One of the most foundation doctrines of Christianity is the Virgin Birth and understanding this is very important in grasping the gospel. In this third part of our lesson on the humanity of the Son, we shall see the first part of the New Testament Witness to the Incarnation.
The Importance of the Virgin Birth
Its Relation to the Gospel
The deity of the Son, the truthfulness of the gospel, and the power of the cross to save hang on the supernatural birth of the Messiah.
The gospel and deity of Christ cannot be true if His birth is of the natural process
If you lose the virgin birth, you in turn lose the gospel. It’s simple. We can’t take away the supernatural conception of Jesus Christ and remain faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the virgin birth, His life, death, and resurrection don’t work. And at that point, we would be the men most to be pitied. At that point, we have no good news.Theology & Life, Lose the Virgin Birth, Lose the Gospel
Its Preservation of His Natures
There is an ancient heresy called DOCETISM. We learned from the previous lesson that heresy is a damnable doctrine and a study of history will help Christians to stay away from such. It comes from the Greek verb dokeō , which means “seem” or “appear”. It means that Jesus did NOT have a real physical body. Jesus’ body was just an illusion, something that looked real but in fact, was not a part of the physical order at all.1 But we shall see that the Son of God did NOT merely take the outward form of a man or simply appear as a man.
The Son of God became a real Man, like us in all ways, except without sin (Hebrews 4:15)
Here, we profess the following:
- the Son of God became something He had never been before.
- the Son of God added humanity to His deity and became the God-man, one Person with two distinct, yet indivisible natures—divine and human.
- the Son of God did not cease to be God
- the Son of God did not take an intermediate nature (i.e. demi-god)
- the Son of God did not give up His divine attributes. In that, He laid is aside His glory but did not lose His deity in the incarnation.
According to Paul Washer, whose book we are using for our current study, He did not give up any of His divine attributes, but willingly submitted the use of them to the Father’s will.
We affirm the Creed of Chalcedon (A.D 451)
One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union.
In theology, we call this the HYPOSTATIC UNION.
This is the mysterious joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus.2 This is the dual nature of Christ. The divine was not mixed into human nature. The human did not become God. But the two natures is united in the person of the Messiah.
The essence of the Virgin Birth: A Supernatural Conception
This is the first account of the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ that we can read from the gospels. The verse says that …the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. (v.20)
The word “conceived” is from the Greek word gennáo, which means, “to be born or engender.” It is a common term used to describe the conception of the life in the womb. This means that Jesus has no earthly father. It is through the direct creation of God, in order to prepare the body of the redeemer unstained by the corruption of sin. The Savior is qualified as a pure sacrifice to God having a body that is pure and holy.
We read from Benson Commentary, that Jesus being conceived of the Holy Spirit means that He is of no human original, but produced by the miraculous and unexampled operation of the Holy Ghost. Thus, after Matthew has related how Christ was of royal descent, he now shows that he was also of much higher birth, and had a divine original.
Mary’s virginity is declared five times in the Gospels: Matthew 1:23, 25; Luke 1:27(twice), 34.
The Angelic Announcement v.28-33
30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
The Angel Gabriel announced to the virgin that she will conceive a son, who was at that time betrothed (not yet married) to Joseph.
The Virgin’s Testimony- v. 34
Mary asked its possibility since she was a virgin. We observe, with Paul Washer, that, Mary’s question did not stem from unbelief, but from the fact that she was a virgin. She wondered how conception could even be possible.
The Angelic Confirmationv.35
The Angel gave more details as to how it is going to take place. Let me warn you though that we cannot go beyond this text, as some did. It may seem impossible for us but this is the testimony of the Scriptures. The same word “overshadow” [Greek: episkiázo] is used of the bright cloud that overshadowed Peter, John, and James on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34).
Francis Turretin, who is called the standard-bearer of the reformation, in his book Institutes of Elenctic Theology Vol. 2, commenting on the Greek word for overshadow, writes,
By episkiasin is peculiarly meant the mode of that operation, which was: (1) most powerful for protection and defense (that the blessed virgin might not be consumed by the divine majesty); (2) most efficacious for fecundation [fertilization or impregnation] that she might conceive in her womb without any help from man (as a bird is said to cover, cherish and set upon her eggs that by her heat the young may be hatched—in allusion to the creation, in which the Spirit is said to have brooded over the waters... (3) secret and incomprehensible, which can neither be tracked by the reason, nor expressed in words. To this there is a reference in the shadow of the cloud upon the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34*, 35) and in the cherubim covering the ark (2 Ch. 5:8). Thus God wished to bring over a shadow, the mark of a secret and incomprehensible energy (energeias), that we might not too curiously pry into the mode of this mystery. (Thirteen Topic: The Person and State of Christ; Eleventh Question: The Conception and Nativity of Christ, section IX - emphasis added)
Here we see the prominent place of the Holy Spirit assigned to Him in the great mystery of the incarnation. Since the Holy Spirit was a primary agent in the creation of the universe, it would not be beyond His power to create life in the womb of a virgin.
The Divine Possibility v.37
For nothing will be impossible with God.Luke 1:37
The people of this world may ridicule us for believing such teaching. But that is the truth! A solid belief in the all-powerful God will help us to understand that the supernatural and miraculous conception of the Messiah is not hard to believe.
God is omnipotent and nothing is too hard for Him. In His sovereign power, He can do anything, except that which contradicts His most holy, righteous, and loving nature.
We need not fancy another doctrine, like the Immaculate Conception of Mary, in order to preserve the purity of the Redeemer. But we must believe in the power of God the Holy Spirit who supernaturally made the Virgin Birth and Immaculate Conception of Jesus, not Mary, possible. As Francis Turretin notes in the same book above, the Holy Spirit is active and Mary is passive in this supernatural work.
The Implication of the Virgin Birth: God can do what seems impossible for us
Only by God’s supernatural power through the Spirit working with and by the word-the preaching of the gospel-can man be saved.
No man is so bad that he is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
God was made flesh, preserved from all the stain of sin through the Virgin Birth that you may also be free from sin at last.
According to J.C. Ryle in his expository thoughts on the gospel of Luke,
There is no sin too black and bad to be pardoned. The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. There is no heart too hard and wicked to be changed. The heart of stone can be made a heart of flesh... Faith never rests so calmly and peacefully as when it lays its head on a pillow of God's omnipotence.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
Note: Cover photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay.com
1 Ligoneir, The Docetic Heresy
2 David Matthis, What Is the Hypostatic Union?
One thought on “The Son’s Humanity Part 3”
Good point about Mary’s question wasn’t sinful doubt but wonder how it would happen (good quote from Paul Washer).
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