It is always a privilege to share how Jesus Christ came into my life. Those who live around us know if our testimony is true. I call this the testimony of Jesus Christ, because I take no credit for what He did to change my life. He initiated my salvation and I responded. You have the opportunity to do the same today.
My Early Years
My parents took me to church regularly beginning a few days after I was born, but like a lot of children, I rebelled during my teenage years. I was successful in school and sports, but my faith in God was not strong enough to keep the gods of this world from blinding my mind. 1 These gods were booze, illicit sex and rock music that kept me from seeing the light that comes from God's Word about the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. I was not a true believer so, I was powerless to break the hold the world, the flesh and the devil had on me.
I entered college with a fear of failure. I was fearful of failing my parent's expectations. I felt my acceptance from them was based upon my performance, which was never good enough. I medicated my pain with a greater dosage of booze, sex and by joining a local fraternity. I didn't know God accepted me because of the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross. 2 I was ignorant of the fact that God loved me, and that His perfect love casts out all fear. 3 The spirit of fear can drive us to do many foolish things when we don't understand the power of God's love and of a sound mind. 4
Driven to California
My parents begged me not to move to California in 1967, but I wouldn't listen. I was too immature for leaving home. after playing a fool during college. I was running away from my family and the pressure I felt from failing. I promised my parents that I'd finish my senior year by enrolling in the University of California, but it wasn't long until I dropped out of college, giving priority to my job, women and marijuana.
In the summer of '68, while driving to my beach house near Malibu, I picked up a hitchhiker named Dennis Wilson, the drummer for the Beachboys. I drove him to his home where Charles Manson was visiting. I fell right into Charlie's trap. His song lyrics made fun of parents and childhood memories, suggesting a new-rebellious identity in his family. The drugs made it easy to go on his magical-mystery tour as the Beatles sang.
I was brainwashed to believe in his Helter Skelter philosophy that after a black and white race war occurred, we'd escape to the desert to experience a utopia on Earth. When Helter Skelter didn't happen as prophesied, he sent us out to start it with the murders. Clues were left so it would be blamed on the blacks, who in turn would destroy the whites. I was sickened by what I had done. I didn't realize it at the time, but fear was the root of the anger that came out during the crime. If it were not for me, seven innocent people would possible be alive today. I caused there families and mine tremendous pain because of my deception. As Job said in chapter 3, verse 25, "...the thing which I greatly feared [failure] had come upon me."
Death to Life
I ended up on Death Row at San Quentin. The LORD assured me while in county jail, that whether I lived or died, I was His. I did not find this Scripture until later, which says, "...Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that HE might be LORD both of the dead and living." 5 I had been listening to the jail chaplain, who brought me a small Bible he had received from my mother. For the first time, I was listening to a man of God. I thought if God had a balance scale with my good on one side and my evil on the other side, I was in trouble. The chaplain assured me that heaven was a free gift from God through Jesus Christ. "For by grace [God's ability] we are saved through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast." 6
After nine months on death row, the death penalty was overturned by the U. S. Supreme Court as cruel and unusual punishment. I didn't think it was too cruel for what I had done, but I was relieved to be out from under it. I was transferred to California Men's Colony, which like a resort compared to San Quentin. I was ashamed of my crime and I had no peace. I was lost, confused and looking for direction when a girl from Germany, who had seen me during my trial, began to visit me. While visiting one weekend, I overheard a lady share John 3:16 with her visitor. I got excited and turned to my girlfriend and said from memory, "God did so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 7 She said, "You don't believe that!" She had a bad experience with a priest in Germany, so she didn't want to hear it.
In the early months of 1975, Christians came to me from all directions. My mom and Dad turned to the Lord even more after my crime and never stopped talking about Jesus. She contacted Chico Holiday, a converted Las Vegas nightclub singer, who came to share his testimony with me. Christian brothers invited me to chapel services to see the outside guests. Chaplain Ray, from a well-known international prison ministry, came to tell me about two former Manson family members who had come to Christ. Everyone told me about God's love, but not until the last night of a chapel revival in May 1975, did I receive Christ into my heart. I returned to my room that night, looked into the mirror with my face glowing, and said, "This is ten times better than drugs!" Years later I found the Scripture that says the wisdom and understanding of Daniel and his friends was ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers. 8
Life In Christ
I experienced God's love and freedom from fear for the first time. "God commanded His love towards me, in that, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. 9 What really blew my mind was that God had a Lamb (Jesus Christ) slain for my sins before the foundation of the world. 10 That means if you confess you're a sinner, God is faithful and just to have already provided forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness 2000 years ago. 11 All I did was respond to what God had initiated long ago.
God put all of our sin upon Jesus and gave us Christ's righteousness at the the cross. 12 Our righteousness is as filthy rags. 13 And when Christ returns, a!! that will matter is if we have received Christ's righteousness by faith. Righteousness is right standing God, or the ability to stand in the presence of God without any fear, guilt or inferiority.
For the past 32 years, I have grown in the grace and knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ. 14 I have a new identity. I don't call myself a sinner, since God's word calls me a Saint. 15 I am "...a new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”16 "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."17
The prophet Isaiah says, "...the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the affect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever." 18 Would you like this work and effect of righteousness in your life today?
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, an also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." 19 Have you received Jesus Christ as your righteousness?
If YOU haven't: Will you receive Jesus Christ as your righteousness today? This is the requirement for salvation. "If you shall confess with your mouth the LORD Jesus Christ and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved... For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation...For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved." 20
A Prayer for You...
Father. I need You. Thank You for the sacrifice of your Son, whose blood brings forgiveness of my sins and for offering me your righteousness and resurrected life. I now accept by faith Your gift of salvation. Through Your Holy Spirit, teach me about Your love and grace and about the new life that You have given me. Begin the work of making me into the person You want me to be. Amen!
1. 2 Cor. 4:4
2. Eph. 1:6
3. 1 John 4:18
4. 2 Tim. 1:7
5. Rom. 14: 8,9
6. Eph. 2:8,9
7. John 3:16
8. Dan. 1:20
9. Rom. 5:8-13:8
10. Rev. 5:8 – 13:8
11. 1 John 1:9
12. 2 Cor. 5:21
13. Isa. 64:6
14. 2 Pert. 3:18
15. Eph. 1:1, etc
16. Eph. 4:24
17. 2 Cor. 5:17
18. Isa 32:17
19. Rom. 1: 16,17
20. Rom 10: 9,10