Nobleton Community Church
December 24, 2023
Reverend Paul V Lehmann

Text: Matthew 1:18-25

Quite a few years ago I remember they were talking about a “virgin birth” of sorts as they called it. It was expected from a Komodo dragon named Flora, one of two dragons at Chester Zoo, in northern England. Flora laid 11 eggs in May that year, three of which collapsed. These three eggs were opened and were found to contain embryos, showing they had been fertilized. But who was the daddy? Flora had never mated with a male dragon or even mixed with one. DNA tests have now proven that flora was both the mother and father of the fertile eggs. Although other lizard species are known to be able to self-fertilize, this is the first time this has ever been reported in Komodo dragons.

Now I don’t know what the attitude of these scientists are towards the Virgin Birth of Jesus, but they reported with tongue in cheek, “We will be on the lookout for shepherds, wise men and an unusually bright star in the sky over Chester Zoo. Actually this kind of talk is blasphemy and is steeped in unbelief of the real Virgin Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This kind of comment is made in the same vein as saying; “ they will be on the lookout for a man in a red suit flying through the air in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.”

In one of his columns for The New York times, Nicholas Kristof once pointed to, belief in the Virgin Birth as evidence that conservative Christians are “less intellectual.” Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Is belief in the Virgin Birth really necessary? Kristof is absolutely aghast that so many Americans believe in the Virgin Birth. “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time,” he explains, and the percentage of Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth “actually rose five points in the latest poll.” Yikes!! He says; “ Is this evidence of secular backsliding? He continues by saying: “ The Virgin Mary is an interesting prism through which to examine America’s emphasis on faith,” Kristof argues, “because most “Biblical scholars” regard the evidence for the Virgin Birth…as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith.”
Now here’s a little hint: anytime you hear a claim about what “most Biblical scholars” believe, check on just who these illustrious scholars really are. In Kristof’s case, he is only concerned about liberal scholars like Hans Kung, whose credentials as a Catholic theologian were revoked by the Vatican. The list of what Hans Jung does not believe would fill a book. Kung is the anti-Catholic’s favorite Catholic, and that is the real reason he is so loved by the liberal media.

Throughout the history of the Christian Church, the majority of theologians, even most of those who question many of the miracles recorded in the Bible, accept the doctrine of the Virgin Birth. For those who don’t, they are really not Christian; for to be Christian, this is a fundamental doctrine.

Let’s look at this doctrine. It was among the first to be questioned and then rejected after the rise of historical criticism and the undermining of Biblical authority that inevitably followed. Critics claimed that since the doctrine is taught in “only” two of the four Gospels, it must be elective. That is, an option—you can believe it, or choose not to believe it. This premise to me intellectually doesn’t make sense. We cannot pick and choose things to believe about the Bible, or what is in the Bible, and still claim to be a Bible believing Christian. A lot of the disbelief is based on the fact that they say that the Apostle Paul, did not mention the Virgin Birth in his sermons, so he must not have believed it. They fail to mention that Paul talks about the “incarnation” in Philippians 2:5-11. It is very clear that Paul believed that Jesus was in His very nature God, and this equality with God didn’t keep him from coming to earth and taking on the nature of a servant. It is impossible for this to be the case unless God was involved, by His Spirit, with the conception before His birth.

Besides, the liberal critics argue, the doctrine is just too supernatural.
Modern heretics like retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong argues that the doctrine was just evidence of the early church’s over-claiming of Christ’s deity. It is, Spong tells us, the “entrance myth” to go with the “resurrection, the exit myth.” The thought that comes to my mind is; if only Spong were a myth.

Now, even some revisionist so-called evangelicals claim that belief in the Virgin Birth is unnecessary. The meaning of the miracle is enduring, they argue, but the historical truth of the doctrine is not really important. REALLY?

So what do you have to believe about Christ to be a Christian? Not much according to most liberal theologians. However, I like what Albert Mohler says: He first poses the question; “Must one believe in the Virgin Birth to be a Christian? He responds to his own question by saying: “This is not a hard question to answer. It is conceivable that someone might come to Christ and trust Christ as Savior without yet learning that the Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin. A new believer is not yet aware of the full structure of Christian truth. The real question is this: Can a Christian, once aware of the Bible’s teaching, reject the Virgin Birth? The answer must be NO!!

