Scripture

Born Again by the Living Word of God

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” – James 1:21

There is a good friend of mine who made this simple yet profound statement: “Either the Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

When I heard this for the first time, I recalled my former life as an unbeliever. There was no power from within to overcome my sinful cravings. I had eyes full of lust. A haughty heart stirring up trouble in the bars. Constant cravings for success and self-promotion. While the superego accused me of not achieving my idealized self, the power from within had no ability to change my carnal nature.

Without the Word of God–who is the Logos, the Incarnate Son Jesus Christ, we have no power to overcome sin (Jn. 1:14; 6:63; 1 Pet. 1:22; Eph. 5:26). This is what James is getting at here in verse 21. He says it’s necessary to accept the Word of Truth planted in us since the Word has the power to save; the power to restore, heal, and deliver us from the penalties of the messianic judgment.

John Piper, theologian and former Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church said it best:

James adds at the end of verse 21 “which is able to save your souls.” What saves our souls? The implanted word which we receive. In other words, our souls depend on the implanted word, and our souls depend on receiving the word. If you decide that you don’t need to receive the external word, you are like a person who decides he doesn’t need to breathe. If you are spiritually dead, you can carry through that decision. You can choose not to breathe. But if you are spiritually alive, you can’t. The implanted word is powerful; it produces life and breathing. It takes over the spiritual diaphragm and demands oxygen. It demands the life-giving external word. If the word is implanted in you, you can’t hold your breath forever. The implanted word will sooner or later conquer and be replenished. You will receive the word again. And you will love it.

Furthermore, the Greek word δύναμαι (dunamai) refers to the intrinsic power and inherent ability of the Word of God to carry out the salvation of our souls. From the context earlier, James says, “The Word of Truth brought us forth, or made us born again, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” -James 1:18

You may be asking, “Isn’t it Jesus alone who saves us?” And my answer is, “Yes.” Also, remember that the Word took on human flesh. The Word is God. Jesus is the Word. Hebrews 4:12 makes it clear that the Word is more than letters on a papyrus–it is alive and active. Therefore, when James says the Word implanted in us is able to save our souls, he is viewing salvation as the entire process of the Christian life, culminating in our ultimate deliverance from sin and death that takes place at the time of Christ’s return in glory (Rom. 5:9, 1 Th 5:9; Phil. 2:12; 1 Tim 4:16; Heb. 9:28).

In the end, my friend was correct. Either the Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible. The choice is yours. Let’s pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the implanted Word of God, which is able to save our souls. Thank you for Jesus Christ, Your Son, the Incarnate Word, who died on the cross for our sins. Thank you that His atoning sacrifice on the cross was more than sufficient to cleanse us from our sins. May we continue meditating day and night on your Word, knowing full well the logos has the power to rescue us from the grave. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Biblical Counseling and the Sufficiency of Scripture

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Jesus said, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Matt. 24:35).” This is a powerful and clear statement that the word of God is “sufficient and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness so that the individual may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16).”

What exactly does it mean that God’s Word is sufficient? It means that God has revealed everything we need to know about salvation and obeying Him through His holy Word. For the Scriptures are active, sharper than any double-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), and it alone has the power to change lives. If we seek guidance through any other resource, even if it’s the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, it must be grounded and aligned with Scriptural support and not in our feelings.

Does the sufficiency of Scripture mean that God can only be known through the Bible? No. The knowledge of God’s existence, character, and moral laws are written on the hearts of all people[1]; for everyone is created in the image of God. However, Scripture nowhere specifies that people can know the gospel, or way of salvation, without hearing the testimony of Scripture. For the Apostle Paul said to the church in Rome, “How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them (Rom. 10:14).” This special revelation through Scripture is the only sufficient guide for understanding repentance, forgiveness, and grace through Christ.

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is relevant to biblical counseling. Jay Adams said it well: “The resources for counseling are not in the outside expert, the resources are not in the counselee, nor are they in ourselves; the resources are in God through His Word.”[2] When we counsel others, the Bible tells us all that we need to know about interpersonal relations with others because He is the author and expert of humanity. The Bible may not be sufficient for telling us how to build a boat or fly a kite, but it is sufficient for teaching us how to live appropriately.[3]

In secular counseling, Psychologists study mind and behavior. They explore concepts such as perception, emotion, brain functioning, personality, interpersonal relationships, and intelligence to get an overall view of anthropology. Christian Psychologists, also known as integrationists, will mix the truth of revelation found in Scripture and secular views of pschiatry, to accommodate, in their opinion, the most holistic approach to counseling.

What I find most troubling about this view is that Christian Psychologists will admit the Bible is sufficient for understanding human depravity and grace but not the biological basis for depression, emotional abuse, and conflict issues.[4] First, I understand that psychological issues can be a result of biological phenomenon. In that case, the counselee should be consulting with a Physician who has a medical degree. However, in my opinion, a Psychologist is not a Physician, and only evaluates and diagnoses the mental processes that are going on in an individual’s life, and a biblical counselor has the same ability to do so as the Psychologist.

For example, let’s say an individual is suffering from depression because they cheated on their spouse. The Psychologist may say their depression is a result of not being fulfilled in the first marriage. Maybe they advise to ignore the false guilt and find a new spouse. The biblical counselor might argue that the individual has sinned and their depression is a result of true guilt. Instead of advising the individual to find a new spouse, the counselor may tell them to seek reconciliation with the spouse by repenting and asking for forgiveness.

Which one is correct? In my opinion, the biblical counselor. The biblical worldview teaches us that sin can cause depression. Psalm 31:10 states, “I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.” Therefore, as Christian counselors, we should heed advice from physicians who are experts in Physiology, but God has given us the sufficiency of Scripture to take care of the psyche, or soul, of humankind. Christians should have confidence that God’s Word is the best tool to use when counseling others about how to live their life according to God’s plan.

[1] Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 122

[2] Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual (Zondervan, 1986), p. 97

[3] Ibid., p. 18-19

[4] Eric Johnson, ed., Psychology & Christianity: Four Views, 1st ed. (IVP, 2000), p. 110