All that being said, it’s important to also know that only those few people God has elected (chosen) for eonian life will be given faith and be reconciled (from a relative perspective; again, everyone is reconciled, from an absolute perspective, by Christ’s death and resurrection) and saved in this lifetime; they will get to live through all of the eons to come (both those under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision and those under the Gospel of the Circumcision, even though these two groups will experience the next eon differently from one another: some in the heavens and some on Earth).
To put it simply, faith is not something one can just decide to have. Peter told his written audience that it is “by Him” (Christ) that we believe in God and not “by ourselves,” which is something he’d been proclaiming from the very beginning of his ministry, although this is no surprise since he’d been taught firsthand by Jesus Himself that one can’t choose to believe without God first choosing them. And just like Jesus and Peter, Paul also taught that faith is not of oneself, but by grace, rather — a gift of God to certain chosen people who are predestined for eonian life for a specific purpose. Most religious Christians believe that they can “choose Christ” on their own, and in fact believe that one’s sovereign choice determines where they will spend eternity, but to teach this idea is to teach salvation by works or salvation by self, and is really nothing more than humanism dressed up in religious garb.
The idea that “choosing Christ on one’s own in order to be saved is actually salvation by works or salvation by self” goes against what most religious leaders have taught, but if you need to stop sinning and decide to choose Jesus as your lord and saviour in order to be be saved, how could it be anything else? The first part of that should be obvious enough, since forcing yourself to stop sinning in order to be saved is obviously a works-based salvation, but even having to choose to believe is a work. If you don’t agree with me, try choosing right now to truly believe in Thor as your lord and saviour. Can’t do it, can you? Forcing oneself to believe something that one hasn’t already organically come to believe is one of the biggest mental works a person could do, and it seems unlikely that anybody is actually capable of it (and if one has come to believe the truth then they already believe and have already been saved; this is a very binary concept with no middle ground: one either truly believes [which means they have been given the gift of faith by God to believe the Good News] and is saved, or they don’t [which means God hasn’t given them the faith necessary to believe the Good News] and aren’t). Regardless, even if someone could somehow brainwash themselves into believing something they really didn’t previously believe, it would still be an action (even if just a mental action) they had to accomplish to save themselves (or accomplish to participate in saving themselves). Pretty much every denomination and cult (not that there’s much difference) out there teaches salvation by a combination of Christ’s sacrifice plus our own “free will” (aside from some Calvinist denominations, who at least sort of understand God’s sovereignty and generally know better than to believe in “free will,” even if they’re fatally confused about nearly every other doctrine), but if salvation is by grace plus something else, it’s not by grace alone.
To put it simply, most religious Christians actually reject the free gift of salvation (despite mistakenly calling their so-called “gospel” a free gift) because they don’t truly believe that it’s what Christ did that saves us (since otherwise they’d have to admit that everyone will be saved) or that salvation really is a free gift given to all, but rather most believe that Jesus saved absolutely nobody through His death and resurrection. Instead, they believe that salvation is an offer rather than an already existing fact (and that Paul’s Gospel is a proposition rather than simply a proclamation of that fact). They think that He only made it possible for people to save themselves by making the right choice with what He did there (although they’d feign humility by claiming to still give the credit to God and Christ somehow, pretending to believe that salvation is no merit of their own, all the while condemning others to “hell” for being too unmeritorious to choose to become Christians), and that it’s actually one’s acceptance of the gift of potential salvation that saves them (if they happen to be smart enough or wise enough to make the right decision, of course — people who believe in “free will” ultimately believe that salvation depends on human intelligence or wisdom to make the right choice; only those people who are good enough, meaning smart or wise enough, not to mention humble enough, to reject their previous wrong choices and now make the right choice or choices are able to be saved according to most of Churchianity, ultimately making salvation a moral accomplishment we do for ourselves, completing our salvation through our righteous decision to seek after God and believe in Christ, with Christ Himself merely accomplishing step one of our salvation). If they accepted that it was entirely, 100% what Christ did that saved them rather than their own good and wise and humble choice, they’d also have to accept that Christ’s death and resurrection saves everyone regardless of whether everyone chooses to believe it or not, which is just unacceptable to most of those in the Christian religion. To be fair, yes, you do need to “accept that Jesus is our saviour” (please note that I didn’t just say “your saviour”) if you want to experience eonian life during the next two eons (which is limited to those who actually do accept the existence of the free gift, and believe the Good News that everybody will eventually experience said gift, at least for those under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision). However, accepting Jesus as your (and our) saviour doesn’t mean choosing to allow Him to save you (which would mean you would have a role in your own salvation, even if just the small role of making the right decision). Rather, it’s accepting that He has already saved you (and everyone else) after you’ve been given the gift of faith to believe the Good News of your (and everyone’s) already existing reconciliation because of His death for our (meaning everybody’s) sins, and His subsequent entombment and resurrection. Basically, most Christians put the cart before the horse, thinking they first had faith and were then saved because of this faith, when it’s actually that they were first saved and (if they were elected) were then given faith by God to believe the Good News of their already promised salvation and impending everlasting life (which is what salvation is from an absolute perspective), giving them eonian life (which is what salvation is from a relative perspective). And if one isn’t among the elect, then judgement is a part of God’s sovereign plan for that person, and they couldn’t possibly believe either Gospel before they die and experience eonian life no matter how hard one tries to get them to (yes, the light that is Christ might illuminate all men [note the word “might” there since this is a circumcision passage that is technically only talking about Israelites; however, there’s a decent chance the principle applies to everyone, and the next point definitely does, so I’m still using it here], but all will fail to perceive that light unless God opens their eyes since their minds have been blinded to it [this passage does apply to everyone, at least everyone who hasn’t been elected for eonian life]). One can’t simply build up true faith on their own to believe the actual Good News while their minds have been blinded to the truth. Everything we have, including our faith, we ultimately received from God (otherwise we could boast about our good decision to believe the Gospel, when the truth is that the moment we are given faith to believe the Good News, we have already been saved from a relative perspective). This doesn’t mean that those who don’t believe the Good News haven’t been saved from an absolute perspective, however, of course. They’ll still be given everlasting life at some point in the future thanks to what Christ did for them some 2,000 years ago. They just won’t also get eonian life the way those God did give faith to will, and so they’ll miss out on some things that the few who are saved from a relative perspective will get to enjoy.
