038: Counseling and Evangelism: An Interview with Dr. Mark Hager


What You'll Discover in this Episode:

Dr. Mark Hager shares about his salvation through Biblical counseling sessions he took as an unbeliever. As Biblical counselors we sometimes assume that individual we are counseling is a believer. I mean why else would they seek out Biblical counseling? However, we must never assume that an individual that has come to you for help has a relationship with Christ. We need to ask probing questions and begin to develop a relationship with the individual. As trust is built, the door is open to share the Gospel. Biblical counselors do not have the power to save individuals, it is only through faith and trust in Christ when a person hears the Gospel. As you counsel others you will have opportunities to evangelize the lost, this will lay a foundation that can be built upon as you counsel with the Word. 


In order to be able to counsel others, you must do some self examination. Have you been equipped with the knowledge of God's Word to share the Gospel effectively. There is an equipping that goes beyond the classroom. You must have a relationship with God, through the work of Christ. The Holy Spirit needs to be actively involved in your life and working through you. Man has no power to bring about salvation, it is through the blood of Christ that we can be made new. If you are not a new creation in Christ, how would you be able to properly counsel someone with the Word? As Dr. Hager shared it is important to have a foundation that is built on Christ to effectively counsel others that need Christ.     


In this episode Pastor Jeff interviews Dr. Mark Hager as they have a conversation about counseling and evangelism. You will learn practical application to effectively counsel others in need.  We must never forget that the Gospel is always the first place to start when counseling others.  

 


Scroll down and leave your comment below!



Highlights

  • Dr. Mark Hager shares how Biblical counseling led to his salvation in Christ.
  • There is an importance to share the Gospel as you meet the needs of those you counsel.  
  • Often times we assume that those who seek Biblical counseling have a relationship with God. We must remember that the Gospel is of first importance.   
  • There is no ministry of the Word without the Gospel being made known to the individual being counseled
  • .The Gospel is far more powerful then any type of training or methodology that you use in counseling.
  •  You must first be fishers of men and cast out a wide net when counseling others.
  •  In order to minister to others and offer Biblical counseling it is necessary to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Resources:

  • Timberlake Biblical Counseling
  • Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth...  
  • Roman 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 
  • Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
  • Matthew 4:19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
  •  2 Corinthians 5:15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 
  • Romans 6 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?...

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  • Tom Zimbelman says:

    Jeff Christianson and Dr. Mark Hager’s conversation was spot on. Two very impactful points for me were: Counting the costs; and Many of the world’s problems are “wiped away” after the receiving of the gospel.

    The best counseling comes from the perspective of the gospel. Mark Hager said something interesting about the most important port of the gospel being repentance. We often talk about faith being the most important aspect – and it is critical, of course. But are we truly living a gospel-centered life if we believe in Christ yet don’t repent from sin? The Bible clearly speaks of the consequences of sin being death, so how can we live while willfully living in sin? Yes – faith in Jesus is key, but so is dying to our selves, repentance from sin, and living in Christ -The “real, genuine, biblical gospel,” as Dr. Hager calls it.

    Jeff relayed a counseling experience he had with someone in despair, and Jeff senses he may not be saved. So Jeff presented the gospel, the man accepted Christ, and the problems for which he sought counseling were wiped away – they were resolved. So many of the world’s problems: loneliness, anxiety, addiction, unfullfilment, etc. come from a lack of a relationship with God. The gospel solves that issue. Yet, the process of discipleship and sanctification continues – and biblical counseling is, in many ways, a pathway towards becoming complete in Christ.

    • Esther Ambie-Barango says:

      True Tom. The best counseling comes from the perspective of the gospel, the real genuine biblical gospel, as Dr. Hager calls it. I agree with your declaration that many of the world’s problems come from a lack of relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder the Bible admonishes us in Matthew 11:28-30 (Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”).

    • Hannah Somerville says:

      Really good point ! I like how you mentioned “The Bible clearly speaks of the consequences of sin being death, so how can we live while willfully living in sin?” That is so true. Spiritual life is brought into the reality and present time, as our sin is crucified and our flesh is put to death.

      As you further go on to say “Yes – faith in Jesus is key, but so is dying to our selves, repentance from sin, and living in Christ -The “real, genuine, biblical gospel,” as Dr. Hager calls it.”

      I also greatly appreciate your last remark. “Biblical counseling is a pathway to becoming more like Christ.” Very true. It is helping in the sanctification process.
      Thank you for sharing Tom!

    • Neil says:

      Hi Tom, I too really appreciated Pastor Jeff’s experience about his sensitivity to the woman who didn’t know the Lord. It is so important to see introducing people to Jesus as our first and foremost goal in counseling. It would be a shame to share Biblical solutions without really helping someone understand who Jesus is and the life-changing power of the gospel!

