This is post 3 of 12 in the series “WHY I BELIEVE"
- Why I Believe In The Incarnation
- Why I Believe In Angels
- Why I Believe In The Virgin Birth
- Why I Believe In Jesus Christ
- Why I Believe In God
- Why I Believe The Bible
- Why I Believe In The Church
- Why I Believe In Heaven
- Why I Believe In The Atonement
- Why I Believe In The Resurrection
- Why I Believe In The Holy Spirit
- Why I Believe In The Trinity
Why I Believe In The Virgin Birth
Every once in a while, and usually it’s at Christmastime, some noted minister or some prominent theologian will stand up and publicly deny the virgin birth. I want to tell you something. That is nothing but a grab for publicity and notoriety, and, frankly, it’s always rather pathetic to behold. Just a few years ago now, for example, an English bishop stood in the pulpit of one of the great cathedrals of England at Christmastime, and he declared that he did not believe in the virgin birth. Interestingly enough, the very next day that cathedral was struck by lightning and nearly burned to the ground. Ha! You have to wonder if the good bishop ever got the point.
Here’s my point: I believe in the virgin birth.
I believe that God in Jesus Christ was born of a woman who was biologically, physiologically, and psychologically a virgin. I believe that God, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, produced a fetus in the womb of a woman who then was able to develop and deliver a baby even though she was a virgin. I believe in the virgin birth.
Now I have to admit at this point that there are some Christians who do not hold that particular belief. They are quick to point out, and of course it is true, that the focus of our faith is to be the person of Jesus Christ not the manner of His birth. They are quick to point out, and of course it is true, that our salvation has been purchased not in the cradle but on the cross. Consequently, they regard the virgin birth as a belief which is not central to the Christian faith. In fact, they go on to make two objections to the virgin birth. One is the objection of possibility—it is not possible that something like the virgin birth could have happened. Second is the objection of necessity—it is not necessary for our salvation to believe in the virgin birth. Well, I want to say to you again, so that you do not misunderstand me, that I believe in the virgin birth and today it is my intent to counter those two objections. I intend to try to show you that the virgin birth is both possible and necessary.
First, the virgin birth is possible.
There are those who suggest that a miracle like the virgin birth could not have happened within the frame of natural law and natural science as we know it. Let me remind you that in the last several years, we have witnessed enough scientific miracles to keep us from ever being too dogmatic about what can or cannot happen. Besides that, scientific observation is, by definition, the description of what normally happens, what usually happens, but not what always happens. Any reputable scientist knows that to be true. Let me take this a step further. If in our scientific laboratories today genetic engineering is taking place, and it is; if it is possible today to conceive a child through artificial insemination, and it is; then is it too much of a stretch to think that the God who ordered this universe so that scientists could draw orderly conclusions from it; that that God could cause a child to be born of a virgin if He so desired for His own glory? Is that too much of a stretch? I think not. To declare categorically that the virgin birth simply could never have happened is to go way beyond where any human mind has the ability to go. In fact, it borders on intellectual dishonesty. I suggest to you as strongly as I know how that the virgin birth, while it is a miracle and while it did happen outside what normally or usually happens according to natural law and science, nevertheless, it is possible.
Others suggest that the Bible itself is actually the greatest obstacle to belief in the virgin birth. They are quick to point out that the virgin birth is never mentioned in the Gospel of Mark or the Gospel of John nor is it mentioned in the book of Acts or any of Paul’s letters. They go on to say that Matthew and Luke, the two Gospels which do mention the virgin birth, were written after the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, and, therefore, they say Matthew and Luke simply added that story as a means of bolstering their contention that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. Well, I would submit to you that those arguments are groundless. In the first place, Matthew and Luke did in fact include that story after Jesus’ earthly life had been concluded. That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? I mean look at it this way. Suppose today a woman gave birth to a son in our hospital on the Island here, and that woman declared that the child had no earthly father. The woman would not be believed. Her word alone would not be sufficient proof. Then suppose that some thirty years hence that woman’s child began to demonstrate marvelous power indicative of the unique presence of God in that person’s life. Would it not be true that, at that point, the woman’s claims would be taken much more seriously? Let’s also remember that Matthew told the story from the perspective of Joseph, and Luke told the story from the perspective of Mary. Once those two accounts had been put together as point of view, there was no reason to add yet another story or another perspective. That was the whole story. So there was no need to include a reference to the virgin birth in any of the other Gospels. Then let us remember this: The Gospels of Matthew and Luke were widely circulated, and they were very well known. If their accounts were not true, there were plenty of people around to repudiate those stories. No one did. Also remember that Mary herself was involved in the life of the church for many, many years after Christ’s earthly ministry was over. Mary never once disputed the stories of the virgin birth. Not only that, no one ever disputed Mary’s accounts of that birth. So you have two thousand years of church history bearing witness to the reality and the validity of the virgin birth, and you have that same two-thousand-year period with skeptical scholars failing to undermine the validity of the virgin birth. All of that leads me to the conclusion that the virgin birth is not only possible, it happened. It actually happened. I believe that with my life.
