Hebrews 4:11-16, Restoring Christ to Counseling
Restoring Christ to Counseling Aug 26, 2018
In 1973, psychiatrist Karl Menninger published a book that stunned the professional counseling establishment “Whatever Became of Sin?” He highlighted the contemporary rejection of terms such as evil, sin, and immorality. Menninger demonstrated that sin was redefined by the psychological category of “sickness.” Even Christians and the church are uncomfortable with the reality of sin and evil. For example, lust is now just sensuality; anger is just being honest with one’s emotions, etc. The gospel, for the majority of professing Christians, is not focused on the historical truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (). Instead the gospel is about self-acceptance and personal fulfillment. The gospel is re-interpreted in psychological terms.
I. The Wonderful Counselor –
A. The Living Word is Christ
1. The Word became flesh –
2. The Word is the Wonderful Counselor –
B. The written Word is living –
1. The word is a precise surgical instrument to skillfully separate the soul and the spirit
2. God’s Word alone discerns the thoughts and motivations of the heart
II. The Casting Away of the Word –
A. An error in understanding people allowed for pseudo-science to emerge in the first half of the 20th century relegating Biblical exhortation and rebuke to the backwater of American life
1. People were believed to be body, soul, and spirit
2. Doctors care for the body
3. Pastors care for the spirit
4. In isolating the soul (the psyche) from the spirit this created a new specialist – the “psychologist” and the “counselor” because Freud and other early psychologists were neurologists, they gave a medical cover to this new field of psychology.
B. The Living Word in the written Word alone understands people
1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wisely asserted (on screen): - copies of the quote are available in the foyer -
“The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”
2. The psychologist views me as if there is no God
3. The Christian brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the cross of Christ (from the book, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community)
C. All of our lives are lived before the eyes of God –
1. To whom we must give an account –
2. Those who need counseling are often listening to other voices instead of God’s voice
III. Biblical Counsel –
A. Secular counseling is “professional guidance by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary
1. People, even professing Christians, need to be exhorted (which is the Biblical word for counseling) –
2. The trouble is because even Christians have an “evil heart of unbelief”
3. True care for the soul is to enable the counselee to come to Jesus the Son of God who alone can genuinely sympathize with us and give us hope
4. If our counseling does not help those we counsel to rely upon Jesus Christ, who we must rely on together with them, our counseling will inevitably teach them to rely upon themselves, friends, medication, techniques, or some other deceit.
5. No one needs a new technique or perspective. We aid those we care for to see their need for a Savior. As a Session, we are grieved that we have not been as diligent in shepherding this congregation for whom Christ died as we ought to be. We renew our commitment to be faithful in our calling as elders. We praise God that you as a congregation work with us to pour out your love and resources into each other.
B. Genuine Counsel
1. Our goal is to be a genuine Christian friend as a brother and sister
2. As Christians, we are constantly counseling. Are we Christ-honoring when we give direction to someone? Is our counseling in conflict with God’s Word? If it is, we are starving and ultimately killing the very people we think we are helping.
3. An encounter in an office once or twice a week is not enough –
4. The Christian life is a daily fight. “You and sin must quarrel if you and God are to be friends” J. C. Ryle
Exhort one another daily.
Let us come to the throne of grace together boldly –