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The Importance of the Virgin Birth (Part Two)

In my previous post, I posted on why the virgin birth of Christ matters.  The sign of Isaiah 7:14 was that Immanuel would come through the virgin.  Jesus is called Immanuel in Matthew 1:23 which Matthew gives as a direct prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14.  Jesus is God with us.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man (John 1:1, 14).  Paul the Apostle would later write in 1 Timothy 3:16:

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

The question is who was manifested in the flesh?  Obviously it is God who was manifested in the flesh.  In fact, the NKJV has God as manifested in the flesh.  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh.  Christmas speaks of the incarnation of God.  At Resurrection Sunday, the Church celebrates the fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).  When the Church celebrates the Lord’s Supper we celebrate Jesus’ death, resurrection and His coming again (1 Corinthians 11:26).  But there could be no resurrection without an incarnation.

The birth of Jesus demonstrates that it was fully God who was coming into the world.  Albert Barnes writes about this wonderful event of Matthew 1:22-23:

This is a Hebrew word, and means, literally, God with us. Matthew doubtless understands this word as denoting that the Messiah was really “God with us,” or that the Divine nature was united to the human. He does not affirm that this was its meaning when used in reference to the child to whom it was first applied; but this was its meaning as applicable to the Messiah. It was fitly expressive of his character; and in this sense it was fulfilled. When first used by Isaiah, it denoted simply that the birth—of the child was a sign that God was with the Jews, to deliver them. The Hebrews often used the name of Jehovah, or God, in their proper names. Thus, Isaiah means “the salvation of Jehovah;” Eleazer, “help of God;” Eli, “my God,” etc. But Matthew evidently intends more than was denoted by the simple use of such names. He had just given an account of his miraculous conception; of his being begotten by the Holy Ghost. God was therefore his Father. He was Divine as well as human. His appropriate name was “God with us.” And though the mere use of such a name would not prove that he had a Divine nature, yet, as Matthew uses it, and meant evidently to apply it, it does prove that Jesus was more than a man; that he was God as well as man. And it is this which gives glory to the plan of redemption. It is this which is the wonder of angels. It is this which makes the plan so vast, so grand, so full of instruction and comfort to Christians. See Php 2:6-8. It is this which sheds such peace and joy into the sinner’s heart; which gives him such security of salvation; and renders the condescension of God in redemption so great, and his character so lovely.

Barnes then gives us a poem about the beauty of Immanuel:

“Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just, and sacred Three,
Are terror to my mind.

“But if IMMANUEL’S face appears,
My hope, my joy, begins;
His grace removes my slavish fears,
His blood removes my sins.”

Immanuel has come to bring peace for men before God.  The angel proclaimed in Luke 2:14 to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth (NKJV):

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Ephesians 2:14 says that He would bring peace between the Jews and Gentiles and bring us together as one people under His Lordship.  Micah 5:5 records that the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem (v.2) would be our peace.  Romans 5:1 says that we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is our peace!

His birth demonstrates the fact that this birth through Mary was not about Mary.  The Catholics have placed too much emphasis on Mary even going so far as to teach that she herself was born of a virgin (the immaculate conception).  Yet both Matthew and Luke place the emphasis on the Lord Jesus and rightfully so.  The Christmas story is about God becoming a man.  Is not about the virgin.  The virgin’s role (as important as it was) is insignificant to the birth of the Messiah.  This birth shows that Jesus is fully God.  This Child born of Mary was conceived by the supernatural power of God (Luke 1:35) yet the birth of the Messiah is so incredible that even the angel Gabriel had to say that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).  That a virgin gave birth is incredible in of itself.  The virgin birth has driven liberal theologians mad for many years.  How could a virgin give birth to the Messiah?  And yet Scripture says that it happened and so it did.

Without a doubt the message that Christmas shouts to us is that God became flesh.  Christmas has nothing to do with Santa Claus or with Christmas trees or lights or snow or singing festive songs.  Christmas has nothing to do with giving and receiving gifts.  Christmas has everything to do with the incarnation of God.  This is what the world ignores in favor of elves for if God truly became a man and He lived among us, He will judge the world again in perfect righteousness (Acts 17:30-31; Hebrews 9:27-28).

As a disciple of Jesus, I rejoice that He became flesh.  I rejoice that He was tempted in all ways as I am yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15) and I rejoice that He lived a perfect life and died for my sins (2 Corinthians 5:21).  I rejoice that He is risen from the dead (Luke 24:36-43) and that He now sits at the right hand of God praying for me (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).  I rejoice that Jesus is coming again (Acts 1:11).  I pray that He comes soon (Revelation 22:20).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/19/2013 at 3:19 PM

The Importance of the Virgin Birth (Part One)

Why was Jesus born of a virgin?  Why is it important that the Church continue to preach that Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary?  And what role does the virgin birth play in regard to our redemption?

