I was cleaning the other day and came across an invitation to a friend’s 60th birthday celebration. The RSVP date was long past, the party over.

Still, the invitation was proof I had been welcome. The decision to come — or not — had been mine to make.

That invitation came to mind during a Bible study discussion of “election” — the Calvinist doctrine that God decided at the beginning of time which of us would be saved or lost. Our fate, it teaches, is “predestined” involving no real human choice.

Some were disturbed by the perceived unfairness. “If God decides who will be saved and who won’t,” they reasoned, “why am I held accountable for my sin?” Others wanted to know why we bother to preach the Gospel if human choice is irrelevant?

Me, I see election as a kind of open invitation to heaven. Scripture is clear that God isn’t willing anyone to perish, but wants everyone to repent. Suppose He plans  salvation for each of us the moment we are born, issues the invitation, then works and waits for our response?

I believe that invitation remains open until our last breath. The elect formally accept by trusting Christ as their Savior. Those who don’t, aren’t elect. An omniscient God obviously knows the choice we’ll make. His knowing makes it no less our decision.

Why preach and teach the Gospel? It’s Christ’s directive. God knows the elect; we don’t. Some may hear the invitation and decide to join the party.

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