“V” is for Virgin Birth. You have heard of Christmas in July, well this is Christmas in August. The biblical understanding of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ has been questioned by many for different reasons. Some think that no one can be born of a virgin and that includes Jesus. Others believe it would be a miracle but one that is not necessary to believe in order to be a Christian. What about you? Is it necessary to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus the Christ in order to be a Christian? Scripture makes it clear to us that Jesus was born of a virgin. It also provides clear reasons why it is necessary for our salvation. This newsletter will jump right into a number of passages of Scripture that will show us the miracle of the virgin birth and also the necessity of the virgin birth.
Matthew and Luke each describe for us the birth of Jesus Christ. Matthew focuses more from the perspective of Joseph whereas Luke focuses more from the perspective of Mary. So in Luke when the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, he tells Mary she has found favor with God (Luke 1:30). “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus” (v. 31). Mary asks the obvious question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (v. 34). Or as the Greek literally says, “How will this be, since I do not know a man?” However you want to say it Mary is making it clear that she has never had sex and thus cannot possibly have a child. This is not rocket science. Even today there is the necessity of a male’s sperm and female’s egg to come together to create new life. While Mary and Joseph are betrothed to one another, they still have not consummated their marriage yet and thus Mary’s statement of still not knowing a man.
In answer to Mary’s question the angel Gabriel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). And as Matthew correctly recognized, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matt. 1:23). Matthew quoted from Isaiah 7:14 and states that this prophecy is fulfilled in the miraculous birth of Jesus the Christ who is born of the virgin Mary.
Not Merely Preference but Necessity
Have you ever wondered, why did Jesus have to be born of a virgin? Or, as was stated earlier, is belief in the virgin birth of Christ a necessary belief of Christianity? In other words, do I have to believe it in order to be a Christian?
Certainly the virgin birth is a miracle as is made clear by the Holy Spirit’s intervention in Mary’s life. So when we realize that the Son of God, the glorious, infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, holy One became a human it is astounding! For some it is humiliating or embarrassing that Christians believe such a thing. But this is exactly what the Scriptures affirm and as we will see more than mere preference but something of necessity.
First, Jesus had to be born of a virgin since by this miraculous birth the uniting of full deity with full humanity was made possible. This was necessary because only someone like us could redeem us, thus the Son of God became a man. As Romans 5:18-19 says, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” And His deity was necessary because only one who is infinite God could bear the full penalty for all the sins of those who would believe in Him. In other words, one perfect man could substitute himself for one guilty person, though there are no perfect men. But one perfect God-man could substitute Himself for all those who believe in Him (Heb. 7:23-25).
Second, the virgin birth was necessary since it reminds us that salvation is solely of the Lord (Ps. 3:8; Jon. 2:9). For no human mind could come up with such a plan and even if they did they would not have the power to carry it out.
Lastly, the virgin birth was necessary because it makes possible for Jesus’ true humanity to be without original sin. We all are born in sin. David said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). As we just saw in Romans 5 the sin or trespass of one man, Adam, brought condemnation for all men. Adam was our representative and failed, so as a result all of his descendants come forth in sin and choose sin. So how is it that Jesus was not born in sin? After all, Jesus is said to be born in the line of Adam (see Luke 3:23-38). What separates Adam and Jesus from everyone else is both were born of the Spirit (see Gen. 2:7). Luke 1:35 again says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Jesus is thus the New Adam. He is the New Adam in that He is the second one, the “younger brother” who has inherited the promises of the firstborn (i.e. blessing and life for obedience versus cursing and death for disobedience) and replaces the older (i.e. Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his brothers; Perez and Zerah; David and his brothers). Jesus born of the Spirit, was the Lamb of God, one that was without spot or blemish, without sin (John 1:29; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pt. 1:19). By being born of the Spirit, like Adam, Jesus is the new federal head over the new creation born in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5 & 6).
In answer to our question, yes the virgin birth is necessary for Christians to believe. First, because it is taught clearly in Scripture and second, because it was necessary for our salvation in His name.