Matthew tells us that before Mary and Joseph “came together,” Mary “was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 1:18). Matthew explains that this fulfilled what Isaiah promised (Isaiah 7:14); “…The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Which translated means of course, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

The Isaiah 7:14 passage predicts the virgin birth of the Messiah. It is a sign given to Ahaz, who didn’t want it, but God is going to give him one, whether he likes it or not. Now the sign being “a young woman” would be no sign at all to Ahaz, or to the house of David, or to anybody else, but if a virgin conceives and bears a son, that is a sign. The Hebrew word that is used is what has caused a problem. It is almah, which translates virgin, but also commonly was “young woman” However a Hebrew scholar who is a committed Christian was asked about the use of this word almah. He said; Suppose you went to visit a friend of yours who had three daughters and two of them were married and one was still single. He would say; “These are my married daughters, and this young lady (almah) is my 3rd daughter. If you would imply that she was anything but a virgin he would be angry. The 72 men who translated the Hebrew scripture in the Old Testament into Greek to become the Septuagint, translated the word virgin, not young woman.

Luke provides even greater detail, revealing that Mary was visited by an angel who explained that she, though a virgin, would bear the divine child (Luke 1:35): …”The Holy Spirit will come upon 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.”

Even if the Virgin Birth was taught by only one biblical passage, that would be sufficient to obligate all Christians to the belief. We have no right to weigh the relative truthfulness of biblical teachings by their repetition in Scripture. We cannot claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God and then turn around and cast suspicion on its teaching.

Millard Erickson, a Baptist Conservative theologian, states this well: “If we do not hold to the virgin birth despite the fact that the Bible asserts it, then we have compromised the authority of the Bible and there is in principle no reason why we should hold to its other teachings.” Thus, rejecting the virgin birth has implications reaching far beyond the doctrine itself. Implications, indeed. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, who was His biological father? There is no answer that will leave the Gospel intact.

Like William Barclay who includes so much background of New Testament times in his commentaries, and much of what he says about scripture is very informative and helpful, nevertheless, he always downplays the miraculous and explains it away, sometimes with the most outrageous statements. He says in his commentary of Luke 1:26-38; “The church does not insist that we believe in the doctrine of the Virgin Birth…we can make our own decision as to whether we believe in it or not.” I’d like to know what church he is talking about. There is no true church that doesn’t accept it. No matter if it is the Roman Catholic Church, The Greek or Eastern Orthodox Church, and or Protestants of all denominations accept it. The Apostles Creed declares it, as well as the Nicene Creed. — NO,NO; We are not at liberty to just make a decision based on what we think is right. Jesus was either God with us and our Savior, both God and man or he is totally human. He must be divine and his conception was by the Holy Spirit and not Joseph or any other human, or else he can’t be our Savior. The Savior must be without sins in order to save us from our sins.

Rejecting the supernatural at the birth of Christ, of course leads to for some, rejecting or explaining away His miracles including the Resurrection. Barclay does the former, but somehow manages to cling to the reality of the resurrection and the ascension.

The Virgin Birth explains how Christ could be both God and man, how He was without sin, and that the entire work of salvation is God’s gracious act. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, He had a human father. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, the Bible teaches a lie.

Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, (if you will), argues that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” Well said, and well believed.

We sing in the Christmas Carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” :
In the first verse: “God and sinners reconciled.” Then in the second verse we sing: Off-spring of the Virgin’s womb: Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity. Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Nicholas Kristof and his secularist friends may find belief in the Virgin Birth to be evidence of intellectual backwardness among American Christians. But this is the faith of the Church, established in God’s perfect Word, and cherished by the true Church throughout the ages. Kristof declared that his grandfather a so-called devout elder in the church, believed that the Virgin Birth is a “pious legend.” The fact that he could hold such beliefs and serve as an elder in his church is evidence of that church’s doctrinal and spiritual laxity, or worse. Those who deny the Virgin Birth but affirm other doctrines by choice, have already surrendered the authority of Scripture. They have undermined Christ’s nature and nullified the incarnation.

This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ, the Virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.

The main reason the Virgin Birth should be important to us is because our salvation depends on it. Without a sinless Christ, that is God incarnate, a God-man that becomes flesh, it is impossible for Him to save us. While we cannot say dogmatically that God could enter the world only through a virgin birth, surely the incarnation is a supernatural event. If that is eliminated we compromise the deity of Christ. The humanity of Christ is also important, because otherwise He is not wholly identifying Himself with humanity. Both are important, but the Virgin Birth separates His birth from all other births of good men. He is not half man and half god like so many other Greek and pagan gods, He is both God and Man. If Jesus were born of two human parents, he would not of been able to take our sin upon Himself and die on a cross for us to break the curse of sin that was brought about by the first Adam. It was because of Adam all of us must die, but it is because of Christ (the 2nd Adam), the scripture teaches, that all of us are made alive in Him.

Is the Virgin Birth important to you? It should be very important, because without this fact, we have no Savior!