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Christian Union: The Magazine
June 4, 2019
Tucker Else
Christian Union Ministry Director
University of pennsylvania

One of the most popular games of the 1980s was Trivial Pursuit, a trivia game that people found either wildly entertaining or inexpressibly dull. My family would often gather around the table and play — yes, we did have occasional Normal Rockwell moments — and while my Mom would be hoping for Entertainment or Literature categories to come up, my brothers and I would bank on Sports, and little else.


The questions were sometimes manageable, but oftentimes nearly impossible: “What was the name of the Douglas family’s dog on My Three Sons?” Which would inevitably be answered with “Chip,” as he was really the only Son (let alone dog) that could be remembered from the show.

What was always most vexing to me were the Sports questions that had absolutely nothing to do with sports: “What do Las Vegas blackjack dealers stand on?” First of all, who cares? Secondly, if I, as a 5th grader (at the time) would know the answer to that question, why on God’s green earth were my parents teaching me such nonsense? The questions would come, and more often than not I would have an expression on my face akin to when in math class the teacher would ask: “If Train A leaves the station at Town A at 4:45pm and travels to town B averaging 50 mph, and Train B leaves the station at Town B at 5:30pm and travels to town A averaging 60 mph, then which European country’s flag is the flag of Monaco with the colors reversed?” These are things that will scar a young person for life.

My job as a pastor is to ask (and hopefully answer a few) questions. And these questions may indeed create panic. But these are questions that need to be asked. Here is a question for you — and while we all need to pursue the answer, I don’t believe it is remotely trivial: Who is able to enter the kingdom of Heaven? Click to Tweet  
That’s the question.

Simple, right?

Now, some people would wax philosophical and answer with something like “Well, heaven is really just a construct of the mind…” To this theological liberalism I would say “Nonsense! What is your answer?” Such non-answers are bereft of any theological substance, as Richard Niebuhr once said, wherein “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Such an answer simply won’t do.

Others might give the more popular contemporary answer: “I will, of course, because I’m basically a good person.” It is the feel-good answer of our day. But, then, we have a serious problem with God’s word. What do we do with Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: “I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

What do we do with Psalm 24:4-5? Hebrews 12:14? Romans 3:10-11? Psalm 64:6?

There are many more, but you get the point.

I most certainly won’t get to heaven because I am in any way “good,” or tried hard to be good. Even if I would use that term “good” loosely, how “good” is good enough?

We need righteousness, and even perfection, to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

There is a right answer to the question “Who is able to enter the kingdom of Heaven?” The correct answer is “Jesus Christ” —  the only one who never missed the mark of God’s perfect law.

And the Good News is this: through repentance (turning from trying to break our way into heaven by our own effort, and turning to God in humility) and faith in Jesus Christ, we are ushered into the Kingdom of Heaven with Christ.

So here’s my question to you: If you were to die today, why should you be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven? The answer to this question won’t lead to bragging rights around the family table, but will have eternal ramifications.

TuckerTucker Else is Christian Union's director of undergraduate ministry at the University of Pennsylvania. Tucker served as a pastor in Iowa for seven years. Prior to that he was a practicing attorney for an international bank (RaboBank). In preparation for pastoral ministry, he earned an MDiv at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He received his JD from Drake University.

Tucker and his wife, Marchelle, have been married for 21 years. They have four children: Lauren, Tamrick, Brennan, and Kianna. He loves reading, music, sports, and visiting all of Philadelphia's great neighborhoods. He takes delight in discipling students into a deeper love and affection for Jesus Christ.