“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”
I’m sure this is not the first time you have read this quote by John Piper. We have all quoted it, and been reminded by it, of God’s global vision and passion for reaching the world. However, as I recently read this quote again, it impacted me in a fresh and clear way.
In just a few days I’ll be leaving for Uganda to teach, along with my colleague, Dr. Ed Bulkley, a 40-hour week of lectures at the Ugandan Seminary as part of the I.A.B.C. (International Association of Biblical Counselors) training for certification. To accomplish this, we will be teaching this course material Monday through Friday, from 8 to 5. That’s my way of saying, “Please pray for us!”
What thrills me about this opportunity relates to what the leaders of the Ugandan Seminary have told us. In our initial planning conversations with them, they told us that they have never had biblical counseling offered in their country. They have been presented with psychology and integrated counseling systems, but they have never had any training in biblical counseling and the sufficiency of God’s Word for counseling (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 2:13). And the result of all the former systems of counseling had produced no real and lasting change in the lives of the believers in Uganda.
As believers, who love the Lord and His Word, they knew that a vital part of discipleship and growth was lacking in their culture. They had heard about biblical counseling and knew that it was the answer to life’s issues, so they had been praying and looking for the opportunity to bring biblical counseling to their country. So, when we were invited to come to Uganda and be the first to teach them about biblical counseling, we realized this was an opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in a life-changing way. But more importantly, it was a reminder that God was giving us an opportunity to “join His global purpose.”
Now, since God has a global purpose, then He must have global and timeless truths for the world in contrast to other systems of counseling. As we know, the secular and psychologized approach to change is not universal. They are not timeless truths for all generations and people groups. In contrast, the DSM is adjusted, not only over periods of time, but to fit each culture. So, what the DSM offers for American culture must be adjusted to fit Ugandan culture (or any other culture).
But, when we counsel from the Word of God, we present truths and answers that never need to be updated or adjusted to meet the needs of mankind and the deep issues of life.
It is true that the Truth of God’s Word will be lived out and applied differently from culture to culture, but the core and life-changing truths of Scripture remain the same. It is an all-sufficient Word to serve God’s global purpose of reaching the world, not just for salvation but for sanctification as well. If we truly believe this, then we should have the upmost confidence in God’s Word to transform other cultures at any point in time.
Unchanging Truths Verses Changing Therapies
Here are five reasons that I’m so excited to take God’s Word to Uganda. They are reasons that remind me why God’s Word is always enough to transform the heart and life of man at any time and in any culture.
- The Bible is the inspired Truth (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16). That means it is straight from God, not man. He is the source of the Truth. What has been spoken and written down by human authors, in both the Old and New Testament, was God speaking His Word to humanity.
- The Bible is eternal Truth (Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35). It is Truth that has been handed down from God that connects us back to the God of eternity past and remains unchanged forever. To this day, in any culture and time, it is still accurate in its diagnosis and solutions for the soul of mankind.
- The Bible is God’s wisdom (Psalm 119:23-24). Scripture only presents two sources of wisdom…God’s or everyone else’s. When it comes to man’s wisdom on life issues, man is constantly changing and adjusting to try and make sense out of life. But God’s wisdom is forever settled. He doesn’t need any assistant or insights from man.
- The Bible reminds man of his core problem of depravity and that he cannot change himself (Jeremiah 17:9). Man tends to put the focus on cultural deficiencies, a dysfunctional home, the terrible environment he grows up in, the lack of education and training, bad role models, etc. Though all those are real and troubling issues, and they do affect and contribute to the troubles and hardships in our world, it misses the core problem of man’s depraved heart and inability to make any lasting and true change. The Bible goes right to the core issue of all life’s problems.
- The Bible leads to a dependency upon God (Galatians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). God has so designed and revealed His Word that it creates a dependency on Him. It reminds us that we need such things as grace, mercy, strength, love, perseverance, etc. (all of which God gladly bestows on those who turn to Him). However, other solutions that are offered to other cultures ultimately produce dependency on man.
Join the Conversation
So, how has missions and biblical counseling been connected in your life and ministry? How have you seen God’s Word, in various cultures, prove to be sufficient?