“What 2-3 books would you recommend to someone wanting to embark on in-depth study of the Trinity, and, importantly, its application in living the Christian life?”
That was one of the questions posed to the Q&A panel at last week’s PRTS conference. A few of the speakers mentioned Bob Letham’s book on the Trinity, but there was a clear sense that the book combining in-depth study of the Trinity PLUS practical application is still awaiting an author. And it’s especially practical application of the Trinity to the Christian life that’s extremely rare.
Counseling and the Fatherhood of God
Let me give an example of how this might work in the area of counseling. Although my focus will be on the Fatherhood of God, similar pieces could also be written about “Counseling and the Son” or “Counseling and the Holy Spirit.”
Today we’ll look at the the impact of God’s Fatherhood upon the counselor; tomorrow we’ll consider the impact upon the counselee; and the next day we’ll illustrate how how God’s fatherliness helps us address specific counseling problems.
God’s Fatherhood reminds the counselor to carry two truths into every counseling session: (1) I am my Father’s child, and (2) I am my Father’s representative.
(1) I am my Father’s child
God is my Father in two ways, by creation and by grace.
In common with the whole human race, I am a child of God by creation. Although we deny the universal Fatherhood of God as taught by liberal scholars such as Adolf Von Harnack, the fact that God is the creator of everyone means that, in a limited sense, God is the Father of every human being (Acts 17:28)
In counseling, this reminds me of the fundamental unity and equality of the whole human race, and gives me a fellow-feeling and a sympathy with my counselees, including those who are unbelievers.
Just as the Father makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:44-45), so, in imitation of my Father, I am to seek the physical and spiritual good of my fellow-creatures.
This truth also reminds me that counselor and counselee are dependent upon the same Father for life, health, strength and all other physical resources (Acts 17:28).
However, as a Christian I must go further, I must go beyond the universal Fatherhood of God by creation, because, as a believer in Christ, I am also now a child of God by grace.
This is especially important to remember when I am counseling fellow-believers, fellow sons and daughters of God the Father. That changes my relationship with them from professional to family. I’m not going into the interview as a stranger giving professional help to another stranger. I am a brother in the same family as my counselee.
That also helps me to see myself and the counselee as being simultaneously trained by the same Father. God has brought two of His children together to train both of us, to move both of us from weakness to maturity, from ignorance to knowledge.
And, of course, as I walk towards the meeting I am depending upon my Father for all spiritual resources, for me and for the success of my counseling.
(2) I am my Father’s representative
Just as the preacher is an ambassador for God in the pulpit, so is the counselor in the counseling session. That challenges me to ask:
- What am I communicating about God, especially His Fatherhood?
- Am I re-presenting God accurately to this person?
- What does this person think about God when he sees and hears me?
- Do I welcome counselees as God the Father would?
- Do I communicate warm empathy or cold indifference?
- Is my body language and appearance “fatherly” or “kingly?”
- Are my words and the Spirit I speak them in fair reflections of the Father.
- Am I getting in the way of the Father or am I helping brothers and sisters towards the Father?
Summary: Remembering the Fatherhood of God should make counselors more loving, more sympathetic, more dependent, and more God-like.