What You'll Discover in this Episode:

Law and Grace in Counseling

God is our counselor and we are merely instruments of God's counsel. We are instruments in His hands. God gives counsel to people through us and primarily through His Word, the Holy Spirit, prayer and all in the context of life. 

Here, I would like to share my belief in the local church because Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."  The church is designed by God where Jesus is the head and we are the body. In this community, there is "one another" ministry. God's four means of getting His counsel to us is primarily through the Word of God but by the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit through prayerful, dependent lives all in the setting of the local church. Ephesians 4 says, God has given to you as a gift throught the body of Christ, pastors and teachers for the equipping of saints.

Join the discussion as we further discuss Law and Grace in counseling.


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biblical counseling, calvary chapel, ccu, jeff christianson

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  • Much needed encouragement this morning about staying connected to the body of Christ where we have the privilege of putting on love with each other. The verb tense putting on always gets me because that is where we are called to action as believers. It doesn’t happen by osmosis but in faith (In Christ) reaching out to the person next to us and putting on love. The Holy Spirit then does a work that is beautiful and the roots of the body grow deeper and stronger because of the love that is being poured out.

    My family is blessed to be a part of a small church here in Port Angeles, Washington. We have been a part of this community for over 11 years. There have been some heart-breaking times such as when our elder was killed in a car crash and we then were able to surround his wife, my friend and love her and minister to her as she grieved. We have also had other things happen that Satan would use for the destruction of our church but God purposed to grow us in humility and grief.

    I am so thankful for being a part of the family of God. I continue to grow in our church but also God is now linking me to you all as we take these courses and grow in our faith in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God for His constant provision in our lives.

    • Wow this is heartbreaking. Glad to hear the Lord has done good through this in spite of the pain and loss. There is truly something about the body of Christ and staying in the same congregation for many seasons. I have observed some very cool ways the Lord has moved in our church body these past several years which has also involved some loss however. I am amazed that we can’t box God in in the ways His Spirit can move and heal hearts. I am so grateful to see God heal hearts and bring unity even using conflict at times to help change hearts. That is amazing how Pastor Jeff said not everyone at church is willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. I was thinking how amazing that would be if the whole body was consistently willing to be in cooperation with Spirit.

    • Thank you for sharing. What beautiful testimony your church is doing. This is how we are to do church loving on each other in times of suffering. God bless you and church! Blessings

    • So very true about putting on love being in action tense, oftentimes we think we are being loving and have loved others, but we have not done too much to show it either. Love that verse in the Bible in Colossians where he asks believers to put off certain things like: lying, malice, etc, and exchange them by putting on other things ..love, kindness, and humilty etc. so that we will be known as children of God.

  • Ephesians 4:16 (NKJV) from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    I like what Pastor Jeff said about what walking in love looks like. It means putting the good of others before self-interests. This is truly what I have been called to more this season than ever. I am realizing the only way I can be effective in the ministry is to live selflessly by denying selfish ambitions. Death to self has definitely been a key and stretching factor. It’s amazing in this verse how walking in love and serving the Lord means watching the Lord function through the body to edify itself in love. I like one of the definitions of edify is to improve. So glad that we are still not perfect and yet year by year we improve through being involved in a church body and also contribute to the improvement of others through abiding in Him and allowing Him to use us where He needs us!

    • Right Katie. Self is our natural default position. It is so natural to rely on what come natural to us. We need to remind ourselves daily that God put other first as He would have us to do as well.

    • Hello Katie, I feel the same way. If there is something that has stuck to me in these courses is death to self. The more I see my surroundings I see how important it is. I find myself self analyzing almost daily to make sure I am not prioritizing myself over anyone the Lord has put in my path. There are days I fail bad, but the Holy Spirit is always there to let me know. I’m so grateful for the Spirit of God. Keep doing an awesome job Katie!

    • Love this Katie! “Watching the Lord function through the body to edify itself in love”. So cool how death to self can result in love and life to the body. And what better venue for this than the local church, with all its opportunities to serve according to our various giftings and talents.

