“I am having trouble lusting after other women.”
“I cannot seem to control my spending habits.”
“I hate her!”
“I have problems trusting him now.”
“How can I parent that child?”
These and other questions routinely enter the office of the biblical counselor. What does he or she say? How does he or she respond to these, and more frequently, tougher questions?
As we think about biblical counseling, we have already noted a rough outline. In that post, I presented the key concepts of biblical counseling. I also contrasted those concepts with modern (or, secular) psychology.
In this post my aim is to present the basic understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture for Biblical Counseling. What is sufficiency of Scripture? Heath Lambert offers this brief definition, “the sufficiency of Scripture, means that the Bible contains all that we need to know God’s will and live a life pleasing to him.” Narrowing it down further, Joel James presents this definition, “…the Bible is completely sufficient to address people’s deepest spiritual and emotional problems.”
These two definitions give us two key insights into what biblical counselors mean when they utilize the phrase sufficiency of Scripture. First, its focus is on the Bible. Biblical counselors are biblical because they live and breathe and have their being in the Word of God. Secondly, its scope is everything that involves the spiritual and emotional makeup of man. As beings created in the image of God, human beings have physical and spiritual aspects. Within these are our emotions. This does not mean that it does not address the physical side of a human being. In fact, one of the most practical benefits involving the physical makeup of a human being is the weekly observance of Sabbath. One need not look long before finding that research demonstrates the hazards to a human being’s physical wellbeing with the neglect of proper rest.
Our first insight is that the Scriptures contain all that we need to thrive as image bearers of God, for His glory and for our good. A few passages of Scripture should help demonstrate this point.
Isaiah 29:13-14 provides a glimpse into the horrific results of neglecting God and His Word. Isaiah presents this prophecy, “Therefore, I will again confound these people with wonder after wonder. The wisdom of their wise will vanish, and the perception of their perceptive will be hidden.” (Isa. 29:14, CSB) Because they neglected God, God would turn them over to their inefficient counsel and understanding. It is not unlike, in my opinion, those who forsake the Word of God for the views of modern psychology. Since God meets His people’s needs (primarily through the Scripture), biblical counselors utilize the Word for the counseling of His people.
Another important passage of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In this passage, Paul reveals how God gave humans His Word (via inspiration), its purpose, and its goal. The goal is “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17, CSB) That is, whatever the child of God needs to be “complete” is found in “the Scripture” that “is inspired by God.”
A final passage that one must not miss when discussing the sufficiency of Scripture is 2 Peter 1:3-4. Here is the CSB’s rendering of this,
3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.
There are several important implications that demand our attention, particularly in light of biblical counseling and the role of the Scriptures in the process. First, we note that God has exclusively provided “everything required for life and godliness.” There is nothing the child of God will lack for life or godliness that God Himself has not provided. Secondly, note the source of this exclusive provision: “through the knowledge of Him.” That is an interesting phrase, and yet, if you were like me, you may wonder where the reference to God’s Word is. It is there, although it is not as direct. That phrase, “the knowledge of Him,” is fascinating. “What does that mean?” Or, to put the question in a format pertinent to this post, “Where do we receive this knowledge?” The answer, as Peter would reveal, is the Word of God. He refers to it in verse four as “very great and precious promises.” Through God’s glory and goodness, He has provided us with His Word. And, when the Word is utilized in a God-ordained and Spirit-empowered way (as Peter phrases it, “through them”), we will be like Christ and avoid sin (“you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire”).
These three references provide a brief depiction of the sufficiency of Scripture. Beeke and Smalley, discussing that sufficiency, write,
“The fact that the Bible is the written Word of God, supremely authoritative and self-authenticating, clear in its doctrines, necessary for the church’s salvation and life, unified in is testimony to Christ, efficacious by the Spirit’s work, and unfailingly rue in all that it declares implies that the Bible is uniquely sufficient as God’s special revelation for us today.” I would extend their thoughts to include the concept of biblical counseling. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is sufficient and alone capable of helping humanity in any true and full sense of the word.
While each question at the beginning of this post, and all unasked questions, need a more substantial and developed answer than “the Bible tells me so,” we need not look anywhere else for that answer than to the sufficient, life-giving Word of God.
 Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 37, emphasis original.
 Joel James, Counsel with Confidence: A Quick Reference Guide for Biblical Counselors and Disciplers (Wapwallopen, WA: Shepherd Press, 2018), 27.
 I highly recommend Richard C. Barcellos, Getting the Garden Right: Adam’s Work and God’s Rest In Light of Christ (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2017). In this book, Barcellos develops and articulates a biblical theological view of the Sabbath.
 For one example, see Kathleen Doheny, “Working Yourself to Death: Long Hours Bring Risk,” WebMD, 16 July 2018, https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/news/20180716/working-yourself-to-death-long-hours-bring-risks, accessed 27 October 2020.
 For an excellent discussion of the different approaches, see: Eric L. Johnson, ed. Psychology and Christianity: Five Views 2nd Edition (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010).
 For inspiration, see Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology Volume I: Revelation and God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 325-332.
 For a fuller treatment, see Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling, 37-59; Beeke and Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, 395-406.
 Beeke and Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, 396.