"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Amazing Love | Main | Confessions of a Former "Word of Faith" Pastor »

    The Sufficiency of Scripture to Diagnose and Cure Souls By David Powlison

    Part 1

    How do destructive people become constructive? How do out-of-control people
    become fruitfully self-controlled? How do rigid people become flexible? How do drifty people learn focus? How do hopeless people grow in hope? How do angry people learn to make peace? And even before we can ask How? We must ask, Why are troubled people troubled? What’s wrong with us? In modern society, Scripture’s way of explaining and engaging people has been largely displaced. What must be done to recover the centrality of Scripture for helping people to grow up into the image of Christ? How can face-to face “helping” relationships be reconfigured to serve as instruments of the only enduring wisdom and the only true humanity?

    To recover the centrality of Scripture for the cure of souls demands two things: conviction backed up with content. The conviction? Scripture is about understanding and helping people. The scope of Scripture’s sufficiency includes those face-to-face relationships that our culture labels “counseling” or “psychotherapy.” The content?

    The problems, needs, and struggles of real people—right down to the details—must be rationally explained by the categories with which the Bible teaches us to understand human life. Conviction alone simply waves a flag and eventually degrades into sloganeering. But convictions demonstrated in action, convictions shown to be penetrating, comprehensive, and subtle, will edify the teachable and even persuade the skeptical. The church needs persuading that the conviction is true. A key ingredient in such persuasion will be to parade the riches of Scripture for curing souls. In the pages that follow, we will look first at the conviction that Scripture is about “problems in living.” We will then explore one small bit of content, the term, “lusts of the flesh.” This phrase is central to how God explains us. It cuts to the root of our problems in living, but it has languished in near uselessness.

    Conviction: Systematic Biblical Counseling

    What is a genuinely biblical view of the problems of the human soul and the procedures of ministering grace? Such a view must establish a number of things. First, we must ask, does Scripture give us the materials and call to construct something that might fairly be called “systematic biblical counseling.” In fact, we do have the goods for a coherent and comprehensive practical theology of face-to face ministry. Scripture is dense with explanations, with instructions, with implications. We have much work to do to understand and to articulate the biblical “model.” But we don’t have to make it up or borrow from models that others have made up as ways to explain people. In many places, the Holy Spirit reflects on the sufficiency of the treasure that He has created through His prophets and apostles.

    For example, in one classic passage Scripture proclaims itself as that which makes us “wise unto salvation.” This is a comprehensive description of transforming human life from all that ails us (2 Tim. 3:15-17). This same passage goes on to speak of the Spirit’s words as purposing to teach us. The utter simplicity and unsearchable complexity of Scripture enlightens us about God, about ourselves, about good and evil, true and false, grace and judgment, about the world that surrounds us with its many forms of suffering and beguilement, with its opportunities to shed light into darkness. Through such teaching, riveted to particular people in particular situations, God exposes in specific detail what is wrong with human life. No deeper or truer or better analysis of the
    human condition can be concocted.

    Posted by Marco on November 13, 2014 10:32 AM

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