  • This message was needed. In these questionable times in our country which is effecting our church life and culture, it is a great reminder that we need to be in community with the body of Christ. We were not created to do life alone but in relationship and community. This is how the enemy comes in the church to separate and distances the body from being in communion with each other. He uses whatever he can to cause a disconnect. Colassions 3:12-17 is the perfect scripture to hold onto and share with the brothers and sisters that are feeling disconnected, to encourage them to stay connected with their church and others in Christ. Great message!

    • Be sure Michelle that the enemy is using covin 19 to divide the church, and to get us to isolate from each other. This is a time to pull together and look out for each other. WE must put aside our differences and love one another through this.

    • “We were not created to do life alone, but in relationship and community”. I love this point that you made Michelle. A mentor of mine is constantly emphasizing our need for one another in our Christian walk. It is a source of vitality and accountability that I used to look down upon and despise. I have had my share of church drama, but that is to be expected when you are living with fellow sinners. Nevertheless, we are called to live together, as lively stones in close proximity, so we can share the life of Christ with each other. Covid-19 has been a challenge, but God has allowed it for His purposes. I am grateful that we have online capabilities and other ways to share the Word and counsel others. It is not ideal, but the church of Jesus Christ grew and spread in the midst of terrible persecution. We aren’t quite there yet, but God will be faithful even when it comes.

    • Your message is so true. I see the devil deceive minds using commodity, fear and anxiety as his targets of choice to attack the mind. I admit to falling into it myself for a short time. People are getting comfortable and allowing themselves to be deceived thinking they are abiding simply because they viewed a service online, they consider their “religious duty” done. Let us not be deceived, let us be discipled, edified, admonished, held accountable, grow spiritually and help one another, that is what is going to make the difference in the body of Christ.

      • Yes, it’s certainly easy to just tick the box after watching an online service and consider your Christian living to be accomplished for the week. I’m personally finding it challenging to keep various ministry teams that I help oversee alive even when the ministries aren’t happening currently. My prayer is that after all this is over, people will be excited and energized to jump back into service. But I know it depends on where people have been strengthening themselves during this valley/desert season.

    • Yes! Congregating in person has been taken for granted in the past, and now that it’s slowly going away due to the virus, we miss it and never felt needing it now more than ever. Whatever happens, as Pastor Jeff said in his recent podcast, we should remain creative in the loving of one to another part in our church life. God is faithful and will always equip and provide what we need to keep His love flowing among His people, especially in these challenging times. I’m here for you and you know where to find me, should you need anything at all. Even if you don’t know me personally and we don’t see each other.

  • The counsel received through church life is so important and essential. We have leaders trying to shut down church assemblies, while allowing all sorts of fleshly establishments to thrive so that people can have an outlet. This is foolish. The Church is what people need, as it is the “pillar and ground of the truth”. (1Tim. 3:15) From the pulpit the truth is expounded by the Pastor. The Holy Spirit takes that same word and speaks it into the lives of many who hear and apply it to their own situations. These truths are discussed between husbands, wives, and children. They are also discussed by fellow believers after Church, in small groups, and with co-workers. These truths are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. (2Tim.3:16) All this can effect the lives of thousands from one teaching given in the local assembly. All of these folks are involved in counseling with the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is using us as an instrument of blessing one another in the life of the church. The beauty of Col. 3: 12-17 is that it happens in the body life that can only exist through the local assembly. We cannot experience these things if we do not participate in the church life designed by God.

    • Harry, you made some great points. It has been extremely challenging this year to maintain momentum in the discipling of the saints during this pandemic. While we are meeting at my local church, we do not have the freedom to congregate and physically fellowship as in previous years. Those sidebar conversations, hugs, and handshakes were parts of church-life that I used to take for granted. A great deal of ministry is now online and with the grace given to us through technology, we can continue to spread the Gospel and make disciples. It is causing me to change and stretch my faith in new ways. I am having to learn new apps and systems, which I would not have done previously. All in all, God remains good, and the church may be undergoing a purging as Pastor Jeff mentioned. Church will most likely never look the same again, but perhaps that is a good thing.

