I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you…. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Acts 20:20, 26-27
By “profitable,” Paul did not mean monetarily advantageous, but all that is necessary and helpful for a joyful, fruitful and triumphant Christian life whenever and wherever lived. How encouraging, comforting and inspiring it must have been to those early Christians to know that “all the counsel of God” was available to them! Surely this is exactly what we need in our time.
Logically, this declaration by Paul is a challenging rebuke of much that is called “Christianity” today. How could Paul have kept back nothing that was profitable and taught all the counsel of God, when he was ignorant of Christian psychology, Twelve Step programs, inner healing, visualization, positive confession, seed faith, the laughing revival, the binding of territorial spirits, and other inventions lately considered so vital? One can only conclude that these new teachings and practices are neither profitable nor part of God’s counsel!
Those who advocate teachings outside of God’s counsel can hardly complain that NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Assn), outspoken advocate of pedophilia, was formed in a church with a number of “Christian” leaders, both Protestant and Catholic, participating and voicing their approval of this perversion. Concerned conservatives call for a “return to traditional moral values.” Yes, but what “tradition” and by what authority? By the mutual consent of decent society? How is that defined? We desperately need to heed the counsel of God!
What could be more thrilling than having God himself as one’s personal Counselor and to be assured that the Bible contains all the counsel of God! That perfect counsel, of course, does not offer business success or instructions in repairing an engine, flying an airplane or operating a computer. It teaches us, as spirit beings made in the image of God (Gn 1:27; 9:6) and living in physical bodies and redeemed by Christ’s blood (Gal 3:13; 1 Pt 1:18,19; Rv 5:9), to glorify Him in body and in spirit (1 Cor 6:20) here on this earth — and prepares us to be forever in His presence.
The Bible has rightly been called “the Manufacturer’s handbook.” “God our Maker” (Ps 95:6; Prv 22:2; Is 17:7; 45:11; 51:13; Heb 11:10, etc.) intended the creatures He made to continually consult that handbook in faith. Surely our Maker included in His operating manual every instruction needed for His creatures to function holly (Lv 11:44-45; 19:2,27; 1 Thes 2:10; 1 Pt 1:16), happily (Job 5:17; Ps 128:2, 144:15; 146:5; Prv 3:13,18; 14:21; 16:20; 28:14; 29:18; Jn 13:17; 1 Pt 3:14; 4:14) and fruitfully (Gn 1:28; Jn 15:4,8; Col 1:10). Surely God has not overlooked any possible problem or malfunction which might befall us nor failed to provide complete instructions and the appropriate remedy.
Suppose the descendants of Adam become angry, frustrated, fearful, anxious, insecure, lonely; or suppose they feel misused and abused or useless and lacking in purpose or meaning. Let them turn for counsel and help to their Maker, who knows everything about them, and to the Manufacturer’s handbook in which He has provided complete operating instructions. As David said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Ps 56:3). Let them turn to Christ, who indwells and empowers and Whose very name is Counselor (Is 9:6). What further counsel or help could they need?
Indeed, until very recently the people of God looked to Him alone for their spiritual and emotional needs — and triumphed by faith. Consider the suffering Job endured without any counseling or therapy from a Christian psychologist. If he didn’t need it, then surely those who suffer far less don’t need this newly invented help today! Job’s trials and the remedy he found through trust in God and submission to His will teach us that trials must be endured for our own good, to refine and mature us; and that God himself will be with us and is all we need to carry us through.
Or consider Joseph. Misunderstood and criticized by his parents and hated by his brethren, who wanted to kill him, he was sold into Egypt. There he was falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned, to languish as a criminal. How could he have survived with no Minirth and Meier or Rapha clinics or inner healing to provide the help that so many now consider to be essential? In fact, he triumphed gloriously! Logically, then, if today’s new remedies weren’t needed by Joseph, they aren’t needed now.
Compare anyone’s suffering today with what Paul endured: “[I]n labours more abundant, in stripes [scourgings] above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I  stripes… [40 lashes were fatal]. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness…hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness…[and] that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Cor 11:23-28).
Of course it was Paul’s sense of self-worth, his positive self-image and his high self-esteem that carried him through. Right? Wrong! This pitiful humanistic theory so popular in the church has proved to be so false and harmful that even the secular world is abandoning it. Newsweek’s cover of February 17, 1992 announced its feature article in large letters: “THE CURSE OF SELF-ESTEEM: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE FEEL GOOD MOVEMENT.” A November 23, 1995 article by a professor/researcher in Portland, Oregon’s Oregonian newspaper was titled, “Note to California: Drop self-esteem, Self-control is most important….” (California, with its Self-Esteem Task Force, like leading Christian psychologists, has spent years trying to prove that self-esteem is vital, and has failed.) Based upon years of research, the author declares: “If we could cross out self-esteem and put in self-control, kids would be better off and society in general would be much better off.” This is precisely what the Bible has always said. Yet this fallacious and harmful theory is the very bread and butter of Christian psychology.
Paul called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tm 1:15), considered himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph 3:8), unworthy to be an apostle (1 Cor 15:9), and rejoiced in his weakness. Yet he claimed to be able to do “all things through Christ” (Phil 4:13) and to be always victorious (1 Cor 15:57; 2 Cor 2:14, Phil 1:20, etc.). Christ told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in [your] weakness. Paul’s response? “Most gladly therefore… that the power of Christ may rest upon me…. I take pleasure in… persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10).
In contrast to Paul’s joy and victory through Christ alone, many of today’s Christians put their trust in Christian psychology as well. Its false theories and therapies offer new comfort to the abused, confused and depressed, making it the fastest growing and most monetarily profitable movement in the church. It is now generally accepted among evangelicals that God’s counsel in the Bible is deficient and needs to be supplemented with psychology.
