13 December 2007

John MacArthur on the virgin birth (part 3)

Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.

Matthew recorded that definitely understanding that Isaiah intended to predict that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Jesus used the word parthenos three times in the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. Luke used it twice of Mary. Luke used it in Acts 21 of Philip's four virgin daughters. Paul distinguishes between a wife and a virgin in 1 Corinthians 7. And John records the word parthenos as descriptive of men who had no sexual relationship with women and were therefore totally yielded to God. That's used in Revelation 14:14.

So parthenos means one who has had no sexual relationship at all. Mary was a virgin and that was the intent of Isaiah 7:14, that was a sign. If a girl got pregnant and had a son, that's not a sign, that happened all the time. But when a virgin is pregnant and brings into the world a son, that's a sign...that's a sign.

You know, some of the rabbis, I think, believed that there was going to be something like this. One rabbi wrote, "Messiah is to have no earthly father." Humm...one ancient rabbi seemed to get the message. Another rabbi wrote, "The birth of Messiah alone shall be without defect." Another rabbi wrote, "His birth shall not be like that of other men." Another wrote, "The birth of Messiah shall be like the dew of the Lord as drops upon the grass without the action of man." There were some rabbis, I'm sure there were some faithful believers who understood that Messiah would be born of a virgin.

Well that was not the popular view, not at all. And certainly the Jewish leaders never thought that. In fact, John 7:27 they're very upset at Jesus and the question comes up, "Is Jesus the Christ?" And in verse 27 this is the...this is the response, "We know where this man is from, He's from Nazareth. But we know His family up there. But whenever the Christ or Messiah may come, no one knows where He is from." See, they just thought Jesus was just a common Galilean guy born in the town of Nazareth to Joseph and Mary.

Back in chapter 6 this is further indicated. They were grumbling at Him, it says in verse 41. And they were saying, "Is not this Jesus the Son of Joseph whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven?' We don't get it." So maybe they did believe that there was some...some unique feature to His birth, but not necessarily a virgin birth. Maybe if they'd really believe Isaiah 7:14, Genesis 3:15, Jeremiah's prophecy, maybe if they really did believe those things and really understood them under the illumination of the Spirit of God and they had known that Jesus had been born of a virgin, it might have changed how they viewed Him.

They didn't see it. They may have expected some kind of special birth, apparently not a virgin birth and certainly not somebody born to a common couple in a dumpy place called Nazareth.

Some rabbis had taught that Messiah was of heavenly origin. And some rabbis even said that He eternally existed. Humm...in 150 B.C., a hundred and fifty years before the birth of Christ, the book of Enoch, not a biblical book, says this, "He appears by the side of the Ancient of Days, His name has been named before God." They were talking of Messiah. Some of them saw Messiah as pre-existing His birth.

There's also Psalm 2 where you have God saying this about the Son, that He is going to bring His Son into the world, He's going to install Him as King on Zion. And He says, "You are My Son, today have I begotten You." So there was a promise that God was going to bring a Son into the world who would be the ruler and Psalm 2 says He would rule the nations with a rod of iron, which is a messianic prophecy. If they had understood Psalm 2, they would have understood that the Messiah who rules the world, who rules in the kingdom of Israel at Zion is going to be born the Son of God and that He was already in God's presence. Now there's a foundation for the virgin birth of the eternal Son.

A second foundation beside the Old Testament is the doctrine of the trinity...the doctrine of the trinity. Now I'm going to give you some theology here. You're going to go away being theologians if you grasp this tremendous truth.

I want you to understand the nature of God. Go back to Deuteronomy chapter 6 and we're going to do this, I hope, in about fifteen minutes, that's all we have left, so I'm going to turn you into an instant theologian on this subject. Deuteronomy 6, here's the distinguishing truth of true religion, the distinguishing truth of true religion...6:4, Deuteronomy 6, the most defining statement in the Old Testament about the nature of God, this was required to be put on the foreheads and on the arms and on the doorposts of the houses of the people of God. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one." Boy, that is it.

There were all kinds of gods among the nations. They were polytheistic, they had many gods. Israel had one God because there is only one true and living God. And that is supported by verse 5, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." Now let me give you the point of that. You can do that because you don't have to reserve any of that love for any other deity because there isn't any other one. There is one God and you are to love that one God with all your soul, with all your heart, with all your might. You do not divide that love because there is no other God. You love Him and Him alone with all your being. If there were three gods, you could love two of them and not one, or you could love one of them and not two, or you could love three of them with a third of your passion, but you could never love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind leaving nothing back if there was more than one.

James 2:19, "You believe...James writes...there is one God, you do well." Then he adds, "Even the devils believe that." Demons have better theology, far better theology than many religious people. God is one, yet though one in nature and one in essence, He is three persons. Can I explain it? No. Why? Because I can't understand it. Do I believe it? Yes. Why? Because it's revealed in Scripture as such. And the fact that I can't understand it says nothing about God, but an awful lot about me.

We know there are three persons in the one essential God cause in Genesis 1 when God says He creates, "In the beginning God created," the word "God" is elohim that's a plural...that's a plural word. In Genesis 1:26 when God says, "Let us make man," He says, "Let us make man in OUR image," He uses a plural personal pronoun...Let us...and our image.

In Isaiah 6 when God is speaking, He says, "Whom shall I send...referring to the need for someone to go to the people before judgment comes and Isaiah is listening, "Whom shall I send and who will go for us...us?" In Isaiah 48:16 Isaiah writes, "Come ye near unto Me, says God, hear this, I have not spoken at secret from the beginning, from the time that it was, there am I and now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent Me." There's at least two.

David said, "The Lord said unto my Lord," there you have the Lord and the Lord. Here you have the Lord and the Spirit. There are plenty of references in the Old Testament to the Father God, to the Spirit, and to the Son who very often appears as the angel of the Lord.

You come in to the New Testament and Jesus is there at His baptism, the Son of God, and the Father is speaking out of heaven. "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, and the Spirit is descending like a dove." You have all three members of the trinity in the same scene at the same time.

In the fifteenth chapter of John, that wonderful and complete statement is given, I think it's verse 26, "When the Helper comes, the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, whom I will send from the Father." The Son sends the Spirit from the Father, keeping the distinction.

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