A football coach walked into the locker room before a game, looked over to his star player and said, "I'm not supposed to let you play since you failed math, but we need you in there. So what I have to do is ask you a math question, and if you get it right, you can play."
The player agreed, and the coach looked into his eyes intently and asks, "Okay, now concentrate... what is two plus two?"
The player thought for a moment and then he answered, "Four?"
"Four?!?" the coach exclaimed, excited that he got it right.
At that, all the other players on the team began screaming, "Come on coach, give him another chance!" Definitely too much head butting... Thats exactly the way I feel about those who would deny the virgin birth when confronted with all the evidence. Too much head butting.
"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35
Our subject for this Thinking Cap is "Why I Believe in the Virgin Birth" Quote, "I do not believe in the Virgin Birth and hope that none of you do." Those words were spoken from the pulpit of the magnificent Riverside Church in New York City, a half century or more ago by the Reverend Harry Emerson Fosdick, leader and popularizer of the liberal theological movement in America, and they have echoed and reechoed throughout liberal churches of this nation since.
It seems that for some reason the Virgin Birth of Christ has come under greater attack than any other miracle in the New Testament. Perhaps you have heard of the Jesus Seminar. They grab lots of press. Here are a few dozen of the most liberal radical Bible theologians in America who teach mostly in secular universities and seminaries. They meet to decide which parts of the Bible are true or not. They vote with different colored pebbles as to whether or not they believe that Jesus did something or did not do something. The newspapers are just delighted to report their results.
This pebble-based research of theirs is really no research at all. It is merely an expression of their unbelief. They voted not too long ago that the Virgin Birth never occurred, that the visit of the wise men was fiction, that the flight into Egypt was a flight of fancy, and that the whole story was concocted and was not true. That by the way is one reason that I would not recommend that students take "religion" courses in secular colleges.
Now we shouldnt be surprised if the American Atheists were dropping pebbles in a box to indicate whether or not they believe that Christ did or said something. We wouldnt be shocked or surprised if they indicate whether or not they believe that Christ did or said anything that the Gospels report He did. But seminary graduates are a different story. So we need to consider our sources. Some of those who deny the virgin birth are considered experts in their fields. But as I grow older, I find I trust the experts less and less. Im reminded that a "spurt" is a drip under pressure and so that would make an expert a "former drip under great pressure." Dont be intimated by the experts. The experts say everything.
If you doubt that, just run through the O.J. Simpson trial again in your mind. There are "experts" that will say anything at all. The fact is that you choose your experts. Never forget that. Consider the source!
In previous Thinking Caps, I have addressed why I believe in God and why I believe in the Bible. With those two articles as a foundation for why we can safely read, trust and believe the Bible, just what does the Word of God have to say on this topic:
I. The Virgin birth was promised
A. It Was Promised In Prophecy.
1. Christ was to be the seed of the woman. - Gen. 3:15
2. Christ was to be born of a virgin. - Isa. 7:14
3. "The Lord hath created a new thing...a woman shall compass a man."
B. The Virgin Birth Was Implied In Prophecy.
1. All the families of the earth to be blessed. Gen. 12:3
2. David's throne to be established forever. II Sam. 7:16
3. To rule on David's throne forever and to do many other things prophesied,
reveal that only a supernatural One could fulfill this prophecy. Isa. 9:6,7
II. The Virgin Birth was provided
A. The Virginity Of Mary Stated.
1. Mary was espoused (promised in marriage), but not married to Joseph.
Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:27; 2:5
2. Joseph and Mary had not come together to consummate the marriage Mt 1:18
3. He "knew her not" till she had brought forth her firstborn son. Matt. 1:25
4. Mary states her virginity. Luke 1:34
B. His Virgin Birth Was Affirmed.
1. Conceived by the Holy Ghost. - Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:18,20
2. The O.T. Scriptures fulfilled. - Matt. 1:22,23
3. The Word was made flesh. - John 1:14
4. He was begotten by God. - Psa. 2:7; John 3:16
5. He was born at the right time. - Gal. 4:4; Dan. 9:25
6. He was born at the right place. - Micah 5:2
III. There were witnesses to the virgin birth
A. New Testament Writers Affirm His Virgin Birth.
1. Matthew affirms it. Matt.1:18-25
2. Mark affirms it. Mk 1:1, 11; 9:7.
3. Luke affirms it. Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7
4. John affirms it. John 1:1,14
a. John refers to Jesus as God's "only begotten Son". John 1:14,18;
b. John records the stupendous claims that Jesus made for Himself. John
8:58; 17:5; 10:30; 10:17,18; 20:31
5. Paul affirms the Virgin Birth. Phil. 2:6; I Cor. 15:47
B. The New Testament Miracles Confirm The Virgin Birth.
He raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, made the deaf to hear, etc. Only the supernatural Son of God could do this.
