The Gospel and the Virgin Birth
By Dr. Tom Walker
This time of the year I am hearing in the world of Christmas music about snow, sleigh bells, reindeer, mistletoe, silver bells and a host of other things. All of that is acceptable, but this time of the year is a time to celebrate the virgin birth of the God-man the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was not just another man; Jesus is both God and man. That is a unique identification with humanity that had never happened before in all the history of mankind.
The word “Gospel” basically means “good news.” It is the good news about Jesus and all that involves his coming to earth to redeem mankind. That would not have happened had Jesus not been born of a young virgin by the name of Mary.
There are some who do not believe in the virgin birth. Arianism teaches that the “virgin” of Isaiah 7:14 should read “young woman,” and that at some point God created Jesus. The Ebionites, an early Jewish Christian sect that closely followed Jewish law, taught that Jesus was Joseph’s biological son and because of Jesus’ righteousness, God chose Him to be a prophet and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. The Gnostics, who believed the physical and the divine could not co-exist, claimed that God could not inhabit a material body; therefore, Jesus only appeared to be human. That is the error that Paul had to deal with over and over in his writings in the epistles. The King James translators were right in choosing the word “virgin.”
It is essential that we connect the Gospel we preach and the virgin birth of Christ.
A Sign Was Promised
Isa 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Observe to whom the promise was made. The promise was made to Ahaz, who was the son of Jotham, the eleventh king of Judah. The prophet Isaiah sent a message to the terrified Ahaz, but Ahaz would not turn to God and trust Him for deliverance. Instead, he plunged deeper into idolatry and self-destruction. Ahaz said he did not want to test the Lord, but by refusing to follow God’s directive to ask for a confirming miracle, he was testing the Lord’s patience (as well as man’s patience). Though Ahaz refused to request A sign that would have confirmed the truth of Isaiah’s message, the prophet said God would give him one anyway. The sign was to be a boy named Immanuel.
Notice the elements involved in the promise. There are three of them in number. First. The boy would be born of a virgin (v.14), he would be raised up in a time of national calamity (v.15), and while he was still a youth, the two-king alliance would be broken (v.16).
A Sinlessness Was Accomplished
We know as sinners, we all sin at one time or another in our deeds, actions or attitudes. There is not one person, male or female, who reached the point in life that they are above sin and sin-free.
For Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice to die for the sins of mankind, He had to be sin-free. There could not be one spot or blemish in the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ was fully God with an eternal, sinless nature. Christ was sin-free. Having a biological father would have annulled Jesus’ deity.
Think about the importance of His sinlessness. Jesus is fully God with an eternally sinless nature. Here is what Hebrews 7:26 says, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”
Notice three very important, outstanding words in that verse that jumps out to me. Consider the words in Heb.7:26.
The Bible describes Jesus as “holy.” That means to be set apart and separated to God; to be separated from sin and from all evil, and from immoral, wicked, and lawless behavior. Jesus Christ is perfectly and eternally set apart from sin and free from all immoral and lawless behavior. Jesus Christ is absolutely holy.
Christ is also “harmless.” That word means blameless, not evil, free from all guile, deception, envy, and malice against anyone. We might say that Jesus Christ was so good that there was nothing but good in Him.
Our Lord is “undefiled.” unstained by sin; absolutely free from all moral impurity, uncleanness, and defilement. Jesus Christ was completely free from anything that would keep Him from approaching God. He is absolutely and totally undefiled.
Jesus is “separate from sinners.” He is totally different from sinners. He never sinned; He never caved into sin. He was tempted just as all men are, but He never yielded to temptation—not to one. He stands apart, completely separated and different from all other men. Jesus Christ is the Perfect and Ideal Man. Jesus Christ is absolutely separate from sinners. He is totally qualified to be the sin sacrifice for all the people of this world.
He is made “higher than the heavens.” Those that Jesus raised from the dead would have to die again. But not so with Christ for He alone was raised to never die again. Christ was taken up to Heaven in bodily form to remain forever in the presence of the Father. He was so exalted that He will never leave his position of sovereignty as the Supreme and Majestic Lord of the universe.
Deut. 17:1, “Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the Lord thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evil favouredness: for that is an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
Numbers 19:2 says, “This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.”
Note from these two verses that a sin sacrifice had to have no blemishes or no spots. They were not even to have carried a yoke on them. The sin sacrifice could not have faults, flaws, or spots. It had to be absolutely perfect and flawless for the Lord to accept it as an offering for sin.
Think also about the endurance of His sinlessness. It is not a phase that Jesus goes through which someday may change. He has been sinless in eternity past, is sinless now, and forever will be sinless. It must be that way because He never has possessed a sin nature. Conservative theologians generally believe that the sin nature comes through the Father. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus. The Bible says the Holy Ghost overshadowed the virgin Mary and out of that glory cloud, the Lord Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Mary by the Holy Ghost (Matt.1:18).
Salvation is Portrayed
Joseph had no part in the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary’s role was clearly passive. She merely accepted God’s gift to her and to the world.
This is a picture of the work of salvation being God’s work alone. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
It is an announced portrayal. The Bible clearly says that Jesus came into this world to save sinners (I Timothy 1:15). He did not come to start a new religion or merely to become a martyr for what He believed. Christ had the salvation of mankind in mind. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. The Messiah has come!
It is an acceptable portrayal. I accept the fact that salvation is of the Lord. It is clear if a man could gain his own salvation or do anything to keep it, that God would not get all the glory in a person’s salvation. How wonderful that salvation is by grace! It is no wonder there is joy in Heaven when a person is saved.
The virgin birth and the Gospel are inseparable, for there would never have been full salvation for mankind, there would have been no good news if our sinless Savior had not come in the flesh. Let’s celebrate Him this Christmas!
If you deny that Jesus is God come in the flesh, you are an unbeliever and are in danger of an eternity in hell without God and without hope (I John 4:2-3).
Dr. Tom Walker is President of Foothills Bible College and Pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Marion, NC.