The Reading of the Will

By Royce Frederick

A person’s “will” is a document which declares what should happen to all of his possessions after he dies. It is sometimes called “the last will and testament” of that person, and he is the “testator” of it.

While he is alive, a man may tell people what he has stated in his will, and who should receive various items of his possessions. But even when he tells them, he is still the owner of those possessions until his death.

At the moment a person dies, his “will” becomes effective. However, the will is usually not read by the family at that very moment, and the provisions of the will are not immediately implemented. Usually, the family first grieves for their loved one and has a funeral or memorial gathering. After a time, a lawyer or other trusted person gathers the family and others for the reading of the will. If the will involves a large estate, the will itself often names one or more “executors” to “execute” the will — to implement the provisions of the will. After the first reading of the will, people often read it many more times to be sure they are properly following its provisions. Implementing the will can take a long time, sometimes years, if it involves a very large estate.

Hebrews 9 uses the idea of a “will” to explain about the New Testament of Christ: “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Heb. 9:16-17).

Jesus was a Jew, born under the Law of Moses (Gal. 4:4). He obeyed the law of Moses, and He told his fellow Jews to obey it during His lifetime (Matt. 8:4; 19:17-19; 23:1-4, 23; Mk. 12:29-31).

But before the cross, He also began revealing much of His will (for example, Matt. 5:27-48; 16:17-19; 18:15-20; 19:8-9, 28-29; 20:25-28; 26:26-28; Jn. 16:23-24). The will of Christ is different from the Law of Moses in many ways, yet His will fulfills the divine purpose toward which the Law of Moses was aiming — salvation for mankind (see Matt. 5:17-20; Lk. 24:44-47; Rom. 8:3-4; Heb. 7:18-19; 8:7-9; Gal. 3:19-29).

At the moment Jesus died, His will became effective. However, He needed to rise from death and appear to many witnesses before the process of implementing His will could begin. The apostles and disciples were grieving, and they needed to be fully convinced that He had risen from death. So, our risen Lord appeared to hundreds of His disciples during forty days (Acts 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:1-8).

Before His death, Jesus had told His disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” (Jn. 16:12-13). So, in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles. Like “executors” of His will, His disciples began declaring and implementing the will of Christ. Before the end of the first century A.D., the Holy Spirit finished revealing the will of Christ through the inspired apostles and disciples. As Peter’s life was about to end (2 Pet. 1:13-15), Peter was able to write, “...His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3).

To learn the true will of Christ, we must not listen to men who claim that God is speaking a new message through them. Instead, we must test every message by reading the New Testament of Christ (1 Thess. 5:21). We must “...contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Read the will! In it, you will find how to receive your great, eternal inheritance paid for by Jesus Christ!

“...I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).