    • Sherra Krabbenhoft says:

      I too found Jeff’s story to be an encouragement. Too often I look at the list of struggles in a person’s life and mentally try to organize them into what we are looking at first, when in fact many of their problems may be immediately taken when they have a right relationship with God.

    • David Guzik says:

      Tom, that was a great observation on Dr. Mark Hager’s comment about problems being “wiped away.” It’s amazing how many of our problems are really rooted in our relationship with God, and when that is set right the effect is massive on the entire life.

    • Alejandro Anchondo says:

      Amen! One of the best parts of this podcast was that when someone receives the Gospel many of their counseling issues now become small and easy. Now, this isn’t to say that when you accept Jesus all your problems disappear. Instead, it is more like all our problems seem solvable in Christ. The genuine Gospel brings peace, love, acceptance, care, forgiveness, freedom and power. Most counseling appointments have to do with a lack of one of those things that the Gospel provides. God is so good.

  • Esther Ambie-Barango says:

    Great Podcast, that is primarily based on the ‘Great Commission’ that Jesus gave to His disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) in which Pastor Jeff interviews Dr. Mark Hager on Counseling & Evangelism. Dr. Mark Hager distinctly urges Biblical counselors not to always assume that individuals that come for counseling are all believers, presuming that the individual that has come for help has a relationship with Christ already & he used his life as an example of how Biblical Counseling led to his salvation in Christ. He encouraged us to ask probing questions and develop a relationship with the individual to build up trust that will open the door to share the Gospel. As biblical counselors, we don’t have the power to save anyone but through faith and hope in Christ, when a person hears the Gospel as we counsel them with the Word, we will have opportunities to evangelize the lost (Romans 1:16; 2 Corinthians 5:15).
    Personally, I have come to realize in my few days in ministry that challenges/ problems/ crisis/ pains are great opportunities for evangelizing/ discipling the lost for Christ & we must duly utilize such opportunities as biblical counselors. Thanks for this great Podcast Pastor Jeff & Dr. Mark Hager.
    Mark 1:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

    • Hannah Somerville says:

      Thanks for sharing Esther !

      I love that you testified to the reality that the gospel plays in our daily lives and ministry. When you said :
      ” Personally, I have come to realize in my few days in ministry that challenges/ problems/ crisis/ pains are great opportunities for evangelizing/ discipling the lost for Christ.” This is very true and helpful to remember. That we should be using each opportunity to share the truth love an good news of Jesus coming to die for sinners. Thanks again!

    • Neil says:

      Thanks for your post, Esther.

      I couldn’t agree with you more that “challenges/ problems/ crisis/ pains are great opportunities for evangelizing/ discipling the lost for Christ & we must duly utilize such opportunities as biblical counselors.”

      This conversation with Dr. Hager is so refreshing. It seems like it is so easy to get bogged down in techniques and styles as it relates to counseling. Yet, the power is in the Gospel and the Word of God takes great root and bears great fruit in lives who are surrendered over to God and have embraced the genuine gospel!

    • Sherra Krabbenhoft says:

      I too have seen that the moments of great pain in people’s lives is when they are often most open to seeking the hope of Christ. When my son was hospitalized as a newborn I was amazed at the number of conversations and opportunities to pray I had with other parents in the NICU waiting room, people who had never attended church were seeking answers and a savior. The experience made me aware of the need for Biblically sound chaplains.

    • Alejandro Anchondo says:

      I agree. I have also noticed that challenges and problems, crisis moments and pains are great moments for evangelism. When they come in for answers about life… we can point them to Christ who is Life. Isn’t that a great privilege we have?
      God is so good to use us when people are in their hardest moments and we get to be a part of it. This ministry of evangelism and counseling is so needed.

    • Tom Zimbelman says:

      Hi Esther,

      Right on about your point regarding difficult times providing opportunities for us to reach the lost for Christ. We as people are so much more open to God’s help when we realize our need. This was an encouragement for me to remember to share the Lord in good times and in bad times.

  • April says:

    I really enjoyed again this week’s podcast! I love how Dr. Hagar talked about biblical counseling as a wonderful evangelism tool! So many do come to get counseling because they are broken and often times are either not saved, or, have wandered from the faith. This is such a wonderful avenue to introduce people to the Gospel message that may have never heard it before. I also loved how he said how important it is to describe what the Gospel message is before the plan of salvation. We need to introduce them to Jesus first. I am going to share this message with my church as well!

  • Hannah Somerville says:

    One thing I found important that Dr. Hager mentioned, was that the gospel is the power of God! It is more effective then our man made wisdom or strategies.

