12 December 2007

John MacArthur on the virgin birth (part 2)

Part 2 of 4 on this topic vital to knowing Christ. Part 1 can be read here.


There have been some amazing births, some miraculous births, as we just saw. And even some wonderful achievements in science, the ethics of which are certainly debatable. But the achievements are amazing. But none of the supernatural births in the scriptures and none of the scientifically advanced capabilities of our modern time to produce unique births come anywhere close to the virgin conception of Jesus Christ. There is no scientific, there is no human explanation.

Jesus was not the miracle child of a barren woman who was made fertile by God. Jesus was conceived in a virgin. He could not be parthenogenetically produced. It wasn't that He was some freak of nature in a pre-sophisticated scientific time, as remote as such a quasi-natural explanation might be, it's impossible to produce a son. He was born of a woman, conceived in a womb where no male sperm existed and where no female capability to reproduce a man was possible. He had no earthly father.

This then is the most amazing birth ever and the only one like it. Jesus Christ was conceived in a virgin without a male source for a seed, conceived...it says in verse 35...because the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High, the Creator God Himself will overshadow you, then the holy offspring that is produced will not be the Son of man, but...what?...Son of God.

Let me tell you something about the Christian faith. It is predicated on the fact that God was conceived and born in a human womb. That's the incarnation. And that is the foundation of Christianity. If you tamper with that, you tamper with the nature of Jesus Christ and if you come up with any other than the Christ of the New Testament, you have a false religion. If anybody, Paul said, preaches any other Jesus, let him be accursed. It is a damnable lie to assault the virgin conception, virgin birth and the nature of Jesus as the God/Man. And anybody who does it is propagating a damnable lie.

If you say that Jesus is a man and only a man, if you say that He is a good man, a noble man, a religious leader, a prophet, if you say that Jesus is a created angel, if you say He was molded and shaped by God in the sense that He was an angelic spirit, if you say anything other than that He was the God/Man, you have pronounced upon yourself a curse. All of the Christian faith is built upon the nature of Jesus as the God/Man which is defined from this conception. In order to be the Son of God, He had to be born of God. In order to be the Son of Man, He had to be born of a woman. And that's precisely what happened. God came in human flesh.

Now the Jewish leaders believed that the Messiah, when He came...they were looking for their deliverer, their Messiah, they believed that when He came He would be a Son of David, that He would come in the royal line, that was pretty obvious. Going back to 2 Samuel 7 it would be one of David's greater sons who could come to be the King and the Messiah. They believed that the Messiah would be in the line of David, He would have royal blood. But it was not a widespread belief, if even a popular belief, that He would be God.

In fact, when Jesus said He was Son of David, that wasn't a problem. But when Jesus said He was Son of God, that was a problem. Jesus could say He was Son of Man all He wanted. Jesus could say He was Son of David all He wanted because t hey could trace His lineage and that's why Matthew chapter 1 gives His lineage as coming from David, and Luke chapter 3 gives the lineage of Mary coming from David. They didn't argue that He was the Son of Man, human. They didn't argue that He was a Son of David, royal blood. But when He said He was the Son of God, they killed Him. So far from expecting their Messiah to be the Son of God, that disqualified him.

Now those Jewish leaders who executed Jesus Christ, they actually passed the execution over to the Romans to carry it out, but it was their idea, those leaders that did that are no different than atheists and skeptics and cultists and liberals today who denounce the God/Man, who denounce the incarnation, who denounce the virgin conception, who denounce the virgin birth.

The last survey that I saw of seminaries in America and it's probably better than in Europe where almost all those schools, well, I suppose nearly all of them are liberal, but the last survey I saw in America indicated that something around 50 percent of students in Protestants seminaries in America believe in the virgin conception and birth of Jesus Christ. These are men, supposedly, in training for Christian ministry. But if you deny the virgin conception of Jesus Christ, you're not a Christian and that's not Christianity.

We know that something around 50 percent of the people in the major Christian denominations affirm belief in the virgin birth, the rest do not. But no doctrine of Scripture is determined by majority vote, is it? Let God be true if every man is liar...Romans 3 says.

Now Luke then wants us to understand the importance of the virgin birth. As miraculous, as astonishing, as inexplicable as it is on human terms, as beyond our grasp from a scientific viewpoint, because of its supernatural character as this virgin conception is, yet we are called in the simplest of language as was Mary to accept it as reality. And it is the explanation of the two-fold nature of Christ as God and Man.

