I was recently listening to a Q & A from a Ligonier Conference that was recorded several years ago. It was during this Q & A that this very question came up. “How would you advise a parent who concludes one or more of their children are not among the elect?”

The question was addressed to R.C. Sproul, Jr. who responded quite quickly.

“What do you do if you conclude on of your children is not elect? What you do is you repent. Election is a beautiful, comforting, powerful, Biblical doctrine about God’s secret decrees. And because it’s God’s secret decrees –– You can certainly, in some sense know that you’re elect, that’s the issue of assurance; although we need to be careful, very careful as reformed people, we get so distorted on this, often thinking that we’re justified by our election. When the truth of the matter is we are justified by Christ.

No one gets into heaven by –– if you go up to the throne of God and God says ‘Why should I let you into my Kingdom?’ and you say, ‘Well, look down in Your book and You’ll see my name there.’ Your names not in there.

You plead the work of Christ on your behalf, and that’s all.

Because of that, we don’t know who’s not elect. We do know if someone dies, screaming blasphemies against God, that that person wasn’t elect, and how we deal with that is another question. But if your children are breathing, then you don’t know that they’re not elect.

You can know, maybe, that they’re not in the Kingdom at this point, certainly.

And what do you do then?

You pray. And you preach. That’s what you do. As you do with anyone else whose lost. You pray with great fervor.” (end quote – 3:35 mark in the video)

I can not think of a better answer than that which Sproul gave. I think his answer is a message that Calvinists must remind ourselves of daily.

In The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin states ” . . we are not bidden to distinguish between reprobate and elect – that is for God alone, not for us, to do . . . ”

To make any assumption that we are aware of the inner workings of the triune counsel of God, is to make an audacious and blasphemous claim. God knows his elect, but we are commanded to preach the Gospel to all. In a quote attributed to Spurgeon, it is said “If God had painted a yellow stripe up the backs of the elect, I’d go through London lifting up coats and preaching only to them. As it is, He has not, so I preach the Gospel to all, and God brings his sheep.

We must never come to a place where we begin labeling others in our mind as reprobate, beyond God’s reach, or beyond hope.

There is no one who is too hard to save for a sovereign, omnipotent God.

Remember, none of us could have been more lost when God found us.

“so then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” – Romans 9:16

3 thoughts on “What If You Know Your Child Isn’t Elect?

  1. As I understand Calvinism, there’s no way for a person to know for certain that he or she is elect. They could be born into a preacher’s family, go into missions, then through a seminary and spend every moment of their day being Christians, only to learn at the moment of their death that they were never among the elect. If you can’t be certain that your relative is among the elect, then you can’t be sure that you are elect also. Which is why I don’t believe in Calvinism. For ‘Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’ … even if they aren’t the predestined elect from eternity past.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t understand the ‘you pray’ answer. If your child isn’t elect, prayer won’t change that. Does God change who is elect and who isn’t based on someone’s prayer? If so then that kind of opens up a whole new set of questions. How does he decide that? How many times does one need to pray. The truth is if your kid isn’t elect then tough cookies. He/She is going to hell because God made a decision before the creation of the world to send them there. I don’t see how your prayers matter in this situation.


  3. Agree with Chris. The only way to survive the uncertainty about your kids is to keep them at a distance and realize you may never see them again after you die. They are God’s kids and you are only their caretaker for a tiny interval. Ultimately they are not your responsibility except physically.


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