Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been His counselor?”
 “Or who has given a gift to Him
    that He might be repaid?”

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

As a biblical counselor, pastor, small group leader, and Christian friend, I have often found that this passage is easily forgotten. I don’t mean that in a cursory way; it is a closely held theological belief that all true Jesus-following people functionally acknowledge. Yet, I do not see it penetrating the reality of the everyday lives of many. Allow me a moment to paint a picture. 

The average Christian: 

…has a morning or an evening “Bible time” where they ensure they get their Bible reading done. They are genuinely desirous of reading the Bible but hold it more as a personal discipline of obedience, than a mining operation for the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God. 

…does not understand Christian meditation, where they move beyond reading, to dwelling on what the mind of God is communicating (in context) through the Bible. 

…reads the Bible, more or less, because they have been taught it is the right thing to do, and thereby they do it. But God’s Word does not make a sizable or tangible impact on their daily thoughts or lives. These are the types of Christians that, because they’re Christians, believe they make “good Christian decisions” when, in reality, they are making self-directed choices and simply calling their decisions “Christian.”

…runs to the Bible when they need help with a particular issue affecting their life in some way (either directly or indirectly), but it does not hold a consistent place of priority in their life, otherwise. 

And many more variations of this. 

Now, it would be easy to continue this submission and point the remainder of its contents at the priority of God’s Word in our lives, and focus on the disciplines of reading, meditation (dwelling and examining to apply), and prioritizing a relationship with God. And maybe in a separate submission, I will. But for today, I want to examine what produces these mindsets. 

It is my growing belief that the average Christian’s worldview is often, whether knowingly or unknowingly, one of functional ambivalence. They know God is real, they believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for their sins. They know the Truth, and have been set free by it (John 8:31-32). They are living that free indeed life (John 8:36). And that is where they stay. 

What is missing is a shift in worldview. A worldview is a lot like a pair of glasses for our eyes. A person’s eyes allow them to see, and their worldview gives context to what they see. The worldview that they hold is the moral and ethical framework that dictates what is right and wrong. It shapes what one thinks and believes about what they see; it provides context, depth, and a sense of how to take what one sees and do something meaningful with it as a result. And, whether knowingly or unknowingly, everyone has a worldview. We each have a perspective about the why’s, what’s, and how’s of the world in which we live. 

Too often, what I perceive happening in the lives of Christians, much like in the examples above, is that they treat God’s Word like a monocle instead of a pair of glasses for their worldview. Remember monocles? A monocle was/is a single lens that one brings up to their eye to help sharpen focus or correct a sight issue with one’s eye. Its general use looks like this: the monocle is taken out of a waistcoat pocket, brought to one’s eye, used to see something more clearly, and then returned to the pocket whence it came. As a result, it is very limited in its usefulness. 

Thinking this through then: when one uses God’s Word as a “monocle” for their worldview, their decision-making, and their interpretive tool for an overall approach to life, it is easy to see how one’s faith becomes a matter of personal ambivalence. It is not consistently before their eyes. It is only required to see when needed or desired. 

As biblical counselors, our primary job cannot be simply to teach counselees how to employ their monocle more precisely. Instead, we must teach those we serve to shift from monocle to glasses. Glasses cover the eyes entirely and provide a sense of consistency to what one sees all the time.

Which brings us back to Romans 11:33-36, particularly verse 36. Prior to being truly wise enough to discern, let alone understand, the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God, we need to help our counselees understand that “…from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” A Jesus-centric worldview precipitates being able to see, and thus navigate, the world around us more precisely. 

My encouragement for you, at the outset of every counseling relationship, is to gain a sense of the worldview of the counselee through the framework of Romans 11:33-36. To accomplish this, I recommend the use of these questions as a helpful metric to guide the rest of the counseling relationship: 

  1. What is my counselee’s stated or implied worldview (without my prompting them to speak in Christian-ease)?
  2. Does my counselee understand that their life is ultimately from and for the glory of God (Romans 11:36)? 
  3. Does my counselee want the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God to get out of distress (whether sin or suffering), or is their request for counsel reflective of a Jesus-centric life? 
  4. If my counselee is only looking for relief from their distress (whether sin or suffering), what matters of Jesus-centric worldview do I need to teach them to prevent their need for biblical counseling in the future? 

From this foundation, you accomplish a few goals: 

  1. You gain the knowledge to better prepare your counselees for a more consistent Christian life. 
  2. You teach them practical theology both passively and directly. 
  3. You (likely) minimize the number of sessions required, as you’re providing a framework for life, not just distress (sin or suffering) elimination. 

So, let us together, direct our focus to Christ.  

Stephen Ganschow, Ph.D.

Biblical Counselor, RGI Training Program Instructor

Stephen Ganschow, Ph.D., Ed.D., has been with Reigning Grace since its inception. While he has been on the counseling team previously, Stephen’s current role is strategic development, consultation, and teaching within Reigning Grace Institute as an instructor. Additionally, he serves as the Executive Pastor of Counseling & Family Ministries at Bethel Church in northwestern Indiana. He is a Level II-certified biblical counselor with the ACBC, is certified by the IABC, and has various specialty certifications in a wide array of counseling disciplines.