Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Significance of a Virgin Birth

Last Christmas, I posted this on my MySpace blog as an encouragement with the release of the movie, The Nativity Story. This Christmas season, I believe there is no better time to once again touch upon the subject of the importance of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

The virgin birth of Christ was a fulfillment of supernatural prophecy starting in the Old Testament. Here are some Old Testament prophecies that have been fulfilled.

  1. Gen. 12:1-3 - God's promise to make a great nation.
  2. Gen. 17:19-21 God's promise that Sarah would bear Isaac.
  3. 2 Sam. 7:12-16 God's promise that Solomon would build the Temple.
What would it mean to us as Christians if God had failed to fulfill these prophecies?

  1. Our beliefs as Christians would be meaningless.
  2. The very foundation of our faith would crumble.
  3. The Word of God would not be reliable at all.
A. Note some indirect and direct Old Testament prophecies about the virgin birth.

  1. Gen. 3:15 - the "seed of the woman"
  2. Is. 7:14 - "Born of a virgin"
But there are those who reject the significance of this prophecied event. Modernists and liberals reject the doctrine of the virgin birth because they want to reduce Jesus Christ to little more than a great teacher. If they were to accept the virgin birth, it would mean a requirement on their part to to accept that Jesus is God.

What is the beef? Well they are particularly critical of the Is. 7:14 passage. In the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, Isaiah 7:14 reads, "Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son..."

What is the RSV? The Revised Standard Version was completed by the educational division of the National Council of Churches. How does this verse accomplish their goal? Their basis for this change is translating the Hebrew word "almah." The translators of the RSV were religious liberals and modernists. Their approach to biblical translastion is no different than certain cults (i.e., the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), who choose to revise God's Word, they render it how they want it to read.
What are our reasons for accepting the virgin birth of Jesus as valid and of significant importance to the Christian faith? Many outstanding Hebrew scholars support it as strongly as the Genesis Creation record. Not only that, the Septuagint (LXX), the Old Testament in koine Greek, translates "alma" as virgin. But are these good enough reasons to accept the virgin birth in and of themselves? No.

The New Testament also supports the OT prophecy translation of the word "alma" as virgin. In Matthew 1:23: there is no question about the word used for virgin here - it can only mean a woman who has never had relations with a man. From this eyewitness account of Matthew, the Holy Spirit inspired both Old Testament and New Testament writers and He affirms that Jesus Christ was virgin-born. Is there any more reinforcement to this truthclaim? Yes!
The Fulfillment of the virgin birth comes in looking at the biblical record. Jesus Christ was born without a human father. Take note of Matthew's account...

  1. 1:16, ... of whom was born Jesus" refers to Mary alone.
  2. 1:18, "...before they come together ...
  3. 1:25, "...knew her not..."
All of these verses point to nothing but the virgin birth. Then, in Galatians 4:4 is the partial fulfillment of Gen. 3:15.

  1. Gen. 3:15, "the seed of the woman"
  2. Gen. 4:4, "made of a woman"
B. Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Consider the Jewish custom of marriage,(Matt. 1:18-20). The betrothal would compare with our engagement period only a stronger commitment. There was an intervalt that existed before the marriage was actually physically consummated.

Note that it was during this interval that Mary became pregnant. Joseph, the betrothed "husband" had two options: 1) He could make a public example of her for her obvious infidelity; or 2) Or he could privately put her away by a bill of divorcement.

However the Lord supplied Joseph with an explanation and a third option...marry the girl. Why did he take this option? The Scripture is pretty clear. Both Mary Joseph received the same message. Check out Luke's record, 1:26-38. Mary couldn't understand how that she, a virgin having never known (sexually) a man, could conceive and bear a child, v 34. The angel Gabriel told her that the Holy Ghost would bring this to be. He further assured her that "with God nothing shall be impossible.'' And neither Mary or Joseph questioned the message from God. The Scripture states that Joseph "...did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him ..." and Mary said, "...be it according to thy Word ..."

So what is the significance of all of this? Is the virgin birth an essential doctrine to the Christian faith? To put it another way, can a person be a true believer in Christ and yet deny that He was born of a virgin? The answer to that question is an emphatic NO. Why?

To deny that Christ was virgin born is to deny that the Word of God is true. It means that one is denying that Jesus was the Son of God. It is a denial that Jesus could die a sacrificial death. To say that Jesus was born strictly of human parents by human conception means that there is no characteristic of deity that would warrant Him the right to be the Son of God.

The doctrine of the virgin birth is vitally connected to many other Important doctrines. NOTE: John 10:31-38

1. The authenticity of the Scriptures. Liberals see the virgin birth as a "symbol" of Christ's uniqueness and they deny that it happened literally. However, if the Scripture is not reliable in this area - how can it be trusted at all? Mary accepted God's Word through the angelic messenger, as did Joseph. What is the problem with our accepting God's Word?

2. The actuality of the miraculous. Secular humanism sees man as the center of the universe, and the measure of all things. Humanism is a call to magnify man rather than God. They are also Darwinian in their concept of nature and therefore they refuse to accept the miraculous.

However, we cannot view the virgin birth of Christ as a normal development. Luke 1:37 tells us that "For with God nothing shall be impossible." The virgin birth bring to the forefront the appropriateness of Jesus' person. Hebrews 2:9-18 tells us that in order to redeem man, Jesus Christ had to become a man. So the virgin birth plays a vital part of God's plan of redemption. Jesus Christ, the Savior was born into this world without sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that "He who knew no sin, becames sin so that we might become the righteousness of God." 1 Peter 2:22 says that He did no sin. Jesus was God's Lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:19).

By the miracle of the virgin birth, the eternal Son of God was united with human nature and only through this union could redemption be accomplished.

Jesus Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost, in a miraculous manner; born of Mary, a virgin, as no other man was ever born or can ever be born of woman. He is both the Son of God and God the Son. Reason and science would tell us that this is a biological impossibility, but the Word of God makes it clear that it had to be in order for us to have a Savior who could redeem us from Sin. Once again, I challenge you 'Where is your faith?' in men or in God? (Luke 1:37) "For with God nothing shall be impossible."

So my friends, as you celebrate this Christmas holiday season, remember that the baby in the manger was God incarnate. The baby in the manger....created His mother. Wow! What a powerful paradox to the Christian faith.

Rob Lundberg is the Director of Stand4Truth.Net Apologetics Ministries, a Christian apologetics ministry presenting a defense of the Christian message geared for the church and the culture at large (1 Chronicles 12:32; Acts 17; Phil.1:16; 1 Peter 3:15-17)

1 comment:

Brian said...

Yea for another Christian thinker. Keep blogging.