4. Be Reconciled to God - Part 1
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The coach guides the party to be reconciled to God in three ways:
The coach leads the party to apply Scripture to his circumstances.
Using questions, the coach helps the person to uncover his own idols, leading to repentance.
As the person recognizes his sin, the coach proclaims God’s forgiveness to comfort, encourage, and empower him to live out his reconciliation with others.
Coaching with Scripture
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Most people, including Christians, are unfamiliar with comparing their thoughts, words, and actions with Scripture, especially in conflict.
The coach must use care and skill in helping another apply Scripture.
God’s Word is powerful.
When used properly, the Bible can refresh people’s hope and bring about healing and positive change in people’s lives.
If used carelessly, it can crush people’s spirits, leaving them distraught and in despair.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Listen to how one reconciler used Scripture in a coaching.
Distinguishing between Law and Gospel
When coaching with Scripture, it is easy to lose the balance and distinction between Law and Gospel. Use caution not to fall into this trap.
In its broadest definition, the Law can mean the whole counsel or God such as presented in the Torah, the five books of Moses. Torah means “instruction” or “direction” and includes God’s commandments as well as His love and mercy in the promises of the Messiah.
Likewise, the Gospel can refer to all Christian teaching, including both God’s commands and the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
However, in the narrow definition, the Law means what God commands such as found in the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ summation of the Law. The Law shows us our sin and its consequences.
As sinners, we are incapable fulfilling God’s Law. Because we are unable to keep God’s commands, the Law requires judgment. By nature, we sinners are condemned to eternal separation from God.
Click on the following passages to see what the Bible teaches about the Law.
In its narrow understanding, the Gospel means good news that salvation is ours in Jesus Christ. We are no longer condemned to eternal death—instead we have been given eternal life.
The Gospel shows us our Savior. Jesus took on our sin and we received His righteousness. Through this free gift, we are forgiven and empowered to live the sanctified life, which we cannot do on our own strength or will.
Notice how the following passages describe the Gospel:
2 Corinthians 5:21
1 Peter 2:24
The Purpose of the Law
The Law serves three purposes. Click each image to learn more.
Because we do not receive the assurance of forgiveness in the Law, the Law gives
no relief from our guilt, and
no promise of hope, since we are unable to perfectly keep the Law.
The Power of the Gospel – Forgiveness of Sins
The Gospel gives peace, comforting those who realize that they have sinned against God. Forgiveness frees us from guilt, eternal punishment, and sin’s power over us. We are saved not because of our own works, but because Christ lived the perfect lives we could not live and yet took on the full punishment of our sins. Thus, we receive the gift of eternal life.
Click on each gift to open it.
Recognizing Law and Gospel
Distinguish which passages are Law and which are Gospel.
For each passage, indicate whether it is Law or Gospel. Turn each one green.
I will not leave you or forsake you
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin
1 John 1:7
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are
1 John 3:1a
Applying the Law
As a conflict coach, use the Law carefully to confront sinful attitudes, words, and actions. Remember that the purpose of using Law is not to tear down or condemn, but rather to bring a sinner to repentance so that he may be healed through Christ’s forgiveness. This is especially helpful if a party is blind to his sinful thinking, words, or behavior.
One must use thoughtful discretion in applying the Law. If a party is already repentant, using the Law can drive him to despair. If he is hopeless or needs comfort, the Law can lead to depression. Sometimes, a person needs to be reminded of God’s love found in the Gospel prior to hearing the Law.
People by nature have knowledge of the Law (our conscience), although it is tainted by sin. With little teaching from Scripture, most people recognize (at least to some point) how they fail to live up to God’s standards in peacemaking. Since we cannot see into another’s heart, we must be careful not to judge whether or not the Law has done its work in people’s hearts.
The Law can also be applied when guiding a party how to respond to conflict in a God-pleasing manner. Remember, however, that it is the Gospel that empowers us to live as God’s children (see 1 Peter 2:24).
Applying the Gospel
People possess no natural knowledge of the Gospel. Thus, when coaching, you need to always point to Christ as the source of our hope and forgiveness. This may be the first time that a person (even a long-term member of the church) may actually hear how the Gospel specifically applies to him or her.
