Posted by Andrew Webb
There are so many non-Reformed doctrines floating around in the FV that one hardly knows where to begin addressing them. But the idea that everyone in the covenant is “saved in some sense” regardless of whether they are elect or not is a good place to start discussing their departure from the Standards.
To sum up the FV viewpoint, on this subject let me use Minich’s synopsis “Within the Bounds of Orthodoxy?” because all the FV men seem to be happy with it:
“Wilkins writes, “Covenant is a real relationship, consisting of real communion with the triune God through union with Christ. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart from Christ or in addition to him…rather, the covenant is union with Christ.”  Alluding to the way the Apostle Paul addresses the weak Corinthian congregations, (sanctified in Christ, baptized in the name of Christ, brothers, etc) Wilkins continues, “He was not able to speak like this because he had some special insight into the secret decrees of God. He was speaking about what was true of these objectively by virtue of their union with Christ in covenant.”  In sum, “All in covenant are given all that is true of Christ.”  Thus, according to Wilkins and others, all covenant members are “saved” in some sense. They are Christians. John Barach factors in the doctrine of election, explaining, “God does not make His covenant exclusively with those who have been predestined to eternal salvation. Rather, he establishes His covenant with all who have been baptized, with professing believers and their children. The whole church, head for head, is in covenant with God.”  Modifying the way the doctrine of election is traditionally employed, Barach continues, “But what if we tell the church, ‘God chose you and Jesus died for you’ and then some of those people fall away and end up in Hell? Have we lied to them? No! We have spoken to them in a faithful and trustworthy manner in terms of their true covenantal relationship to God.”  In short, God “has decreed that some of those whom he has chosen to bring into a covenant relationship with him will enjoy that relationship only for a time. God brings those people into His covenant and unites them to Christ for a time…they really experience His love, but they do not respond with repentance and faith and love.” ”
Contra the statements above, the Standards (and scripture) do not teach that the non-elect are ever united to Christ or saved in any sense because the only way we can be united to Christ is via FAITH and faith is the result of Effectual Calling and Regeneration. For instance, Wilkins and Barach above are not just irreconcilable with David Dickson in his commentary on the Confession, Truth’s Victory Over Error he identifies their view as either RC, Arminian, or Lutheran:
“ARE all those whom God has predestinated to life, and those only, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually called by his word and Spirit, out of the estate of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, through Jesus Christ?”
Yes; Rom. 8.30. Rom. 11.7. Eph. 1.10,11. 2 Thes. 2.13,14. Rom. 8.2. Eph. 2.1-5, 2 Cor. 3.3,6.
Well then, do not the Papists, Arminians, and Lutherans err, who maintain, That men not elected are sometimes effectually called?
By what reasons are they confuted?
1st, Because faith belongs to the elect only, Titus 1.1.
2d, Because whom he did predestinate, those only, and no other hath he called, Rom. 8.30.
3d, Because though many hear the gospel, yet none believe, but such as are ordained to everlasting life, Acts 13.48.
4th, Because the apostle testifies, that the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded, Rom. 11.7.
5th, Because Christ manifested his Father’s name, to those only whom he choose out of the world, and gave to him, John 17.6.”
A.A. Hodge Builds on this point in expositing a later portion of the same chapter:
“Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved“
Where he states:
“1. That the non–elect will certainly fail of salvation, not because a free salvation is not made available to them if they accept Christ, but because they never accept Christ; and they all refuse to accept him, because, although they may be persuaded by some of the common influences of the Holy Ghost, their radical aversion to God is never overcome by effectual calling. This builds upon the teaching that the grace of effectual calling extends to all the elect, and only the elect.”
If I might also point out, the critical section of the Confession, which is intimately related to the above, and which the FV seem to ignore entirely is WCF 14.1 which explicitly states that the ordinary means of conversion is the Preaching of the Word, and which denies that the sacraments are converting ordinances stating that they serve to build up the faith, not initiate it. Scottish Presbyterian commentator Robert Shaw has an excellent exposition of this that is at one with the Standards and Scripture in his commentary as does Hodge, but again, both are totally at odds with the non-reformed doctrine of Wilkins and Barach above which wants to create “some sort” of salvation, faith, and union with Christ which everyone in the Covenant objectively has. The fact that this means that some who come to Him are not the elect whom the father has given Him and that He will lose some who come to Him (contra John 6:37 and 6:44) doesn’t seem to worry them. They seem more concerned to deny the truth that the church will always consist of a mixed multitude on this side of glory, both people who are real wheat and always will be and people who are real tares and who always will be.