The Scriptures are clear that man has a certain amount of knowledge about God and a kind of knowledge about God which comes from man’s observation of the natural world (Rom. 1:18-20). He also knows the difference between right and wrong because God has written that information on his heart (Rom. 2:15). What this means for counseling is that no matter who comes into my office I know that they know that God exists, that God has standards and, even to a huge extent, what those standards are. I don’t need to prove God’s existence, I can safely assume it. I don’t need to argue about what is sinful and what is not. I can safely presume that it is true. I don’t need to pretend that God does not exist, I can simply assume it and move on in the counseling or evangelism process from there.
The Bible is the specific revelation of God regarding himself, mankind, sin, salvation, and everything else we need to live and flourish on the earth with one another—and in front of God (1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Cor. 2:13-16). The Bible is also a closed book. This means that the current 66 books are all that will ever be contained in the Bible. We may not add to it or take away from it (Deut. 12:32). This is important in the counseling process for two reasons: First, the Bible specifically tells us how to determine God’s will for ourselves and the counselee. If, for example, the counselee thinks that the teachings of Joseph Smith are authoritative, we can use the Word of God to bring him to right thinking. In our area, Mormonism has a very strong presence. Because the Scriptures make clear our understanding about God, grace, and freedom, we are able to be truly helpful to the Mormon counselee. Of course, until the Mormon becomes a Christian, our work is all about evangelism, but the Word of God gives us the foundation we need to help the counselee come to the true Christ.
Second, we need to know exactly what God wants us to know: that he loves us; why he loves us; how he loves us; and how we can avail ourselves to be in line with his plan for our lives. The Bible provides everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). There is no confusion. We have in the Scriptures everything we need to help a counselee understand his heart, the Scriptures are the perfect mirror (Jas. 1:23). If we need to teach a counselee about righteousness, the Bible is our source for clear, kind, and loving instruction (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible frees the counselor to present the thoughts, desires, and intentions of God to the counselee in an authoritative way.
The Bible is the only infallible rule for faith and practice (Mt. 5:18; 24:35; Jn. 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). One of the things this means for the counselor is that while we may use other sources in the counseling process, nothing is right or authoritative unless it accurately represents truths found in Scripture. If, for example, I assign homework that includes the reading of AW Tozer’s Pursuit of God the counselee needs to obey, be edified by, and be drawn to the savior only as the book is faithful to the Bible. Where it is not, he is not bound.
“A text out of context is a pretext for a proof-text.” The Bible must be understood in the light of its context (including historical, grammatical, and cultural). There are many applications of a particular truth of Scripture, but there is only one truth in the universe—Jesus. The Bible is about revealing Jesus to us. Every text of Scripture speaks to us about who he is so that we can understand his person, work, life and so that we can be like him by grace. This means that counselors need to be very careful to accurately represent the Scriptures to those we minister to. There are many ways to twist the Scriptures, but the Bible is important enough that we need to make double effort to be careful in how we represent and apply it.