The virgin birth is not only possible, it is also necessary.
When you look at the virgin birth from the perspective of the faith, the message is simply this: Help has come from the outside.
Some years ago now Pope John the 23rd, the most beloved pope of the last century, maybe the most beloved pope of any century, visited a prison in the city of Rome on the day after Christmas. At that prison, Pope John the 23rd said a perfectly wonderful thing to the inmates there. He said, “You could not come to me so I have come to you.” Just so, when finally God had exhausted all other means of conveying His love to the people of this world, God came to the world Himself. God said, “You could not come to me so I have come to you.” That’s what the virgin birth really means. God chose that way of bringing salvation to the people of this world.
Let me express it this way. You and I as human beings are caught in the whirlpool of sin and evil. We are trapped in that spinning, swirling current. I perhaps could throw a lifeline to you in the midst of that circumstance in an effort to try to save you, but it wouldn’t work because both of us are caught in the same swirling current. The only thing that would help is to have someone standing outside the swirling current who could throw a lifeline to both of us so that then we might be saved from drowning. Do you understand that that is exactly what Jesus did? Jesus, the Bible tells us, was not born in the line of Adam. God was His Father. Therefore, Jesus stands outside the predicament of human sin. From that vantage point and from the security of that base, Jesus can throw us a lifeline to save us. Jesus makes it possible, if we accept it, for us to be reborn in the line of Jesus and thus to sweep aside forever the sin-swamped heritage of Adam. Jesus can do that because the birth of Jesus was in no way determined by human beings. The Bible says, “Jesus was born not of the will of the flesh but of the will of God.” So if you are trapped in the swirling current of sin in your life, as I am in mine: if you have fought, and struggled, and strained, and still you sin in your life as I do in mine: if that is your predicament, as it is mine, then understand that belief in the virgin birth is absolutely necessary because it is the virgin birth which makes it possible for God in Jesus Christ to save us from the deadly, swirling currents of sin.
Saint Jerome was one of the great Roman Catholic saints and scholars. In fact, Jerome was the one who translated the Bible from Greek into Latin making it possible for more people to read the Bible and to understand it.
Near the end of his life, he was living in Bethlehem, where he did much of his translation work. One night Jerome dreamed a dream and in that dream, the Christ Child appeared to him. He was so overwhelmed in the dream that, like the wise men of old, he felt he needed to offer something to the Christ Child. So, in his dream, he got money and he offered it. The Christ Child responded, “I do not want your money.” Jerome then poured out his most prized possessions, and he offered them to the Christ Child. Again the Christ Child said, “I do not want them.” Jerome, in his dream, then pleaded with the Christ Child, “Is there anything in the world you want? Please tell me what it is. What can I give you?” The Christ Child in the dream responded, “Give me your sin. That’s what I came for.” That’s what Jesus says “Give me your sin. That’s what I came for.” How does the hymn writer put it?
He did not merely come to teach, it was to save He came
and when we call Him Savior, we call him by His name.
So I believe in the virgin birth. I believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. I believe in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I believe in the salvation Jesus Christ brings to all who believe in Him. I believe that it all began with the virgin birth. I believe in the virgin birth. The next step is yours. Only you can say for yourself what I say for myself: I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria—to God alone be the glory. Amen.