Ephesians 2 – You Cannot Choose To Be Saved

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Woman sitting in church reading Bible

In many churches all over the world on any given Sunday we will inevitably hear the pastor invite people to “make a decision to follow Christ” or “invite Jesus into their hearts.”

Ephesians 2 blows major holes in this idea that our salvation has something to do with our own autonomy or our independent choice to become saved.

The portrait of us painted in Ephesians 2 agrees with the rest of Scripture: that we are destitute, dead, and completely hopeless in this world.

We have grown up believing that we are the masters of our own destiny, we can be anything we want to be, and we are sovereign over our own future.

We’re taught from childhood that with hard work, ambition, and a good education, we can do anything, be anything, and succeed at everything.

This worldview has shaped our doctrine of salvation and caused us to unconsciously believe that is our decision that leads us to salvation.

3 Reasons Why We Don’t Choose to Be Saved

1. We are slaves to sin

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16

Scripture clearly teaches that we are born into sin; we are born already slaves to sin. This is why you don’t have to teach a child to sin; they are born with a natural tendency to do wrong.

A slave – by very nature of its definition – does not have autonomy. He cannot sovereignly choose what to do, when do it, and how to do it. By definition, a slave must do what his master tells him to do.

2. We are hopeless

that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12

Before we come to Christ, we are “strangers and aliens”, we are outside of the covenant of God, we have no rights or privileges awarded to citizens.

We are hopeless and without God.

If we are without hope, the only way to obtain hope is to have it given to us.

If we are hopeless, we have no way of finding hope and obtaining it on our own; or we wouldn’t, by definition, be hopeless after all.

A truly hopeless person has exhausted every option for hope and the only future they have is utter destruction and nothing more.

3. We are dead

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1

This is the greatest and most final argument against self-initiated salvation.

A dead person, by the very definition of “dead”, cannot initiate anything at all. If they could, they wouldn’t be dead.

A dead person cannot seek, a dead person cannot find, a dead person cannot make a decision, a dead person cannot do anything at all.

In order for a dead person to be made alive and a new creation, there must be a living force independent of them doing the creating and reviving!

God sought us, we didn’t seek Him

Since we are dead, hopeless, slaves and cannot seek, find or make a decision for Christ; how do we get saved at all?

God seeks us

for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

God is the One who is doing the seeking, not us.

If a person is actively seeking for answers to their questions about faith, they are seeking only because the Holy Spirit has already begun a work of reviving in their hearts.

Man, in and of himself, does not initiate the seeking; it is the Holy Spirit that begins that work inside of them.

God makes us alive

and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:6

Just as the power of God raised Christ from the dead, the power of God is what is required to raise us from our state of spiritual death.

Nothing else can revive a person spiritually but the almighty power of God.

God saves us

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8

The work of salvation is initiated by God, it is worked by God, and it is completed by God. Our response to that work is simply our choice to submit to that work being completed in our hearts.

The only act on our part is humble submission to the miracle of God making us alive and saving us from our dead, hopeless slavery.

God makes us a new creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

God is the only creator of life.

Man cannot create life. In order for any life form to exist, God has to breathe life into it. Creation requires a miracle and only God can do that.

When God saves you, He makes you a new creation. The old you is now dead and a new you has been created. This is the miracle of salvation! You become a new life.

We have no reason to boast

We did nothing to make this happen.

We couldn’t do anything! We were dead, hopeless slaves without any rights, sovereignty or life at all to make anything happen!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8

We don’t find Jesus – He finds us (Luke 19:10)

We don’t make a decision – He chooses to save us (Ephesians 1:4-5)

It is a gift of God.

The only boasting we can do as new creations in Christ Jesus is to boast in Him and the work that He has done in and through us.

We don’t choose to be saved, we choose to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that is leading us to salvation. The only act on our part is an act of humility, obedience, and submission to Almighty God who is Supreme above all and who has chosen, by love, grace a mercy, to initiate a relationship with us.

View all of the Ephesians Bible Study Links here: 

30 Day Prayer Challenge for Ephesians

Blog Posts:
History and Introduction 
Ephesians 1 – 2 Things Paul Prayed for the Church
Ephesians 1 – 7  Things Every Christian Needs to Know 
Bible Journal With Me How Much Do You Love the Will of God?- Ephesians 1:7-8
Ephesians 2 – You Cannot Choose To Be Saved

Ephesians 2 – Our Position in Christ
Ephesians 2 – You Cannot Choose to Be Saved
Ephesians 3 – Revealing the Mystery
Ephesians 3 – Paul’s Second Prayer for the for the Saints 
Ephesians 4 – Christian Behavior Matters 
3 Powerful Steps to Renewing the Mind
Ephesians 4 – Our Responsibility to the Body of Christ
Ephesians 4 – 5 Things Christians Need to Stop Doing
Ephesians 5 – How to Avoid God’s Wrath
Ephesians 5 – 5 Ways to Walk Victoriously in Christ
Ephesians 5 – Wives, Submit to Your Own Husbands
Ephesians 6 – Go to Battle

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  1. We also have free will and have the choice to choose Him back. We can choose to walk away from Him and salvation.

    1. Yes! We do have a the choice to choose Him back or to walk away. I think that is what makes Christianity so amazing. The fact that God wants us to love Him back.

  2. Some would argue we do not have a choice in the matter. God chooses who goes to heaven or hell. There is no free will.

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