A correspondant wrote:
If all of the outcomes are known ahead of time, then everything is predetermined, and there would be no way to change it.
God himself repented that he made mankind. This shows that He chose to let things run their course. I believe this is a better way of looking at things. God can step in and take control at any time, and He does. He can also see into the future based upon His omnicience at any point in time in order to know when He needs to step in.
Not that we can understand these things — seeing into the future is something that is beyond our realm of understanding. We can only understand it to the eztent that it has been revealed to us.
God certainly knew the outcome of Christ before He sent Him to the world, yet Christ had free will. If God could send Jesus with a determinate plan for His life and Jesus’ free will was not violated, then God can do the same for you and me. God made Pharaoh bow up his back and resist God, but Pharaoh had free will. God made Ahab go up to Ramoth-Gilead, but Ahab had free will. God told Saul that tomorrow he would be dead. Saul could have run like a dog, but he didn’t and he died, just like God said.
Each of us has free will, but God has determined a fate for every one of us–we are all going to die, no matter what. The Devil has free will, but God has a fate for him–he is destined for the Lake of Fire. If God can fate certain events in people’s lives without contravening free will, there is no reason to suppose that God was surprised by sin. It is clear from the fact that He planned for Christ’s death BEFORE the the creation that He intended for sin to occur.
To believe that God did not intend for sin to occur is to say that it happened in spite of God’s plan. God not not condone sin, but He sometimes uses people who are sinning to carry out His purposes. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, but it was God’s will that Judas betray Jesus. It had to be done to fulfill prophecy. God intended for that sin to occur. Likewise the death of Jesus was murder most foul, but God intended for that sin to occur. He had described it in graphic detail a thousand years before it happened (e.g. Ps 24:14). There is no way that you can say that God did not intend for these sins to occur.
If God can predict and permit sin and use sin for His purposes, there is no reason to argue that God did not create this present world as a place for sin to occur. That is really the only thing that makes sense. If He did not not need a broken world, why did He permit it? If He could have started out with Nirvana, why didn’t He? God is not a sadist that enjoys watching little creatures squirm. If He has no purpose for this sinful world, then He IS either a sadist or incompetent. It is much more reasonable to say that He has a purpose for a sinful world and all things are under His control. It is not subversion of free will for God to have a plan for the lives of creatures of free will.
The Lord was grieved that He made man upon the earth, but it was all according to His plan. God already foresaw the Fall, the Flood, the Cross and the Resurrection before the Beginning. It is all part of His design. There were some times that I was sorry I had kids, but I foresaw that before I had them. God was the same way.