Summary: Was it just your own choice why you believe? Could you really choose to follow God, to believe in Him, or to be saved?
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will" (Ephesians 1:4-5, NIV).
“For HE chose…”
It is God who actually made the choice. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last…” (John 15:16.)
We also read in Isaiah 43:10, “’You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he…’”
Others are teachings that God had given us the so-called human free will, so we have also the freedom to follow God or not, to receive or reject His Spirit, to delight in Him or despise Him.
But, is it really possible that because of our so-called freedom of choice, we are able to choose God, or even the things of God?
Paul wrote in Romans 8:7-8 that “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
We read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
And we also read in Genesis 6:5, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”
With such kind of mind and heart, how can a man ever choose God?
It is not the question whether man has free will, or not. Though he has his freedom of choice, it is not enough for any man – except Jesus Christ -- to enable him to choose God and His righteousness.
As we read in 1 Corinthians 2:11 and 14, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God… The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Thus, we could only choose God, or accept His gift, if He would choose first to enable us – through His Spirit -- to understand or grasp His Worth, or the immeasurable value of His gift! For human beings are spiritually “unconscious” to behold and desire or choose what is “spiritually attractive or beneficial.”
And God “…chose US in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
Because of the passage which says, "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment -- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" (Eph. 1:9-10; also Col. 1:19-20), should we believe that "all" are elected or chosen "to be holy and blameless in his sight... to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:4-5)?
Could we just believe that the word "us" in Ephesians 1:4 refers to the believers, just as we read in verse 19: "us who believe"?
While some are teaching that everyone is included in Christ, Paul stated that those who are in Him are those who believed: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- HAVING ALSO BELIEVED, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13, NAS).
Besides, the letter of Ephesians was addressed to “the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” (verse 1).
Not everyone is chosen by God. Not all are chosen or predestined “to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”
And, according to Paul, who were the chosen ones?
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, BECAUSE OUR GOSPEL CAME TO YOU NOT SIMPLY WITH WORDS, BUT ALSO WITH POWER, WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WITH DEEP CONVICTION. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thess. 1:4-6).
Not everyone accepted or would accept the words of the Bible, or of those who are preaching the gospel, as the powerful Word of God. God’s Word could just be regarded by others as ordinary words of men.