"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. 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" (Hebrews 9:15–17).
The Hebrews writer was trying to get Jewish Christians to see the superiority of the Christ over Moses, the superiority of the church over the Jerusalem temple, the superiority of the New Testament over the Old. In the passage we've read, the Hebrews writer uses a real-world illustration of a Last Will and Testament.
There is the Testament: It identifies an inheritance; It identifies the heirs (recipients) of said inheritance; It includes the specific guidelines to be followed if said heirs desire to receive said inheritance. Then, there is the Testator: He is the Author of the Will & Testament, or authorizes another to write the words included in the testament. The Testator is the possessor of the inheritance spelled out in His Testament. To alter a will & testament is not only illegal; it is an absolute abomination and disgrace to the one who died, leaving it behind. Furthermore, if a person tries to receive of the inheritance who is not named in the will & testament may find himself extremely embarrassed.
(In preparation of this study, I read over an example of a modern-day Last Will & Testament. The lady who was the testator included a provision for any who may try to claim to be her heir whose name is not specifically listed in her Will & Testament, or any who may try to contest her will & testament. If one is successful at doing so, she leaves them $1.00). Let's think about these facts in light of the illustration the Hebrews writer made.
Jesus is the Testator. He has been given all authority over matters concerning the new covenant (Matthew 28:18). He possesses the greatest inheritance a Testator could ever give: eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4). To alter His Will & Testament is not only wrong; it is an absolute abomination and disgrace to Him, Who died to bring about this Testament (Matthew 26:28; Revelations 22:18–19). To try to receive of Jesus' inheritance without fully complying with His Testament will result in extreme embarrassment (See Matthew 25; Matthew 7:21–23).
The New Testament is His Last Will & Testament. It identifies the eternal inheritance offered by Jesus (1 Peter 1:3–4). It identifies heirs of said inheritance (1 Peter 1:4–5). The gospel is this power of God (Romans 1:16). Our faith in the gospel is seen in our obedience to the gospel (Romans 6:3–6, 17). It includes the specific guidelines to be followed if heirs desire to receive said inheritance (1 John 2:3–4).
Jesus is the Testator. The New Testament is His Last Will & Testament. Are you an heir who has an eternal inheritance reserved in heaven for you?
Clifton preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS