Friday, December 2, 2011

Christ As Testator

With the semester winding down and finals starting up, it has been difficult to find time to post recently. There is something I thought would be interesting to share, however. Recently I was reading in the New Testament right before I started studying for my Decedent's Estates class, and I found a passage where Paul describes the purpose of the Atonement in terms of estate planning. It offered new, and timely, insights into a topic we have all studied. In case some of you haven't taken a decedent's estates class, or if it has been a while, here is a little basic refresher:

For someone to give a gift at death, they need to complete a will or testament. If the testament is not completed by the person giving the gift (the "testator"), that person's wishes cannot be fulfilled. However, even if the testator completes the testament long before his death, the devisees (people receiving the gifts) have absolutely NO interest in the gift until the testator dies. They can only claim the gift after the testator dies. In other words, the testator has to die before the devisees can receive their inheritance.

In Hebrews chapter 9 verse 15 Paul says "by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions (the testamentary "gift") . . . they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."

Then, in the next verse, "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."

Christ is the testator, and we are the devisees. He had a testamentary gift He wanted to give to us (our "eternal inheritance"), but in order for us to claim that gift, according to Estate law, He had to die first. Only then, through the Testator's death, can we receive our inheritance of redemption and eternal life.

It has always interested me to see how an individual's career choice can inform his understanding of the gospel (i.e. Elder Uchtdorf always talks about aviation, and Elder Oaks tends to talk a lot about justice and mercy). For myself, as I took a break from studying for my Decedent's Estates final, I was offered a new insight (well, new to me) as to why the Atonement was necessary.