IV. Why the Virgin Birth is so Important
The Virgin Birth, I believe, is a fact, and not only a fact, but a foundational fact of our faith. There are the more deceptive kind of skeptics who will not so much as attack it directly, but will say it really doesnt matter whether you believe it or not. Some of you have no doubt sat in churches where you have heard that kind of statement. Having heard it myself, I one day sat down to consider what difference it does make, and here are the differences I came up with. This is why the Virgin Birth comes under attack and why it is so critical that we defend it.
1. If Jesus were not born of a virgin, then the New Testament narratives are proven false and unreliable.
2. Mary is stained with the sin of unchastity. She was, of course, betrothed to Joseph, which is more than our "engagement" by far. It required a bill of divorcement to end this betrothal, and should someone be found to have been unchaste, it was not fornication, but adultery which were she was guilty of. The woman was taken to the gate of the city, her clothes were ripped, her jewelry removed, she was dressed in rages, tied with a rope, and all of the women were brought out to gape at her, lest they should be involved in such ludeness. (Today, such unchastity gets you an invitation to a talk show on morning TV, or large sums of money to tell your story in a book or tabloid.)
3. Jesus was mistaken about His paternity because He repeatedly declared that He was the Son of God, and that God was His father.
4. Christ was not born of the "seed of the woman," therefore, the ancient promise given in the Garden of Eden that the seed of the woman would destroy the head of the serpent is unfulfilled.
5. Jesus was, therefore, an illegitimate child, not the peerless Son of God.
6. he is consequently not the God-man.
7. He was then a sinner just like the rest of us.
8. As a sinner, He cannot be the divine Redeemer, because the sacrifice must be perfect.
9. Therefore, we have no Savior at all.
10. We are yet in our sins and without forgiveness.
11. We have no hope after death.
12. There is no mediator between God and man.
13. There is no Trinity, because there is no Second Person of the Trinity.
14. Christ should not have prayed, "Father, forgive them," but rather, "Father, forgive us," because He was a sinner just like the rest of us.
15. Lastly, if this miracle of the Virgin Birth is denied, where shall we draw the line? Why should we not deny them all?
In short, the Deity Of Christ, The Lordship Of Christ, The Saviourhood Of Christ, The Bodily Resurrection Of Christ, The Second Coming Of Christ, and The New Birth Of The Believer are all dependent upon the fact of the Virgin Birth.
That is why people do so much to deny this miracle of the New Testament -- more perhaps than any other. Interestingly, one study showed that 56 percent of seminarians, those who are in process of becoming ministers, do not believe in the Virgin Birth. Why is that? Because there are liberals teaching them. That is why. Sixty percent of Methodist ministers dont believe it. Forty-nine percent of Presbyterian ministers dont believe it. Forty-four percent of Episcopalian ministers dont believe it, and on and on it goes. I cant speak for independent Baptist pastors in general, but I know one who does believe in the Virgin Birth, as does every true Christian.
V. Why is it Disbelieved?
A. Anti-Supernatural Bias
But why is it disbelieved? One of the reasons is a basic anti-supernatural bias - a naturalistic frame of mind that refuses to accept the miraculous at all. Quite evidently, if you dont believe in miracles, you dont believe in the Virgin Birth, which was clearly a miracle.
I look at it this way. The Virgin Birth is no big problem at all for God. If there is a God who created the universe, if He flung the galaxies out from His fingertips, if He painted the night sky with a scintillating Milky Way, then surely for Him to take a tiny seed and place it in the womb of a woman is nothing at all.
Keep in mind that when God created the world, we are told in Genesis 1, He placed that same kind of seed in every animal, in every fruit, in every tree, in every plant that exists on his planet - billions and trillions of them. Why should it be thought a thing impossible that God should simply place a "Y" chromosome in the womb of a woman to produce a child.
