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Apostles' Creed 6: Virgin Birth

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted July 8, 2013

RELIGION – “Don’t talk about my momma!” This has been heard on many a playground for years.  Usually in response to a comment like some of the following: (Disclaimer, I don’t know your momma but I bet she is a wonderful lady!) Yo mama is so ugly that when she went to a beautician it took 12 hours... to get a quote! Yo mama is so ugly that when she looks in the mirror, the reflection looks back and shakes its head.

Yo mama is so ugly that she makes blind children cry. OR Yo mama is so old that her birth certificate says "expired" on it. Yo mama is so old that she has Adam & Eve's autographs. Yo mama is so old that the candles cost more than the birthday cake.  I could on and on. I find these funny and some of you find me messed up.  So you wonder how dos “Yo mama” jokes tie into the Apostles’ Creed?

Let me tell you the next part of the creed we are looking at today. “Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.”  The virgin birth is a big deal. Larry King, when asked if he could interview anyone from all of history, said, “Jesus Christ.” “And what would you like to ask Him?” King replied, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” It is that big of a deal!

So let’s look briefly at the Biblical foundation for this Christian truth.  First off, right after the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 we read in Genesis 3:15 that God tells the Serpent, “I will put enmity between  you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he  shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” God promises that Jesus would be born from a woman. This is unusual because the rest of Scripture speaks of children as being born from their father.  So we are looking for a Savior born of a woman.

Then we see this Virgin Born idea hinted at in Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Yes, some of you many note that as the NRSV Bible translates the word “virgin” as “young woman.” Many of you may not care about the wrangling over Hebrew words, but if you watch much TV or read liberal Biblical scholarship I want you to be informed.

Mark Driscoll writes that “They argue that the Hebrew word almah (which is used in Isaiah 7:14) typically means "young woman," not "virgin," whereas the Hebrew word bethulah typically means "virgin." However, there are many reasons why the verse should be read as referring to a virgin. Even if the word does mean "young woman," that does not mean that she would not be a virgin. In that day, young women were virgins, making the terms synonymous for most young Hebrew women. Those unmarried women who were not virgins were subject to death under the Law. If there was any question about her virginity, a woman was subject to physical inspection, which we see in Deuteronomy 22:14-22. Additionally, the word almah is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer specifically to a young virgin woman. One clear example is Rebekah, who is described as "very attractive in appearance, a maiden [bethulah] whom no man had known."6 Further in the chapter we read that Rebekah was a "virgin [almah]." While the two words are virtually synonymous, apparently bethulah required a bit more clarification that the woman was a virgin while almah did not. (Vintage Jesus)

The Matthew and Luke accounts are emphatically clear on their insistence on the virgin birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38.)  But why bring Jesus into our world through a virgin. Why is this a big deal? Sadly, many theologians who claim to be Christians deny this doctrine now. Should we give it up just because we don’t know a girl who has become pregnant as a virgin? No.  In fact Dr. Al Mohler has said: "The answer to that question must be a decisive No. Christians must face the fact that a denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Christ. The Savior who died for our sins was none other than the baby who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. The virgin birth does not stand alone as a biblical doctrine it is an irreducible part of the biblical revelation about the person and work of Jesus Christ. With it, the Gospel stands or falls."
So we can’t deny the virgin birth and then trust the Jesus of the Bible to have come, died from our sins and then risen from dead.  So then the question is why send Jesus born of a virgin? Sam Storms writes that “The Virgin Birth alone insured both the full deity and full humanity of Jesus. If God had created Jesus a complete human being in heaven and sent Him to earth apart from any human parent, it is difficult to see how He could be truly a man. If God had sent His Son into the world through both a human father and mother, it is difficult to see how He could be truly God.”

Bruce Ware adds that “Only as the Holy Spirit takes the place of the human father in Jesus’ conception can it be true that the one conceived is both fully God and fully man. Christ must be both God and man to atone for sin, but for this to occur, He must be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a human virgin. No one else in the history of the world is conceived by the Spirit and born of a virgin mother. Therefore, Jesus alone qualifies to be Savior.”

It also shows that “salvation comes “from above” and that the source of our hope and confidence lies in the living God who entered into human history in the historical figure of Jesus Christ. The virgin birth marks off the origin of Christ from the human race just as his end is marked off by the resurrection.”  (Donald Bloesch, “Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord”, p.94)

The best way to honor the mother of Jesus is by placing your faith in her son. We will look more at Mary as Jesus mother next week.

Pastor Phillip

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