By Johnie Edwards
The Will of Christ is the New Testament. His will is identified as the “second,” in that “. . . he taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Heb. 10:9). Many have not learned that the first covenant was replaced by the will of Christ. Even some of our own brethren teach that there is a continuous covenant from Abraham through today. A careful examination of the Scriptures will not allow such. It is the purpose of this article to examine some requirements of a will and a will-maker to help us have greater appreciation for the Will of Christ.
The Basis For This Study
The Hebrew writer gives us the basis for a study of the Will of Christ when he said, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:16-17).
The word “testament” in this passage carries basically the same idea as covenant, will, law and is often used interchangeably. Thus, the New Testament is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ.
The First and the Second
The Holy Spirit revealed, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10).
It is evident that the Will of Christ is the will of God — the will Christ came to earth to do. This will involved taking “away the first.” The “first” was the first covenant or the law of Moses. The apostle Paul identified the first covenant as “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). Paul further affirms that, “after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:25). These passages affirm that the law was the schoolmaster and since faith, which is the gospel has come (Gal. 1:23; 2:2), we are no longer under the law of Moses. It is as the Hebrew writer penned, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Heb. 8:7). The first covenant gave way to the will of Christ. “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13).
By the Which Will
The phrase, “by the which will” is critical to this study. The word “will” in this text does not mean what one plans to do, but has reference to the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. It is then stated, “By the which will,” or testament, “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). It is by the will of Christ or the New Testament that one is set apart to be ready to serve God (Rom. 6:22). Thus, it can be seen that it is by the will of Christ and not the law of Moses that one is fitted as a sanctified person.
Requirements of a Will
A will requires a qualified testator. It is evident that Jesus Christ is the testator as John stated, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). It is indispensable that a testator be of lawful age, and of a sound mind at the time his will is being made. Did Jesus fulfill these requirements? Luke records, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age . . .” (Luke 3:23). Don’t you think that Jesus met the age requirement? Jesus had knowledge as John said, “And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25).
A will is to be subscribed. God said concerning his Son, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5). At the baptism of Jesus “a voice from heaven, said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). If he pleased God, Jesus is well subscribed!
A will is witnessed. Jesus affirmed, “There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true” (John 5:32). Then Jesus proclaimed, “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me” (John 5:36-37).
A will is published. The will of Christ, which is the gospel, was a published message as Mark published. “And the gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10). The witnessed works of Jesus were published as a man, out of whom the devils were departed, “went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him” (Luke 8:38-39).
A will-maker has to die. Jesus “died” was the message of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-3). The Hebrews were told that Jesus should “taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). Paul wrote the Romans, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Now back to our basic text. “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:16-17).
A legacy. A will contains something to be left or things to bequeath. Luke tells us, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The Lord bequeaths salvation on the souls of men and women. In his commission to the apostles, the language of Jesus was, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).
Heirs. In a will there must be those called heirs or those who inherit. The Bible is plain and clear on this as Paul wrote the Romans, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17).
Conditions. A will may or may not be conditional. It’s up to the testator to decide. If a will contains conditions, those conditions must be met before one is a legal inheritor.
To illustrate, suppose a million dollars is left to you in a persons’s will. A will usually stipulates the conditions simply and plainly. Conditions are: You have to be 21-years old, married, and hold a B.A. degree from Indiana University. This language is clear and definite. It just so happens that the Lord has conditions in his will, if one is to inherit the benefits of the will. God requires that one hear the gospel (Matt. 17:5); have faith (John 8:24; Rom. 10:17); repent of sins (Acts 17:30); confess faith that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. 10:32, Rom. 10:9-10, Acts 8:36-38); and be baptized into Christ (Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:27); with this baptism being a burial (Rom. 6:3-4). Meeting these conditions pardons one’s past sins and adds him to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47). There are conditions of being, “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Being “. . . faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10) if one expects to be an heir of God.
Executors: Jesus chose men known as apostles to be executors of his will. Jesus gave the apostles binding and loosing power; that is, they were to bind what had already been bound and loose what had already been loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:19; 18:18). The Psalmist said, “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). The apostles were “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Paul declared that, as he made “known the mystery of the gospel,” he was an “ambassador in bonds” (Eph. 6:20). Jesus sent the apostles out to execute his will when he said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19-20). Just prior to executing the will, Christ informed the executors, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8) Jesus returned to his Father and the apostles began to execute his will. Acts 2 find the apostles in the city of Jerusalem waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, as they had been promised (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles in the manifestation of Holy Spirit baptism, enabling them to speak in languages they had never studied or learned (Acts 2:1 -11). Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled as the executors, for the first-time revealed the terms of the Will of Christ (Joel 2:28-29; Isa. 2:2-4). They made know the conditions of the will and men met the will’s conditions as “they that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). And, for the first time, “. . . the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). As the book of Acts is read and studied, one can see the terms of the will being executed and men and women in line to inherit.