    I love Dr. Hager’s heart to reach those who are not just broken , but are lost.
    Beyond sharing the plan of salvation, we need to know and share the whole gospel. What God did. Some of the big bullet points are:

    1.) Who is God – the Holiness of God Gen 1-2
    2.) The fall( not just what they feel guilty about, but that we are sinners in Adam) mans attempt to reach God
    3.) Jesus Christ – he came, he was the Savior
    4.) An issue of faith
    5.) Repentance
    6.) Resurrection
    It takes time, I took interest in the thought he mentions that he could “talk people into the sinners prayer”, but that it takes time to explain the gospel.

    This resonated with me , because I often felt like the gospel presentations at church are not as through and seem rushed.
    It is God saving people on His terms!

  • Kristie Gallagher says:

    This podcast was very encouraging to hear both Pastor Jeff’s story of the person who came in for counseling and received the Lord and to hear Dr. Hagar’s personal story of how him and his wife came to know the Lord through counseling is so encouraging. It is so important to realize and see the power of the gospel. It alone changes lives. I liked what Dr. Hagar said that he casts the net deep and wide for those who are in pain that need the Lord. The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, so the first question to ask is, “Who is God”. A person who comes in for counseling needs to know and understand who God is. The gospel needs to be presented because that is the first step in helping the hurting. This is such an important foundational truth. The good news of salvation is what we have to offer the lost and hurting world. I want to cast my net deep and wide.

  • Neil says:

    The apostle Paul says in Romans 1.16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” I love that Dr. Hager said that we must remember in counseling that the power of God is the gospel.

    The gospel it was frees people.

    In counseling, techniques and knowledge are important, but the real change comes through the gospel of Jesus and the ministry of the Word only takes root in the lives of those who have been changed by the power of the gospel.

    The whole journey is dying to self and rising again to Christ. It’s not simply getting someone to come to the point of getting someone to recite a sinner’s prayer, but allowing God to work in them in a clear understanding of sin, the sacrifice of Jesus, and embracing the genuine gospel.

    There is no such thing as easy counseling, but those who embrace the gospel lends itself towards a fruitful counseling session. This has been so true in my experience, often the people I’ve counseled in a pastoral setting it seems that they tend to come in not wanting to follow God or obey His Word, but are looking for a simple solution without much required from them. But, as Dr. Hager says when a heart is open and the gospel takes root, God’s power is working!

  • Josh says:

    We must never assume that the individual (we are counseling) is a believer with a personal relationship with Christ that is seeking true biblical help. We need to start by asking questions and to develop a relationship with the individual. As we begin to build trust, we will have more and more opportunity to share biblical truth. We as mere humans do not have the ability to save, it is only through the Work of the Holy Spirit and to help us receive with the gift of faith in Christ. As we counsel we will have the opportunity to witness to the world, save the Lost, and disciple the believer. This is why it is so essential to be equipped with the knowledge of God’s Word and to be able to communicate accurately and effectively. We must have a daily relationship with God. The Holy Spirit needs to be actively involved in our lives and working through us at all times.

    • Esther Ambie-Barango says:

      I agree with you Josh that ‘we must never assume that the individual (we are counseling) is a believer with a personal relationship with Christ that is seeking true biblical help’ and we need to start by asking questions and to develop a relationship with the individual. Even Jesus didn’t presume but deals with the issue of sin in dealing with the challenges of life (Mark 2:5; John 5:14, 9:31).

    • Brandon Ingram says:

      I agree with you Josh, we also need to assume that the person we are counseling might not be a believer and that we can be open to the opportunity in leading them to Christ

  • Sherra Krabbenhoft says:

    This podcast was a great reminder of the importance of starting any counseling with a discussion of salvation. It doesn’t matter how long a person has attended church, or even if they are a leader in the church, if they are not resting fully assured of their salvation we have missed the most important discussion in counseling. I have seen this play out in the church and missionary world where those who are leading are racked with questions, yet feel that they can not even hint at it because of the position they are in. I also appreciated Dr. Hager’s approach to counseling as an outreach ministry, in a world of hurting people, the church should be continually offered as a place of safety and healing.

    • Esther Ambie-Barango says:

      True Sherra, i was also blessed with Dr. Hager’s approach to counselling as an outreach ministry, in a world of hurting people and the Church should continually be a place of safety and healing. Jesus gave an open invitation to all hurting people (Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.).

    • Steve G says:

      Dr. Mark Hager shared that we must never assume that an individual that has come to us for help, has a relationship with Christ. We need to ask probing questions and begin to develop a relationship with the individual. As trust is built, the door is open to share the Gospel. As counselors we do not have the power to save individuals, it is only through faith and trust in Christ when a person hears the Gospel and it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Praying the sinners prayer does not save you, Jesus saves you, it is more then words it is a believe and trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and resurrection of Christ. As you counsel others you will have opportunities to evangelize the lost, this will lay a foundation that can be built upon as you counsel with the Word, you can also train the counselee to share the good news once he knows the truth. We must remember that the Gospel is of first importance. There is no ministry of the Word without the Gospel being made known to the individual being counseled 1Cor 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Other scriptures He shared, Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Luke 9:23 Then He (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. In these three points, Jesus gave the terms of discipleship, life and growth: deny himself, cross daily, and follow Me, allow the Lord to be Lord of your life.

