Begotten and Not Made

Dr. Andy Woods | Dec 23, 2018 | Isaiah 7:13-14 | Christmas Sermons

Andy Woods

Christmas Sermon – Begotten and Not Made

12-23-18       Isaiah 7:13-14

Good morning everybody.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Isaiah 7, verses 13-14.  The title of our message this morning is Begotten and Not Made.  We’re taking a little break from our study in the Book of Revelation.   I had thought about teaching the Book of Revelation this morning and it talks in the Book of Revelation, the section we’re in, about half of the world’s population being wiped out and so I really didn’t know how to title that into a Christmas message.  So I decided to do something that we did Friday, Jim McGowan and myself, on Pastor’s Point of View, defending the virgin birth.  And we got so man wonderful comments on that that I thought I would share what we taught there in a sermon form this morning.

I would encourage you also to track with us either by streaming or preferably your attendance, our Christmas Eve service tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m.  Kind of our format is to some traditional Christmas songs and you’re going to have a brief message from me and by that I mean brief, as in ten minutes (people don’t think that’s possible but we have the recordings to prove that it can be done).  And it’s sort of a time to not let the materialism of the holidays sort of overtake its meaning.  We recognize that Christmas Eve is sort of a family time and we try to be very respectful of that but it’s just an opportunity to sort of gather as Christ’s body with fellow believers and really focus our thoughts on The Reason For The Season by Jesus Christ.  So I’d encourage you to look at that.  In fact we got some church members one time out of that, I think the whole Wren family came (and they brought their extended) family came because of one single Christmas Eve service.  And Janet Wren, as you know, helped put on our whole thing that we had with the children’s program. So you never know what God is going to do with a single Christmas Eve service.  So praise God.

We’re in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 7, verses 13-14.  The title of our message this morning is Begotten and Not Made.  And I’m very sad to say that we’re in a time period where the doctrine of the virgin birth, which is what we’re celebrating this coming week, is under assault today, not even so much by liberals, people outside of Christendom, but by people within Christianity itself.  One well known evangelical pastor identified the virgin birth in a recent podcast as a science defying miracle that proved something about Jesus.  He says: “Whether you believe the virgin birth story or not” this particular pastor went on to say, “it’s literal factuality is not the point.”  Now those are the words coming, not from a liberal but from a pastor within Christianity — the literal fact of the virgin birth of Christ is really not that big of a deal.

Another evangelical pastor said this, he said:  “Maybe the thought is that they had to come up with some myth about the birth of Jesus to give Him some street cred later on.”  It’s interesting because Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Jesus, Luke does; Mark and John don’t even mention it.  And a lot has been made out of that.  So it’s only found in two books of the Bible, two Gospels, not the other two, so that would diminish its importance in the mind of this evangelical pastor.  He goes on and he says, “You have heard me say some version of this a million times but if somebody can predict their own death and resurrection I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world because the whole resurrection thing is so amazing and in fact you should know this, Christianity does not hinge on the truth or even the stories about the birth of Jesus.  It really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

So in the mind of this particular evangelical pastor what’s really important is not the birth of Christ, that’s kind of inconsequential; what’s really important is the resurrection of Jesus.  Now from this pulpit we will defend the literal resurrection of Jesus and we will communicate to people its importance.  But this particular pastor says that’s all you need, the resurrection of Christ, which we believe in here.  What you believe about the birth of Christ, whether it’s a fact or whether it’s a myth is somewhat irrelevant.

And one of the things to understand about theology is this: I have analogized it many times to dominoes in a row.  If you knock over a single domino the other ones start to topple very, very fast.  And that’s what I would like to demonstrate to you this morning in this special topical message entitled “Begotten and not Made” concerning the virgin birth of Jesus Christ which we are celebrating this coming Tuesday.  Why is the virgin birth of Christ, that Jesus was born of a virgin, why is that a big deal?  Why is it something that should not be minimized?  Why is it something that should not be marginalized. Why is it something that should not be explained away?   And the answer is if you start to tamper with the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ these seven dominoes that I have on the screen will start to fall over very, very rapidly.  [To fulfill Old Testament prophecy, To emphasize Christ’s humanity and deity, To emphasize Christ’s eternality, To maintain Christ’s sinlessness, To protect the bodily atonement, To circumvent the curse of Jeconiah, To vindicate the New Testament.]

