Why do people go to Church?
Are they better than those that don't go, or only go occasionally?
If I behave better (in general) than some Church goers, will God accept me into heaven?
If God expects me to talk and act like Jesus, then how do I have a chance to measure up? That's impossible!
Can I get to heaven without going to Church or being a regular attendee?
All of these questions center around the giant misconception that heaven is reserved for those that successfully perform the works that God requires for entrance. Jesus, the righteous, is the example God provided for us to follow. This only leaves perpetual uncertainty as to what point is enough, and how anyone can know for sure.
All of the above questions are irrelevant because they do not point to the truth of the Gospel – Good News, not good advice - of Christ's dying for our sins. Salvation is a free gift – it cannot be earned. Acceptance through faith is the gift of God, and this is adoption into the family of God and this is forever. We become His children with all the forgiveness, love, peace, joy, fellowship with Him, with Jesus, and with fellow believers.
Here enters the only purpose for Churches – for believers to get together to celebrate so great a salvation and in praise and thanksgiving, to encourage one another to grow and mature as God's children. We are His representatives while still on earth. Our high calling is to speak and act unselfishly, sharing our faith, our time, and our substance – and our love. This brings light and hope to those around us. God provides the guidance, inspiration, and power to do these by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Blessings are poured upon us as we seek to do God's will, always keeping in mind that we have no permanent habitation here. We are on an eternal path, merely passing through the present. Our destination is with Jesus and the Father in eternity – the new heavens and a new earth, where there will be no death, pain, or sin, forever.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church in Lake City, SC, on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. Be sure to visit the author's full list of Bible Study Lessons by book for all of his free lessons.