If you cant believe that God can do that little thing, you really dont believe in God at all. If He cant do that, He cant do much of anything. If he can create man from the dust of the ground and breathe into his nostrils the breath of life and if he can save your soul, then it is nothing at all to reach into Marys womb and create a child. So you see that behind all this unbelief lurks that gaping abyss of atheism. The first reason for disbelief is the anti-supernatural bias which prevails in the hearts of many, even in the clergy and in the seminaries.
B. The "Argument from Silence
Secondly, there is what is called the "argument from silence." The argument from silence was raised in an interesting encounter between Dr. Harry Rimmer, a now-deceased minister who had doctorates both in theology and science, and an older minister on the floor of an ordination council. They were examining a young, rather radical, theologian who was to be ordained. The young man said he didnt believe in the Virgin Birth, which caused something of a furor in that council. Then an older minister stood up and said, "Now, now, lets not give this young man too hard a time and make a big deal over this, because, I, too, am one who does not accept the Virgin Birth."
Someone said, "Why not?"
He said, "Very simple. Its only mentioned in two books of the Bible, Matthew and Luke. It doesnt appear at all in Mark or John, and Paul never mentions it. I dont believe it."
At that point Dr. Rimmer stood to his feet and said, "Well, then, sir, what do you preach and teach?"
He said, "Oh, I preach the Sermon on the Mount. Thats enough for anyone."
To which Dr. Rimmer enjoined, "Well, its not enough for me."
He said, "Well, why not?"
He replied, "Because I dont believe that Jesus ever preached it."
And he said, "For heavens sake, why not?"
Dr. Rimmer responded, "Because, its only found in two Gospels, Matthew and Luke, the same two Gospels that mention the Virgin Birth of Christ. It is never mentioned by Mark, nor by John. Paul never refers to the sermon on the Mount. Therefore, I conclude that Jesus never preached it."
Isnt the argument from silence wonderful! You can carry it even further. Mark not only never mentioned the Virgin Birth, he never mentioned the birth of Christ at all! Therefore, any intelligent, sophisticated, modern person would certainly conclude that Mark didnt believe that Jesus was ever born, any way, whatsoever. Not only that, Paul never mentions any of the miracles Jesus performed, which obviously makes us realize that Paul didnt believe Jesus worked any miracles, therefore, ergo, Christ worked no miracles!
If thats not bad enough, Paul never mentions the parables of Jesus either, and that proves conclusively to any intelligent person that Jesus never told any parables! Goodbye to the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and all of the rest. How wonderful is the argument from silence. Well, the old minister was silenced by that retort, as should be anybody who thinks clearly.
C. Pagan Mythologies
So there is the anti-supernatural bias. There is the argument from silence. And the third reason many reject the Virgin Birth, is that there are stories of miraculous and virgin births that abound in various pagan religions and mythologies. Its just a fairy tale, they say. A little girl asked her father, "Daddy? Do all Fairy Tales begin with Once Upon A Time?" He replied, "No, there is a whole series of Fairy Tales that begin with 'If Elected I promise...'" Well, there are those who state that pagan mythologies are not fairy tales and predate the Biblical record. Therefore, they say, the biblical story of the Virgin Birth was taken from these earlier pagan mythologies and religions. To mention just a few:
It has long been know that Greek mythology teaches that Zeus, the Greek god, came to Alcmene and produced Hercules.
Vish, in his eighth incarnation or avatar, came out as the virgin-born Krishna.
Buddha is supposed to have been born of his mother, Maya, in a virgin Birth.
Augustus Caesar and Alexander the Great both claimed to have the virgin births, as well as others.
Therefore, say these skeptics, it is quite clear that the story of the Virgin Birth of Christ was simply stolen from these pagan religions and is to be dumped into the same dust heap of history that all the rest of them have fallen into.
Well, not quite so fast. First, let us look at the quality of the stories.
In the case of Zeus producing Hercules, we discover what we see all the time among the Greek gods, and that is that these are simply men blown up large, with all of their sins and foibles behind them; their lust and lasciviousness of the gods in their desire for some fair mortal woman.
In the case of Vishnu, he was also, supposedly, incarnated as a fish, a turtle, a boar, and a loin, and other bizarre things.
As to Buddha, he says that a six-tusked white elephant with red veins came into the side of his mother and produced him.
In the case of Augustus Caesar, he claims that his mother, Olympia, was impregnated by a snake, a serpent. By the way, Alexander the Great made the same claim-that his father was a snake. I dont think that is anything I would want to boast about.
