Tag Archives: virgin birth

Ravi Zacharias Ministry –    Everyone Believes in a Virgin Birth

 

In correspondence with an old friend, a retired Princeton University professor, he detailed his objections to the Christian faith. His final remark seemed to overshadow all other considerations and was authoritatively written as if to definitively close the argument: ‘Nor can I believe in a virgin birth.’ Such a belief was apparently implausible, absurd, immature.

Why is the virgin birth often the most problematic miracle to accept? Why is it more troubling than the thought of Jesus walking on water? Or multiplying the loaves?

Perhaps because we are content to let God do as he pleases with his own body, and we are delighted to be the recipient of gifts. However, we are offended by the thought of a miracle that inconveniences us, that has potential to disrupt our plans and our preferences.

I considered responding to my friend with positive reasons for believing in a virgin birth, but then I realized that he was, in fact, already committed to a virgin birth.

We find one virgin birth in the Christmas story:

‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:38).

Admittedly, this is out of the ordinary. But criticism without alternative is empty; a hypothesis is only plausible or implausible relative to what alternative hypotheses present themselves. So what exactly is the alternative?

My colleague Professor John Lennox recently debated another Princeton professor, Peter Singer, one of the world’s most influential atheists. Lennox challenged him to answer this question: ‘Why are we here?‘ And this was Professor Singer’s response:

‘We can assume that somehow in the primeval soup we got collections of molecules that became self-replicating; and I don’t think we need any miraculous or mysterious .‘(1)

Self-replicating molecules somehow emerging out of a primeval soup strikes me as leaving substantial room for mystery. In fact, without further clarification, this theory sounds not dissimilar to a virgin birth.

Or take Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking’s latest attempt to propose an atheistic explanation for our universe:

‘…the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.'(2)

But physical matter doesn’t normally materialize out of nothing, so this account also presents itself as outside the realm of the ordinary. Is this a less miraculous birth than the Christmas story?

 

Or, finally, consider the position of the prominent atheist philosopher Quentin Smith:

‘The fact of the matter is that the most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing and for nothing . . . We should . . . acknowledge our foundation in nothingness and feel awe at the marvelous fact that we have a chance to participate briefly in this incredible sunburst that interrupts without reason the reign of non-being.'(3)

That is a refreshingly honest characterization, but again it is not at all clear why a foundation in nothingness should be viewed as comparatively more reasonable than a foundation in God.

The fact is, we live in a miraculous world. Regardless of a person’s worldview, the extraordinariness of the universe is evident to theists, atheists, and agnostics alike. It is therefore not a matter of whether we believe in a virgin birth, but which virgin birth we choose to accept.

We can believe in the virgin birth of an atheistic universe that is indifferent to us—a universe where “there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”(3)

lternatively, we can believe in the virgin birth of a God who loves us so deeply that he “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Emmanuel, God with us.

Jesus was born in fragility, like the rest of us. The night before he died, he spoke words that resonate with anyone who has known despair: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34). Between birth and death, Jesus knew the experience of weeping at a dear friend’s tomb (John 11:35); he also knew the isolation of having friends desert him and flee when he needed them most (Mark 14:50).

There is a depth of relationship that is only possible between people who have been through the worst together. Because of Jesus—because the one who birthed the universe was also born among us—that depth of relationship is possible with God. That is what we celebrate at Christmas.

Growing up near New York City, one of my most vivid childhood memories of Christmas is of homeless people begging on street corners. I would give some change if I had it, but imagine someone who offered to trade his home for a cold street corner, who, instead of giving a few coins, handed over the keys to his house. Imagine someone “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7).

At Christmas, Jesus literally comes and lives in our home—with all of its suffering and mess and shame—and he offers us the home that it will one day be: an eternal home where ‘[God] will wipe every tear from [our] eyes,‘ where there will be ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain.‘(5) Or, as Tolkein puts it, where ‘everything sad will be made untrue.‘

Vince Vitale is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Oxford, England.

(1) “Is There a God,” Melbourne, Australia, 20 July 2011.

(2) Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam, 2010), 180.

(3) Quentin Smith, “The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism,” Philo 4.2., 2000.

(4) Richard Dawkins, A River Out of Eden (New York: Perseus, 1995), 133.

