How People Change
Part One:
Why this topic, what’s at stake
And is the gospel sufficient to help
troubled people?
Jesus comes with a ‘change agenda’
the grace of God has appeared, bringing
salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce
ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live selfcontrolled, upright, and godly lives in the present
age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing
of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus
Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us
from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a
people for his own possession who are zealous for
good works. 15Declare these things; exhort and
rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard
The full range of verbal behavior
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all
authority. Let no one disregard you.
•Declare (laleo) – Used frequently of general
speech. Discuss, converse, talk
•Exhort (parakaleo) – a more specific kind of
speech: To encourage, admonish, consolation,
•Rebuke: (elegcho) – an even more specific
kind of speech: to call a person to account; to
chide; to show some one his/her fault.
What are ‘these things?’
Titus 1: “for the sake of the faith of God’s elect
and their knowledge of the truth, which accords
with godliness”
•It has something to do with using the entire range of
verbal behavior to help people live in a radically Godcentered world
•“It is a sacred leaven that spreads itself into the
whole soul: 'the very God of peace sanctify you
wholly' (I Thess. 5:23). There is light in the
understanding, order in the affections, pliableness in
the will, exemplariness in the life.”.
For the grace of God appeared…
‘Training us to renounce ungodliness’
•Ungodliness is a way of seeing the world, a way of
perceiving others, a way of relating to material
things, a way in which one relates to the stuff of life
without God
‘Worldly passions’ (epithumiai)
•Worldly passions are wrapped up in inordinate
desires embodied in things like: ‘Will you like me’;
or Can I control you; or I want to feel good; or give
me more money
No other counseling theory will say:
“These inward trials that I employ
From sin and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes for earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me…”
John Newton: “I asked the Lord”
The apologetic power of change
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that
you love one another: just as I have loved you, you
also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will
know that you are my disciples, if you have love for
one another.”
John 17: 20"I do not ask for these only, but also for
those who will believe in me through their word, 21
that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in
me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that
the world may believe that you have sent me.
What we are up against
We live in a culture with very well organized, very
well thought out, mature and sophisticated
explanations for what human beings are like. This
point of view presents a different truth (than
Christian truth), a different word on the soul of
man, a different view on suffering, on relationships
and on who can help people.
The ‘founders’ of psychology knew what
they were subverting
“The words a secular pastoral worker might serve
as a general formula for describing the function
which the analyst has to perform in relation to the
public. I look forward to the day when there will be
a ‘Salvation Army’ of mental health personal in
every town and village”
Patients force the psychotherapist into the
role of priest and expect and demand from
him that he will free them from their distress
– that is why we as psychotherapists must
occupy our selves with problems strictly
speaking belong to the theologian.
D. Powlison on motivation
“Theories of what makes people tick incarnate into
counseling models. Explanations are signposts to
solutions: take medication, experience reparenting,
cast our a demon, get your needs met, don’t make
big decisions on bad star days, reprogram you inner
monologue, explore your pain. Presumed reasons
and appropriate responses are fiercely debated…
Does the scripture contain an explanation?
But the Lord God has a great deal to say on the
issue. He vigorously rebuts the contenders and
counterfeits by demonstrating that human
motivation has to do with Him. Counseling that
aims to arise from Scripture must do justice to
what God says about the whys and wherefores of
the human heart. Scripture claims to search out
the ‘thoughts and intentions of the heart’ according
to specific criteria by which the Searcher of hearts
evaluates what He sees in us (Heb. 4:12-13)
Theories of why people do what they do
• Determine how we help (treatment)
• how we view circumstances (the
impact of social environment)
• and even who can help (Are
Pastors/pastoral leaders and others
even qualified to help troubled
1. The nearside of complexity is simplistic.
• When the scriptures are applied to the
complexity of life in ways that are ‘pat’ and
not deep it tends to make the scriptures
seem irrelevant or even doubtful
2. The far side of complexity is simple:
• People have a story (and it needs to be
• There is a process in which the gospel’s
truth are applied compassionately, and

How People Change – Part 1 – Slides