The Virgin Birth
Matthew 1:17-25; Galatians 3:21-26
INTRODUCTION So vital is the virgin birth to the character of the Biblical Christ that we may well doubt the possibility of a genuine experience of salvation by anyone who willfully denies this doctrine. Certainly no true child of God with any spiritual understanding of the subject could deny the virgin birth, of our Lord. Those nominal "Christians" who do deny that Christ was begotten of the Spirit of God and born of the virgin Mary are not worshipping the Christ of the Bible. Bible believers need no arguments of reason to support the plain teaching of Scripture, and the Biblical account of the virgin birth is certainly clear enough. It is worth noting, nevertheless, that Jesus the Christ is the unique and only qualified Savior for the very reason that He is both God and Man. As God He has the power and as Man He has the sympathy to be the Savior we need [Hebrews 1:1-5; 2:14-18; 4:15]. To deny either the absolute deity or the perfect humanity of Christ is to substitute a false Christ for the Christ of the Bible. The combination of deity and humanity in the true Christ was realized in the virgin birth. Passages from Matthew and Galatians in this lesson include both an inspired record of the historic birth of Christ and an inspired interpretation of faith in that Christ as our only hope of salvation. Outline follows: 1. Background, Matthew 1:17-19. a. Condensed history, 17. b. Conception holy, 18. c. Considerate husband, 19. 2. Bestowment, Matthew 1:20-25. a. Jesus announced, 20-21. b. Jesus anticipated, 22-23. c. Jesus arrived, 24-25. 3. Birthright, Galatians 3:21-26. a. Unbroken Scripture, 21-22. b. Unfailing salvation, 23-25. c. Unmerited sonship, 26. NOTES ON THE TEXT: BACKGROUND, Matthew 1:17-19. Matthew's account of the gospel begins with a genealogy extending from Abraham to Joseph, the legal but not the actual father of Jesus. He is careful [verse 16] to refer to Joseph not as the father of Jesus but as "the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." Background information given by Matthew serves, for readers familiar with the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, to establish the claim of Jesus to be that Messiah. Condensed History, 17. Having given a detailed genealogy in preceding verses, Matthew summed up the connection between Abraham and Christ as including three times fourteen generations. The reign of David and the Babylonian captivity mark appropriate divisions in this condensed history. Conception Holy, 18. Espousal here was apparently a relationship short of marriage, but with marriage definitely planned. In this pre- marital state, with Mary still a virgin, "she was found with child," and Matthew hastens to inform us that the pregnancy was "of the Holy Ghost." Now, filthy blasphemers may dispute the record that God has given us, but no honest reader will claim that the record is unclear or ambiguous. Mary's conception of her first child was by the overshadowing power of the Spirit of God [Luke 1:35]. Considerate Husband, 19. We are not told whether Mary tried to explain things to Joseph. If she did tell him about Gabriel's visit and related events [Luke 1:26-38], apparently Joseph was not convinced; yet rather than "make her a public example" for supposed fornication, he "was minded to put her away privily." Even if he suspected the worst, he had no wish to add to her shame.
BESTOWMENT, Matthew 1:20-25. In due time events moved on to the bestowment of God's greatest gift to a generally hostile and unreceptive world. All the precious promises of God have their origin and their fulfillment, their Genesis and their Revelation, in Him. Though His own people would not receive Him, yet "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" [John 1:12]. Jesus Announced, 20-21. Only miraculous revelation from God could convince Joseph of the miraculous conception in the womb of the virgin of the coming Savior. We are not told the name of the "angel of the Lord" who appeared to Joseph, whether it was Gabriel or some other. Even when the messenger is a holy angel, the message of God is more important than the messenger. Note the significance of the name Jesus: "He shall save his people from their sins." The name Jesus is really another form of Joshua or Jehoshua, meaning "Jehovah is salvation." Jesus Anticipated, 22-23. "All this was done," Matthew tells us, to fulfill God's Word in ancient prophecy. Here we have the infallibly inspired interpretation and application of Isaiah 7:14, and all the prostituted scholarship of modern infidel critics cannot change the facts. The coming of the Messiah by birth from a virgin was anticipated by the prophet more than seven centuries before the event. The prophet foresaw also that the Savior would combine human nature with divine nature in His own Person, and therefore named Him Immanuel or Emmanuel, "God with us." Jesus Arrived, 24-25. Convinced that the word of the angel was the word of God, Joseph obeyed. Again we must insist that the language is too plain to be misunderstood; it can only be believed or disbelieved. The Son of God became the Son of Man as the firstborn of a virgin mother, and they "called his name Jesus."
BIRTHRIGHT, Galatians 3:21-26. Faith in the virgin-born, crucified, and resurrected Savior is indissolubly 1inked in the Scripture with the new birth. This passage from Galatians deals with what we may call the birthright of God's true children. Unbroken Scripture, 21-22. "Dispensational" theorists who seek to set Scripture against Scripture could learn something by studying the Bible instead of each other's theories. Jesus came not to des- troy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill [Matthew 5:17]; Paul insists that the law is not against the promises of God and that, on the contrary, through faith "we establish the law" [Romans 3:31]. Holy Scripture cannot be broken [John 10:35]; it speaks in one harmonious voice from beginning to end. And the settled conclusion of Scripture concerning the human race is that all are "under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." God never did and never will have any other way of salvation for sinners. Unfailing Salvation, 23-25. God's law therefore was never intended to give life [verse 21], but rather to condemn [Romans 3:19], and so to lead guilty sinners to Christ for salvation. Of course, when we are justified by faith, we are no longer under the penalty of law; our faith is counted for righteousness, which is to say that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us because of our faith in Him. Unmerited Sonship, 26. Paul's easy transition from the pronoun "we" in verses 23-25 to "ye" in verse 26, writing to Gentiles, is due to the fact that God's way of salvation is the same for Jews and Gentiles [Romans 3:28-30]. We are sons of God without any merit of our own to deserve it, simply through faith in Christ Jesus.
CONCLUSION [Romans 3:27] Christ is our life [Colossians 3:4; we may boast in God [Psalm 44:8], but never in ourselves [Ephesians 2:8-10]. Even our faith gives us no ground for boasting in ourselves, because "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" [Romans 12:3]. =================
[From AAB, December 20, 1974, 2-3. -- jrd]
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