Chapter 42: THE CHURCH BELIEVES IN A
VIRGIN BORN SAVIOR
by Rubel Shelly
Churches of Christ believe, affirm, and defend the biblical
doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ. It is a fundamental teaching of
Scripture that the human race was (and is) incapable of saving itself (Ephesians
2:8-9), that the eternal Son of God came among us as a human being for our
salvation (Philippians 2:5-11), and that the means of his coming among us was an
incarnation (i.e., a "becoming-in-flesh") by means of his birth of the virgin
Mary (1 Timothy 3:16).
THE DOCTRINE STATED
As one opens a New Testament, he or she cannot get past the
first page without confronting the doctrine of the virgin birth. The writer
Matthew says: "When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they
came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18).
Joseph, perplexed over the fact that his wife-to-be was pregnant, was given this
explanation by an angel in a dream: "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take
unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy
Spirit" (Matt. 1:20).
Another Gospel writer tells of Mary's pregnancy from her
perspective. He tells how the angel Gabriel appeared to her to help prepare this
young girl for the great event which would occur in her life. He told her, "And
behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call
his name Jesus" (Luke 1:31). Startled at such a thing, for she was a virgin, the
angel continued: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the
Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten
shall be called the Son of God " (Luke 1:35).
All four of the Gospels assume the doctrine of the virgin
birth; two of them give details about it. And it is all the more amazing that
one of these writers (i.e., Luke) is a physician whose training and experience
would incline him to deny the possibility of such a birth. Careful historian
that we know Luke to have been, he investigated thoroughly and affirmed without
hesitation that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin.
Some seven hundred or more years before the birth of Jesus,
the Holy Spirit had moved the prophet Isaiah to foretell the miraculous birth of
the Messiah. "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin
shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).
Skeptics have tried to eliminate the phenomenon of predictive prophecy from the
Bible, but this and many other divinely revealed predictions - all of which came
to pass - make their efforts futile.
Isaiah predicted the virgin birth, New Testament writers
recorded its occurrence, and it stands as a sign from God as to the identity of
Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God and Savior of the world.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH
By means of the virgin birth, we are able to identify with
certainty the Messiah to whom the entire Old Testament had pointed. Throughout
the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, the Spirit of God had been giving bits of
information about this anticipated Redeemer which would enable people to
recognize and believe on him when he appeared. He was to be a descendant of
Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and a member of
David's family (2 Samuel 7:12-17). His coming was to be announced by a
forerunner (Isa. 40:3; Malachi 4:5), and he was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah
5:2). Add to these prophecies and their fulfillments that of the virgin birth,
and there is no doubt as to who the messiah and Redeemer of mankind is.
By means of the incarnation, we have a mediator who is able
to restore fallen men and women to the fellowship of a holy God. "For there is
one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus" (1
Tim. 2:5). His role as mediator depends on his having come in the flesh to share
our humanity, but his coming in the flesh was by means of the virgin birth. Thus
the virgin birth was an integral part of the redemptive program itself.
DANGERS OF DENYING THIS DOCTRINE
To deny the doctrine of the virgin birth is to deny the
trustworthiness of the Bible. It has been demonstrated already that the Bible
speaks clearly and forthrightly in claiming a miraculous, virgin birth for Jesus
of Nazareth. If that claim is false, by what right do we accept as true any
other doctrine about Christ?
A denial of the virgin birth most likely proceeds from a
rejection of supernaturalism in general. In other words, one most likely rejects
the particular miracle of the virgin birth because he has already rejected
miracles in general and the virgin birth in particular, Christianity can never
have any place in his life. Belief in Jesus requires belief in the supernatural
events involved in his life (John 14:11). If he was not virgin born, bodily
raised, and capable of performing signs in his Father's name, there is no good
reason for us to regard his teaching as authoritative. Apart from the miracles
in his life, he is just another moral philosopher or religious teacher.
Finally, to deny the virgin birth is to deny that we have a
Savior. The virgin birth identifies Jesus as the promised Old Testament Redeemer
and demonstrates his qualification to mediate between God and humanity. Without
that identifying mark, we have no good reason to believe that he is the one whom
heaven has provided to save mankind.
I appeal with you to believe on Jesus Christ as the Son of
God (John 8:24), to confess that faith from a penitent and sincere heart (Romans
10:10), and to identify yourself with his saving death, burial, and resurrection
in the beautiful act of baptism (Rom. 6:3-4).
His incarnation by means of the virgin birth is in vain for
you, unless you allow him to save you from your sin.
What is the meaning of the term "incarnation"?
Which Gospel writers devote the greatest amount of attention
to the virgin birth?
Discuss Isaiah 7:14. Why have skeptics attacked this verse
with such enthusiasm?
Why is the doctrine of the virgin birth so crucial?
What is at stake for the person who denies this doctrine of
the Christian faith?
this material is reproduced on our website from the book published by Star
Star Bible Publications, Fort Worth, Texas 76182
booklet may be purchased from Star Bible Publications. You may call
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Horse Cave church of Christ
Introducing the church Index
Note: This material is copyrighted
(1981) by Star Bible Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 821220,
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