(5) Revelation 21:4. For more on this topic, see Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, co-authored by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale. Vince wrote his PhD on the problem of suffering. He now teaches at Wycliffe Hall of Oxford University and is Senior Tutor at The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.

Greg Laurie – Not an Optional Belief

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And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” —Luke 1:35

I have heard people say that it isn’t important to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus as long as you believe in His death and resurrection. But I beg to differ. If you doubt the Virgin Birth, then you doubt the Word of God. If you doubt the Virgin Birth, then you are actually saying that Mary was an immoral woman who conceived Jesus out of wedlock.

If you doubt the Virgin Birth, then you doubt the character of Jesus. If Jesus had not been born of a Virgin, then He would have been a mere man with no ability to atone for our sins. If there was no Virgin Birth, then there was no sinless Christ. If there was no sinless Christ, then there was no atonement. If there was no atonement, then there is no forgiveness. If there is no forgiveness, then there is no hope of heaven. If you take away the Virgin Birth, you lose everything.

So don’t tell me the Virgin Birth is an optional belief. It is essential that we believe the Word of God when it says that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was supernaturally conceived in Mary’s womb. The Lord Jesus was born of a Virgin, He lived, and He voluntarily went to a cross and died for the sins of the world. Then He rose again.

When Mary and Joseph dedicated Jesus in the temple, Simeon said, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against” (Luke 2:34). We either believe in Jesus, or we reject Him.

Gabriel’s announcement to Mary introduced the pivotal point in redemptive history. How people respond to the Child whom Gabriel spoke of will determine their eternal destinies.

 

Greg Laurie – Why the Virgin Birth of Jesus?

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“That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” —John 8:24

Larry King once said that if he could choose one person to interview from the course of human history, he would choose to interview Jesus Christ. King said that he would like to ask Jesus “if He was indeed virgin-born.” He added, “The answer to that question would define history for me.” Larry King understands that the Virgin Birth is a big deal.

If you are a Bible-believing Christian, then you can’t dismiss what the Scriptures teach on this topic. I would even take it further and say that if you don’t believe that Jesus was supernaturally conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, then you can’t really be a Christian.

This is an essential part of Christian doctrine. If Christ was not conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit, if His biological father was indeed Joseph, then He was a sinner. And if He was a sinner, then His death on the cross did not atone for my sins or yours.

The fact is that because Jesus was supernaturally conceived in Mary’s womb, He was fully God, yet He was also fully man. Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). In other words, “If you don’t believe that I am God, then you are not really a believer.”

I AM is God’s own statement about Himself. When Moses wanted to know what to say when people asked who had sent him, God told him, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

That is why the Virgin Birth is such an essential teaching. Christ was not God because He was virgin-born; He was virgin-born because He was God.

 

 

A More Excellent Name – John MacArthur

 

“He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me’?” (Heb. 1:4-5).

In our culture, the names we pick for our children don’t have much connection with the child’s character. But in the Bible, God chose specific names that related to some character quality of the individuals who bore them.

The writer of Hebrews was well aware of that when He asked this rhetorical question: “To which of the angels did [God] ever say, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? and again, ‘I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me’?” quoting Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Of course, the answer is no angel.

The title Son refers to Jesus Christ in His incarnation. Though His sonship was anticipated in the Old Testament (Prov. 30:4), He did not become a Son until He was begotten into time. Prior to that He was eternal God with God. Presenting Jesus as the Son is God’s analogy to help us understand the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.

Christ became a Son in two different ways. First, He was not a Son until He came into the world through the virgin birth (Luke 1:35; 3:22). But second, His sonship came to full bloom in His resurrection (Rom. 1:3-4).

The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would come as a Son. In the New Testament He came as a Son in His virgin birth and was declared to be the Son by His resurrection from the dead. Don’t ever get trapped into the heresy of those who claim that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God. For a temporary period of time, He set aside what was rightfully His and humbled Himself to become a Son for our sakes.

Suggestion for Prayer:  Thank God for His amazing plan to redeem man through the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity.  Praise Him that He became Man to redeem you.

For Further Study: Read Acts 13:33 and Romans 1:3-4 noting the reason that Christ can be considered God’s Son.