As a biblical counselor, I believe my counsel should flow
from the Gospel. Therefore, I was very excited to read Dr. Bob Kellemen’s new
book, Gospel Centered Counseling. I love his writing anyway, and this book
provides so much robust and relevant counsel for the counselor that I had
difficulty putting it down.
I found this book to be warm and comforting, like having a
conversation with a friend. The tenor of the book reflects the heart of a
Pastor/Teacher/Counselor who longs to impart loving, biblical truth to the
A Counseling Model Built on the Gospel of Grace
Bob sought to determine what a biblical counseling and
discipleship model built upon the gospel of grace would look like. He asked the
following questions:
  • The Word: “Where do we find wisdom for life in a
    broken world?
  • The Trinity/Community: “What comes into our mind when
    we think about God?”  “Whose view of Go will we believe- Christ’s or
  • Creation: Whose are we?” “In what story do we find
  • Fall: “What’s the source of our problem?” “What went wrong?”
  • Redemption: “How does Christ being us peace with God?”
     “How does Christ change people?”
  • Church: “Where can we find a place to belong and
  • Consummation: “How does our future destiny with Christ
    make a difference in our lives today as saints who struggle against
    suffering and sin?”
  • Sanctification: “Why are we here?” “How do we become
    like Jesus?” “How can our inner life increasingly reflect the inner life
    of Christ?”
Bob carefully, compassionately, and accurately develops a
gospel-centered model throughout the book as he answers these questions.
Personal Takeaways
There is more in this book than a short review can do
justice, so I will give you my personal takeaways and mention a few of the
things I found especially noteworthy. Bob reminds us early on that the
relationship between counselor and counselee is centered on the love and gospel
of Jesus Christ. We are cautioned to avoid the common pitfalls in helping
people, giving more love than truth or dispensing all truth and no love.
In the second chapter, Bob carefully mines the gold from
the book of Colossians, stressing the importance of the counselor’s confidence
being in the Bible, not in human wisdom. He presents a balanced and reasonable
approach to the complex mind-body connection, respecting all dimensions of who
we are. Bob carefully outlines the dangers of blending human wisdom with
Christ, and stresses the message, “Jesus knows people!”
He reminds us that biblical counseling is not about us as
the counselor and is not ultimately about the counselee; that biblical
counseling is about “giving people a glimpse of the wonder of our God” and
helping them to grow so they will glorify God in their lives.  
Heart Change for Life Change
Bob provides a rich view of counseling on the heart level,
carefully developing, explaining, and teaching the process of change at the
heart level. He refers to counselors as, “Biblical Cardiologists,” and exposes
the various chambers of the sin-sick heart before revealing the cure as it is
found in the redemption story.
In several key places, Bob includes role-play with
fictitious counselee’s to illustrate the brokenness sin brings into life. The
narratives are rich with compassion and provide a peek into the counseling
process. They bring to life the practical concepts he presents as well as
highlighting the necessity for gospel saturation when giving counsel to hurting
The Importance of Community
Instruction in heart change and life change are to take
place in the context of the local church. The local church is the one place all
Christians can and should call home. It is the place we should bear one
another’s burdens, it is a hospital for broken people. Through exegeting
Ephesians, Bob gives a close up look at the church community as the place to
belong and the place to learn how to become like Christ. It is within the
churches that hope, healing and help for the problems of life are found.
Required Reading
Page after page of this excellent book amplifies a
statement Bob makes in the opening pages, “The gospel is about God radically
changing people.” This book has been added to the required reading list for our
biblical counselor training program. I would highly recommend it to pastors who
want to understand what biblical counseling truly is about. I would recommend
it to both equippers and those being equipped for ministry.