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The Reformation and Biblical Counseling (Part Three)

In the previous article, the importance of sola gratia (grace alone) and biblical counseling was examined. It was shown that grace (i.e., undeserved merit) was not only important for justification but also important for sanctification. Observing Titus 2:11-14 it was shown that the grace which has appeared motives the believer in Christ to do two things: to deny ungodliness wicked living,  and promote the believer to live righteously, and godly in an age of evil. A biblical counselor, in light of this truth, would not attempt to use the Law to conform behavior but will work with their counselee from a perspective of grace, knowing it is this attribute that instructs a person to conform their life to God’s word.

In this third article, we turn our attention to another sola in sacred Scripture and this is solus Christus (Christ alone). This doctrine instructs the believer that the source of their justification, that is reconciliation to God Himself is found in placing our faith in Jesus Christ, and not by any other human work.  This is highlighted by Jesus Himself when He says to His disciples before His death:

1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.John 14:1-6 NASB emphasis mine

Paul in the epistle to the Romans highlights justification by Christ alone when he writes:

16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.2 Corinthians 5:16-19 NASB emphasis mine

A believer in Christ can truly say they are saved by works…that is they are saved by the work of Christ and His perfect obedience to the Father alone. It is because of Christ’s work for us: His perfect obedience to the Law of Moses (Matt. 5:17-19), and his attitude of taking on a form of a servant up to the point of death so that we may be forgiven of our sins (Phil. 2:3-11).

Solus Christus is significant for the Biblical counselor. Jesus Christ is the foundation by which the biblical counselor is able to work with the counselee. The biblical counselor who works with a believer, in regards to shame, points the counselee back to the reality that they have been reconciled to God in Christ alone.  In addition, solus Christus is also the foundation by which the sanctification of the believer is built. It is because of the Lord Jesus and what He has done for the Christian that a Biblical counselor has the authority to confront a believing counselee when they actively sin, and refuse to live under the grace of God (1 Cor. 5:6-8). In addition, it is because of the grace of God in Christ that motivates the believer to deny ungodliness behavior and be sensible, righteous, and godly in their conduct (Tit. 2:11-12). Jesus Christ and His attitude of being a servant compel the believer to love their wives (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19), respect their husbands (Eph 5:22, 33), and train their children (Eph. 6:1-2). Furthermore, the believer’s attitude is to be like Christ, specifically to have the character of observing other believers better than themselves (Phil. 2:1-11).

Solus Christus is also important when a Biblical counselor works with unbelievers. A Biblical counselor works and strives because they have focused their hope on Jesus Christ and knows He is the savior of all men (1 Tim. 4:10). In addition, the Biblical counselor strives to serve the unbeliever by being peaceable and gentle taking into consideration not just their eternal state, but also the unbeliever’s current problem (Tit. 3:1).

Solus Christus is essential to the biblical counselor because it is the source of why the biblical counselor serves both the believer and the unbeliever. For the counselee who is a believer, especially those who deal with shame, the biblical counselor points them back to the active and perfect work that Christ has done for them. Solus Christus is also the reason why a Biblical counselor can confront the counselee concerning their active sin. For the counselee who is an unbeliever, the biblical counselor is motivated by Christ Jesus to serve them in a way that considers their current, and eternal problem important. 

Let us continue as biblical counselors, who hold to solus Christus to serve counselees with grace and truth. For the believing counselee, the biblical counselor points them not just to their justification in Christ but working with them in regards to the counselee’s presenting problem for the sake of their sanctification. The believer, being peaceable and gentle, assists the unbeliever by working alongside them with their current problems, all the while waiting for the opportunity to share Christ with them. By serving our counselees in this manner the biblical counselor, trusting in Christ alone, glorifies God.

Until Next Time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

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