Lesson 1:
The Designation of Jesus Christ to Be the Son of God
Bible reading
Please pray over these verses. 

Romans 1:1, 3-4
1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
3 Concerning His Son, who came out of the seed of David according to the flesh,
4 Who was designated the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness out of the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 8:29
Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers.


The gospel of God focuses on a wonderful person, Jesus Christ. According to John 3:16, Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, but Romans 1:4 indicates that in resurrection He became the firstborn Son of God. Our destiny as believers is to be conformed to the image of the Son of God (8:29). The central thought of the gospel in Romans is sonship. God’s intention is to produce many glorified sons conformed to the image of Christ, the firstborn Son, to constitute a corporate Body for His full expression. We need to daily experience the process of designation through the growth of the divine life until we are conformed to the image of the Son of God (v. 29).

Bible study reading
Please prayerfully read through the following portions of ministry related to this lesson.

First, the gospel of God is concerning a person, and this person is Jesus Christ. Second, this person has two essences or two natures—the human nature and the divine nature. According to His human nature, Christ is out of the seed of David. Third, He was designated to be the Son of God. This designation is to sonize His humanity with His divinity.

Christ is both the Son of Man and the Son of God. As the Son of Man, He is human, possessing humanity, and as the Son of God, He is divine, possessing divinity. The man Jesus was designated to be the Son of God in His humanity. The Son of God in Romans 1:4 does not refer to Christ as the only begotten Son of God from eternity but to Christ as the firstborn Son of God, referred to in Romans 8:29. The firstborn Son of God was designated. His humanity was designated into the sonship with the divine element.

The central aim of God’s gospel is to produce many sons conformed to His Son (v. 29). His firstborn Son is a pattern, a model, for the producing of the many sons. Romans 1:3-4 describes this model, whereas Romans 8 reveals the mass production. The central message of the book of Romans is that sinful, fleshly people are made sons of God and conformed to the image of the Son of God. In this way Christ becomes the Firstborn among many brothers. (Elders’ Training, Book 6: The Crucial Points of the Truth in Paul’s Epistles, ch. 2, section 1)

Do not think that only Jesus needed the designation. Today all His believers in Him need the same kind of designation.

This kind of designation of the Lord Jesus should also be our experience. Designation is actually our sanctification. Sanctification is to live out the Lord. (Elders’ Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision, ch. 1, section 2)

We are being designated as sons of God by resurrection. We are daily undergoing the process of designation.

The more we grow and are transformed, the more we are designated the sons of God. (Life-study of Romans, msg. 54, section 3)

The universe is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God (8:19). This manifestation will…come as the consummation of the process of designation, just as a carnation flower blossoms as the consummation of a long process of growth and change...One day, at the time of our glorification, we shall fully blossom and manifestly be the sons of God. (Life-study of Romans, msg. 54, section 4)

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Going deeper
Please read or listen to these materials for an in-depth study of this lesson.

Further reading:
Life-study of Romans, msg. 2, section 2
Life-study of Romans, msg. 54
Crystallization-study of the Epistles to the Romans, ch. 1

Radio broadcast link:
Broadcast 3, The Gospel of God
Broadcast 54, Designation by Resurrection

Footnotes from Recovery Version of the New Testament:
Romans 1:4, footnotes 1-2
Romans 8:29, footnote 4

Questions for personal or corporate study:

References in brackets indicate readings or broadcasts that may be helpful in answering the questions.
  • What is the focus of the gospel of God presented in Romans? (Life-study of Romans, message 2)
  • What is the difference between the only begotten Son of God and the firstborn Son of God? (Romans 1:4, footnote 1 and 8:29, footnote 4, Recovery Version)
  • Explain the believer’s daily process of designation in life by resurrection, which consummates in the manifestation of full sonship—the redemption of our body. (Broadcast 54)
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We highly recommend using the printed Life-study messages as a tool to explore this lesson. There are over 1,900 Life-study messages in total, and this amazing resource expands and develops this lesson in greater detail.

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Works Cited

Lee, Witness. Elders’ Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1985.

---. Elders’ Training, Book 6: The Crucial Points of the Truth in Paul’s Epistles. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1985.

---. Life-study of Romans. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1989.

All verses and excerpts © 2021 Living Stream Ministry.
Used by permission. Reproduction is prohibited. 
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