What a difference between the chaste and the pure record of the Virgin Birth of Christ by the Holy Spirit than these depraved and bizarre stories in pagan religions.
VI. The Protoevangelium
But let us put the ax at the root of the tree. People who deny or question the virgin birth are just looking for loopholes. A lawyer was on his death bed in a hospital. When a friend came to visit, he found the lawyer frantically leafing through the Bible. "What are you doing?" the visitor asked. The sick lawyer replies, "Looking for loopholes." Folks, in the Bible there are no loopholes. The thrust of the argument is that these stories predate the story of the Virgin Birth of Christ in Matthew and Luke and, therefore, Matthew and Luke stole from the earlier stories.
But that is not the case. The fact of the matter is that the story of the Virgin Birth is found in Isaiah 7:14, where God says He will give them a sign: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," the fulfillment of which is described by Matthew. This was 700 years before, which predates all but a few of these stories.
But lest us go back farther and we discover there the Protoevangelium, the first Gospel, that wondrous promise given by God to our first parents in Eden. After the fall of the Garden of Eden, Adam was walking with his sons Cain and Abel. They passed by the ruins of the Garden of Eden. One of the boys asked, "What's that?" Adam replied, "Boys, that's where your mother ate us out of house and home." Eden - the only Utopia that man has ever known, that glorious paradisiacal situation that God created for them when they had this marvelous relationship with their Creator, with one another, and with their environment. Suddenly disaster fell. They sinned and disobeyed God. Their skies turned black and their souls morose, and gloom hung over them like a pall. Sin had entered like venom into the veins of the human race and death by sin.
But in the midst of that stygian blackness there appeared a single star - a star of prophetic hope, a star of promise, the bright and morning star. It is, as I said, the Protoevangelium, the first Gospel, when God said that the seed of the woman would destroy the head of the serpent, even though the serpent would wound the heel of the seed of the woman. In all of the Scripture there is no other person called the "seed of the woman." Everyone is begotten by man.
In the chronologies of Christ we read how Abraham begot Isaac, who begot Jacob, who begot so and so, who begot David, who begot so and so, and so and so - one man after another, until we finally read, "Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom [feminine pronoun] was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (Matthew 1:16). And so, in the long history of the human race there is this single exception of Christ, the only one not begotten by man, but the seed of the woman, whose Father was God. That promise was taken by our first parents, and by their children and grandchildren, and it spread with them throughout the entire world.
It was even written large by God in the stars. All twelve signs of the Zodiac are taken from Genesis 3:15 - the Protoevangelium. They are all pictures of the seed of the woman coming from Virgo, the virgin, who will destroy the head of the serpent, as a scorpion, as a dragon - all slain by the great heroes. Taken in order they tell the glorious story of Christ. Job told us that the stars would point us to Christ over 4,000 years ago in Job 38:32 with , "Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth [Zodiac] in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?" Just check out the historical names and meanings of the 12 Signs of the Zodiac. We have:
Virgo The Seed of the Woman - Christ the Incarnate Son
Libra The Required Price Paid - Christ the Redeemer
Scorpio The Mortal Conflict - Christ the Sufferer
Sagittarius The Final Triumph - Christ the Conqueror
Capricornus Life out of Death - Christ the Sacrifice
Aquarius Blessing Out of Victory - Christ the Living Water
Pisces Deliverance Out of Bondage - Christ the Liberator
Aries Glory Out of Humiliation - Christ the Crowned Lamb
Taurus His Glorious Coming - Christ the Judge
Gemini His Rule on Earth - Christ the King
Cancer His Possessions Held Secure - Christ the Protector
Leo His Enemies Destroyed - Christ the Victor
Remarkably, the heavens indeed declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.
But then, in the time of the regency of Babylon, when polytheism spread throughout the pagan world, this was destroyed and perverted and distorted into the various pagan gods of antiquity, and the true meaning of the 12-Constellations was lost. By then, the prophet Jeremiah had to warn us, "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them." (Jer 10:2) But God had written it large. The Gospel was preached unto all the world under heaven, even in the stars. So that message was carried into all the world. Elohim, the Creator God revealed this great truth from the beginning in that Protoevangelium which antedates all of the pagan mythologies and myths. No, the Virgin Birth was not stolen from any pagan mythology.
VII. Why Should We Believe It?
Those are three reasons used to discredit or deny the Virgin Birth: the anti-supernatural bias, the argument of silence, the pagan mythologies, So why do we believe it? Let me offer four reasons.