And in fact, I believe there is a reason why the devil himself in the last days is attacking this doctrine.  He’s attacking this doctrine because he understands that if you gut, if you can rewrite, if you can obfuscate the virgin birth of Christ in the minds of people  Christianity itself will quickly topple.  Therefore I believe that the virgin birth of Christ is just as significant as the resurrection of Christ; if you don’t have either you don’t have a Christian that we know, we don’t have a Savior that can save us from our sins.

So the sermon outline  this morning is as follows: Why the Virgin Birth, Seven Reasons.  Seven dominoes are protected if the virgin birth  is true; these seven dominoes tumble, topple, collapse, if the virgin birth is not true.

The first reason why the virgin birth is so significant is to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.  God Himself hundred and in some cases thousands of  years in advance said that when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, comes into this world He will be born of a virgin.  And you don’t have to look far in the Bible to see this.  In fact, in Genesis 3:15 we have the first Messianic prophecy.  Some refer to this as the protoevangelium, meaning first gospel; the fall of man has just happened, Genesis 3, and now we see God’s solution to man’s problem of the fall—a Coming Savior!

And Genesis 3:15 reads as follows, God says to Satan, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and” notice this next expression, “her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”’  There’s coming one from the seed of the woman, Eve, who will take Satan’s head and crush it.  And you’ll notice that this coming one is identified as “her” seed, the seed of the woman.  Now you might be thinking well wait a minute, I thought this seed belonged to the man, doesn’t the man contain the sperm necessary to impregnate the woman.  The seed should be his seed, shouldn’t it?  But that’s not what your Bible says;  your Bible says “her seed.”  So this is sort of the first clue, if you will, somewhat veiled, that the seed that the woman would possess which would bring forth the Messiah would not be the seed of the man, it would be something supernaturally transmitted or planted within her.

Now the prophecies continue, notice Isaiah 7:13-14, that’s the passage I had you open up to,  you know these verses well, it’s on all your Christmas cards, and it says this: “Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?  [14] Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel,” which means God with us.

This is a prophecy given possibly seven hundred years before Jesus was born; seven hundred years is an awful long time, seven centuries.  The United States of America has only been here two hundred and thirty plus years; this is more than double, almost triple the length of the birthday of the  United States of America, roughly speaking, and seven hundred years in advance God says there’s coming one who will be a Messiah, Immanuel, Jesus Christ, and He will be born of a virgin.

Now when you begin to use Isaiah 7:14 to argue for the virgin birth of Christ you run into very quickly three counter arguments; I want to share those with you very fast because when you’re watching the Mysteries of the Bible, A&E, The History Channel, etc. they bring on all of these scholars talking about how foolish it is for Christians to believe Isaiah 7:14 has anything to do with Jesus Christ.

The first argument that they use is the Hebrew word for virgin, translated “virgin” is Almah, and they say well, that’s not even a Hebrew word for virgin, that just means a young woman, a young maiden of marriageable age.  And the word that should have been used is Betulah for virgin.  And so they believe that Isaiah 7:14 is not even talking about the virgin birth of Christ.  The problem with that is Betulah doesn’t always mean virgin.  Over in the Book of Joel chapter 1, verse 8, Betulah means a widow.  [Joel 1:8, “Wail like a virgin girded with sackcloth For the bridegroom of her youth.”]

Now just to show you how fast this argument will come at you I was listening to a well-known talk show host that I agree with on political things, Dennis Prager, who I have a lot of respect for, but I was listening to him one time on the radio and all of a sudden he starts going off on how silly it is to believe that Isaiah 7:14 is a reference to Jesus, Dennis Prager being Jewish, and he says don’t these Christians understand that the word Alma doesn’t mean virgin, and the word Betulah means virgin.  And I thought to myself I wish he would read Joel 1:8, because Joel 1:8 is very clear that the word Betulah does not always mean virgin.

The second argument that they give is the Hebrew word Almah does not mean virgin; they say this over and over again, it just means a young woman of marriageable age.  That’s all it means.  And let’s respond to that, can we?  Do a Hebrew word study on Almah sometime; trace how that word is used in all of its contexts in the Old Testament and what you’ll discover is it’s  used about six times, I’ve got the references there on the screen, Genesis 24:23, Exodus 2:8, Psalm 68:25, Song of Solomon 1:3, 6:8, Proverbs 30:18-19.

[Genesis 24:23, “and said, ‘Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?’”   Exodus 2:8, “Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go ahead.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother.”   Psalm 68:25, “The singers went on, the musicians after them, In the midst of the maidens beating tambourines.”   Song of Solomon 1:3, “Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil; Therefore the maidens love you.”  Song of Solomon 6:8, “There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, And maidens without number;  Proverbs 30:18-19, “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: [19] The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid.”]