When coaching someone, the Gospel should be used often, since it is the Gospel that gives comfort and hope. While the Law can motivate someone for a short time, the Gospel changes hearts for the long term. Use Gospel when someone:
Is in despair or has lost hope.
Is discouraged or depressed.
Has forgotten whose he is (a child of God).
Has forgotten any of God’s promises for him.
Is feeling guilt or remorse.
Is contrite or beginning to show signs of repentance.
Is fearful of doing what is right.
Needs encouragement to follow God’s precepts.
Be intentional in proclaiming the Gospel in your coaching.
We remember Christ’s forgiveness as we read and hear God’s promise proclaimed to us from His Word. When we proclaim God’s forgiveness to others, we are simply sharing with them the gift that we have received.
From the back page of the pamphlet Proclaiming God’s Forgiveness, read the passages of Scripture aloud, inserting the person’s name. For example:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward [Name] who fears him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove [your] transgressions from [you].
There is therefore now no condemnation for [Name] who [is] in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
[Name,] for our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [you] might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
One of the challenges when coaching is to help people apply Scripture to identify their sins. We live in a society where sin is minimized. Instead of recognizing their own sin, people tend to excuse sinful behavior. Click each picture to expose common phrases of self-justification.
It’s understandable that non-believers look for ways to excuse sin rather than admit it. After all, they don’t believe in God’s forgiveness of sins.
But notice what the Bible says about denying sin.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10
Check the boxes for insights from the above passage.
To guide the person to reconcile to God and to others, the coach assists the individual to examine his own heart, comparing it against Scripture to recognize sinful thoughts, words, and actions. How can one appreciate the proclamation of God’s forgiveness if he is unable to recognize his own sin?
Using the Bible effectively
Scripture is powerful. Use the Bible carefully to bring healing and encourage reconciliation.
Avoid quoting or reading the Bible to the person.
Encourage the party to read from his own Bible.
If he doesn’t have his Bible with him, offer him a Bible with a translation with which he is comfortable.
Select a passage of Law to help the person see where he has failed to keep God’s commandments.
Choose a passage of Gospel to communicate grace, hope, forgiveness, and power to live as God’s children.
Resist telling the person how the passage applies or what he should do. Remember your job as coach is to help the party discover for himself.
Ask the party to apply the passage to specific attitudes or behaviors:
“How might this passage apply to you in this situation?”
“How do you think this applies to you, especially when you …?”
Use other sources that incorporate Scripture:
A hymn or spiritual song
A catechism or devotional resource.
Books (such as Conflict Resolution vs. Reconciliation or Confession & Forgiveness or The Peacemaker).
In this Demonstration Video, note how the coach uses the Bible, not only to confront Kyle about his sin, but also to comfort him with the Gospel.
Following the video, note your reflections.
Demo Video 3
From listening to Kyle’s story, the coach picked up on the theme that Kyle blamed his boss.
Mark the ways in which the coach helped Kyle take ownership of his sin by indicating which is true and which is false.
The coach argued with Kyle.
The coach read a Bible passage to show Kyle he was wrong.
The coach patiently listened to each of Kyle’s answers as he repeated his blame-shifting.
The coach asked Kyle to read a Bible passage and apply it to himself.
The coach explained how the passage fit Kyle’s situation.
The coach used silence to allow Kyle to reflect on how to apply the Bible passage to his own situation.
Enter a couple of thoughts about what made the coach’s silence effective.
If the coach argued with Kyle when he kept justifying himself, what do you think would have been the result?
What would have happened if the coach jumped in and told Kyle how the passage applied?
Share your observations above and then we'll enable the button to share the coach's approach here
How did the coach provide comfort and hope to Kyle?
Share your observations above and then we'll enable the button to share the coach's transition here
Finding Appropriate Scripture Passages
Experienced reconcilers learn that they need not know all of Scripture in order to use the Bible in coaching. However, it is invaluable to know a few key passages and to have easy reference materials to find key passages when you need them. Use a catechism, concordance, or even Google.
And, consider these reference materials designed specifically for conflict coaching:
Listen to how one reconciler grew in the ability to choose an appropriate Scripture.
Lesson 4 Journal Reflections
How can helping someone apply the Bible to their situation be so effective?
The most important insight I gained from this section was:
Paul writes in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.” Identify some areas in which you want to personally grow in order to be more effective as a biblically centered conflict coach: