A biblical Christian should never shape his beliefs according to the teachings of a preacher over against the Bible. Ever. There are some doctrines though which the majority of evangelical Christian scholars have, throughout history, discerned as plainly taught in Scripture, in spite of opposition from those outside the Church and even by many inside the fold of the Church. One such disputed doctrine is the biblical teaching of election–that salvation ultimately depends not on human will and decision but on the will and predestining choice of God.
Some Scripture plainly teaches this:” 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Joh 1:12-13 ESV)
There is a tension in the Bible found even in this one passage: that salvation happens to an person who “receives” Christ and “believes in his name”, but also that being born again, being saved, becoming a “child of God” ultimately depends not on human will (“the will of man”) but on God’s will (“of God”). It is legitimate to study the Bible and wrestle with how these two truths fit together. But it is unbiblical and even dangerous to deny what the Bible teaches. Likewise with the implication of the doctrine of election that God predestines some people to be saved and others to remain under judgement:
” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” (Rom 9:18-24 ESV)
These verses are in the Bible. They teach that God according to his free choice and will (“whomever he wills”) created some people to be saved and others to be examples of His justice and wrath upon sin (“one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use” v 21) and that God’s choice in whom to choose for salvation was prior to the later choice of individuals whether to receive the Gospel or not (“prepared for destruction” v 22 and “prepared beforehand for glory” v 23). Many verses can be found in the Bible which seem to give a different view, but Scripture cannot be pitted against Scripture for all of it is inspired by the Spirit of God and is God’s Word. There are many possible ways to resolve the tension between the need of each individual to choose the Gospel and the predestining choice of God; between the love of God for the whole world and the choice of God to create some people for the purpose of judgement; between God’s will to reveal His wrath on some created for that purpose (v 22 above) and the fact that He takes no delight in destroying people He lovingly created. Some of the explanations fail to satisfy people who sincerely struggle with this tension in the Bible. For me, I found that after some years God helped me to see that when the supreme worth of His glory begins to be understood, solutions to these sorts of questions of fairness (from a human perspective) begin to seem less difficult.
In the end, the Christian must submit to the authority of the Bible in all things and ask God for understanding and peace of mind when understanding fails. Let God be God and do not accuse the “Potter” of injustice. “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Rom 9:20)