Understanding The Bible
"Can We Believe the Virgin Birth?"
By Dr. Glen Clifton 1.
Well, there’s just a
few days ‘till Christmas. Have you got all your shopping done? Have you had your
ball at the mall? Have you shopped till you dropped? How many of you are ready
for Christmas? (Raise your hands). Man, things are getting expensive! Did you
have enough money?
One lady went to the bank to open a joint account. When she was asked if the account would be with her husband, she replied, “oh, no, couldn’t I have one with someone who has lots of money?”
Just a few days before Christmas, two neighbors went fishing instead of Christmas shopping with their wives… while in the boat, the winds began to increase, and a storm arose. The water was so tossed it was difficult to keep the boat under control. They hit a sandbar and were instantly grounded. In the high waves, they were pushed and shoved as they were battered against the boat, as it flipped over. The water was very cold and they were knee-deep in the mud. With his hair matted and blowing in the wind, one man grinned and said, “Man, this sure beats Christmas shopping don’t it?
Have you mailed any boxes lately? I went to the post office and spent 45 minutes in line. I breathed a sigh of relief as I became next in line. Just as the person at the window walked away... I started forward just in time to see the clerk put up a little sign: “this window closed.”
I heard a story about a little boy who wrote his Christmas letter. In his childish scrawl, he wrote: dear God: my name is Jimmy. I am 6 years old. My daddy died and my mother is having a hard time. Could you send $500.00 to help us out? A postal employee opened the letter and was so touched, that they all took up $300.00 from the employees. It went to Jimmy for Christmas. After Christmas they got another letter from Jimmy at the post office. It said, dear God: thank you god, but next time, could you please deliver the money directly to our home. When you send it through the post office, they deduct $200.00.
There is probably no aspect of the Christian faith that has been subjected to more abuse than the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus. The world laughs at this teaching. The tragedy is, there are also many professing Christians who also treat it lightly. Many ministers in the mainline denominations reject the idea completely.
Isn’t it tragic that today in America we’re having lawsuits about getting the bible and prayer out of public schools, state houses, the senate and congress? And, at the same time the Soviet Union is inviting teachers to come and teach English, and it is O.K. To use the bible as a textbook. And the atheistic ACLU is filing one legal suit after another against cities and states having nativity scenes on public properties.
I’m amazed that every December before Christmastime, magazines and newspapers and T.V. commentators belittle the idea over and again. I’m more than just a little put out at the skeptics who are given center stage to attack the teachings of the word of God about Christmas and the virgin birth. I’m chagrined that here in America, some puny, pin-headed, PhD’s in their classrooms, and ivy-covered, ivory towers of so-called places of higher learning continue to palaver about the bible and Bethlehem.
Over 20 years ago, Redbook magazine surveyed protestant seminaries and preachers, and they found out that only 56 percent of the students in seminary believed in the virgin birth. What a tragedy!
Turn with me, in your bibles, to Luke, chapter one…
Christmas is the story of redemption, as the angel said, “you shall call his name Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins…” Matthew 1:21 Jesus Christ did not come to install Santa Claus. He came to solve the sin problem, and until you solve the sin problem you’re not ready to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ.
There is controversy in this Christmas story. Let me ask you some questions. Do you believe the bible is fact or fable? Is it true or false? Is Jesus lord or liar? Is He charlatan or the Savior? Is He a phony or is He indeed the mighty God, the everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace?
Christmas is more than toys, tinsel, and trees. Christmas is the story of God invading the earth in his son, Jesus the Christ. Christmas is the time of the year that we remember the story of the birth of spiritual warfare! You may ask, “Preacher, how do you get ‘spiritual warfare’ out of Christmas?” The bible says, in 1 john 4:8: “for this cause (purpose) the son of god (Jesus) came into the world, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Bethlehem’s manger was heaven’s invasion of the world by the Prince of Peace.
Jesus Christ was either born of a virgin and is God, or we should absolutely forget everything He ever said and did. All that we believe rises and falls on the truth of the virgin birth.
There have always been men and groups of men who delight in denying the miracles of God... as given in the Word of God. You may have heard of the ‘Jesus seminar.’ it is a group of 35 so-called religious scholars who sit around a table and discuss the miracles, then cast lots (of colored beads) on a particular miracle; whether it was so or not.
Well, excuuussssseeee meee!” When was it, that we as humans started staking our eternal souls on the vote of a bunch of PhD’s from Yale, Harvard, Notre Dame, Ball State, Vaster, etc.? Unfortunately some of this junk thinking has found its way into the Christian way of thinking. It’s sort of a situational-theology, a smorgasbord approach that says we’ll accept what we want and reject what we don’t want.
According to the Word of God, if Jesus was not born of a virgin, and conceived of the Holy Spirit he is not God! And, if Jesus is not God, all of the scripture is a fraud. If Jesus is not God, our faith is unfounded and in vain. If Jesus is not God, and born of a virgin, we worship in a misdirected worship. If Jesus is not God, we are all lost, and not one sin can be removed, and we damned eternal souls, just one breath from hell.
