In the Pews or In Heaven

November 2, 2008

I would love to have a thousand or ten thousand people working with the Franklin Church. However, as we work on congregational growth, we have to keep reminding ourselves what is most important. We are not trying to get people sitting in our pews. We are trying to get people to heaven.

Sometimes I fear churches, elders and preachers forget that these days. Many are so intent to increase their attendance numbers they become willing to shortcut the Scriptures. In fact, in the past two weeks I have witnessed two such approaches. I was saddened as I read why a nearby local congregation is going to start blending instrumental music with their acappella singing. They felt they would keep more of their young people and appeal to more people in the community if they started adding instrumental music to their congregational periods of worship and edification.

The second was a sermon in which the leadership of a local congregation expressed that they would accept folks into full fellowship who had been baptized for reasons other than the remission of sins, those who had been sprinkled even as infants and those who had not been baptized at all. They declared they would continue to teach baptism, but they didn’t want anyone to be turned away from their fellowship just because they didn’t agree with the church’s supposed position on baptism. Once again, we witness more concern for having people in the pew than for helping people go to heaven and all done in the name of love and reconciliation.

It is almost as if some churches have the idea if they just say someone is a member of their congregation then they must be going to heaven. However, we need to remember John 3:5: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (ESV). If one is not actually reborn through a believer’s baptism, that one will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We may grant them membership into the congregation, but they will not be saved just because they sit with us on Sundays.

According to Matthew 7:13-14, we are walking a narrow way. Few will actually want to enter the gate Jesus has opened or walk the path Jesus has trod. We need to be more concerned about getting people on that path than just trying to convince them to “go to church” with us. Otherwise, not only will we save no one, we will in turn lose our salvation. Those who teach and support gospels other than Jesus’ one true gospel are accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

Let us not be satisfied with more people sitting in our pews. Rather, let us not be satisfied until we are helping more people actually glorify God His way and go to heaven.

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