Counsel for Counsellors
Counsel for Counsellors was prepared by four brethren who possess considerable experience in this type of work. The Editor is certain that should further help be needed by interested parties, any one of these would be pleased to co-operate: Richard Burson, Leonard Linstead, Donald Norbie and Karl Phfaff.
In giving spiritual counsel to an enquirer, after having instructed him in those matters which pertain to sin and its penalty, to salvation and its simplicity, one should then refer to those Scriptures which clarify the subject of assurance.
This, of course, demands a presentation of the cross work of Christ. This is always basic to salvation, “Christ died for our sins.” An understanding of the work of Christ results in the assurance of salvation. The question might be asked, For how many of our sins did Christ die? The death of Christ is the full payment for all sin, therefore, the believer’s acceptance with God is perfect.
The Word of God gives assurance. Christ is, indeed, the Living Word, and He is revealed in the Written Word. How do we know that these things are so, but by His Word? The Lord Jesus said, “He that heareth My word” (John 5:24). John tells us, “These things have I written unto you that ye may know” (I John 5:13). Such then is the Word of God, and God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2).
We read, “The Spirit Himself beareth witness” (Rom. 8:16). He bears witness to the individual by making the Scriptures good to his heart.
Furthermore, it is well to present the truth of the resurrection of Christ to the concerned one. The work of Christ upon the cross accomplished salvation, and the resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of that work. The soul enjoys assurance “in that God hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). God showed His satisfaction with the work of Christ by raising Him from among the dead.
Dangers And Problems
There is the possibility of being over-anxious. Avoid going from Scripture to Scripture when one or two texts carefully explained would be better. Avoid the use of too many verses which practice often only confuses the child.
Pressing for decisions is a grave danger. One who deals with souls should guard against attempting to bring every enquirer to a decision for Christ. Sometimes the time is better spent presenting the Gospel in personal and simple terms and letting the child go to his cabin to give the matter further thought. Sometimes such an one will be saved alone, or return with deeper conviction of his need. There is a decision made in every conversation, but not every decision is conversion. Salvation is not a religious vote.
Where the Gospel is faithfully presented, the Spirit of God will bring salvation, for “Salvation is of the Lord.” The counsellor who does not lead a soul to the Lord every time he deals with one, should not feel ashamed. He should be ashamed to force words of decision when they are not the result of the influence of God the Holy Spirit. One must be cautious not to put an empty lamp in the camper’s hand, making him join the vast and swelling company of false professors on the road to Hell. May the Lord enable to prayerfully and intelligently deal with seeking souls who come for help.
Do not mistake homesickness for conviction. Homesickness often brings tears. Do not mention the word “homesickness” in the presence of the camper.
Beware of mass production. Emphasize the sinfulness of man and the completeness of the work of Christ. Better no professions, than false professions.
Watch for the “Me too” camper. At times, when the Spirit of God is dealing with some there is the camper who says, “I want to be saved too.” While not disregarding the desire to know Him, probe into the reason or motive for wanting to know the Lord.
Do not use unscriptural methods in getting a decision. For example do not say, “Confess your sins.” This is impossible because one cannot remember all his sins. Moreover, each is biased in his own favour in regard to sins. If God forgave only what one might confess, not all his sins would be forgiven. It is God’s prerogative to say what constitutes sin, not man’s. Confessing sins does not save. It is the confession of Christ that brings salvation (Rom. 10:9).
The believer should constantly confess his sins in order to maintain fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:9). Do not confuse these truths.
A confession of one’s sinnership is necessary. A sinner is what one is by nature and what one is in practice. Sin comes from within (Jer. 17:9. Matt. 15:18-20. Eph. 2:3).
How did the worm get into the apple? Did he come from the outside, or did he appear first in the inside? The germ was planted first in the blossom, it was there before the apple was formed. Sin begins on the inside, but very early in life manifests itself. There should be a desire to forsake sin (Prov. 28:13).
The danger of putting words into a child’s mouth. Let the child speak for himself. Soul winning is the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction of sin, and not a matter of man’s persuasiveness. Do not argue; one can win an argument and lose a soul.
Beware of mere curiosity. Do not incorporate your own experience as a must for the camper. Each one is an individual and is to be dealt with as an individual. Each experience is different. All are saved through simple faith in Jesus Christ, although the circumstance may differ.
Do not adhere to one system of leading campers to the Lord Jesus. Each one is an individual, and not all have the same problems or difficulties.
Many confuse feeling of some sort with salvation. Make clear the facts: “All have sinned” (Rom. 6:23). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), the necessity of faith in the finished work of Christ, “He that heareth My word, and believeth” (John 5:24), “As many as received Him,…even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).
The feeling expresses itself from the joy and the relief of having received Christ. This may not be the same with any two individuals, and surely need not be emphasized. If the first two are genuine, the third is sure to follow.