If someone asked you about Jesus birth, His virgin birth, could you give them the biblical facts of the scriptures? Everything we believe rises and falls on the fact of the virgin birth.
The bible says that marry was to give birth to the Son of God, himself. The angel explained to Mary, that “the Holy Spirit should come upon you, and the power of the highest should overshadow you, therefore that holy thing that shall be born of you shall be called The Son of God.” (v. 35)
Her response: there is no expression of doubt, no fear, no skepticism or seeming concern. This little 16 or 17 year old, Jewish maiden said, “Lord, be it unto me according to Your word.” (v. 38) instantly, God almighty, planted within her body the seed that would become Jesus.
Get this thought in your mind. Almighty God, who flung the universe into being, who created the rocky mountains, who dredged out the "Grand Canyons" of the world, who holds the seas in the palms of his hands, this God took a seed and planted it into this young girls body, one ten-thousandths the size of the head of a straight pin, and based His whole kingdom on the microscopic hope of that cell.
Our god is a God of infinite detail, of infinite wisdom, and of infinite power. There is nothing too little and there is nothing to vast that escapes Him.
This little maiden’s response was, “For nothing shall be impossible with God.” (v. 37) this is still the preaching and the theme of every Christmas sermon. Nothing is impossible with God! (Say that with me), nothing is impossible with God!
I am amazed, sometimes chagrinned, and often disgusted by the fact that some pseudo-intellectual “twit” who has graduated from some school of higher learning in the last few years, thinks he knows more about the birth of Jesus, than does Matthew or Luke who were there at that time.
Therefore, don’t believe everything you read or hear out of the mouth of a secular humanist, who is trying to humanize Jesus Christ in order to fit Him into a little mold where Jesus cannot be Lord of our lives.
It is impossible to
read Matthew and Luke’s account and not understand that Jesus was born before
Mary and Joseph were married. Matthew speaks of Joseph as a husband. The angel
speaks of Mary as a wife. Here, is controversy. How is it explained?
It is explained in the Hebrew law of betrothal (espousal). Mary and Joseph were betrothed and the explanation is this: When two Hebrew youth wanted to get married, they did not go out in dad’s car to lover’s lane, and park and kiss each other until their hormones scrambled their brains, and they had the urge to merge. That did not happen! The mother and the father of the girl, and the mother and the father of the boy all met in one place. The mother and father of the girl would explain the strengths and weaknesses of the girl, and the mother and father of the boy would explain the good points and bad points of the son. This is what you could look forward to when you marry him.
After the parents had listed all the points, then, there was a one year period of betrothal. Where-ever these young people went, they went with a member of the family. They were never alone by themselves, not ever. And then, when they were married, they became husband and wife.
The only way this situation of betrothal could be terminated was by fornication. If Joseph thought that Mary had committed fornication, he would go to the High Priest, and charge her with fornication, and the High Priest, who was also the medical examiner, would examine Mary and if she was found to no longer be a virgin, Mary would be condemned and stoned to death and Joseph would be required to cast the first stone.
When you read Matthew and Luke, you will find that Jesus was born during the time of betrothal. Was Jesus born of a virgin? Matthew says yes! Luke says yes! We have Mary’s reaction as proof and validation that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.
The exact words of the Levitical law are this: “If a virgin is espoused to a man who is found to be with child, he (Joseph) shall denounce her before the council. They shall stone her with stones until she dies, thus shall you put sin out of Israel.”
It was grizzly, it was ghastly, it was swift, and was over in a matter of minutes. But, I must add, they had no fornication and very little adultery in those days.
So, what does this have to do with Mary’s case? She’s expecting a baby, and looking for the death penalty as soon as it is discovered. She knows she is betrothed. She knows the law of Moses. She knows she’ll be examined by the High Priest. She knows that she will be stoned.
So, what is her reaction to all this? Normally, her reaction would have been secrecy because of shame, fear, sorrow, tears, and seclusion. She would run for her life!
But, what did Mary do? She ran straight to her cousin Elizabeth and said, “My soul does magnify the Lord, I’m going to have a baby.” (v.46) and, who was this woman Elizabeth? She was the wife of the High Priest, the one who would examine her, if charged, and pronounce the death sentence. Folks, that’s like robbing a bank and running to the chief of police holding the bank bags in your hands.
Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, (or the God of my salvation). (Vs. 46-47)
Listen to this girl, hear the words coming out of her mouth... there is no guilt, there is no fear, no remorse, no regret, and no shame. Why? Because, she is innocent, she is pure, she is the vessel of God upon this earth to produce the Son of God. She is inspired of heaven, and will soon give birth to the Christ child.
Notice that the Holy Spirit of God also gives witness to the virgin birth. If Jesus was not born of a Virgin the holy spirit lied! How? Mary and Joseph were both Jewish. On the eighth day Jewish parents took their son to the synagogue to be circumcised by the Rabbi.
In chapter two, beginning in verse 21, we have the story of how they took Jesus to rabbi to be blessed and to be circumcised. When someone saw them come into the house of God for this purpose, someone said, “mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” (v.30) he then blessed marry and Joseph and said that Jesus was to be a light to the gentiles and a blessing to Israel.