Now somebody might think, as we're going to talk about this this morning, somebody might think that this whole idea of the virgin conception just fell out of the air, just sort of...just sort of arrived in somebody's imagination. After all, if all the Jewish leaders didn't believe it and if all of the people didn't believe that Messiah was going to be God, and that there was going to be some kind of miraculous virgin birth take place, if they killed Him for saying He was the Son of God, if this wasn't part of Messianic expectation and all of the...all of the elite students of the Old Testament and so forth didn't really anticipate this reality, shouldn't we believe that this was something concocted by people so as to cause Jesus to somehow rise above the crowd? And those who wanted to do that on His behalf really invented Him as the God/Man?

Well the answer to that question is not at all. In fact, there are some serious foundations to this reality, and I want to show you what those foundations are this morning. Three of them.

Number one...and by the way, we're going to go through several points in the next few weeks...we're going to go through the foundations, the fallacies and the facts of the virgin birth. But for today, the foundations. Is this something new? Is this something invented? Or does this have a foundation? Three things give it a foundation.

Number one, the Old Testament...the Old Testament. Go back to Genesis 3 in your Bible. We mentioned this in a recent message and I want to go back to it because of its foundation character. You're in the first dawning of redemptive history here, creation in chapter 1, and in chapter 2. Then in chapter 3 man falls into sin and he's cursed and woman is cursed by having pain in child bearing and having conflict in marriage. Man is cursed by having to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow and he too has to engage in the conflict that marriage brings.

Then, of course, then God pronounces a curse on the serpent who is Satan. And part of the curse on Satan in verse 14 is he's going to be cursed more than every other animal. And then in verse 15, going behind the animal to Satan himself, "I will put enmity between you and the woman." And then it says this, "And between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise Him on the heel."

Now this is a very important prophecy. This is really the first prophecy next to the one where God said, "In the day you eat of the Tree of Life you'll die," that was a prophecy, too. But this is the first prophecy that looks forward to redemption. There's coming someone...this someone is called "her seed," and this one who is her seed will bruise the head of Satan, a crushing deadly blow. Who is that? Well only one person could effect the deadly crushing blow on the head of Satan...who was it? It was Christ. Satan bruised His heel, Satan dealt a blow against Christ obviously in His death on the cross, but it was only a minor wound and out of that wound came redemption. And the risen Christ came forth out of the grave triumphant to give the fatal blow to Satan. That will be executed on him. It was won at the cross, it will be finally executed when he is sentenced and cast into the Lake of Fire forever.

Now notice that it says "the One who will crush the head of Satan is called her seed." I just remark, a woman doesn't have a seed. When God gave a promise to Abraham, God said this, "His seed would bless the families of the earth....In his seed would all the families of the earth be blessed." The man has the seed. A woman doesn't have the seed. Her seed, how could a woman have a seed? Only one time did a woman ever have a seed of her own and that by the miraculous intervention of God.

The Jews, if they knew Genesis, should have seen that. And then there is Isaiah. Turn to Isaiah 7 chapter 7 verse 14, the Jews, we know, were always looking for a sign, always looking for some supernatural indicator, some supernatural event that would point to God working. And so in verse 14 of chapter 7, Isaiah says, "The Lord will give you a sign." You want a sign? Here it is. "A virgin will be with child and bear a Son." Wow! That will be a sign. That doesn't happen, that can't happen. That's impossible. And if that happens, that is a sign. Furthermore, "When she brings forth that child she will call His name Immanuel, God...el is God, immanu is with us." When the child is born name Him "God is here." That's a pretty clear sign.

When a virgin is pregnant and has a son, that's a sign. It can't happen humanly. And even if parthenogenesis could happen, and it can't, but for the sake of argument if it could it would be a girl...not a son.

By the way, the word used there for virgin, almah, is used only nine times in the Old Testament, eight of which require a translation of pure virginity. That's really what that word means. The New Testament equivalent of it is parthenos and parthenos always means virgin...always means virgin. And in Matthew 1 we have in verses 22 and 23 the message from God, an angel of the Lord, and the angel of the Lord, listen, interprets Isaiah 7. And, folks, you can trust this interpretation. This is the angel of the Lord's interpretation. And he says in verse 22...verse 21, you're going to have a Son, call His name Jesus, etc. "All this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled saying, 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel which translated means God with us.'" And he used the word parthenos for virgin which means virgin.

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