Do You Have To Go To Church To Make It To Heaven?

churchOne day back in College, I was in a physical education class in the gym, listening to the prof lecturing us about something incredibly interesting.

I forget what it was.

For some reason there was an attractive young lady standing in the doorway of the gym, watching our class. Our teacher was also the football coach and his nickname was “Rip.”

He noticed that many of my classmates weren’t listening to him and they seemed distracted.

He turned to see what they were looking at.

It didn’t take him long to size up the problem. He let us know forcefully, as only a teacher name “Rip” could, that he might not be as attractive as certain other people in the area but if we didn’t look at him and listen we were going to be running laps around the gym.

He was right you know. You generally pay more attention to what you’re looking at. (I’ve seen  several exceptions looking at me while I preach).

A runner who constantly looks over his shoulder to see where the others are, then looks up into the stands to see if his mother is watching him, and then down at his feet to see if his running shoes are still looking good, that runner may well end up in a heap on the track, knees skinned and other runners crashed on top of him.

It’s easy to fall if you don’t have your eyes and mind on the finish line.

Don’t Fall!

That’s why God tells us that if we want to succeed with Him, we need to get our eyes pointed in the right direction.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1,2 NKJV)

So how do we keep our eyes on Jesus? One of the things that helps me the most is getting together each week with people who love Jesus. We encourage each other.

Let’s be honest, when we don’t take this time to worship Him with others, we get colder and colder. God warns some people who were nearly back in the world:

“Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

“If we give up and turn our backs on all we’ve learned, all we’ve been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ’s sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be!” (Hebrews 10:24-31, The Message)

Marriages Saved

Regularly attending meetings with other believers in the Lord Jesus Christ can change your life. Recently studies have confirmed that among couples who attend evangelical or Catholic services weekly, the divorce rate is 25-50% lower than among those who don’t go to Church.

“I’m mad at the preacher!” you sniff. Sometimes I’m mad at the preacher, too (and the preacher is me!), but I don’t go to believer’s meetings to please the preacher.

I go because I love the Lord and I believe there is a special revelation of the presence of God where two or three people who love Jesus get together.

God is everywhere but nowhere else does He reveal Himself as He does in the assembly of His people. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20, NKJV)

“There are some people up at that church I can’t stand!” Why don’t you tell that to the Lord when you stand before Him on the Day of Judgment? I’m sure He’ll be impressed. Do you want to see Jesus with that attitude?

The Television Won’t Do It!

Plus, even if others ignore me or talk about me, I’m there because I love the Lord and I NEED what I receive during the service.

“I can worship God at home. I’ll just watch Brother Super-evangelist on television. I get so blessed. He preaches so much better than my pastor anyway.”

Imagine a man who says, “I don’t need to get married. I’ll look at all the beautiful women on television and that’s just as good.” What do you think about that, ladies?

“Well, I don’t go because, and because, and because. And you know because.”

Do you have to go to Church to go to heaven?

I couldn’t tell you. Only God knows your heart.

Ornery Preachers Don’t Stop Me

But, I do know one thing: If you really love the Lord Jesus I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to go worship Him with others who love Him, too.

“Difficult preachers, ornery people, too much talk about money, too long, too short, too loud, not as spiritual as it used to be, can’t find one we like, someone hurt me?”

Yeah, you’re probably right. I don’t care. What I get when I’m there makes it worth putting up with imperfect humans. Most of them love the Lord.
You know what though? They’ve got to put up with me and that’s not always easy, either.

Some of us need to get back to Church. Fast!

Hmmm …
“I’m afraid we have cheapened the Gospel by allowing people to buy in without selling out.” Mark Batterson

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