What’s the point? The point is this: this has to be one of the greatest errors on the part of the Holy Spirit if Jesus was not born of the virgin marry. He had no business being in the house of God if He was not pure, if He was a bastard child, and certainly the Holy Spirit would not say, through someone, “My eyes have seen the salvation of Israel.” (V.30-32)
Let’s review: We have Luke’s account, and Mary’s account, and Mary’s emotional reaction to her pregnancy, and the Holy Spirit’s confirmation through someone.
Now, let’s take a look at the Old Testament. The law of Israel for illegitimate children is recorded in Deuteronomy 32, and it says this: “An illegitimate child could not be a member of the congregation of Israel. No public worship, and he was to stay out of the congregation for ten generations.” So, how does this apply to Jesus?
Jesus Christ is called the Word of God, the great teacher. What, may I ask, was he even doing in the synagogue to teach, if he was not validated of God?
The whole book of Hebrews in the New Testament, is built on the fact that Jesus Christ is our High Priest. He is our only priest and mediator to take our petitions to God the father. Question: how can He be our High Priest if He is not pure? If Jesus was not born of a virgin, we must cross out every word of His teaching.
All the New Testament verifies that He is my high priest. He is my advocate, who pleads daily my case before the throne of God. He has set me free from all my sin. He has broken the chains of the power and principalities of darkness. He has humiliated Satan at the cross. He has ascended on high, and sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is coming again with power and great glory, and is going to reign forever and forever.
Let me ask you: would God almighty tell Joseph to enter into this marriage with marry if she was not pure? This marriage was so special that God sent a message by Angel express (That was before FedEx), and said, “Fear not Joseph, to take marry your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 And to paraphrase: God said, “Joseph, heaven is behind this, she has the seal of God’s approval, so don’t be afraid.” May I say: Joseph had to be a man of great faith? Let something of this magnitude be put in your ear, I seriously doubt whether we’d react like he did.
Remember God does not endorse moral rogues. It was God who said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Jesus Christ, in every verse, in every chapter of the New Testament, comes across as the Son of God, approved by the Father in heaven.
In closing... have you ever thought of Mary’s reaction at the cross? The crowd was shouting, “crucify Him, crucify Him.” Now, if you are a mother, and you have raised a son without sin, you have witnessed his perfect life, and you have seen his mighty miracles…and now, he is standing before a bloodthirsty mob screaming for his life, what would your reaction be? It would move everything within you.
Mary had seen Him beaten, she saw Him mistreated, and now she sees Him dying on the cross. Why was He there? It was because Caiaphas, the condemning high priest said, “We Jews have a law, that anyone who claims to be God or the Son of God…must die.” (Matthew 26, john 11)
All that Mary had to do is say, “wait, Wait! He was not conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph and I committed fornication. Jesus is illegitimate. He is not the Son of God, Take him down from the cross! But, she couldn’t... She knew better!
Kneeling, in the shadow of Calvary is a broken-hearted mother… she refused… on the worst day of her life to deny that she was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus.
Let all the critics be silent, let their mouths be muzzled, there was a miracle that was born in Bethlehem’s manger. He was the promised Savior to the world. (Isaiah 7:14) He was and is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, 7) He is Emmanuel (God with us), (Matthew 1:23).
The bible says: He is the rock of ages. He is the light for those who walk in darkness. He is the great shepherd for those wandering in the wilderness of sin and darkness. He is the Lord of all lords and the King of all kings!
The bible says that Jesus is coming again in great glory, and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
The coming of Jesus, the Christ, to Bethlehem’s manger was the crushing of Satan’s head predicted back in the book of genesis. (3:14, 15) He has given unto us the life which is everlasting.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, “For you know the grace of our lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (8:9)
Thanks to Forman income for: “The Incomparable Christ.”
“In infancy He startled a king; in boyhood He puzzled the doctors.
In manhood He walked on the billows and hushed the sea to sleep.
He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His service.
He never wrote a book yet all the libraries of the world could not hold
all the books that have been written about Him.
He never wrote a song, yet He has furnished the theme of more songs than
all the songs than all song writers combined.
He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of
as many students as He has.
Great men have come and gone, yet He lives on.
Death could not destroy Him; the grave could not hold Him.”
He lives! And He is coming again! Hallelujah!
As Mary said: “Nothing is impossible with God.” This teen-age girl set the standard of faith for this season. She was a woman of obedience, and the will of God came first, and she placed her life in God’s hand. She believed God, and you can too. And, you will understand this only when you believe and trust Christ as your Lord and as your Savior. Only believe!
Dr. Glen Clifton
Used by permission
The Race of Life"
by Dr. Glen E. Clifton
1. Dr. Clifton and his wife Dee, have been retired to Florida for 4 years. He has been kept busy preaching up and down the Treasure coast since he moved here. He can be contacted for speaking engagements at (772) 336-3992.
Clifton, Dr. Glen E., Brief Biography