The Holy Scripture, being God's law and testimony, is true and should therefore serve as the Christian's standard for all matters of faith and practice (Isaiah 8:19-20; 2 Peter 1:3). There is no authority that is higher than the one found in Scripture. Wherever and on whatever subject Scripture speaks, it must be regarded as both inerrant and authoritative.
There have always been people who have affirmed the inerrancy and authority of Scripture in matters of faith and practice, but who would not affirm the sufficiency of Scripture for understanding and resolving the spiritual (non-physical) problems of man. These people acknowledge Scripture to be the Word of God and are therefore worthy of our respect, but when it comes to understanding and resolving many of the real issues of life, they think that Scripture has limited value. It is, therefore, crucial that we clearly articulate what Christian counseling truly is. There are four distinguishing features of truly Christian counseling as explained below.
Christian counseling is conscientiously and comprehensively Christ-centered. It focuses on who Christ is, what He has done for us in His life, death, resurrection and in sending the Holy Spirit. Christ-centered counseling also focuses on what He is doing for us right now in His intercession at the Father's right hand, and what He will yet do for us in the future. In Christian counseling, the Christ of the Bible is not an appendage or a "tack on" for living in the fast lane. Rather, He is at the center as well as the circumference, and everywhere in between, of counseling.
Christ-centered counseling involves understanding the nature and causes of our human difficulties. It involves understanding the ways we are unlike Christ in our values, aspirations, desires, thoughts, feelings, choices, attitudes, actions, and responses. Resolving those sin-related difficulties includes being redeemed and justified through Christ, receiving God's forgiveness through Christ, and acquiring from Christ the enabling power to replace unChristlike (sinful) patterns of life with Christlike, godly ones.
A Christian counselor is also conscientiously and comprehensively Christian in his outlook on life. Truly Christian counseling is done by individuals who have experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and have come to Christ in repentance and faith, acknowledging Him as Lord and Savior of their lives. These are also people who want to live in obedience to Him; people whose main concern in life is to exalt Him and bring glory to His name. They are people who believe that, since God did not spare His own Son (from and on the cross) but delivered Him up (to the cross and death) for us (on our behalf and in our stead, as our substitute), He will freely through Christ give us all that we need for effective and productive living (for transforming us into the very likeness of His Son in the totality of our being). Biblical, Christian counselors also acknowledge the role of the Holy Spirit in regenerating, saving, and sanctifying the believer. Truly Christian counseling is done by those whose theological convictions influence, permeate, and control their personal lives and their counseling theory and practice.
Truly Christian counseling is conscientiously and comprehensively based on the Bible, deriving its understanding of who man is, the nature of his main problems, why he has these problems, and how to resolve these problems from Scripture. In other words, the counselor must be conscientiously and comprehensively committed to the sufficiency of Scripture for understanding and resolving all the nonphysical personal and interpersonal sin-related difficulties of man.
Another distinguishing feature of truly Christian counseling is that it will be conscientiously and comprehensively church-centered. Scripture makes it clear that the local church is the primary means by which God accomplishes His work in the world. The local church is His ordained instrument for calling the lost to Himself and the context in which He sanctifies and changes His people into the very likeness of Christ. According to Scripture, the church is His household, the pillar and support of the truth, and the instrument He uses in helping His people to put off the old manner of life and to put on the new self (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:1-32).