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Keys to Biblical Counseling

Jim Pile
Associate Pastor, Pastoral Care and Visitation Ministries



A. Biblical Examples

ACTS 20:31 — “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three
years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

1 THESSALONIANS 2:7-8 — “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother

tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased
to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very
dear to us.”

B. Definition

Building a relationship with the counselee where you put yourself in a position to help

PROVERBS 27:6, 9b — “…So a man's counsel is sweet to his friend.”

The counselee needs to see the counselor as a trusted friend or advisor.

Recognize that the counselee may never have had such a relationship before.

C. How Involvement Is Established

1. Be available (Acts 20:31; but keep balance of Gal. 6:2 and 6:5).

2. Show compassion.

3. Take counselee seriously.

4. Express confidence in counselee’s ability to obey Scripture.

5. Receive counselee’s disagreements without being defensive.

6. Observe confidentiality.

7. Be honest.

8. Model fruit of the Spirit.

9. Communicate clearly.

10. Be a good listener.

11. Be solution-oriented.


A. Why Gather Data

1. Which one? 1 Thess. 5:14

2. Which approach? John 4:7-42

3. What is true issue? Jer. 6:14

B. What Kind of Data to Gather

All categories of life

(P.R.E.A.C.H. acronym by Wayne Mack)

R—Resources and Relationships
C—Conceptual (Thinking)

C. How to Gather Data

Ask proper questions:

1. Extensive and intensive

2. Relevant

3. Questions that find facts

4. Open-ended

5. Specific

6. Withhold judgment.

7. Mark important areas for further questioning.

8. Observe countenance.

9. Information from others

D. Importance of Listening

1. Necessary (Prov. 18:13)

2. Requires self-control

3. Listen for:
- Wrong goals
- Expectations/lusts
- Blameshifting
- “Can’t,” “unable,” “too much”
- Victim mentality
- Calling sin sickness
- “Rabbit trails”
- What counselee doesn’t say
- Hopelessness
- Evasiveness
- Exaggerations
- Defensiveness
- Judging another’s motives
- Willingness to accept responsibility


A. Example of Interpretation

Mark 6:45-52

B. The Process of Interpretation

1. Compare all data and responses to God’s Word and example of Christ.

2. Look for themes and patterns.

3. Use biblical labels and terms (Mk. 7:21-23; Gal. 5:19-21).

4. Put data on “witness stand” and ask it questions.

5. Prayerfully study data.

6. Form tentative interpretations (USE SCRIPTURE).

7. Pray.

8. Gather more data.

9. Get input from another counselor.

10. Explain to counselee and get feedback.

11. Form a strategy—prioritize.


A. The Nature of Counseling Instruction

1. Biblically based and accurate

2. Christocentric

3. Action-oriented

4. Differentiate between biblical directives and human suggestions.

5. Make method appropriate to counselee’s learning style.

B. The Development of Counseling Instruction

1. Topical work lists

2. Personalized chain-reference Bible

3. Become familiar with particular teachers and material


4. Take advantage of training resources

N.A.N.C. (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors)

3600 W. 96th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46268-2905
(317) 337-9100

C.C.E.F. (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation)

1790 East Willow Grove Ave.
Laverock, PA 19118
(215) 884-7676


21726 Placerita Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
(661) 259-3540


A. Reasons for Homework

1. Translates what is discussed into action.

2. Puts responsibility for change where it belongs.

3. Helps decrease dependence.

4. Saves you time--finds those who mean business.

5. Continues counseling between sessions.

6. Says you believe things can be different today.

7. Provides data for future.

B. Mechanics of Homework

1. Be specific.

2. Make it involve knowing and acting.

3. Review at next session.

4. Examples:

- Scripture
- Pamphlets
- Books
- Tapes
- “Log” lists
- Journals
- Devotions
- Church attendance
- Loving deeds
- Homework Manual for Biblical Living, Vol. 1 and 2 by Wayne Mack
- Journal of Biblical Counseling
To subscribe, contact:
Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (C.C.E.F.)
1803 E. Willow Grove Ave. Philadelphia, PA
(215) 884-7676


A. The Need for Hope

1. Generally…everyone (2 Cor. 4:8)

2. Specifically…those who:
- Have had problems for a long time
- Have serious or difficult problems
- Have had life-shattering experiences
- Have failed
- Are spiritually weak
- Are elderly
- Experiencing marriage difficulties
- Are facing marriage
- Are depressed
- Are suicidal


B. True Hope vs. Empty Hope

- Due to wrong goals
- Denying reality
- Due to mystical thinking

- Result of salvation (1 Pet. 1:3)
- Based upon Scripture (Psa. 119:49; Psa. 130:5)
- Realistic (Rom. 8:28)

C. How to Inspire Hope

1. Share the whole gospel.

2. Help them grow in relationship to Christ.

3. Teach counselee to think biblically.

- About God’s character
- About possibility for good
- About divine resources
- About nature and cause of the problem
- About language used

4. Be solution-oriented.

5. Be a model.


The bottom line of biblical counseling:

Gather information, make a biblical interpretation of the issues, and give a biblical answer (along
with true hope that living to please God is possible). All this is done in the context of genuine
love and concern for the individual.


Adams, Jay. Competent to Counsel. Grand Rapids: Ministry Resources Library, 1986.

Adams, Jay. How to Help People Change. Grand Rapids: Ministry Resources Library, 1986.

*MacArthur, John and Wayne Mack. Introduction to Biblical Counseling. Dallas: Word Publishing,

MacArthur, John. Our Sufficiency in Christ. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991.

Mack, Wayne. A Homework Manual for Biblical Living, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2. Phillipsburg: P&R, 1979-80.