Unconditional Election: The Practical Use of Unconditional Election

Are the Doctrines of Grace practical? Let me be more specific, more practical in my question.  Is the doctrine of unconditional election a user-friendly doctrine?  Let me put it another way, will this doctrine help form piety, deepen love, and strengthen my faith? Maybe you would respond, "Couldn't prove it by me."  Now, that may not be true of you but for some it is true. Some folks just cannot see how these doctrines are practical or even important.  For instance, someone may say of the Doctrines of Grace, "The five points of Calvinism are not essential truths of the Christian faith. In fact, they seem only good for dividing the church."

Well, let me suggest otherwise. Let me try to persuade you of the deeply practical nature of unconditional election. In fact, I will give you five reasons for the practicality of this doctrine.

First, unconditional election intensifies my understanding of God's love for me. Think about what Paul says to the Ephesians.  He writes, "In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself."[1] Think of it!  God's unconditional election of men, women and children was motivated by His love for us. What makes that even more incredible is what Paul said to the Roman Christians, "But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."[2] Now, call me crazy but I think that kind of love motivates godliness, which leads to my next point.

Second, loving election produces belonging. What do I mean?  Remember that in love God predestined us to adoption as sons.  In other words, while we were yet sinners he chose us to belong to His family.  Years ago, I was listening to a lecture on the history of the college from which I graduated. It was magisterial.  What is more, it gave me a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself.  I was part of long faithful tradition.  Now, that is a college!  God adopted me to live in His family!  I belong to the family of God. 

Third, belonging produces behavior. The fact that God chose me is foundational for my belonging.  But my belonging to the family leads me to adopt family likenesses and behaviors.  I am often amazed when outsiders meet a family with adopted children.  As they study the family they say things like, "She looks like her mother" or "He walks just like you" or "I can see where she gets this or that."  This should not surprise us!  The decree of predestination leads to adoption, which eventually leads to family likeness.

Fourth, unconditional election reminds me of enormous sacrifice. In other words, my place in the family of God came at a price. God's choosing me meant Christ's death on my behalf.  How can I reflect on God's electing love and grace apart from the person and work of Christ? How can I reflect on the sacrifice of Christ and not be humbled by God's choice of me?

Fifth, unconditional election motivates me to speak the gospel.  Not knowing who are and are not the elect I speak the gospel of God.  Like Paul said to Timothy, "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory."[3]  That is the attitude of a person who has experienced all that flows from unconditional election. Unconditional election does not stultify evangelistic zeal it kindles it.  In fact, unconditional election rightly understood and applied can be a wonderfully useful and practical doctrine. Why don't you make some use of it today?

Jeffrey A. Stivason has been serving the Lord as a minister of the gospel since 1995.  He was church planter and now pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He also holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA.  Jeff is the Managing Editor for Place for Truth.

[1] Ephesians 1:4b-5.

[2] Romans 5:8.

[3] II Timothy 2:10.


Jeffrey Stivason