The plight of fallen humanity and the primacy of the Christian’s battle with indwelling sin provide many opportunities for counseling. Sadly, Christians frequently believe themselves to be unprepared to counsel hurting human beings. What does one say to victims of adultery? How does one sort out and wisely address secret sins? These are only a couple of the areas Powlison explores in his practical, probing book. In this first part of a projected three-volume work on counseling, the author desires the reader to see people and problems from God’s perspective. He sets this goal constantly as he examines a wide range of problems in light of Scripture.
The first three chapters set the premise for the entire book. In chapter one he shows the practical theology of Ephesians and in so doing, speaks to the important issue of hermeneutical principles. Subsequent chapters explain how God reveals Himself in Ephesians and man’s need for the Redeemer and Reformer. The third chapter turns the reader’s attention to redemptive relationships and what this means inside and outside of the family unit. The author makes appropriate application for numerous areas of Biblical counsel.
In the remaining chapters Powlison addresses many topics with which readers themselves may be wrestling. How does one attain an attitude of peace in a fallen world under the hand of God’s loving but often misunderstood providence? How do we find comfort or help if we are victims of abuse? What hope can we cling to when gripped by worry? Scripture speaks to these basic human conditions.
Powlison emphasizes man’s warfare with sin that too often gets lost in the context of cultural conditioning. Sin also becomes buried by one’s own spiritual pride. This is particularly seen in Powlison’s penetrating insights on the issues of love languages and feelings. He shows flaws in ostensibly Christian counsel that fails to engage the one being counseled in understanding his sinfulness in terms of Scripture. He addresses some of the myriad ways that man defends his sinful actions, and exposes such defenses as the insufficient fig leaves they are.
In the realm of personal problems, he provides counsel that gives hope — not in oneself but in God. While this volume provides much insight to aid one in counseling others, it is also edifying reading for self-application. Chapters stand alone and can be read accordingly.
Christians will find that this well-written book exemplifies the integration of sound theology into daily life. It should aid our sanctification and be a ready resource as we seek to help others who cross our paths.
- Byron Snapp
Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia. He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina. He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren.