Ask Steve: Scripture’s Sufficiency for Counseling

Question: Steve, I have heard of biblical counselors who integrate secular psychological theories into their counseling practices because they don’t believe that the Bible is enough for instruction. Are the Scriptures sufficient for biblical counseling?

Answer: This question is very much related to the foundational Christian doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture for living. Scriptures are entirely sufficient for biblical counseling because the Bible claims to be perfect in guiding sinners to holistic health (Psalm 19:7-14), no matter what circumstances they may be in. The main problem is sin, and Scripture shows the way for counselees to be freed from the penalty, power, and (one day) the presence of sin. As it relates to the believer’s life of progressive sanctification, the Word is powerful to accomplish its spiritual and moral aims by producing righteousness and godliness in a counselee that no other religious books or human philosophies can replicate.

For this reason, God’s Word is the only means by which a sinner can be regenerated, saved from hell, and sanctified in life according to God’s will, which makes Scripture an indispensable part of any peron’s health, whether it deals with the realm of the spiritual, emotional, or intellectual. When Christian counselors turn to psychology, psychotherapy, or any other secular methods that base their practices off of evolutionary or humanistic theories, they challenge the sufficiency of Scripture and the Bible’s power to heal. When psychology, personal opinions, and pop culture wisdom replaces Scripture as the authority in counseling, no permanent or beneficial change occurs in the life of the counselee, since such secular practices are not godward in focus nor do they aim to conform the struggling believer to Christlikeness.

Since Scripture itself claims to be a sufficient resource for meeting emotional and spiritual needs, those who suggest otherwise are in serious error. Verses like 2 Corinthians 3:5 and 2 Peter 1:3 teach that a Christian’s full sufficiency for life’s problems come directly from God, and that God has made Himself known in Scripture. John 17:17 and Hebrews 4:12 speak of the life and power of God’s Word in bringing transformation and healing for the believer. God’s truth and wisdom is revealed in the Bible, which the Holy Spirit uses and applies to a Christian’s life. The Scripture does what psychotherapy cannot do: it opens the soul. It diagnoses the problem of sin and confronts the believers so they can understand their problem and seek the cure that is found in God’s truth.

Psalm 119 fully describes the perfection of God’s Word in restoring the soul, making wise the simple, enlightening the eyes, and rejoicing the heart. The Apostle Paul also speaks of Scripture’s sufficiency in the believer’s life in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul states that with Scripture, a man of God is adequate and equipped for every good work. This is why Scripture is the only tool necessary in not only pulpit preaching and personal discipleship, but also biblical counseling, since its goal is, like preaching and discipleship, to complete every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28-29).