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Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1433503177
ISBN-10: 1433503174
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Editorial Reviews


"A triumph of a maturing biblical counseling movement. Elyse Fitzpatrick, a counselor with uncommon insight into common problems, teams with Dennis Johnson, a seminary professor with a firm fix on justification and the centrality of the gospel, to produce a cross-centered counseling tool. Expect to find the refreshing intersection of the liberating truth of the cross and the power of the gospel to move counselees and impart hope. This book is a major contribution not only to biblical counseling but also to the person in the pew."
Tedd Tripp, pastor, author, international conference speaker

"Broken people remain so because they never truly understand the nature or extent of God's love. Following the pattern of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, this book triggers worship and hope with exhilarating descriptions of the gospel of Christ and shows us how to live out the love and freedom of the gospel in the relationships and struggles of everyday life. May God use this book to bring a wholeness and joy to believers that is irresistibly attractive to everyone around them."
Ken Sande, President, Peacemaker Ministries

"Fitzpatrick and Johnson teach that effective counseling for broken and hurting people does not mean walking beyond the gospel into some modern form of psychotherapy, which ultimately provides no solutions. All Christians, especially pastors, counselors, and church workers who yearn to see genuine healing and transformation in their families and churches, should practice the principles of this book personally and use it to help others. This book is biblical counseling at its best; absorbing its teaching will make us all better counselors."
Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

"A treasure of gospel-proclaiming, biblical, and practical help for every person striving to grow in grace and help others to do the same. Professional counselors, church leaders, and laypeople will all benefit from the accessible case studies drawn from the authors' decades of experience ministering to real people in real situations. This is no mere how-to manual. If seemingly hopeless cycles of sin and immaturity are tempting you to wonder if real change is even possible, Counsel from the Cross is just the book to encourage you and help you to remember both what the gospel declares about us and what it demands of us."
Tara Klena Barthel, Author, Living the Gospel in Relationships; coauthor, Peacemaking Women

"Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson present a compelling case for the very radical and eminently practical power of the gospel in helping counsel broken people. One will not find here the usual Scriptures taken out of context or mere proof-texting approach that so-much of Christian counseling has offered the evangelical community. Instead, Johnson's exegetical insights and Fitzpatrick's case-wise counsel show how and why we must apply the love and grace of Christ at each stage of our counseling. They are to be praised for mining the riches of the gospel and offering a real model for and recovery of Christ-centered counseling."
Alfred J. Poirier, Author, The Peacemaking Pastor

"I've learned more about biblical counseling from Elyse Fitzpatrick than from anyone else writing in the field today. I tear into her new books, and return repeatedly to them for inspiration in my own work. Elyse's collaboration with Dennis Johnson has produced a volume that is both theologically astute and full of practical wisdom. I'm already applying the principles I've learned from it in my counseling."
Laura Hendrickson, Author; Psychiatrist; Biblical Counselor

About the Author

ELYSE M. FITZPATRICK holds a masters in biblical counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. She is a member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, is a retreat and conference speaker, and is the head of Women Helping Women Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored nearly a dozen books, including Because He Loves Me.

DENNIS E. JOHNSON (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California and associate pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (June 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433503174
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433503177
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,189,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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It seems as if there is a "movement", if I can use that word loosely, afoot in the reformed evangelical community. It's a movement squarely based on the doctrines flowing out of the gospel, a movement epitomized by ministries like Redeemer Presbyterian Church (and her Senior Pastor, Tim Keller), The Gospel Coalition, The Resurgence, Acts29 Church Planting Network, and many others. One of the many by-products of a gospel-centered movement has been gospel-centered books. And this is one of them -- perhaps one of the best produced thus far.

It's ostensibly a biblical counseling work. And it is that, and so much more. In short, it's a gospel-oriented take on what counseling should be if one were to have the gospel directly under-girding and being applied to a person's broken life/heart.

What this book does is tear the mask off of Christian counseling that applies various sanctification strategies in order to deal with sin w/o necessarily "exploiting" the objective realities and benefits of the gospel of Christ. It shows the reader why those strategies fail and why the gospel is the only real panacea to every soul-sickness.

It has a realistic take on our broken world, the heinousness of sin, the self-deception web that our hearts spin over themselves, and most wonderfully, the idol-destroying and hope-renewing power of the gospel.

Fitzpatrick and Johnson connect the dots from gospel-doctrine to gospel-change. Through dismantling powerless legalistic sanctification methods and proffering, in crystal-clear terminology, specifically how doctrines like justification, resurrection, incarnation (etc.) CAN & DO break the cycle of sin-repentance-good works-sin.
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I received this book back in May. It's now November. So I'm ridiculously overdue with this review, but there's a good reason. I really READ this book. I mean, seriously. I picked it up to review it and was in tears by the end of the first chapter. Just then, my husband (a pastor) and I were facing some daunting personalities and conflict at our church, and I went from absolutely discouraged to "I need to read more NOW" in the space of about 5 minutes. The Gospel does that for a person, and the authors do a fabulous job of explaining not just the Gospel OBLIGATIONS, but just as important, the Gospel DECLARATIONS. The former tell us what to do; the latter, which MUST come first, tell us who Christ is, and who we are.

The authors write for the counselOR, but address the reader much of the time as a counselEE, which I found eminently helpful. COUNSEL, in the title, can be taken both as a verb and as a noun. Their work does remind the counselor how the Gospel can be applied to every category of "issue" you'll encounter in the counseling room, but it first counsels the counselor, helping the reader apply the Gospel to what they're facing right now. Early on, the authors explain the two sides of the "Gospel-deficient" coin: "Sad moralists" apply the Gospel obligations without any of the declarations. They get trapped in legalism and, eventually, begin to deceive themselves that their obedience gains them favor with God. They see most often how far their practice deviates from the perfection God seeks to build in them, and only end up discouraged and defeated by their sin and pride. On the other side of the coin, "happy moralists" remember many of the Gospel declarations, but don't follow through with the Gospel obligations.
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Counsel from the Cross is the next generation text for Christian counselors and the next generation manual for Christian living for believers. This book excels at explaining the connection between the Christian gospel and Christian counseling.

Authors Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson state in their preface that they want to lay before their readers the provocative claim that "the cross of Christ and the gospel that proclaim it really are `the power of God for salvation [comprehensive rescue] to everyone who believes' (Rom. 1:16." Their book Counsel from the Cross engagingly demonstrates that in the cross lies the power to liberate hearts and to instill hope. Thankfully, they have the audacity to believe that change can actually happen--because of what Christ has already done.

Paul Tripp gets it right in his back-cover recommendation when he says the book is "a triumph of a maturing biblical counseling movement." At times, the modern biblical counseling movement has been good at communicating, "It's horrible to sin," but not always as good at communicating, "It's wonderful to be forgiven." Fitzpatrick and Johnson understand the truth of Romans 5:20 that where sin abounds, grace super-abounds. They understand our guilt before a holy God and our salvation from a loving God. As they beautifully state it, "The cross declares that we are loved with an intensity that defies our capacity to comprehend, not because we are intrinsically lovable but because God is intrinsically love."

The authors rightfully claim and artfully present throughout their book that "in the cross of Christ and in the surprising combination of ego-smashing humility and despair-smashing confidence . . . lies the power to set struggling people free.
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