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The Reformation and Biblical Counseling (Part Five)

In the last article a fourth sola of the Reformation, sola Scriptura (scripture alone) and how this influences a biblical counselor was observed. The biblical counselor, using God’s word, works with the believing counselee equipping them for good works. In addition, the biblical counselor works alongside the unbelieving counselee using the universal truth of God’s word looking for the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ to them. Lastly, the counselor, holding to sola Scriptura, strives to explain and apply the truth of the Scriptures to the counselee’s problem accurately, using a consistent literal-grammatical and historical method when serving their counselees.

The last and final sola promoted by the Reformers was soli deo Gloria (i.e., glory to God alone). This last sola expresses the acknowledgment of who God truly is in how He has revealed Himself to mankind in His word. In addition, the glory of God also has everything to do with His works within the world. Martin Luther, in many of his writings, emphasized the glory of God in Christ Jesus and His perfect work on the cross for the salvation of man from eternal damnation. John (Jean) Calvin described the glory of God not just being found in the salvation of man, but in all of the works of God under heaven.

When it comes to the saint and the glory of God this is the reason the Christian lives and breathes. Paul mentions this reality of the glory of God to the saints who resided at Corinth:

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Cor. 10:31 NASB

In the immediate context surrounding this verse, Paul is giving some counsel concerning eating meat sacrificed to idols in the city of Corinth. Paul explains that if the saint purchased meat sacrificed to idols that they should eat it, understanding that idols (i.e., false gods) do not exist (v. 26). Furthermore, Paul informs the churches of Corinth that if an unbeliever invites them over for dinner not to ask questions about the food, but to eat freely, strengthening the reality that all things belong to the Lord (v. 27). However, if an unbeliever informs them that the meat was sacrificed to idols that they should not eat the mean, not for the sake of the believer’s conscience but for the conscience of the unbeliever (vs. 28-30).

Paul then wrote that whatever the saints in Corinth do, let it be to the glory of God (v. 31). Paul stated that all of the Corthinian saints’  intentional actions; even actions that were of human necessity (e.g., eating, drinking) were to be completed in a manner that acknowledged God in His proper place. No action or work for the saint was outside of the reality of God’s glory.

God’s glory is the central goal of the biblical counselor, not just for how they serve their counselees, but it is the goal for the counselees who come for guidance and direction. The main objective for the biblical counselor is to work alongside a counselee with God’s word so that the counselee observes the glory of God in every area of their life. For example, if a counselee comes to a biblical counselor because they are struggling with a specific active sin (e.g., uncontrolled anger), the biblical counselor knows that the counselee has a very hard time glorifying God with this particular behavior. The biblical counselor would work with a believing counselee, from the Scriptures,  in turning away from their sin of uncontrolled anger and turning to a more self-controlled response, because their uncontrolled anger does not glorify God (Tit. 2:11-12).

The biblical counselor may work with parents in learning how to train their child(ren). As a result, the parents are instructed on how to glorify God in training their children in His word (Eph. 6:3). Consequently, the child(ren) due to the training of the parents may glorify God by obeying their parents in a consistent manner (Eph. 6:1-2). In short, the biblical counselor works with the counselee to be intentional about glorifying God more than they did when they came into the office to receive counseling.

This sola is connected with all of the other solas of the Reformation. A counselee who is coming to resolve a matter may work with a biblical counselor to get refocused on the promises of God (sola fidae). The counselee is reminded that he is saved and sanctified by grace, and begins to ponder how this grace from God would instruct the counselee out of their current problem (sola gratia). The counselee is then reminded that it is due to Christ and His perfect work for the counselee, pointing that counselee back to the source of the believer’s faith (solus Christus). The counselee, along with the biblical counselor, examines the Scriptures taking into consideration context, language, and grammar so that there is proper explanation and application of the text for the counselee (sola scriptura). At the end of the counseling time, the counselee would have a plan of how to address their situation in a manner that acknowledges God (soli Deo gloria). 

How about the biblical counselor who works with an unbeliever?  The unbeliever does not have faith in promises that God has revealed so there is no way this counselee can glorify God. However, this does not mean that the biblical counselor working with the unbeliever cannot glorify God. If the unbeliever refuses to accept the truth of God’s word from the biblical counselor God is still glorified, not in the unbeliever’s conduct, but in the biblical counselor’s intentional actions to take into consideration the eternal, and the temporal problem of the unbelieving counselee, and pointing the counselee to the universal truth of God (c.f. Tit. 3:3; Col. 4:5-6).

Soli Deo gloria is the fifth and final sola of the Reformation. It is the sola that acknowledges God in His due place by thought, word, and deed. It is the sola which all of the other solas highlight. It is also the sola that guides the biblical counselor in everything the biblical counselor says and does in their counseling office. It is also the major motive of the biblical counselor concerning their counselees. All of the work and guidance that the biblical counselor does is to assist the counselee to glorify God more than when they walked in to be counseled.  Even with an unbelieving counselee, the biblical counselor still glorifies God due to the purposeful, and caring intentions the biblical counselor has for the unbelieving counselee.

The Reformation has such a great legacy and biblical counselors holding to these solas as they counsel others, share in this rich and glorious history. May this continue to be as biblical counselors by grace, through faith, in Christ, by the Scriptures serve their counselees all to the glory of God. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

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