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Who is Going to Heaven?

On Sunday (1/31/10), The Tennessean ran an article with the title "Churches of Christ drop isolationist view, work with other faiths.”  The theme of this article was that some congregations that wear the name "church of Christ” have emerged from some of their traditions and have "adopted a more progressive view of their faith.”  In doing so, those congregations have introduced instrumental music into their worship and have began working with denominations in charitable projects.

This article expressed the stereotypical perceptions of traditional churches of Christ, which is that these congregations sing a cappella, and their members believe that they are the only ones going to heaven.  Regarding a cappella singing, this perception is true, and there are good Bible reasons for this practice.  However, I would like to take this time to address the other perception.  I acknowledge that there are members of churches of Christ who will boldly claim that only they will reach heaven and all others will be damned to hell.  I also acknowledge that there are members of certain denominations who will make the same claim.  The truth is that it is not for any of us to decide, for all judgment resides in Jesus Christ by the authority of the Father (John 5:22-30).  This judgment by Christ will not be passed upon collective congregations or denominations, but rather Christ will judge each individual for what he has done (2Cor. 5:10).

Because the issue of who may go to heaven, who will be saved, who will enter the kingdom, who will be forgiven, who will have eternal life, etc.,  and the issue of who will go to hell, who will be lost, etc., will be decided by Christ, let us consider what the Bible, which is the word of God and Christ, says about these matters.  Here are a few passages that give us straightforward answers from God’s word.

John 3:16 – "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (spoken by Jesus, written by the apostle John)

John 3:36 – "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (spoken by John the baptist, written by the apostle John)

John 8:24 – "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” (spoken by Jesus, written by the apostle John)

Romans 10:8-10 – "But what does it say?  ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (written by the apostle Paul)

Matthew 7:21-23 – "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (spoken by Jesus, written by the apostle Matthew)

Mark 16:16 – "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (spoken by Jesus, written by John Mark)

Acts 2:38, 41, 47 – "Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’…So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls…And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (written by Luke)

Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23 - "And [God the Father] put all things in subjection under [Christ’s] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all…Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”

1Peter 1:3-5 – "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (written by the apostle Peter)

These are just a tiny sample of the whole message of Scripture, which is the message of salvation.  Even so, this sample is sufficient to demonstrate the whole message, which is that God’s gracious salvation and forgiveness are received through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to God’s will.  Those who comply and live by God’s directions are added to the body of Christ, which is His church, for which Christ is the Savior.  Such persons have the earnest hope of the inheritance of heaven and salvation to be awarded at the last time, which is the judgment day.  Otherwise, those who refuse to comply with God’s plan remain in their sins and have only the expectation of eternal punishment in hell.  This is not "church of Christ” doctrine, but it is Bible doctrine about who will go to heaven and who will go to hell.  Among Bible believers, why should anyone believe differently?

Stacey E. Durham



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