Heaven: Who Will Be There?

by Bill Denton

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20, nasb95)

"During one service I was complaining to the Lord about the lack of attendance: Lord, attendance is just not what I'd like it to be.' This was the Lord's response: My son, attendance is not what I'd like it to be in heaven.' That was the last time I complained to the Lord about lack of attendance."

- Harvey Koelner, Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 3.

There is a connection between church attendance and attendance in heaven. There must be. The church is made up of the same people who are going to heaven. In fact, correctly understood, the church is saved people. Saved people are the ones promised eternal life and a home in heaven. When Jesus spoke about the "mansions" or "dwelling places" in the Father's house (John 14:2), He was talking about places reserved for those for whom He went to prepare. That's not just anybody, that's somebody special.

I'm not saying that if you don't show up at every single service then you're not going to heaven. I am saying that those in attendance at church services give you a fair representation of who is going to be in heaven.

Somebody says, "I don't think that's right." Well, why not? Tell me who attends church services? Are those people saved? "Well, most of them anyway and maybe some who are just checking it out to see if they have any interest at all in this saved' business."

Then answer me this: Who doesn't attend church services? Am I saying that if a person doesn't go to church they won't be saved? No, I'm asking you to tell me who doesn't go to church. By and large, it's people who aren't saved, aren't interested, and couldn't care less about the discussion. Either that, or they've just never had the opportunity to think the whole thing through.

"This makes me uncomfortable," says another person. That makes two of us who are uncomfortable. It doesn't change the overall picture, does it? "But, I don't think that's how we ought to think about who will be in heaven," says yet another. Fair enough. You tell me how to think about who will be there. Tell me how I can be confident that people who don't care to assemble as God's people on earth will be happy to do so in heaven.

"Oh, but it will be different there," declares someone else. Really? Why? If the Father, our Savior Jesus, and fellow Christians bore people and cause disinterest now, why should I be confident they won't have a problem in heaven?

You know what? Next time you're in a church assembly take a look around. These are the people that you are going to spend eternity with, and others like them. Get it: Like them. Not different from them. Like them. Why should we expect those absent now to be in attendance later?

Are you starting to see the connection between the two?

© Copyright 2004, Dr. Bill Denton

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