    • Yes Harry, Church should be essential especial when it helps so many people cope with their problems, living between Seattle and Portland i see the corrupt behavior involve with shutting down church buildings. As i read your post i imagine the impact i can make as disciple in a professional counselor roll and how the disciples can multiple by sharing there own experience with others in the church. At the same edifying Jesus as our center of our conversation

    • Harry, thank you for your thoughts on meeting as a fellowship during this time of Covid-19. One thing that has become so clear is that our pastors need our prayer and support. Pastors are on the front lines of making difficult decisions in lieu of decisions that are being made by government officials which are contrary to the bible’s urging for us to remain in fellowship with one another.
      I know that each decision our pastor has made is with much prayer and at times a heavy heart. While he doesn’t want to endanger our elderly, he also does not want to forsake meeting together, building each other up in love. I continue to pray for him and all pastors that they will be led by the Holy Spirit.

  • I definitely missed having an episode last week; glad to have one this week. Today’s culture has embraced the need for counseling, especially in the areas of mental health. However, there is divergence with regards to emphasis. Secular counselors are the “experts” that can untangle the web of issues in your life and place you back on the path of happiness. This is in stark contrast to biblical counseling, which incorporates a multi-faceted approach including: The ministry of the Word of God, and of the Holy Spirit within the context of the local church.

    This conflicts with the popular image of a person on a couch with an expert sitting across from them taking notes and prescribing techniques. The LORD Himself is the Wonderful Counselor, and we are instruments in His hand. This is similar to the surgeon-scalpel relationship. A surgery employs many tools, but they are only effective in the hands of a master surgeon. I am grateful that the onus isn’t ultimately on us to transform or change people. The church provides great accountability and diversity of counsel for the counselee. There are many safeguards that come with church life and individual counseling sessions play a small part in the overall counseling process.

    I am seriously considering certification with the IABC. Thank you Pastor Jeff and those of you that have helped to shape my understanding of biblical counseling’s importance and necessity in the lives of all believers (me included).

    • You mentioned the “popular image” of a psychologist. That phenomenon really strikes me as well because it is so disguised in science and truth, but psychology is so far from the truth. We need the Lord to do the counseling, and we need the church to be line with the Word, not the culture. I am also considering the IABC certification. I pray the Lord guides you in your path of certification and counseling.

  • After my church moved to the other side of town, I struggled for a year or so to get my family to try a new church or my husband to make the drive to continue attending the same one (drama and sour experiences added to this decision). Once my family finally agreed to try somewhere else, we struggled to find “the one”. In the process of finding the right church we started a bible study a our work place. That later expanded to a virtual one (before COVID). I’ll be honest, the bible study slowed down our hunt for a church because we were convinced that we were a miniature church (14 members) and had no need for additional congregation. In my spirit I knew that something was missing, we needed to be under someone whom had more knowledge, and who God had called to Pastor. God was working in me all this time in wanting to learn more and be better prepared, so I went on a hunt for a school. The pre-requisites of all schools I searched for was that I belong to a church. I was faced with a choice, quit my on my nudge of furthering my knowledge in the things of God or find a church ASAP. Well I found a church Glory to God! it is a great one with a Jesus loving, people loving and very knowledgeable Pastor. For those who don’t know God has a sense of humor, get this, my new church is very far from my house, a 40 minute drive one block away from my old church! That was almost going to be no go for my husband but at dinner with our Pastor, he said something that made an impact, he said “Find a church that is close to God, not one that is close to your house”! My husband and I are serving there now and pray that my Biblical Counseling certification will further my service and the work of God in my church. Thank you for this Podcast that shed light on many of those who take comfort over obedience.

    • Ericka, I have a similar story, I driver about 30 minute to a Calvary chapel but i have grown so much there it was worth it. it might have been what God had plan because they were really in need of volunteers for there growing church. And now my wife and I serve in our new church.

    • A terrific testimony Ericka! Thank you for sharing your story. I love how God uses everything and every situation in our lives to point right back to Him! I’m with you, a bit of travel time is well worth the blessing of being in a fellowship that God has ordained for you and your family!