The sovereignty of God and His purposes for creation from before it all began is one of the most important factors in the Bible (and while most Christians would claim to believe in His sovereignty, not very many actually do), yet very few people are aware that He has a reason for everything that has happened in creation, and has had very specific plans for the eons (and those in each eon) from the beginning. In fact, thanks to bad translations of Scripture, most Christians aren’t aware of the concept of the eons at all (or they confuse the eons with dispensations [also known as administrations], which are something else altogether; an eon is a specific period of time that can contain multiple dispensations, sometimes with more than one of these dispensations occurring at the exact same time as each other). Rather, most religious Christians believe that God really hoped humanity wouldn’t sin, but is now on Plan B because we did. They don’t realize that everything about creation, be it good and evil, righteousness and sin, pleasure and suffering, faith and unbelief, even the Devil and the crucifixion, were all intended by God from before the beginning of creation (God is not only able to see the future, He declares what is going to be done from the beginning, and what He desires to be done will be done). Yes, from a relative perspective, God does ask people to accept the truth, but one has to recognize the fact that God is still 100% in control from an absolute perspective and that Scripture is using a figure of speech called “Condescension” in places that appear to make it look like things are ultimately up to us.
Of course, because of their soteriology, many people dislike the idea of predestination since it would mean God decides that certain (indeed most) people will suffer forever in a literal lake of fire. It’s only when one realizes that God has a specific reason for electing only certain people to be saved in this lifetime and for choosing others to miss out on eonian life, and that nobody stays in “hell” forever (not to mention that both “hell” and the lake of fire aren’t what most people think they are), but rather that God actually had a plan all along that works out for everyone in the end that one might come to understand that predestination is ultimately in our best interests. Of course, if we don’t accept that predestination is a fact, we’re giving the responsibility for not “accepting Jesus” to those who don’t, which also means we’re giving the credit for “accepting Jesus” to those who do, again, making them their own (at least partial) saviours and giving them reason to boast about their good decision. But that aside, the Bible tells us that God takes credit for both the good and evil that exists in the world anyway (even Satan was created the way he is for a specific purpose), as well as for who ultimately experiences reconciliation first and who has to wait until later, so we should really give Him all of the credit rather than boasting in our so-called “free will” and righteous acts (even if it’s just one righteous act consisting of a righteous decision) for our salvation.
Others dislike the idea that God might coerce people into salvation, claiming that God is a gentleman and that He would never force people to spend eternity with Him against their wishes. These people seem to have forgotten the conversion experience of someone named Saul who was entirely opposed to the true God, and was in fact on the road to Damascus to kill those who did want to spend eternity with Him when God showed him mercy so that he could become a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian (this pattern being that those who are saved, relatively speaking, are made to believe rather than choosing to believe, even if it isn’t always as obvious in our cases as it was for the man who became our apostle).
Speaking of which, many who are uncomfortable with the idea of predestination like to say things along the lines of, “God doesn’t want robots,” and teach that God gave us something called “free will” (even if that “free will” is perhaps somewhat limited, not realizing that “limited free will” is a contradiction in terms) to choose Him for ourselves (not quite grasping the irony of their belief that God won’t force anyone to go to heaven even though He will apparently force these very same people to go to “hell” if they don’t make the right decision before they die, not considering the question of why “free will” only matters while one is alive when it comes to avoiding “hell” [unless one believes anybody would actually choose to be tortured in literal fire and want to continue to remain there forever, which seems highly unlikely to anyone who has ever burned themselves even for a second. Of course, if you really want to test the resolve of someone who claims that respecting “free will” is paramount, ask them if suicide and euthanasia should be legal and whether the supposed “free will” of the one who wants to die should be respected]? And that old “faith in something one can’t see is required for salvation” canard isn’t a valid answer since there will be plenty of people born during the Millennium who will see the truth of God’s and Christ’s existence firsthand and hence not need blind faith in their existence to be saved). These people don’t understand that, aside from being unscriptural, “free will” is also a complete impossibility from a purely logical and scientific perspective and can’t actually exist in reality. That said, most people don’t know what the term “free will” even means. What it doesn’t mean is the ability to choose. We can definitely choose things; it’s just that those choices are all predetermined, either by our nurture and nature (meaning life experiences and genetics), or by influences outside the sphere of the physical universe (such as by God). Yes, we do all have a will; it’s just that it’s not free (particularly before we’re saved — can a slave to sin be said to be free? — although afterwards as well since we’re still slaves after salvation). Remember, events always either have a cause or they don’t; there’s no way for an event (even an event such as a decision or choice) to be anything other than caused or uncaused. If it’s caused, it’s predetermined; if it’s uncaused, it’s random (which no religious Christian would think is better than being predetermined). Nobody has ever been able to give a third option that works within the limits of reality, which means it’s time to throw the idea of free will away and accept that God is fully in control, even when it comes to salvation and judgement. And don’t worry, this doctrine doesn’t mean we’re robots. Because, honestly, that would actually give us too much credit.