Even though one has been included as an heir in a will, by his conduct or a failure to continue to meet the will’s conditions he may be dis-inherited. Jude penned, “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not” (Jude 5). God has a divine blotter as Moses brought up in the sinning of God’s Old Testament people, Israel. Moses said, as Israel made a god out of a golden calf, “Ye have sinned a great sin. . . . Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me I pay thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Exod. 32:19-33). If one expects to inherit the blessings of God, as John wrote, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before the Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:4). The believer can become an unbeliever and lose his reward. This is the reason the Holy Spirit urged, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).
The future blessings of God are in the form of an inheritance. A judgment scene finds the testator of the new will saying, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). The eternal inheritance is in the form of hope and promise. Paul wrote Titus, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Tit. 1:2). John penned, “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25). The Hebrew Christians were told concerning those of the Old Testament, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). We have not inherited eternal life yet, but if we are in Christ, we have the hope of it as John wrote, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11). To be in line to inherit eternal life, we must have been baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27) and have kept the conditions of his will. The will of Christ has in store a most wonderful inheritance for those whose names are included. Peter affirmed, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:3-4); “. . . salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1:5); or, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1:9).
Cannot Have Two Wills In Effect At Same Time
Jesus was fully aware of the binding of the first covenant while he lived. Jesus lived and died under the law of Moses. Thus, he said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets (Matt. 5:17). This accounts for Jesus keeping the Sabbath day and other parts of the law of Moses. He observed the Passover (Matt. 26:17-26). Paul used the marriage of a man and women to illustrate the binding nature of one testament at a time. He wrote, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Rom. 7:1-3). Ever wonder why the Holy Spirit said this? Read the next verse to see the application. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4). Jesus knew, and we must learn that we cannot be under two testaments or laws at the same time, no more than a woman can be married to two men at the same time without being guilty of adultery. To be married to two men at the same time is to commit physical adultery and to try to be under two covenants or testaments at the same time is to be guilty of spiritual adultery. One is as bad as the other. This is the reason Jesus, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col. 2:14). This accounts for Paul recording, “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Eph. 2:15). Jesus knowing these truths “taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Heb. 10:9).Before the Death of Christ
Before the death of Christ, he could and did dispense his blessings on various conditions. Remember Hebrews 9:16-17: “For where a testament is, there must also be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Understanding this principle accounts for the fact that Jesus said to the man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matt. 9:1-8). Jesus had the power to forgive sins and so acted since his last will and testament was not in force! A reading of Luke 7:36-39 will show Jesus acting before his will was in force saying, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven.” Jesus granted salvation to Zacchaeus before his testament was of force. Many who try to circumvent being baptized to be saved will bring up the thief on the cross and say he was saved and he was not baptized (Luke 23:39-43). In the first place, you do not know whether or not the thief on the cross was baptized. The Bible does not say. The truth of the matter is Jesus said to the thief, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” 53 days before the last will and testament was of force. It is in the will of Christ that men are taught, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). You cannot hold a man responsible for obeying a law that goes into effect 53 days after he has died! The thief on the cross is not a model case of New Testament conversion and to use it for such is but to misuse it. Find as many cases of Jesus granting salvation before his death as you like and you have just found Jesus acting under the Jewish law before he, the testator died.
After the Death of Christ
The death of Christ put the New Testament or will into force. Read any case of conversion or the granting of remission of sins and you will not find one example or case of anyone being saved without meeting the conditions of the will of Christ. The cases of conversion can be found by reading Acts 2-19 and there are no exceptions to this rule. Someone says, “I found some.” Where? We are told that Saul of Tarsus was saved on the road to Damascus before and without being baptized. Saul was told to, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). Whatever he was told to do was a “must.” Notice what he must do. Ananias told him of the must when he said, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash way thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Then there would be those who think they have a case with Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, because the Acts 18:8 says that he “believed on the Lord with all his house;” but says nothing about his being baptized. Ever read what Paul told the Corinthians, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius” (1 Cor. 1:14). Case closed!
The Lord’s Will Must Be Obeyed
If the New Testament teaches anything at all, it teaches that one must obey the Lord’s will to be saved. Jesus, the testator of the new will said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). To further emphasize the point, Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). The book that says so much about the will of Christ being in force says, “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). The final book dealing with final things tells us, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (Acts 20:32).
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