Unconditional Election: Implications of Election

As a A.C.B.C. certified counselor and ordained pastor, I have the privilege of helping at the Biblical Counseling Institute associated with the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.[1]  I value an educated pastorate and stress the importance of systematic theology and knowledge of the original biblical languages for students studying for the ministry.  However, knowledge is not merely brain filler but a tool used in service to the Lord for helping His people.  So, in that light, of what good to the pastor/counselor are fancy theological terms such as “unconditional election”?  I suggest they are essential to a pastor/counselor’s ability to bring the hope of the gospel to hurting people.  Consider “Unconditional Election”, the second term in the Calvinistic acrostic:  T.U.L.I.P. and its importance in helping lost and hurting, people.[2]  To use this term as a tool to help another person, we must first understand it, and so let us start by breaking the term down into its constituent parts:

  1. Condition (noun): something that on which something else is contingent.  Something demanded as an essential part of an agreement.[3]
  2. Conditional:  (adjective) imposing, containing, or depending on a condition or conditions; not absolute; made or granted on certain terms:  a conditional agreement, sale, etc.[4]
  3. Un:  a prefix meaning “not,” freely used as an English formative, giving a negative or opposite force, in adjectives …[5]
  4. Election:  The choice by God of individuals, as for a particular work, or especially for salvation of eternal life.[6]

So, Unconditional Election is God's choice of individuals who have not nor are they able to meet any terms and conditions that would land them in a relationship with God.  How does this knowledge help the pastor counsel?  Let me suggest three important implications of the doctrine of Unconditional Election:

First(And this is for the pastor himself!):

You are free to preach, teach, counsel and exhort the unbelievers whom God brings into your sphere of influence.    God’s electing grace does not depend on your brilliance, the perfection of your presentation, or even being able to balance confrontation and compassion, a balance for which we ought to strive.  God has chosen people and His choice does not depend on you.  But you have been given the incredible dignity of being used by God in the building of His Kingdom.[7]  You have the powerful weapon[8] of the word of God that tears down “strongholds”, that “discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart”.[9]   It is this word that God uses to bring “faith”[10], and faith is the instrument by which the regenerated sinner lays hold of Christ.[11]   Thus the sinner is born again by the living and abiding word of God.[12]  So, “Unconditional Election” allows you the confidence of knowing that God will use your labor to bring the sinner to salvation.  As my Systematic Theology professor once said:  “The word of God is sharper than a two edged sword, so stick it in!”[13]

Second:  There is hope for the sinner with whom you work! 

  1. No matter what they have done (barring the unpardonable sin), if they are in Christ, their salvation is sure.  It does not depend on their efforts to set things right.  It does not depend on their ability to walk perfectly.  They can confess their sin and be assured that he is faithful and just to forgive them.[14]  God has elected them, He will not be unjust and violate His own holy choice.
  2. Believers can be assured of victory because the God that chose to save will bring his work in them to completion.  God is writing his law upon hearts.[15]  When His law is written on hearts, people obey.  They glorify Him because the law is a reflection of God’s character.  What is more, they experience victory and the abundant life that flows from obedience to the law.  So there is hope for the struggling sinner and it ultimately finds its ground in the unconditional electing purpose of God.  In the fact of their struggle with sin, they can say with Paul:  “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[16]

Third:  There is cause for repentance and joy!  When the sinner realizes the situation was “worse than he thought, that he has no hope; there is a motivation for repentance when he understands that God freely chose him, without conditions, simply out His covenant love and faithfulness.  How can this be?  Is this not what the slaver John Newton discovered?  “Amazing Grace”!  How can I continue to sin against the one who freely set His love upon me?  Unconditional Election reveals the very essence of God’s character:  He is a God of Hesed  (covenant love).[17]  So with the Psalmist we experience the joy of knowing that we can pray: 

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD![18]

Election is based upon God's character and freedom.  Out of His Steadfast love He freely chose sinners.  He loves.  And according to this love, demonstrated in the work of Christ, He does “not remember” or base his future actions upon our past and current transgressions.  This is a cause for great joy!

Martin B. Blocki has served since 2003 as the Associate Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA since 2002.  He is a counselor at the Biblical Counseling Institute in Pittsburgh.  Rev. Blocki graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington (BME), Arizona State University (MM), and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological  Seminary (MDiv).  Martin and his wife, Kathy, have two married sons, one daughter, and 2 grand children.

[1] ACBC is an acrostic for Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

[3] The American College Dictionary, copyright 1963

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Matthew 16:18

[8] Ephesians 6:17

[9] Heb 4:12

[10] Romans 10:17

[11] Ephesians 2:9

[12] 1 Peter 1:23

[13]My thanks to Wayne Spear!

[14] 1 John 1:9

[15] Jeremiah 31:33

[16] Philippians 1:6

[17] Exodus 34:6

[18] Psalm 25:7


Martin Blocki