Do you have to attend Church to go to Heaven? Yes, Actually.
The official, correct answer of course is a ‘no’. Church-going doesn’t save us and therefore is unnecessary for salvation. Fine. Yet I’m starting to change my mind; I’m beginning to think that those Christians who don’t attend church may not make the final river-crossing. Here’s why I’m holding to this evangelical heresy:
The Bible commands us to be a part of a local church. Hebrews 10:25 famously states ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ Which day? Christ’s return. Judgement. The Day of Reckoning. Plain disobedience to the scriptural precept is enough to make me question if some people are truly converted. Those who claim to have Christ yet regularly and consistently disobey Him may have only tasted salvation; their justification for their disobedience suggests that there’s something sadly wrong with their souls.
Those who despise fellowship with God’s elect people will not enjoy heaven. If weekly gatherings are too great a burden I can only imagine the pain of spending an entire eternity with the redeemed. Those who spend their earthly Sabbaths alone will spend the heavenly Sabbath in the same manner.
The Lord said in Mathew 23:11 that ‘he that is greatest among you shall be your servant’. The one who is not among us cannot serve us; the one who refuses to serve us has little in common with the Servant-King who washes the feet of sinners. He who has no desire to serve has been denied that grace in the heart that conquers our pride and transforms us into willing slaves.
Hebrews 13:17 says ‘Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.’ Lone rangers submit to no-one. They are their own elder and deacon; their own priest and apostle. ‘I submit to the Lord Himself’, they lie, ‘not to men’. I guess Hebrews is wrong then. Their pride assures them that they are accountable to no-one; it makes them feel good, spiritual, even. That’s what pride does. It makes us feel great when we ought to be repenting with tears.
Paul tells the Thessalonians in his first epistle, fifth chapter and eleven verse: Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. Some translations render that first phrase as ‘build each other up’. Yes, we must be built up. But Paul’s emphasis is our building up of others. The churchless Christian is neither built up himself, neither does he support anyone else. Oh, he watches some Christian TV; he might even send money to ministries through the post. But his local church is deprived of his encouragement. His talents and gifts are wasted, for he buries them in the ground. He does not defend the sheep for his does not love the sheep.
There’ll be many a churchless Christian in heaven, and many a church-goer who doesn’t make it. The opposite, I’m afraid, is also true.