    • “Find a church that is close to God, not one that is close to your house!” Absolutely love that! This shows the bosom ad knowledge your pastor has in the word. Sometimes convenience has to be sacrificed to the obedience of God. Happy that you found a new home church and about your calling place in your heart. Blessings!

  • Pastor Jeff! Thanks for the heads up on your degree and certificate program. I’m privileged to be under your tutelage and knowledge from God in biblical counseling. Even your podcasts are enlightening in its simplicity. I get your point on loving one to another within our church family. God’s love needs to exist and manifest first among us, His people. While the rest of the unbelieving world look for love in the wrong places, witnessing God’s love in the body of Christ should mark the end of their search. His love within church life authenticates and validates the message of the gospel. Love for others can be grown with intentional practice in obedience and love to our God. Since we love God, how hard is it to love as He loves? It’s a lingering question each of us should be asking ourselves.

    • While reading through the variety of posted comments, your comments caused me to pause and ponder. “God’s love needs to exist and manifest first among us…”. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” To be true followers and disciples of Christ, we must also have a love for others and towards others. Everything about God is wrapped up in love. Everything He did for us was in love, He gave His Son to us, He laid down His life for us, He pursued us even while we were in sin. Love is the core of God’s character and is central to the Christian life. God has given us this ability through the power of the Holy Spirit as we have chosen to deny ourselves and live for Christ. Every day I pray for this kind of love to pour out of myself and all Christians. Why? So that …” By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV

  • thank you, for that breakdown in being certified in biblical counseling. What a great reminder of the realities of the church from a secular and christian view point. As we are called to be experts in Gods people its important to keep colossians 3:12-17 in our hearts. i have to express my concern in how many Luke warm Christian are in the church. I once heard a well known pastor say that, an unsaved person has no business in the church. however listen to Pastor Jeff in became clear that he was speaking about biblical idiom of the wolf in sheep clothing. His joke about the perfect church was hilarious, I cant wait to use it on some of my family members. I believe withing the church they my be some offensive behavior However putting God first, my personal issues become small. I love my Pastor his hunger for the word is contagious. We have several Calvary chapels in my area of Washington state but not many that have certified counselors. Pastor does a great job at one and one discipleship and puts a lot time into it. I really would love to be use by God to help in my area.

    • Hi Luis, yes, I would also say, in reflecting on the podcast, Pastor Jeff clarified and broke down the different areas of services he provides regarding teaching at CCU and getting certified in Biblical Counseling. He definitely has a passion for training up God’s people with the intent of sending them out to do God’s work. In this field of Christian ministry, it can tend to be overshadowed by secular certification and licensing bodies, and it was good to hear that there are ways to get certified from a biblical perspective.

  • God wants us to be part of a local church, even if we think we’re “disqualified” because we’ve had a bad experience. I appreciate Jeff’s no nonsense approach to this often sensitive subject. The reality is that we’ve all had bad experiences with local churches, because we live in a fallen world. But God wants us to be part of a local church, to be under the care of the elders, and to be active in the “one another” ministries. I find it fascinating that the very place where we experienced hurt or hypocrisy etc, can also be the place where we receive healing and counseling through the one another ministries. Obviously I’m not advocating for churches that are anything other than Bible centered and Christ focused. But the reality is that the longer we isolate ourselves from being part of a church body, the more we disqualify ourselves from receiving the godly comfort and counsel we need most.

    • How true Rachel! As much as relevance of Pastor Jeff’s admonition on the need to be part of a church family, I pray in turn that there will be more of us within the body of Christ who will be sensitive to recognize the need to reach out, ourselves, to those isolating themselves for varied reasons they have – especially in midsize churches like my family go to. Our Pastor and church workers cannot be expected to do all the one to another to thousands of members and attendees. Each of those growing steadily in Christ should have the love and care to reach out for those still on their way to maturity. Love speaks the loudest on the message of the gospel.

