- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Crossway; Redesign edition (April 30, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1433534134
- ISBN-13: 978-1433534133
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Counsel from the Cross (Redesign): Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ Paperback – April 30, 2012
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"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; international conference speaker; author, Shepherding a Child's Heart
"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, Relational Wisdom 360; author, The Peacemaker
"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, Grand Rapids, Michigan
"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 Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the author of over 20 books, including Because He Loves Me, Comforts from the Cross, and Found in Him.
Dennis E. Johnson (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California and associate pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church in Escondido, California. He is the author of several books and contributed to the ESV Study Bible. Dennis and his wife, Jane, live in Escondido and have four children and sixteen grandchildren.
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Top Customer Reviews
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. The authors show how we can so often, in fighting sin and putting on holiness, bypass Christ and let the gospel become white noise.
Awesome book b/c it's so challenging (to all my old notions of what it means to put off and put on) and so convicting. Take your time w/ it. The authors wisely shepherd our hearts by reminding us that faith & fruit (gospel-life) takes time. There is no simple or direct equation that churns out godliness. It takes time for faith to mature and fruit to be borne. And the Spirit goes wherever He decides to go.
I think that such sober counsel goes a long way to ensure not only that the book will be taken seriously but also taken as just a resource that points the way to THE Resource: Jesus Christ and His life, death, and resurrection. I'm thankful for the humility of the authors.
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." In this, they follow the ancient Puritan arts of loading the conscience with guilt and of lightening the conscience with grace. They follow the principle of historic reconciliation that combines the truths that "it's horrible to sin, and wonderful to be forgiven."
Here's the profound truth communicated in Counsel from the Cross. "We believe that when God the Creator provides a cure-all, it really cures all." Fitzpatrick and Johnson are convinced that "this reality is profoundly relevant to the way Christian counselors address the struggles of those who come to them for help."
Upon this foundation, the authors send the following invitation to their readers. "So we invite you to join us in a venture of exploration to discover the power to defeat sin and sadness, conflict and bitterness, and self-pity and self-contempt, not by walking beyond the gospel that first brought us into the favor and family of God but rather by moving more deeply into that same gospel."
Martin Luther based his ministry of spiritual consolation and spiritual direction upon the truth that "sanctification is the art of getting used to our justification." Fitzpatrick and Johnson similarly believe that the truth of our acceptance before God by Christ's righteousness alone must be made practical as we live our everyday lives. They say it so memorably. "We become people who ask WWJD (What would Jesus do?) without ever considering the gospel or WDJD (What did Jesus do?). They add: "We naively press the gospel out to the margins of our faith because we have never really been taught how it's meant to connect with our daily lives."
In the spirit of the book's entire message of applying truth to life, Fitzpatrick and Johnson include in each chapter personal illustrations, counseling vignettes, and real-life narratives. They also conclude each chapter with a built-in discussion/application guide aptly labeled Pursuing Counsel from the Cross. Their questions are carefully crafted to engage readers in personalizing the truths in each chapter by applying them to their lives and ministries.
Counsel from the Cross is a refreshing, nourishing, and nurturing examination of what makes biblical counseling truly biblical and what makes Christian living truly Christian. Pastors, counselors, educators, and students would all do well to build their ministries upon this model. As believers, we would all do well to build our lives upon the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ--as explained in Counsel from the Cross.
The authors say:
“When we lose the centrality of the cross, Christianity morphs into a religion of self-improvement and becomes about us, about our accomplishments, and about getting our act together” (pg. 25).
Thus this book calls Christians to direct their gaze and delight upon the gospel—where God’s steadfast love and mercy was displayed—because nothing in this world will provide us with the needed transformation and sanctification like the gospel will. The book also recognizes and advocates the importance of “ordinary means of grace” which are equally important for our growth and maturity as Christians (i.e. the Word; baptism; communion; church fellowship).
Additionally, this book promotes gospel-centered counseling, which recognizes the importance of the imperatives (commands/obligations) of Scripture, but first calls us to focus on the gospel indicatives (declarations) of who we are in Christ as a result of His substitutionary death, resurrection, and ascension—the gospel! With the gospel always at the forefront of one's mind, one is then prepared to fulfill the commands of Scripture.
I highly recommend this book to every Christian! Bring this to the top of your to-read list. Seriously.
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