Apostles Creed: Virgin Birth

Steve Hill, CEO and Founder of Recycle Now, is originally from Boston and moved to Dallas after doing Teach for America. He is an Antioch Dallas Training School graduate. As a young adult lifegroup leader, he has a passion for the word of God and discipling men. We hope you enjoy this blog, and we pray that you get revelation of the purpose and person of Jesus.


There Is No Sun

 “Come, all of you. Put away these childish tricks. I have work for you all in the real world. There is no Narnia, no Over-World, no sky, no sun, no Aslan.” ~ Witch of the Under-World

 C.S. Lewis penned the excerpt above in his tale “The Silver Chair”, where the Witch of the Under-World uses powers of enchantment to persuade visitors to her underground realm that there is no such thing as the above world, and that all that is real is what we one can currently see.

Using her spells, she undermines previously unquestioned ideas such as the sun, scoffing that there could be no such way for an element to hang unsuspended from the sky.

Unsurprisingly, or perhaps surprisingly to some, post-modernist clergy are not exempt from this same type of lampooning and are happy to dismiss the Virgin Birth as nothing more than fairy tale[1]. However, a close examination of this doctrine will reveal that it is essential to Christian belief, and not to be discarded. First, the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is a thread that is woven throughout Scripture, and to abnegate its truth would be to deny much of Scripture itself. Second, the Virgin Birth undergirds a much larger and perhaps even more important doctrine of Christianity- the divinity of Christ, and third, the Virgin Birth gives us an extremely helpful framework with which to view our fallen nature and Christ’s victory in redeeming it.

Follow The Thread…

The veracity of the Virgin Birth matters, for if it were false, much of what we know about Scriptures reliability would be significantly undermined. A reason for this is that the doctrine is not only found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but is a thread interwoven through scripture. The first appearance of this thread begins in Genesis 3:15 when God tells the serpent that, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel”. Here most Bible commentators agree on the following: the bruised heel represents Christ’s affliction on the cross, the bruised head Satan’s defeat through the resurrection, and Christ’s being born of Mary the culmination of the promise that this defeat come from a woman’s offspring. The thread continues to Isaiah 7:14 where Isaiah, referring to the Messiah, prophesies, “Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign, the Virgin shall conceive, and give birth”, and finds its fulfillment in Matthew 1:18-25 where an angel appears to Joseph and tells him that the child within Mary has been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and is a fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah. Thus, from Scripture we see that the Virgin birth is not happenstance, but part of the fulfillment of God’s plan to redeem humanity through Jesus.

Christ’s Divinity

A second reason that the Virgin Birth matters is that, in addition to displaying God’s faithfulness to fulfill Scripture, the miraculous nature of this event affirms one of the most central tenets of Christianity- the divinity of Jesus. This belief, that Jesus is both fully God and fully man, is anchored in the doctrine of the Virgin birth. Jesus having existed before the foundation of the world has always been divine[2], but in the Virgin birth he also took the full form of a man[3].

Hebrews helps explain this duality of Jesus. In Hebrews 1:3 we see Jesus’s identity as God, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being”, and, in Hebrews chapter 2 we find an explanation of his humanity:  

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way.” ~ Hebrews 2:14-17

 This unique part of his make-up allows him to relate to us in a far more knowing way than had he never entered human form. Indeed, in the words of the writer of Hebrews, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

 Power to Overcome Sin

 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

A final reason that the Virgin birth matters is that it gives us a reasonable framework to understand Christ’s conquest of sin. The entire teaching of the New Testament testifies that Jesus lived a sinless life, and the power that gave him the ability to do so is tied with his divine nature through the Virgin Birth[4]. Despite being born with a human nature, Jesus did not succumb to the corruption that comes through man’s decision to sin. In stark contrast to Adam, who chose to sin and subsequently caused all of humanity to fall under its curse, Christ stepped in as the last Adam to bring life to all. First Corinthians 15:21-22 explains this clearly, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Thus, through the Virgin Birth Christ uses his divinity to conquer the power of sin and death bringing us into personal relationship with God.  

 Conclusion

 If one is to reject the Virgin Birth due to its supernatural nature then one has little reason to accept any of the miracle accounts in the Bible, and is left with little more than sound moral teaching- but this is not Christianity. Paul wrote that if events such as the resurrection were false than, “Christians are to be pitied more than any other type of person in the world”. How post-modernism reconciles this with rejecting such doctrine is puzzling. God being God did not have to use the Virgin birth to send his Son into the world to redeem it, but his doing so fulfills Scripture, affirms Christ’s divinity, and grants us a framework to understand his powerful triumph over sin through conquering the fallen nature of man.

Steve Hill

[1] See “The Virgin Mary is no Wonder Woman” by Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2296

[2] John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

[3]  Philippians 2:7-8 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

[4]1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.