Do You Have to Attend Church to Go to Heaven?
Is being a church member necessary to salvation? Michael S. Houden tells us that salvation is found in Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God gave His Son so that we may have eternal life, thus destroying our need to perform good works, including going to church, to go to heaven. Eternal life is attained by faith alone in Christ alone. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). Those who believe in Christ, who have accepted His sacrifice in payment of their sins, will spend eternity in heaven. Those who reject Him will not.
No amount of church attendance will earn eternity in heaven. No lack of church attendance will result in the loss of salvation. However, church attendance is important. The universal Church, made up of all who believe in Christ to the glory of God the Father, is Christ’s body (Colossians 1:18) as well as His Bride (Revelation 21:2). A church is a place of Christian fellowship. In addition, as members of the body of Christ, we possess certain gifts of the Spirit, and we are to exercise those gifts for the glory of God and the edification of the rest of the body. For a church body to function properly, all of its “body parts” need to be present (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).
Jesus made it plain that obedience to his commands is part and parcel of claiming to be his follower. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15 NET) And again, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21 NIV)
Yet another verse supporting this is Hebrews 10:25, “…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
You say you love him? Do it. You say you believe in him? Do it.
The great solution to all these difficult questions such as “Do I have to do this to be saved?”, “Can I do or not do XYZ and still be a Christian?”. Do what you are commanded in the New Testament. You want assurance of salvation? It only comes one way, “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” (1 John 3:19-20)
One of the basics of salvation is, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9 NIV) But if you confess He is Lord, but do not obey him…something is wrong. So…go to church!