The Bible is clear that God operates a world that has elements of both free will and predestination in it. The difficulty is determining Biblically what that world looks like and how the will of man can be explained in a Biblical framework within that world. After narrowing down the acceptable possibilities to three, the acceptable explanation to understanding the will of man is either, pre-will, the sacred middle (grace), or free-destination.
Pre-will is described as a predestined world with elements of free will woven into it. In a pre-will philosophy, the world is mostly deterministic in nature but God places, or predetermines, times in individuals lives where they must exercise choice or free will. Those choices can negatively or positively effect the outcome of that individuals life and eternity. In pre-will, God predetermines that all individuals have the option for eternity, if they accept it. In pre-will, God has also elected, and preordained certain individuals to have hardened hearts, or to inherit the kingdom of Heaven. This is evidenced by Romans 9:11-13 which reads, “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Jacob was elected to blessing and Esau was predestined to a life of service and hardship. 1 Peter 4:19 is a good example of pre-will. Verse 19 says that those who are suffering according to God’s (preordained) will should commit themselves to continue to do good, a free will choice. This passage encompasses both free will and predestination elements. Many of the passages for pre-will can also be used for free-destination.
Free-destination is described as free world with elements of predestination woven into it. In a free-destination philosophy, the world is slightly deterministic in nature but God places, or preordains individuals to specific roles, responsibilities, or eternal election. The world is innately free and the individuals who reside in it generally set the course for their own lives, choices, and decisions. In a free-destination philosophy, God preordains moments in each persons life where they are required to make choices. John 3:16 is a good example for a verse dealing with the philosophy of free-destination. God predestines heaven for believers but it is up to each individual to freely accept that gift. 1 Peter 5:2 is another good example of free-destination in scripture. 1 Peter 5:2 states that that followers are to shepherd God’s flock not because they must, but because they are willing. Free-destinationists would see certain individuals over the course of history to be pre-destined or elected to be world changers, for example, Billy Graham, St. Augustine, and Martin Luther. Free-destinationists would see these individuals as elected people who serve their specific role in an otherwise free will driven world.
Grace (The Sacred Middle)
Grace describes the Sacred Middle. The Sacred Middle is a philosophical description of a world that exists on almost equal parts predestination and equal parts free will. The Sacred Middle does not always consist of equal parts of free will and equal parts predestination in the world. It consists on whatever is the appropriate balance for God to carry out His goals, objectives, and will for His creation. In some generation the Sacred Middle may lean more heavily on predestination to carry out God’s purposes, in some generation the Sacred Middle may lean more heavily to the free will side for God to carry out His purposes. The Sacred Middle is balanced by the fact that the Bible is clear that God uses election, free will, and predestination in His creation. The Sacred Middle is more an ever-changing organism than a philosophy. Whereas pre-will and free-destination rely on deciphering how much or how little of free will or predestination is in creation, the Sacred Middle relies on understanding what God is trying to accomplish in each generation. Hindsight is 20/20, and by looking back on the history of the world and scripture it is easy to see that God has used both predestination and freewill in differing amounts in different generations over the course of history.
The Sacred Middle also relies heavily on the issue of God’s grace. Grace is the “essential and decisive cause” in understanding how individuals respond to free will when given a choice by God. The Sacred Middle understands that individuals who are “more amply aided” by the bestowing of God’s grace in their lives make better choices when allowed to exercise free will. Those individuals how are “receiving less of the grace of divine love” make poorer choices when allowed to exercise free will choices. This is evidenced in 1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” God’s grace directs believers to make wise choices and allows believers to exercise their free will in a positive and righteous way.