Some propose that the virgin birth is necessary because of the doctrine of original sin.  For instance, Dr. Wayne Grudem proposes that the virgin birth of Christ was necessary because all humans have inherited legal guilt and a corrupt moral nature from their first father, Adam.  But since Jesus did not have a human father then He partially interrupted the line from Adam.  Jesus did not descend from Adam in exactly the same way in which every other human being had descended from Adam.  Dr. Grudem sees Luke 1:35 as a proof text for this.  Luke 1:35 reads,

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

Notice that Luke records that Jesus would be called “holy.”  He could be called holy because He was born without the corrupt nature inherited by all humans from Adam.  The virgin birth thus ensured that Jesus was born fully human but without inherited sin of any kind.  Jesus could be both fully human and fully God through the virgin birth and He could be called holy unlike us.

In contrast to this, others propose that the virgin birth has nothing to do with original sin.  Dr. Jack Cottrell, for example, rejects the teaching from above.  While Cottrell affirms the virgin birth as necessary and part of God’s plan, he rejects the idea that the virgin birth helps Jesus not inherit a sinful nature.  Instead, Cottrell states that there is simply no biblical basis for such a view either of original sin inherited by humans or about Jesus needing the virgin birth to avoid original sin.

Another theologian who rejects the virgin birth as necessary to avoid original sin states it this way,

Some have supposed that the virgin birth was necessary in order for Jesus to avoid the inheritance of a sinful nature.  However, the Scriptures nowhere state that Jesus was born of a virgin to avoid the inheritance of some type of sinful substance.  Rather, the Bible says that He was born of a virgin because His Father was God.  Though Jesus was born of a virgin and His Father was God, Jesus did not have a different type of flesh from the rest of us.  He had the same type of flesh that we have.  Jesus was not made physically perfect until the third day when He was raised with a glorified body (Luke 13:32; Hebrews 5:9).  If Jesus was born with a glorified flesh, or if He did not take upon Himself a physically depraved flesh like we have, which was subjected to death, He could not have tasted death for every man; and therefore, could not have made atonement for all.  It was necessary for Christ to be made with the same type of physically depraved body that we have, so that He could be capable of physical death (Hebrews 2:9, 14, 16-17).

Another theologian who rejects the virgin birth as necessary to escape from the pollution of Adam’s seed states it thus:

The Bible is clear that the virgin birth is to be a sign (Isaiah 7:14).  That is the point of the virgin birth, a sign.  It points to the fact that the Baby born to the virgin would be God (Immanuel).  We find nothing in the Bible that teaches that the virgin birth is necessary to avoid original sin.  Instead, the virgin birth points to the absolute deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible and Supernatural Births

The Bible lists other supernatural births but none compare to the supernatural birth of Jesus.  For example, the birth of Isaac (Genesis 18:9-14), Samson (Judges 13) Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20), and John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25).  Yet all of these births occurred naturally with a human father and mother.  In the case of Jesus, He was born of a virgin without a human father.  He was 100% human through Mary but was 100% God through the Holy Spirit.  Paul the Apostle never mentions the virgin birth, but when he writes of the Lord Jesus coming into the world (Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:7), he uses the Greek word ginomai (“become, come into being”) and avoids the word gennao or the common term for “be born” which would focus on two human parents.

The birth of Jesus was a supernatural event unlike any other.  This birth was a direct fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 (see Matthew 1:18-25).  The birth of Jesus pointed to His deity, that He was God and always had been God (John 1:1, 14).  Jesus did not come into being in Bethlehem but He had always been and always will be.  The Word became flesh in Bethlehem but He was always God from everlasting (Micah 5:2 NKJV).  Hebrews 1:10-12 is clear that Jesus has always been and He always will be (Hebrews 13:8).

Quick Note on Luke 2:33

I saw a King James only advocate preaching that modern versions corrupt the doctrines of the faith and he focused in on Luke 2:33 and claimed that the NIV and other modern translations are wrong on the translation here and that they are attacking the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 2:33 in the ESV reads,

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

The NIV reads,

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

The KJV reads,

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

KJV only advocates teach that the KJV here is clear that Mary is the mother of Jesus but Joseph is not his father since God is His Father.  They say that the ESV and the NIV both attack the virgin birth and teach that Joseph was Jesus’ father.

However, the KJV itself asserts that Joseph is Jesus’ father in Luke 2:41 when it calls both Joseph and Mary His parents.  Further, the KJV also says that Joseph is Jesus’ father in Luke 2:48 where we read,

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Here Mary herself says that Joseph is His father.  Joseph and Mary where the parents of Jesus as a unit while He was on the earth.  Matthew 1 and Luke 1 are clear that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and even the NIV does not neglect this truth.  KJV only advocates are reaching when they make an entire sermon on how modern versions corrupt the doctrine of the virgin birth in Luke 2:33.  This is simply not true.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/28/2013 at 9:52 PM

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