We are plagued by the “yes, but” syndrome. Isn’t the Bible God’s inerrant Word? Yes, but… I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. Don’t we have the leading of the Holy Spirit, and Christ indwelling to guide and empower us? Yes, but…. and silence. Was not the Word of God, the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Christ enough for suffering and martyred Christians during the first eighteen centuries of the church? Yes, but… the world is more complex today and we need additional help. The heroes and heroines of the faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 triumphed amidst fierce persecution without psychology. Yes, but… you don’t understand my situation… my children, my husband, my wife, my boss, the abuse I suffered as a child….
The issue is very simple: Either “all the counsel of God” is sufficient or God has failed us. If Christian psychology, inner healing, Twelve Step Programs and today’s other new techniques for deliverance truly have something of value to offer, then the Bible is deficient and for 1,900 years God left His church without the insights and tools it needed. Who would believe that?
Like Adam and Eve, mankind still flees the voice of God, clothes itself with the makeshift garments of new theories no better than fragile leaves, and hides behind the trees of its latest excuses for unbelief and rebellion. Psychological theories come and go in a steady stream of folly. For example, drapetomania was the official psychiatric diagnosis of a “mental illness” that was epidemic in early America. Afflicting only slaves, it was marked by a compulsion to escape — and vanished with the Civil War.
The diagnostic and treatment record hasn’t improved since. The famous Jewish psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz, called psychology “the clever and cynical destruction of the spirituality of man, and its replacement by a positivistic ‘science of mind.'” He titled the book containing that statement, The Myth of Psychotherapy. Yet the church eagerly accepts each new theory and the dependence of Christians upon unbiblical solutions continues to grow.
One of the latest delusions is called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), a recent “discovery” whose now prevalent symptoms had never been thus diagnosed. Christian psychologists James G. Friesen, a leader in this growing field, writes in a Here’s Life Publishers (Campus Crusade) book: “The incidence is turning out to be much higher than anyone expected. The number of MPD therapists is lagging far behind the growing demand….” Some psychologists now theorize that everyone has multiple personalities and that mankind could take a great evolutionary leap forward by learning to harness this power within. Others point out MPD’s connection to occult experiences and the relationship of “multiples” to the “higher self” discovered in yogic trance.1
Friesen glibly tells us that the secret of dealing with MPD (of which the Bible says nothing) is the “perplexing” necessity of “uncovering… hidden memories.” He admits that these alleged “memories” are “forgotten” and “usually are unbelievable”:
“They are awful, painful, and even grotesque events that nobody wants to discover. ‘That didn’t happen to me!’ is a common response…. Friends and family can be in denial too. We all would like to believe those things didn’t happen, but maybe they did.
I often say, ‘Because it happened to another part of you, it does not feel real to you…'” (emphasis added).2
Maybe they happened? Common sense would give no credence to “memories” which didn’t exist until therapy “uncovered” them and which seem unreal to the patient and involve unbelievable events that family and friends insist never happened! Friesen explains further, “Distinguishing between [multiple] selves and demons is crucial….” One wonders, then, why Jesus never followed this procedure, nor did Paul, in the casting out of many demons.
This “expert” insists that demons “are not removable until those [hidden] memories are uncovered.” Yet Jesus never engaged in uncovering memories, nor did Paul when he cast out demons. Friesen adds that exorcism must be “carried out by people with experience in both the Christian and the psychological arenas,” Yet Christ and His apostles were very successful at casting out demons 1,900 years before psychology invaded the church! If Christian psychology is true, the Bible is not!
Some Christian psychologists labor to win each “multiple” to Christ. Friesen suggests that when the numerous personalities have been revealed, the therapist should “Teach the client to live life from the strong [multiple] selves, and reserve work with the injured selves to be carried out in therapy…. Get every self to work for the common good. This usually means having the adult selves stay in charge most of the time, while the child selves are safely kept away from the stresses of adult living.”3 It sounds more like the inmates are in charge of the asylum than a cure! One wonders why these vital instructions are missing from the “Manufacturer’s handbook” and why Paul would lie about holding back “nothing that was profitable” when he left out essential help for MPDs!
Christian psychologists are the new authoritarian clergy in the church. Like the Catholic clergy, they cannot be questioned because they have a source of “truth” that supplements the Bible, and possess an expertise lacking to the layman. The most popular authors and speakers at conferences, they glibly present a new interpretation of the Bible unimagined by those “holy men of God… moved by the Holy Spirit” whom God inspired to write His Word.
How it must break God’s heart to see His children seeking counsel outside of His Word! To do so is to accuse our Creator of either lacking understanding of the man and woman He made, or of not caring enough to provide everything in His instruction manual that is needed for mankind’s good. So Paul, after all, did hold back much that was profitable and God’s counsel is deficient?!
To encourage a passion to know and to put to use all the counsel of God is a major purpose of this ministry. One must know the whole Bible and not merely favorite or “positive” parts of it. May nothing undermine our confidence that God’s Word is a sufficient guide for “life and godliness” (2 Pt 1:3-9)! Only through heeding its “doctrine, reproof, correction, [and] instruction in righteousness” can we be “perfect [i.e., mature, complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tm 3:16-17)! TBC
Ray Grasse, The Quest (Autumn 1994), 38-44.
James Friesen, More Than Survivors: Conversations With Multiple Personality Clients (Here’s Life Publishers, 1992), 17, 145-46, 203, 219-20.
Op. cit., 219.