Who is going to heaven? To ask an answer to this question of a dozen different people in the religious world today would bring nearly a dozen different answers. Although erroneous answers would be given by most, the importance of the question can be seen by the fact that nearly all are willing to offer their ideas regarding an answer. Since most are interested in going to heaven with the Lord there should be a great manifestation of interest in the answer to this question.
Only Those in the Right Place
A more simple answer could not be given, yet there could not be a more appropriate answer. Of course, the right place is in the Church. Not only for the blessing of heaven eternally, but also for the enjoyment of all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). It is absolutely impossible for a person to be saved from past sins and inherit the glories of God without being a member of the church. For, just as surely as a person has his sins washed away (Acts 22:16), the Lord will add him to the church (Acts 2:47). And it won’t be just any church—it will be the one the Lord said he would build and then purchased with his own blood (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28). It will be the divine institution that wears the name of the Lord (Rom. 16:16), that abides in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9), that acceptably worships God (John 4:23-24), and that is serving the Master in a pleasing manner (Matt. 7:22-23).
It isn’t enough, though, just to be a member of the Lord’s church. One must also be in the right place in the church. Properly qualified and appointed officers of the church must fulfill the capacities in which they are serving in order to go to heaven in the great after awhile. It’s a grave and serious charge indeed if one does not fulfill his responsibility before the Lord. This is true of other male members and women, too. All must be in the place for which they are properly suited for doing the will of the Lord.
We must be in the right place in the church and we must stay in the places for which we are qualified. For instance, a woman’s place is not in the eldership! She would be out of place if she tried to take the oversight of a congregation. Likewise, one who is a preacher would be out of place trying to rule the church. So, one must not only be in the right place but must also stay in his own place. But, to find a little more complete answer we ask again, “Who is going to heaven”?
Only Those in Church at Right Time
Again, it isn’t enough to be members of the Lord’s church, but we must be in the body at the end of our lives here on the earth—whether it be at death or at the judgment. Most recognize the fact that we are not going to live in our present state forever. We all must be practical enough to recognize the nearness of death and the fact that though we were once members of the Lord’s church doesn’t automatically insure for us an eternal abode with the Lord. But we must be upstanding members of his kingdom at the time when the body is separated from the spirit. Or, if we should be among the number that Paul mentioned who would be alive and remain until the coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17) we must be faithful members at that time.
Certainly, one knows neither the time of his death nor the time of the coming of the Son of God. The only things we know about them are that they are certain (John 14:1-3) and that it is ever drawing nearer (Jas. 5:8). Hence, the only way to be sure that we’re in the right place at the right time is to stay in the church and be acceptable at all times. One other stipulation we would add in completing our answer would be…
In the Right Place, at the Right Time, for the Right Purpose
One can be a member of the church when he dies, but if he has not been maintaining true work and worship for the right purpose he has forfeited his claim to eternity with the Lord. One cannot be an acceptable member of the Kingdom of the Lord if he maintains membership for social or recreational reasons. It is not the purpose of the church to be a social or recreational institution. Neither is it the purpose of the church to be a political machine nor a law or marriage counseling agency. If you are a member of the Lord’s church for any of the foregoing purposes you have lost your perspective in life and are not satisfying the demands of God regarding church membership.
The only acceptable purpose that we can have for church membership is that by our love for God and His ways we might save ourselves and others. This we cannot do by living an ungodly or worldly life here upon this earth. Neither can we be unmindful of our obligations to the Lord, to the church, or to the world and be acceptable. If you’re not in the right place for the right purpose now, you need to make your preparation immediately. Though written several centuries ago, the words Paul sent to the Corinthians were never more true than they are today—“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is, the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).