1. A Unique Life
A young man, newly minted from a seminary where the Bible was believed, was sent out to preach in a small country church. The Scandinavian folk who lived around there came to hear him. There was one old farmer who was a skeptic, something of a curmudgeon, who didnt come to church at all. But the young man wanted to win him, so he invited him to come to church one day. He even offered to pick him up and drive him, which he did. He preached that morning on the Virgin Birth. On the way home, he said to the old farmer, "Well, what did you think of that sermon?"
Mr. Worldly Wise of the sod said, "Well, now, son if some girl today got herself pregnant, had a baby, and then told you it was a virgin birth, would you believe that?"
The young preacher pondered for a little while, then said, "Well, yes, I would ... if that baby grew up to live like Christ."
You see, science demands that every effect have a sufficient and adequate cause. And in a world where everyone has sinned; where there is none righteous, no, not one; where the heart is deceitful about all things; where the front pages of the newspapers all over the world, every day, morning and night, proclaim the sinfulness of man, the fall of mankind, they are declaring that Genesis 3 is true. Man fell!
Yet, in the midst of that mud heap, there grows a single, solitary, pure Lily. How do you explain it? Every effect must have an adequate or sufficient cause. The only adequate cause is the fact of the Virgin Birth, that He didnt inherit that venom of sin which has poisoned the human race. The uniqueness of Christ demands a unique birth.
2. The Scripture States It
Second, I believe in the Virgin Birth because the Scripture repeatedly and unequivocally declares it to be so. There are many Biblical arguments that I presented earlier in this message that make me believe that the Scriptures are reliable. Therefore, I can rely on them concerning the Virgin Birth.
3. The Resurrection Mandates It
The Virgin Birth is obviously something of a very subjective nature - a very personal private matter at least - known ultimately only to Mary. Beyond these "scientific" investigations of the "pebble droppers," or anyone else, I believe the Virgin Birth is true because Christ arose from the dead. That takes it out of that personal and private and puts it into the objective, the real and the public. The resurrection of Christ is the most firmly attested fact of antiquity. Therefore, all the evidence to the resurrection of Christ is evidence for the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Why? Because the Scripture tells us that when God raised Him from the dead, He put His imprimatur, His official stamp of approval upon the Atonement of Jesus Christ and declared that that sacrifice had been accepted.
The sacrifice would not have been accepted if Christ were not pure, and He would not have been pure if He were born a sinner like all of us.
4. Marys Testimony Declares It
Last, I believe, and I call to the stand the only person who has personal knowledge of the issue, Mary herself. Now if Jesus were not born of a virgin (and it is quite clear she was) ... and if He were not born of Joseph - then she was an immoral woman. Hitler and others have declared and they have speculated that Jesus father was a German soldier on duty in Palestine! They have even given a name, Panthera, repeated by the Talmud.
If that were true, there is one person who would have known it, and that was Mary, His mother, who loved Him; His mother, who watched Him when He was brought back onto the stairs of Pontius Pilate after His scourging, dripping blood, crowned with thorns; who watched Him drag that heavy cross through the Via Dolorosa; who watched Him crash to the ground under the weight of it, time and time again; who watched Him as they reached the top of that ghastly hill of Gologotha; who watched Him as the soldiers there flung Him cruelly onto His back onto that cross; who watched Him as a soldier pulled a huge spike out of his pocket; who watched Him as that soldier took the heavy hammer to drive it into His hand, and she would have stopped it right then. Oh, yes, it would have ruined her reputation, but by one word she could have ended that ghastly scene. "Stop! Ill tell you the name of His father."
Why was He crucified? "Because thou being a man, makest thyself God." For He claimed that God was His Father. "No," screams Mary, "His fathers name was Panthera. Yes, Im guilty. I did it. Im ashamed. I confess it, but stop this horror!"- Mary could have and would have, as any mother would have, ended it right there, except that she knew who His Father was, and that His Father was God.
Two ladies were hanging out together and one was depressed. "What's wrong?" asked the one.
The depressed one replied, "I've been married four times and every one of my husbands has passed away." The other lady asked, "What did they used to do?"
The depressed lady replied, "Well, my first husband was a millionaire, the second was a magician, the third was an evangelist, and the fourth was a mortician."
And the other said, "Oh, I see, one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."
As you read this, are you ready to "go?"
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