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 for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 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 reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Most hold to the persistent notion that our choices are free, including our choosing of Christ as Savior and Lord. However, Ephesians 1:4-14 indicates God is responsible for our salvation rather than us. Who is the active one in vv. 3-9 (“he blessed us,” “he chose us,” “he predestined us,” “he has freely given us,” “he lavished on us,” “he made know to us”)? Reflect on Romans 8:29-30, Titus 3:5-7, and 1 Peter 1:2 and note that it is God who actively pursues us.
Clearly, if God does not first do something in our heart, then we would not choose Christ on our own, thus we are not free to choose God without him first choosing us. Left to ourselves, no one is free to choose Christ. It cannot be any other way because the very concept of grace means that God does for us what we can never do for ourselves. Moreover, we are dead in our trespasses and sins and unable to respond to God’s gift of salvation without him taking the first step (Eph. 2:1-5). A beautiful example is God opening Lydia’s heart to respond to the Gospel (Acts 16:14; see also John 6:44, 65; Rom. 9:16). In fact, one cannot even repent (change their life) without God first granting the ability to do so (see Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25).
Election means that God destined, intended, resolved or purposed that, prior to the existence of the world, some would receive eternal life (see also, Rom. 8:29-30; 9:11-13; Eph. 1:5, 11; Tit. 1:2). God specifically calls those whom he has chosen (Jn. 10:3; Acts 2:39; Rom. 8:28-30; 16:13; Eph. 1:188; 1 Thess. 1:4; 1 Pt. 2:9; 2 Pt. 1:3). The idea that all have the latent ability to respond to God’s universal call for salvation (prevenient grace) is implicitly denied by Scripture (Rom. 3:9-11). Only those whom the Spirit of God enables can and will become the elect of God (Jn. 6:44, 65; 15:16; 1 Thess. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pt. 1:2).
Some would assert that election is an unjust doctrine; viz., God chooses some and not others. However, given the fact that all people everywhere and at every time deserve only condemnation (Rom. 3:7; 5:16, 18), God is not obligated to dismiss anyone’s guilt. Extending grace and mercy to some in election is of God’s own choosing (Rom. 9:18). Not to pardon others because of self-incurred guilt (unbelief) is an act of justice. Election would be unfair if God is required to be both just and merciful to all. Yet, the Scriptures, and an honest assessment of the human heart, are among the reasons why God is just. But only God’s mercy, pleasure, and will are the reasons for the existence of an elect of God (Rom. 9:16, 22-23; Eph. 1:5). God’s justice and mercy are impartial as he does not look to any qualities of the elect or condemned in determining between them (Rom. 2:11). His choices are purely of grace and mercy and his choices are the only truly free choices!