weak and needy believers. See Col 1:28-29, 3:16.
Biblical counseling emphasizes that the Word of God is sufficient to bring about understanding about life’s problems. God’s Word is also sufficient to give help and hope to people with relational, emotional, mental, and behavioral problems. See Rom 15:4-5 and 13.
Biblical counseling is not based on man’s reasoning or opinion, but rather is solely founded on God’s Word.
Biblical counseling does not ignore true medical issues, but works diligently to see the person as a whole. (1 Tim 5:23 and Ps 32:3-4) It is neither insensitive nor uncaring. (Acts 20:3; 1 Thess 2:7-12) But rather, in love, biblical counseling uses God’s Word, guided by the Holy Spirit, to captivate a person’s desires, thoughts, and behavior and turn them towards the truth. (Rom 12:1-2; Eph 4; 2 Peter 1:3)
Biblical counseling does not focus solely on behavioral issues or circumstances. (Prov 4:23; Mark 7:21ff) Rather, it deals with the counselee’s sins or trials by strategically helping them connect and apply the truths and promises of the gospel to their lives. (Prov 18:13; 2 Pet 1:3-4) It equips a person with tools to live out God’s commands by grace through faith. (2 Cor 10:5; Col 3; Eph 4) Biblical counseling focuses on the gospel, and seeks to put these Christ-centered truths into action. Finally, it should be emphasized that the ultimate goal of biblical counseling is to glorify God through helping believers with their progressive sanctification and strengthening the church body as a whole. (John 17:17-19)
Biblical counseling is discipleship. Too often discipleship is seen as simply teaching a new believer the fundamentals of faith in Christ. However, the Bible clearly commands that believers are to be consistently and personally involved in each other’s lives. Consistent discipleship relationships brings God’s Word to bear on specific life issues. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 says that we are to baptize and teach others to observe (keep or live out) all that He commanded. The church has neglected this essential directive, presuming that those who are familiar with the Bible know how to apply it in all aspects of their lives (Deut 6:1-3; Eph 4:11-16). Biblical counseling in its truest sense is coming alongside one another. It is providing comfort and instruction from Scripture, helping each other understand how the gospel of Christ Jesus addresses every aspect of life. In this manner, discipleship counseling teaches a person how to live for the glory of God.
Discipleship counseling is also multiplicative. This means that counselors should produce more counselors. We must disciple with the goal of equipping leaders to then counsel others. As a believer effectively applies God’s word to his own life, he is then able to pour out God’s principles, promises, and gospel application into the lives of others. Through intense, biblical discipleship, leaders are more adequately prepared and equipped so that they may in turn counsel, prepare, and equip others. Biblical, discipleship counseling creates a system in which the gospel of Christ is effectively advanced and where leaders are consistently trained and commissioned to train others.
I hope this discussion was enlightening as it's part of the courses I lead at the CCU Biblical Counseling Program. I hope you'll reach out to me for further discussion or information. I'm Pastor Jeff at [email protected] and you can text me at (970) 510-0055.