  • David Guzik says:

    What I appreciated about this podcast the care that both Dr. Mark Hager and Professor Jeff Christianson showed in not only having an evangelistic concern expressed in counseling, but also that they realized that the counseling environment is particularly well suited for effective evangelism. This was reflected in the many comments they made relevant to the place of repentance in the preaching of the gospel, and doing what is the evangelist’s duty to not present a superficial, “cost-free” gospel and salvation. This connects to the counseling environment because it is, by its very nature, more relational in its character. The relationship inherent in the counselor’s relationship with the counselee gives the opportunity to explain the gospel in all its dimensions, including the responsibility for repentance and an ongoing surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

  • Alejandro Anchondo says:

    I have made the mistake in the past, when I was not very experienced in counseling, of assuming that the person seeking the counseling is saved. This isn’t always the case. I unfortunately spent time giving biblical standards, advice, commands, and speaking about the power in the Spirit to accomplish what they needed to do. But, because the person was unsaved it was all empty or wasted words. Later, once the person came to faith the beginnings of obedience and growth were clear. The Gospel must save someone before the counselor can spend time helping sanctify them.
    I also am glad that Dr. Mark was clear that they aren’t trying to save people themselves but are focused on presenting the Gospel so that God can save.

  • Alejandro Anchondo says:

    Amen! One of the best parts of this podcast was that when someone receives the Gospel many of their counseling issues now become small and easy. Now, this isn’t to say that when you accept Jesus all your problems disappear. Instead, it is more like all our problems seem solvable in Christ. The genuine Gospel brings peace, love, acceptance, care, forgiveness, freedom and power. Most counseling appointments have to do with a lack of one of those things that the Gospel provides. God is so good.

    • Steve G says:

      Totally agree, God wants to deal with sin. Only Jesus and His gospel can deal with sin. We are not trying to save them, we can only present the gospel, God saves them. Dr. Mark Hager says he got into counseling to share the gospel because that is how his life got changed. He wants us to remember when we are counseling and their are struggles, go back to the gospel. Help them understand the basics, why God died, forgiveness of sins, does not remember them no more. How good God is? How great God is? His great and Wonderful promises. He gives them homework to study and discover these truths. The gospel is the heartbeat of Counseling and discipleship. There is no ministry of the Word without the Gospel being made known to the individual being counseled.

    • Brandon Ingram says:

      Hi Alejandro. I was also so blessed by what was shared about how when the gospel is preached it clears up so many issues and they become small and easy because the main thing is addressed

  • Steve G says:

    Dr. Mark Hager shared in order to be able to counsel others, you must do some self examination. Have you been equipped with the knowledge of God’s Word to share the Gospel effectively. We must remember that the Gospel is of first importance. There is no ministry of the Word without the Gospel being made known to the individual being counseled1Cor 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God… A very important part of the gospel and discipleship is Who is God? What is the Holiness of God? What is our view of God? Understanding creation Gen 1 and 2! They are many variant and unbiblical views of God? What are Gods terms? Some people are trying to remove guilt or desiring God to bless them, not understanding the fall of mankind and death of the spirit in man? what about Mans attempt to reach God, why did God send His Son Jesus Christ, to come and die? What is Atonement? What is faith, Why? What is repentance so important? Dr. Mark Hager shared the importance of having a foundation built on Christ to effectively counsel others that need Christ. The Gospel is far more powerful then any type of training or methodology that you use in counseling.

  • Pablo Acosta says:

    Amazing podcast and confirmation from God that our burden is easy, we are to allow Jesus to be the centered of our lives everything else will become easier not better just easier.
    Knowing that if gives me comfort and motivation to pursue Him deeper daily, evangelizing someone giving them the true gospel is our job, thank you for the reminder.
    This pprevious weekend I was able to guide two kids in my class and allow Jesus to intervene in an issue that arose through an activity, how amazing is the Holy Spirit when we step back and provide ourselves to be used for His purposes

  • Brandon Ingram says:

    I was so blessed by this conversation between Dr. Mark ps Jeff. Two things that really blessed me and stood out to me were what Mark shared about what really changed his life on the issue of repentance and how we are a new creation in Christ and that God wants us to walk in His new nature and that is what we were created for. The second is that counseling is a wonderful opportunity for evangelism. Mark even said that he believes that counseling is a more effective form of evangelism than even passing out tracts and street witnessing.

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