Sunday, July 12, 2009

Counsel From The Cross

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson have written one of the most gospel centered books on counseling that I have ever seen. It's not another 12 steps to your best life or self help disguised in a "christian" wrapper, Counsel From The Cross is a practical "how to" in applying the gospel not only in your life but also in other people's life. I loved the quote from B.B. Warfield that starts the introduction, " There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ's sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all....This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His "blood and righteousness" alone that we can rest." Great way to begin a book on counseling, we are nothing and have nothing outside of Christ. We are utterly without any hope whatsoever without Jesus and His righteousness, our righteousness is but filthy rags.
This book is broken into nine different chapters, starting with how do we see ourselves and moving from that into how do we see our Savior and His love toward us in light of the tremendous bad news about our sin riddled state. Fitzpatrick and Johnson have done a wonderful job of breaking this book into manageable size chunks, with great questions to apply what you've read and also to dig a little further into counseling from the cross.
In the second appendix there is a wonderful resource taken from Jay Adam's Christian Counselor's New Testamant, it is an excellent way of applying the gospel to pretty much any difficulty that you or someone you know may be experiencing, the list is by no means exhaustive but would be helpful as a guide as to where to begin in applying Scripture and the gospel to a wide array of circumstances and situations that you may find yourself faced with.
There were many nuggets of goodness to take from this book and I'm sure upon multiple readings, many other things will come to the surface, here is one example of those nuggets;
"The good news also tells us that although we were rebels, he made us his own (Phil. 3:12) He loves us. We are not outcasts, house guests, foster children, slaves or strangers Like an attentive Father, he has yearned over us (Jer 31:20) and chosen us before the foundation of the world, and he has brought us into his family as his beloved adopted children (Eph 1:4) We've been born "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13)
What a wonderful picture of the gospel! We have not slipped into the family of God by accident or as Fitzpatrick states "by the skin of our teeth" we were chosen before the foundation of the world at just the right time God sent forth His Son and there is not one thing within any of us to make God love us any more than He already does. The wonderful good news is that even though we are filthy undeserving sinners, we are invited actually called into an intimate relationship with God the Father through the finished work of the Son and sealed by the precious Holy Spirit! We are far better off than we deserve!
You really need to pick up a copy of Counsel From The Cross, it is a cross centered work that would benefit your soul greatly. The problem isn't that we need more steps to arrive at a place of imperfection, we need to be faced with the horribly bad news of our sorry state and then be affected daily by the incredible good news of the gospel, and that is we are indeed far worse off than we realize but we are loved far more than we will ever know.

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