“Do You Think You’re The Only Ones Going To Heaven?” (The Defense Series)
[Welcome to The Defense Series. The aim of this series is to help Christians more effectively “make a defense” (1 Pet. 3:15) to those who challenge the teachings and values of New Testament Christianity. Don’t be fooled by the title; this article is a rebuttal to the above quote. My prayer is that the following words will help and embolden you as you stand for Truth.]
It is not unlikely for members of the Lord’s Church to be asked, “Do you think you’re the only ones going to heaven?” How do you respond to this question? Do we believe we are the only ones going to heaven?
This question appeals to the emotions. You can certainly understand how angry it would make anyone feel if a group decided they alone were going to heaven. Such a claim would seem arrogant and pretentious. I’ve never heard a member of the church of Christ make a statement like this. But if one ever has, shame on him.
Members of churches of Christ are not the only ones who deal with this question. Muslims ask Christians. Protestants ask Catholics. Christians ask Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. And everyone asks Jews. In our age of pluralism, religious groups are quick to demonize any other group that makes a claim to know truth.
So suppose you are asked, “Are members of the church of Christ the only ones going to heaven?” How would you answer?
Consider the following biblical truths:
First, the Bible is the only way know God’s Will (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God’s Will contains the very words of life (Matt. 4:4).
Second, Jesus is the exclusive way to God (John 14:6). There is no other way to heaven except through Him.
Third, salvation can only be found “in Christ” (2 Tim. 2:10; Rom. 3:24; 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Thess. 4:16; Eph. 2:6, 10, 12-13; 2 Tim. 2:1). There is no way to heaven outside of Christ.
Fourth, it is possible to claim to be a Christian and still be lost (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:31-46).
Fifth, those who refuse to obey Christ will be lost (John 3:36; Heb. 5:9; cf. John 14:15).
Sixth, one must be born again “by water and the spirit” to be saved (John 3:3-5). We see people being saved this [exclusive] way throughout the book of Acts (the Jews on Pentecost – Acts 2, the Samaritans – Acts 8, Simon – Acts 8, the Ethiopian – Acts 8, Saul – Acts 9, 22, 26, Cornelius – Acts 10, Lydia – Acts 16, the jailor – Acts 16, the Corinthians – Acts 18, and the Ephesians – Acts 19).
Seventh, Christ only has one body/church (Matt. 16:18; cf. Eph. 4:4). Christ’s body and Christ’s church refer to the same thing (Col. 1:18, 24). There cannot be more than one church.
Eighth, Christ is the Savior of His church (Eph. 5:23). All who are saved are part of His church.
Knowing this, we emphatically believe what the Bible teaches: Christ is the only way to heaven! Therefore, we simply want to be “in Christ” and we want to be part of “His church.” Don’t you?
What is the church of Christ?
Those who ask members of the church of Christ, “Do you think you’re the only ones going to heaven?” are simply confused about the nature of the Lord’s Church. Words mean something, and if we have different ideas as to their meaning, then discussing them is pointless.
If the “church of Christ” were merely a denomination (much like Methodists or Baptists or Catholics), then it would be unfair for one denomination to claim to be the exclusive way to heaven. Who is to say a person wearing one label is going to heaven, while a person with another label is not? Such a claim would certainly be arrogant! In fact, this is exactly what Paul rebuked some early Christians for doing (1 Cor. 1:10-13). They were dividing themselves and wearing different labels (What would Paul have to say about our modern religious landscape of ‘churches’?).
If we are discussing this question in purely denominational terms, then the question is pointless and should be avoided (cf. 1 Tim. 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:23-24). The concept of different “flavors” of Christians is completely unbiblical (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10-13). Christ hates division (cf. John 17:20-21). Only those who are members of Christ’s one church will be saved, thus we should strive to be unified into that one church.
If the term “church of Christ” refers to Christ’s church – His body – then we are agreed on the terminology. The Lord adds every saved person to this group (cf. Acts 2:47). It would be impossible to be saved without being a part of His church! We should simply want to be a part of the church that belongs to Christ.
The church of Christ aims to adhere only to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His New Testament (John 17:20-21; Rom. 6:17-18; 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13). His church must always follow the pattern He has provided in His New Testament (Rev. 2-3).
How can I get “in Christ” and become part of His church?
To be saved, one must (a) be taught (cf. John 6:45; Rom. 10:14-17), (b) repent of sin (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 26:18; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Pet. 3:9), and (c) possess obedient faith (cf. Jas. 2:14-26). Baptism is how one’s obedient faith places him/her “in Christ” (Rom. 6:4-6; 1 Pet. 3:21; Gal. 3:27). This act of obedience is when God’s grace washes away our sins by the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 9:14) and He automatically adds us to the Church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47).
Christ is the judge
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10)
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22)
Who are the only ones going to heaven? Only those who have been saved and judged by Christ. We are in no position to condemn anyone – Jesus is the only One Who fills that role. He has only given us the authority to teach how to be saved (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). Those who strictly follow the Bible will go to heaven.
When asked, “Do you think you’re the only ones going to heaven?” We simply answer truthfully, “Only Christ can make that judgement. But He has told us what to do – and how to be sure – we are going to heaven. Would you like to study the Bible together with me? I know God has revealed through His Word who He will save.”
Since God’s grace is offered for everyone (Titus 2:11) – and since Jesus died for everyone (John 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 5:14-15) – we want everyone to be saved!
(Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.)