The goal of this series is to magnify God’s grace and to humble man’s pride.
This is blog post is based on Covenant Reformed Seminary of Asia’s session on The Sovereignty of God and the Doctrines of Grace: Unconditional Election Part 3: Practical Application
We come now to the discussion of the practical applications of the doctrine of election. These applications are the natural consequences of this doctrine.
Interestingly, the majority of teaching about the doctrine of election is found in the New Testament letters. Why? The NT letters were written to believers; to those who’ve been called out of the world into the body of Christ. Now that they’ve been called out of the world, the first logical question would be—why? Why were they saved and others are not? Why are they sitting in the church, forgiven of their sins, and having the hope of heaven?
The answer is that God has loved them from eternity and has chosen them for salvation in Jesus Christ.
Twofold blessings in understanding this doctrine:
- It answers the question, why we are saved and others are not; and
- It serves as an incentive for practical Christian living.
The Five Applications below are the result of truly understanding this doctrine:
#1 Unconditional Election Fuels Evangelism
Last time, we mentioned that this is one of the common objections against unconditional election. Far from being a hindrance to evangelism. Unconditional Election is actually a powerful motive for evangelism.
We assert that God has a people within every nation, and He will use us to call them to Himself, we are all the more encouraged to evangelize.
2 Tim 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Paul crossed three continents, endured all manner of hardship and affection, for the sake of God’s elect. He know God had people scattered throughout those continents, and he knew God would use Him to save them.
So far from making evangelism pointless, the sovereignty of God in grace is the one thing that prevents evangelism from being pointless. For it creates the possibility—indeed, the certainty—that evangelism will be fruitful. Apart from it, there is not even a possibility of evangelism being fruitful. Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel.J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
Apart from God’s sovereignty in choosing those who will be saved, evangelism would be fruitless since men by nature are depraved, corrupt, and would choose to be away from God.
It gives us boldness. One reason why many people have a reluctance to share the gospel, is the fear of rejection. The truth can be offensive to fallen man, and it’s possible that we will be hated and even possibly mistreated. But the belief that God has an elect people and will use us to bring them to Himself, gives us boldness and resolve to even evangelize.
It gives us patience. The fact that God has a people means, we should never give up on anyone. That God has a people and will save them in His time, encourages us to finally leave the results with Him. We do not need to manipulate the results. We entrust God with the results.
It urges us to pray. We must remember that God alone can change hearts and humble the proud and foolish sinners. Brethren, this is the glory of believing that salvation is of God—we ultimately plead with a gracious and powerful God. Yes, we plead with sinners—we must reason with them—but ultimately, we have to wrestle with God in prayer. The success of evangelism comes from the Word of God, energized and empowered by the Spirit of God. At the end of the day, evangelism is not wrestling with dead sinners, but wresting with the gracious God.
#2 Unconditional Election Provides Assurance
The relationship between election and assurance is closely connected.
We first ask how are they connected? It is because unconditional election is unto salvation which includes glorification. Remember, election si not salvation but unto salvation, and salvation includes, calling, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. This is a complete package.
Rom 8:30 ESV And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Simply put, every person elected will go to heaven. It is impossible for one to be a Christian and yet perish eventually.
2 Th 2:13-14 ESV But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice, Christians are called by the gospel and for glory—we they are called to share in the glory of Christ. While we must distinguish salvation planned and salvation applied, we must not separate them. What God planned, He will do on the basis of what God accomplished in Christ. The roots of our salvation go all the way back to the eternal counsel or decree of God.
Secondly, we ask how is assurance of salvation increased? It is by looking for the evidence of salvation for which we were elected. In other words, we can read our election within our calling and conversion. Our conversion argues for the reality of our salvation.
1Th 1:4-5 ESV For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
How did Paul know that they are elect? Because the gospel came with power.
2Pe 1:10 ESV Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities (the fruit mentioned in verse 5-7) you will never fall.
Peter wants his readers to be diligent. In other words, he expected them to labor for assurance. Notice that their fruit argues for God’s choosing of them. The evidence of calling and election is our good works.
The doctrines of our election, and free justification in Christ Jesus are daily more and more pressed upon my heart. They fill my soul with a holy fire and afford me great confidence in God my Savior.George Whitefield
Canons of Dort (1:12) Assurance of their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word—such as a (1) true faith in Christ, (2) a childlike fear of God, (3) a godly sorrow for their sins, (4) a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.
Simply put, our good works function as a secondary ground (the gospel and merit of Christ is the primary) of our assurance of salvation. While we must search ourselves if there is any evidence or fruit of salvation, we must always look upon Christ.
Thy works, not mine, O Christ, speak gladness to this heart; they tell me all is done; they bid my fear depart.Horatio Bonar (1857)
#3 Unconditional Election Promotes Adoration
The only reason given for election is the Covenant love of God. God forelove His people from eternity. Thus, He chose them for salvation because of love.
The cause of our love. His love for us is the cause and motive of our love for Him. Our love for Him is the consequence of His love for us.
1Jn 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
God loved His people in such a way so as to ensure that they will love Him in return. Many might say that God is self-serving. But we have to understand that that is the reason why He created us. We are created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Loving God is not only our chief goal but it is the highest and greatest blessing known to man. This is true life.
Deu 30:6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
The motive of our love. His love for us is an incentive for us loving Him. There are reasons why we should love God but it all boils down to this: Who God is and what He has done for me.
Thirty-nine Articles of Religion for the Church of England (Article 17)—As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it greatly establishes and confirms their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it fervently kindles their love towards God.
Canons of Dort (1:13) In their awareness and assurance of this election, God’s children daily find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of God’s mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in return to the One who first so greatly loved them.
#4 Unconditional Election Encourages Holiness
Many think that since God has chosen us, we are free to sin. We ask, why so quick to think that one is excused to sin when we affirm the doctrine of election? Don’t they know that election unto salvation is salvation from sin?
Election encourages holiness because it answers the end or goal of our election—election unto salvation. Truel holiness is hearty obedience to the law of God, and practical conformity to the image of God. We are elected that we may be holy and blameless.
“There is no truth that can so encourage a man to piety as the fact that he was chosen of God ere time begun. Loved by Him with an unlimited love that never moves, and that endures to the end- O my God! I desire to spend myself in Your service. ‘Love, so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all,’ for this rich mercy constrains us, compels us to walk in the fear of God and to love and serve Him all our lives.”CHARLES SPURGEON
Unconditional Election provides for our holiness.
Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
He sanctifies us by His Spirit and by His grace.
2 Timothy 1:9 ESV who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
How was grace given even before we existed? We must differentiate between purpose and actual existence.
God’s decree of election does not depend on our holiness, but our holiness and happiness depends on God’s decree of election.John Owen
Election motivates us to holiness
We pursue holiness because we were chosen for holiness.
Deuteronomy 10:14-16 ESV Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
Our election is a great privilege and it should motivate us to live holy.
#5 Unconditional Election Demands Humility
Election demands humility because God elected His people from a common lump of depraved humanity.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 ESV For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
Calvinism is no better than our loving humility. Our boasting is not in ourselves but in God. It makes no difference if we can defend the doctrines of grace if it does not influence our hearts. The only reason that we are here serving and worshipping Him is His electing grace. No more no less, nothing in us.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!