For many, the past months have been filled with destruction and tragedy as we view the war in Iraq, the floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, plus the recent fires is Southern California. Yet, a voice of thanksgiving for personal safety and compassion for those with loss rises from the ashes. It is good to see the conscience of mankind alive with hope..
10th Year Memorial
On November 20, 2007, it will have been 10 years, since the passing of Raymond Hoekstra to be with the Lord. He was fondly known by millions as “Chaplin Ray” during his 35 years of ministering to inmates in prisons around the world. In 1975, he visited me in prison, and shortly afterwards, I came to Christ in 1975.
Chaplin Ray received Christ at the age of 19, when he witnessed the conversion of a jailed friend, Ronald Bayles, through the fence at Preston School for Boys (only a mile from where I am in prison today). It was a prisoner who led Chaplin Ray to Christ, and because of that, one ministry associate said, “He would not stop his work for a minute because he loved prisoners so much.”
He was once labeled by The Los Angeles Times as having visited more prisons and jails in America than anyone else alive. His oldest son, Raymond Hoekstra, Jr. said, “He touched millions, just in this country, because each person he touched, touched others.” We all miss Chaplin Ray very much, whose ministry is still alive, along with his wife Leola needs strength and I request you pray for her. If you would like to be a part of this International Prison Ministry, click here.
The First Resurrection
Chaplin Ray is part of the first resurrection like all of us who trust in “…Jesus Christ, the first born from the dead… He loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen …”1 Jesus said “…the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”2
Jesus spoke of two resurrections. If we are part of the first resurrection of life, we will not be part of the second resurrection of death. Only the spiritually dead will be raised for the Great White Throne judgment, or the second death.3 In other words, people who are born twice, not only physically but spiritually die to faith in Jesus Christ. They die once physically, but do not experience spiritual judgment which leads to the second death. But those who are born only, which is physically, die twice because they have not been resurrected to life or born again.” Jesus said, “You must be born again!”4
The first resurrection came as a result of Jesus being crucified for our sins, and being raised from the dead by His Father. As believers, “…if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”5 Jesus said, “…he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”6 Click here for a chart that clearly lays out the first and second resurrections.
The Revelation of Christ
It is important to understand the different people in The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which is the final book of the Holy Bible. The chart mentioned above helps us to understand not only the first and second resurrections, but who the revelation of Jesus Christ describes. By seeing it more clearly our faith will increase, not only for ourselves but for the children of Israel, the apple of God’s eye.7
Those in The Revelation of Jesus Christ are the redeemed, glorified Saints, the tribulation martyrs in white robes, the saved Israelites both glorified and as sheep going into the millennial kingdom, and the unsaved or goats, who are destroyed and judged by Christ. This may sound harsh, but “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”8
The Lord promises life, but He promises damnation for those who reject His life. We can see His longsuffering or patience throughout the Bible with children of Israel, and to make it personal, His patience with each of us. In the book of Revelation, during the great tribulation, we see His patience with Israel. He sends forth one hundred and forty four evangelists to share the good news of His blood shed for their sin, desiring their repentance. Many will give their lives as martyrs during this time. And at His second coming, still He separates the sheep and the goats not willing that any should perish. Has He sent an evangelist for you to hear the Good News?
Faith In Jesus Christ
It is important to realize that you are not saved by your good works. Only by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ are you declared righteous.9 “For by grace you have been saved though faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. “ 10
My heart cries out for you to accept Jesus Christ not only as your Lord and Savior, but also as your Righteousness. This word righteousness is often defined as “right standing with God”. It is the ability to stand in God’s presence without the sense of sin, guilt or inferiority. The revelation of Jesus Christ is having your faith simply in the blood if Jesus Christ for your righteousness, which is a free gift.11 As a result of His righteousness, your unrighteous spirit is regenerated by the Spirit of life or born again.12 You become part of God’s family or the Kingdom of God, experiencing righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.13
The Lord made known to me His righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit at the age of 29. It was on a Friday evening over 32 years ago. The guilt and pain caused by my sin was very hard to deal with in those days. I remember hearing the Good News of Christ very plainly that evening. For the first time, I understood that by surrendering to Jesus, all my sins would be forgiven, and I’d be freed from all my guilt and shame. He drew me to His side that night and took all my pain, caused by my sin. Oh, what peace and joy flowed through my soul and continues still today. I have never been the same, nor desire to return to that old life, which is like a fleeting moment in time. As the chorus goes, “I’m a new creation, I’m a brand new man, old things have passed away, I’ve been born-again.” 14
A Prayer for You …
Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus paid the price for my sin with His blood, and He took my punishment for sin at the cross. I believe You forgave me and cleansed me from all unrighteousness so that I can now stand righteous before You in Christ without any fear, guilt or inferiority. I believe in my heart that You raised Christ from the dead to give me a new and eternal life. I welcome You to live in my heart and to live Your life through me. Amen!
1 Rev. 1:5,6
2 John 5:28,29
3 Rev, 20:6, 11-15
4 John 3:3-7
5 Rom. 6:5
6 John 5:24
7 Zech. 2:8,9
8 2Peter 3:9
9 Rom. 3:21-26
10 Eph. 2:8-10
11 Rom. 5:17-21
12 Rom. 8:10
13 Rom. 14:17
14 2Cor. 5:17