    • So very true Rachel, i’m blessed by your comments, and it is eye opening and fascinating that we can be hurt by members in the body of Christ, but like you said, that same body can offer healing and help by the gifts shown through others in the same congregation, our immidiate response would be to want to leave, but God can provide a different way and be there with us through it. Satan would much rather we be alone, than with believers, because its easier to snatch us out too.

    • Rachel, I really appreciate your comment. I am only a young man, but having attended church most of my life, I have seen many schemes that the enemy devises to destroy the church body. Unfortunately, even I have failed and disappointed my church family in ways that brought separation and hardship. The important thing I’ve come to know is that Jesus is the head of the church and when I focus on Him, all the minor details fade into the peripheral. He enables us to love and forgive one another; He cleanses and sanctifies His church.

  • Our verse on 1 John 4:20 is spot on. “if someone says, “I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen. ” This is one of those very convicting verses that can be hard to swallow at times, but is life giving after, because many believers who still love God suffer from hating or disliking others. as well as there are a lot of believers in the world who do not attend church because they have been hurt by others. Ministry is a work done for people and you are constantly working with others, so at one point in your ministry you will be hurt by someone or someone might be hurt by you. In those times its good to remember that when the going gets tough staying should still be an option. And that we can respond with Love because that’s the solution God gives us, unlike the world.

  • when I started going to church where I attend know I struggled with going didn’t want to switch where I was going but my husband felt at home in our new church and know several years later I see why he chose our church. It wasn’t because of what it looked like, it was because of what was inside and who it represented. Through the years it has been my accountability, we all have one thing in common we love hearing the word and love Jesus. Yes there is some that have the spirit of religion, some that are judgmental, but we are called to love all people not just the ones we choose to love. We all struggle and all need what we find in church, accountability, unconditional love from some, and the Word we are given each week. Know through this pandemic I haven’t been able to attend in person, but I watch on video, and recently my church family has been reaching out to me and we talk and pray together. It’s the fellowship and seeing God work in the lives of everyone around you that I miss and praying with others and for others. All though listen on video does work for know, to keep me centered and out of self mode, I can’t wait till the day I’m able to go back to church where there is so many different people but with one thing in common that is the love of God and wanting to share the love He gives us to others no matter how they respond, some might turn away but it’s ok were just called to plant a seed and God does the rest.
    When others say why do you like church so much or why do you do what you do when your world is so chaotic, its not for me it’s because of who I represent, and who lives in me. like 1John 4:4 says greater is He that’s living in me than he that is in the world. And being in church you can see so many different people who live by the Golden rule love one another as God as loved us. No matter what and they show that love to eachother, yes some don’t but those are the ones we are to love also in spite of themselves, Jesus loved everyone even those that judged him and persecuted him. and we are to live like that. and that’s the hardest part of self, and even at church you meet mean, angry, judgmental, hurtful people, and you also get the most healing and forgiveness there.

  • Since being in this class, I have had more structured and consistent time in God’s Word and I am thankful for that. There was a part in the podcast when Pastor Jeff points out that some Christians have been hurt in the church by either leadership and or members and are using that as an excuse to not attend church.  This thinking doesn’t necessarily line up with God’s word especially when we are going over scripture that clearly highlights how we are supposed to be counseling one another within the church and in our daily lives. No matter if you were hurt or offended from being rejected, or by someone passing judgment on you, gossip, or even if leadership is insensitive. We have a calling, duty, and mission as Christs disciple’s, to deny ourselves of our own natural response to these scenarios and turn to our loving Creator for His strength.  His strength to be able to forgive (Luke 17:4), (Eph. 4:32). His strength to confront (Mat. 18:14-17) and His strength to pray (Heb. 10:24).

  • These podcasts are always a good reminder of what the Christian life truly looks like. Jesus built the Church to be a distinct and amazing entity. After hearing Pastor Jeff mention the certification process, I went on the IABC website to check it out. What an awesome organization; unfortunately, there aren’t many biblical counselors in Hawaii yet (hopefully there will be soon). I attend a great church, and I have received wonderful counsel from my church family over the years. The truth is that Christ-centered churches offer Christ-centered counsel. I pray that this movement continues to grow, especially in these times when good counsel is so desperately needed.

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