By Robert Halsey Pine
“Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:19-29 NRSV).
We have an opportunity to have a spiritual “living will” by accepting the new life in Christ. We can determine what happens to us after we die by making the decision to hear and believe God through His Son Jesus Christ. In contrast to the conventional living will, the spiritual living will is not concerned with how we will die, but how we will have eternal life.
St. Paul wrote to the Hebrews (9:15-28 NRSV) that, “For this reason he [Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.” Paul further says, “For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.”
While a conventional living will is involved with preventing unnecessary suffering around the time of our death, the spiritual living will is to eliminate our suffering in eternity by bringing us into God’s everlasting kingdom. While none of us would advocate suffering as our natural lives are ending, we certainly have a larger stake in our condition after we have died.
The good news is that by seeking a spiritual living will to be in force when we die, we receive a benefit during our natural life. That is the blessing of the Holy Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God as we live out our time on earth.
Our spiritual living will is already in effect because the death of the one who made it has occurred. Christ Jesus died for our sins so that we will be assured of the promise of His will. Our requirement to be partakers of this heavenly gift is to honor the Father through His Son by hearing and believing His word. Our spiritual living will places us in a win-win situation. We are blessed in this life and in the one that God promises to come.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.