When the Psalmist wrote, “I have seen limits to all things, however complete, but Your commandment is very broad” (Psalm 119:96), he was expressing his amazement at the comprehensiveness and seeming limitlessness of the Scripture (“commandment” here is one of the synonyms used in this Psalm for Scripture). This fact continually ought to bring us up short. How little we understand and know the Word of God!

I recently heard a speaker of some note say that he had read a given portion of Scripture many times over in preparation for a study in which he was engaged. But later on, while casually casting his eye over a part of that portion, he suddenly became aware of something that he never had noticed before. We’ve all had similar experiences. The Bible is always fresh; it is a treasure trove in which we continually find new things, if only we will search.

All of which brings me to the point of this blog. Do you think you have it all together, counselor? Have you got the perfect system worked out? Do you know all you need to know to deal with any and all counseling cases? May all problems be reduced to one? If you think so, surely you are on shaky ground: “Let the one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall!”

I learned of a man who said that he has a dozen verses of Scripture that work with all cases! “These,” he said, “are all I need.” Something is wrong there; obviously God made a mistake in giving us so much more material!

The truly biblical counselor is always learning. And he must learn principally from the Scripture, not merely learn. If his major study is in the Bible, he will not find himself running out of material; he won’t run dry. Indeed, the more he studies, the more he realizes there is so much more to know. Each study raises new angles for study that he never thought of before. My problem is that, while I keep promising myself I will get back to these, I find I am accumulating so many more than is feasible to study. At any given time there is so much more to be studied and so many more questions to be answered that, if you let it, the situation can become frustrating.

I have had people tell me that I sound too dogmatic. They think that I believe I have it all together. If they only knew! Do I have questions? You’d better believe it! There is so much to the Word of God that I despair of ever learning even a small portion of what God has made available. “Dogmatic?” Yes, but only because I limit what I have to say, or write, to that small number of things that I think I have understood clearly. I simply don’t say anything about those things about which I am unsure. If, for instance, you were to ask me what the verse in 1 Corinthians 15 about baptism for the dead means, I simply would have to tell you, “I don’t really know.” I know that the Mormons are wrong in their interpretation, but I once read a list of ‘thirty-odd’ interpretations (and some of them truly were) of the verse, many of which seemed convincing until I read the next! I just don’t talk about the verse since I can’t be dogmatic.

Chalk it up from Psalm 119:96 that anyone who tells you he has a counseling system that is complete and airtight is wrong. A truly biblical system is a growing system in which elements of biblical truth are always being added to fill out or modify what came before. If one is careful in the first place, he will not need to do much modifying. What he has learned will remain solidly a part of the growing system. But he will enlarge, fill out, and refine what he already has learned. The ideal is to move from truth to greater truth.

The verse calls us all to greater diligence in the study of the Scripture. With the knowledge solidly in mind that we can never exhaust Scripture, can we do anything less than devote the large share of our energies to exploiting this vast mine of truth that is, indeed, nothing less than the very Word of God? Be careful, therefore, about the amount of time you give to the study of other things, good in themselves but with paltry limits and slim benefits. And, above all, be careful neither to insult God nor to deceive yourself by thinking that you at last have arrived. Remember, a biblical counseling system is an open system, regularly being informed by Scripture.


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