In a related article (118) we took a look at what it means to face the power of God in respect to love and justice. God expects us to give this some serious thought. But, whether we do, or not, we will still be caught up to face His power some day.
This raises the question of what His expectations are of us in respect to the church we attend, or refuse to attend. Those of us who attend some church need to be aware that God hasn't just required church attendance; He has required attendance at a church that He recognizes as a valid local expression of His plan for the Church. Those of us who don't attend a church need to be aware that God has insisted upon church attendance of those who expect to inherit His Kingdom.
Now, what does this mean? Does God block people from heaven for refusing to go to church? Does He refuse heaven for those who go to the wrong church? The answer to both questions is the same, and is clear: No, and Yes.
Let me explain. No, God does not block people from heaven for refusing to go to church, but, Yes, God does block people from heaven who refuse the faith which has as one of its precepts the regular gathering with other believers to worship God. In other words, God doesn't refuse heaven on the basis of performance, but He does refuse heaven to those whose claims to faith are empty, self-serving professions of belief.
And, on the other hand, No God doesn't refuse heaven for those who attend the wrong church; but, Yes, He does refuse heaven to those whose attendance of a church that He does not sanction is, in their minds, a recommendation to Him for consideration of them for entrance into heaven.
What is the bottom line? God grants, or refuses, heaven on the basis of what a person believes. If a person believes that he can have a right relationship with Him while living in rebellion against Him, God will cast that person into eternal fire without looking back because such a faith denies the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, if a person believes that God is pleased by obedience to the faith, and inadvertently attends a seriously flawed church, God will accept him for what he believes, and not for what he has done.
So, the question of salvation still comes back to the bottom line: what do you believe? God gave His Son to reconcile us to Himself. We cannot be reconciled if we do not want to be. If we want heaven and the ability to keep God at a distance, we have denied the purpose of the Son's work. But, if we want to be reconciled, errors of ignorance are of little import to God. God knows who wants to walk with Him and who doesn't. He is not fooled by what we say we believe, or by what we do. He reads the heart with greater ease than you read the words I write. He is the One before Whom we will all stand, and we will stand there completely exposed by His light and understanding.
Today would be a good day to ask yourself a couple of questions: do I go to a church that promotes God's Word? and if not, why do I not go to a church that honors God's Words and desires? Be sure your answer can stand divine scrutiny.