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Christmas is the time of year where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Apostle’s creed states, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.” However, many detractors to orthodox Christianity will claim that the virgin birth is either factually wrong or inherently unimportant. I’d like to give you a few reasons today why the doctrine of the virgin birth is both necessary and important.
First, Scripture clearly speaks of a virgin birth.
Matthew 1:23 states, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14 declares, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The verse in Matthew is speaking of God’s promise of the line of David enduring as Judah was facing threats of attack. Thus, Matthew presents the virgin birth as the miraculous fulfillment of this prophecy (Since Judah was eventually attacked and conquered)
Detractors will claim that the word “virgin” could also be translated as “young girl.” However, this would not relate fully to the immediate context. What kind of ‘sign’ would it be for a ‘young girl’ to give birth? Young girls give birth all the time.
The Greek word parthenos (‘virgin’) corresponds to the Hebrew term ‘almah. The Hebrew word ‘almah (“virgin” or “maiden”) generally refers to an unmarried woman who is a virgin. A maiden is a young woman who is unmarried and sexually chaste. The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) was translated 200 years before Christ. The translators of that text used “virgin” because they understood that to be what it meant. Furthermore, “Immanuel” meant “God with us.” Jesus is God with us. This name is more of a “title” and not a personal name.
We see the usage of the word “maiden” in the following verses:
When choosing Rebekah as Isaac’s wife:
Gen. 24:43: “…behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, ‘Please give me a little water from your jar to drink…’”
When Pharaoh’s daughter’s servant girl found baby Moses:
Ex. 2:8: “And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl (‘almah) went and called the child’s mother.”
Scripture clearly prophesied a virgin mother…not just a young girl.
Second, the virgin birth places the emphasis of salvation on God
How? Salvation can never come through human effort, but must be the work of God himself. Our salvation only comes about through the supernatural work of God when God “sent his Son.”
Third, the virgin birth unites deity and humanity in one person
This is how God chose to send his Son into the world as a man. Think of other ways God could have sent his son…no other ways could have done so in such a way as to unite God and man. If God sent Jesus from Heaven with no birth it would be hard for us to see how he was fully man. If Jesus had two birth parents it would be hard for us to see how he was fully God. But having a human mother and a Holy Spirit “Father” allows this possibility.
Finally, the virgin birth makes possible Jesus 100% humanity without inherited sin
We are all sinners both by choice and nature. Through Adam we have inherited a legal guilt and a corrupt moral nature. However, Jesus did not have a human father, or a “son of Adam.” Therefore, Jesus did not inherit this corrupt nature.
Luke 1:35 – “therefore the child to be born will be called holy.”
What about inheriting a sinful nature from Mary? Catholics answer this by saying that Mary was also sinless. But this leads us to ask “What about her mother?” The only way to answer this question is that somehow the work of the Holy Spirit somehow prevented this transmission of sin from Mary.
“Is anything impossible for God?” No. And the virgin birth of Christ was prophesied and was necessary for the salvation of mankind.