by Rob Lundberg
(Be sure to listen to the podcast on this same subject)
The Christmas holiday season is a upon us and knowing the reason for the season, this is a wonderful opportunity to share those reasons. The exciting part is that though miracles are a challenge to skeptics, we have a wonderful opportunity to share the miracle of the virgin birth. In this post, a couple of weeks before the holiday, I want to take some time to address the significance of Jesus’ virgin birth.
With all the attacks on the New Testament over the last few years, I thought I would post the material again. However, before we “go there”, many of the mythologies that claim to have “savior/virgin birth stories” are either forgeries, or fabrications that have been well after, even centuries of the prophecies and one hundred to two hundred years following the actual historical events. In either case, none of the mythology stories have a single shred of salvific value, since they were based on “myth.”
The Virgin Birth, Fulfilled Prophecy:
Despite what many believe today, the religions and religious leaders of the world are not the same. Many people in our culture promote the ridiculous claim that Jesus was just another religious leader—a good person who tried to make life better for others—but Jesus is unique in so many respects. He alone was a “good person” since He lived a sinless life. Every other religious leader has been sinful and needed a Savior. But Jesus did not need a savior; He is the Savior.
There are no prophecies foretelling details about the birth of other religious leaders. There are no prophecies alerting the world to the coming of Muhammad (Islam), Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Charles Taze Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Siddhartha Gautama (Buddhism), or any other founder of the world’s religions.
So when we look at the Old Testament and see pin-pointed numerous details about the life of the Son of God and Savior of the world. 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.
Gen. 12:1-3 – God’s promise to make a great nation.
Gen. 17:19-21 – God’s promise that Sarah would bear Isaac.
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?
- Our beliefs as Christians would be meaningless.
- The very foundation of our faith would crumble.
- The Word of God would not be reliable at all.
A. Note some indirect and direct OT prophecies about the virgin birth.
So what do these prophecies tell us about Jesus? In just the first two chapters of Matthew, we see that God foretold the virgin conception of the Messiah, who would be born in Bethlehem, yet in some way would come out of Egypt and be called a Nazarene. We also see that bitter agony would grip the mothers in that area.
In the genealogy recorded in Matthew’s first chapter, we discover the fulfillment of several other Old Testament prophecies.
Genesis 3:15 – the “seed of the woman”
Isaiah 7:14 – “Born of a virgin”
But there are those who reject the significance of this prophesied 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.
So, What’s the beef about the term “virgin?”
Well they are particularly critical of the Isaiah 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 liberal 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 translation 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 truth claim? 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…
Matthew 1:16, … “of whom was born Jesus” refers to Mary alone.
Matthew 1:18, “…before they come together …”
Matthew 1:25, “…knew her not…”
Gen. 3:15, “the seed of the woman”
Gal. 4:4, “made [born] 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 interval 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 Virgin Birth Has Significant Connections
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.
Baker’s Dictionary of the Bible defines a miracle as “an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God.” It goes on to add that a miracle occurs to show that the power behind it is not limited to the laws of matter or mind as it interrupts fixed natural laws. So the term supernatural applies quite accurately.
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, became 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 Spirit, 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 we celebrate this Christmas holiday season, let’s remember that the baby in the manger was God incarnate. And if you like paradoxes in the Christian faith, just remember that the baby in the manger….created His mother. Wow! What a powerful paradox to the Christian faith!
Rob is a blogger, writer, equipper, and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and then take it and communicate it to a confused culture in a “brave new world.”
If you are led by the Lord to assist us in getting into 2019 and impacting more for the gospel, your prayerful consideration and giving will carry us forward into the months and the year ahead. Thank you in advance for whatever you can provide