By Hal Lindsey
The big game is almost over. The coach calls a timeout. He huddles with his players near the sideline. We see him speaking to them passionately and from the heart. He’s getting them ready to play will all their might for the next few minutes. As we see the players on the field, there’s a good chance we will hear the TV announcer say that the players are having a “come to Jesus moment.”
Over the last few years, people throughout the culture have talked about having “come to Jesus moments.” It has become a common way to refer to any earnest, heart-to-heart appeal from one person to a group of people.
Of course, a real “come to Jesus moment” is infinitely more profound than a coach firing up his team. But it might not be as emotional. Sometimes there are tears when people come to Jesus, but not always. Sometimes it is in response to a heartfelt, emotional plea by someone else. But it might be while they are alone, perhaps walking and thinking, or reading.
Sometimes people go to church and have a powerful emotional experience. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have really come to Jesus. Maybe they felt bad about a sin and stepped forward in church hoping to stop that particular sin. But saying, “I promise never to do it again,” is not the same as “coming to Jesus” and receiving His gift of grace.
Romans 10:1-4 says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them [Israel] is for their salvation. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
We know from Romans 9:31, that the word “they” refers to “Israel.” Individual Jews were being saved, but Israel as a group had rejected Jesus. Paul’s desire was for the whole nation to be saved. Having formerly been one of the most zealous of Jews, he understood the zeal for God that many Jews felt. But, he said, it was “not in accordance with knowledge.”
What knowledge did they lack? They lacked the same knowledge that most people lack in our day. They didn’t grasp the scope of “God’s righteousness.” Look carefully at Romans 10:3. “For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”
Notice how each phrase is proven by the next. They don’t really understand God’s righteousness. Because of that, they think they can create their own. That leads to the fatal error of not subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God.
That’s what’s happening to millions around the world. They don’t understand God’s righteousness, so they’re trying to save themselves by establishing our own. In Luke 18, Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. That story is introduced by the statement, “He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.”
You will only trust in yourself that you are righteous if you lack an understanding of God’s perfect righteousness. And make no mistake. His righteousness is the standard. Anything less is not good enough.
That’s why Jesus, God the Son, became a man, and lived a perfect human life. He could live the perfect standard as a man because He is also God. He not only took our sins on Himself at the cross, but to all who believe He also transfers the gift of His perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Because our goodness can never measure up to God’s standard of goodness, it is essential that we “come to Jesus.”