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What is the Significance of the Birthright?

Few Christians today understand the biblical notion of the birthright. Yet to the writers of both the Old and New Testaments, it was a tremendous matter. We believers, by virtue of our second birth, are the sons of God and participate in God’s blessings as our spiritual birthright in both this age and the next. Our birthright as Christians is to inherit all that God is in Christ. The apostle Paul told us that Christ Himself is our allotted inheritance (Col. 1:12; Eph. 1:14), that we are heirs of God (Rom. 8:17), and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

The birthright promised to God’s people is in three aspects: image, dominion, and participation in God’s kingdom. God’s central intention in creating man is that man would bear His image to express Him (Gen. 1:26). But because of Adam’s fall, man completely failed to express God. However, Christ came to fully declare the unseen God (John 1:18) and be the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). Through regeneration, we gain the divine life to become sons of God. When we live Christ and magnify Him (Phil. 1:20-21), we fulfill God’s intention and desire to have His image expressed through man. Christ, who is God’s image, lives again through us, the members of His Body.

Our birthright as Christians is to inherit all that God is in Christ.

The second aspect of the birthright concerns man’s having dominion. God’s intention is for man to have dominion to subdue every negative thing on earth and exercise God’s authority (Gen. 1:26). Instead, Adam himself was subdued by Satan. Christ came and fulfilled God’s intention. He defeated the enemy Satan and in ascension, all things were subjected under His feet (Eph. 1:22). Our birthright as New Testament believers is to experience Christ’s subduing power and to participate in Christ’s dominion today. In Christ, we enjoy everything being subjected under the Lord’s feet. By our receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, we may reign over all things in Christ (Rom 5:17) to exercise God’s authority.

The third aspect of our wonderful birthright is our participation in God’s kingdom. This includes the church life as the kingdom of God in the present age (Rom. 14:17) and the kingdom’s full manifestation in the coming millennium (Rev. 20:6). Today, we enjoy the kingdom’s righteousness, peace, and joy by gathering for fellowship as the Body of Christ. Then in the next age, the victorious believers who have valued their birthright in this age will reign with Christ for a thousand years. This kingdom participation is both our birthright today and a marvelous coming reward.

We must be warned by Esau’s tragic folly of greatly undervaluing his birthright and selling it cheaply to Jacob (Heb. 12:16). We New Testament believers must treasure our birthright by refusing any worldly or sinful pleasures that rob us of our enjoyment of Christ. To those who treasure their birthright, the world’s shallow enticements cannot compare with having Christ expressed through us, reigning in us, and corporately enjoyed by us as the church, His kingdom.

For further reading on this subject, please see Life-study of Genesis, message 67, by Witness Lee; and footnote 1 of Hebrews 12:16 in the New Testament Recovery Version, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 48, April 2002

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