And I would challenge anybody to show me any use where virgin can’t apply.  For example, the Genesis 24 passage is talking about Isaac’s wife, future wife, Rebecca.  [Genesis 24:23, “and said, ‘Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?’”]   I mean, is it so hard to imagine that she’d be a virgin; maybe in this day and age, the 21st century it’s hard to imagine but not back in biblical times.  It talks in the Song of Solomon about singers in Solomon’s court; is it too hard to believe that those singers would be virgins?  So you can look at all of these usages and you can say well, the word Almah could easily mean virgin in all of these usages.

And beyond that there is something that you may be familiar with, maybe you’re not familiar with, it’s called the Septuagint.  I’ve got it abbreviated there the LXX, meaning seventy, translated by seventy scholars in seventy days and what it is, it’s a Greek translation of Hebrew Bible roughly two hundred years before Jesus showed up.  A full two centuries before Jesus walked this earth there was actually a translation of Hebrew Bible into Greek called the Septuagint.  Why were they even  messing around with that translation?  Because of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great had made the Greek language in the intertestamental period the known language of the day and so these folks wanted the Hebrew Bible, which we call the Old Testament, understood in Greek.

And it’s very interesting that when the Septuagint translators got to Isaiah 7:14, the passage we referenced earlier and saw the word Almah, do you know what word they used?  They used the word Parthenos to translate it from Hebrew into Greek.  You say well who cares?  It means everything because Parthenos in the Greek language is a technical term that always means virgin.  And so they apparently thought that Isaiah 7:14 specifically was a prophecy about the virgin birth of Christ and if all that weren’t enough you have Matthew 1:23.  [Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”]

Matthew is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Greek New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, and he got to Matthew 1:23 and he is quoting Isaiah 7:14 and he translates the verse this way:  “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.”  Now when Matthew got to the word Almah in Isaiah 7:14 guess what Greek word he used?  The same word the Septuagint translators used, Parthenos.  So what is the point?  The point is I think Almah does mean virgin.  And I think the Septuagint translators agree with me on that, even more important than the Septuagint translators Matthew writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit agrees with that interpretation.

A third argument that people use to dismiss the virgin birth of Christ in Isaiah 7:13-14 is they say well how does this have any relevance to the audience?  I mean, Isaiah is talking about things happening in his own day, how does this have any relevance to the crisis that he was facing, talking about someone that wouldn’t be born seven hundred years later.  And so they think that our position on it somehow removes the prophecy from the crisis of Isaiah’s immediate day.  And they say you know what, virgin birth of Christ, that’s not what it’s talking about, Isaiah 7, because there’s a kid born in Isaiah 8, did you notice that?  There’s a prophecy in Isaiah 7, there’s a kid born in Isaiah 8, and they say well, you know, that’s how Isaiah 7 was fulfilled. [Isaiah 8:3, “So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son.”] Nothing to do with Jesus, nothing to do with Christ, nothing to do with Christmas, just move right on folks.

The problem is when you start to scrutinize the details you start to see very fast that Isaiah 7 was never fulfilled in Isaiah 8. The child that Isaiah is talking in Isaiah 7 is named Immanuel; the kid in Isaiah is Maher-shalal-hash-baz, say that seven times fast.  [Isaiah 8:3b, “Then the LORD said to me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz;”]  The child in Isaiah 7 is a blessing, the kid in Isaiah 8 is a sign of coming judgment.  The child in Isaiah 7 is born to a virgin; the child in Isaiah is born to Isaiah’s wife.  Now there’s a reference to another child as I’ll mention in just a moment named Shear Jashub, his age is twelve in Isaiah 7, the child in Isaiah 8 is age one and two.  The child in Isaiah 7 is Assyrian judgment upon Judah, Old Testament times; the child in Isaiah 8 is Assyrian judgment upon Syria and Israel.

And you see, this is what the history channel is not going to tell you; they’re not going to tell you all of these details, they’re just going to try to sell you on this line that somehow the Isaiah 8 child is the fulfillment of the Isaiah 7 prophecy. And I’m here to tell you that’s not true because the Isaiah 8 child is completely different than the child in Isaiah 7.  And everybody says Isaiah 7 has to be relevant to the original audience, it can’t be a prophecy seven hundred years in advance about a coming Messiah.  Well guess what else is in Isaiah?  Isaiah 53.  I hope we understand what Isaiah 53 is about.  It’s about Jesus.  In fact, that was the prophecy used to lead the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ in Acts 8.  Philip, as he’s evangelizing the Ethiopian eunuch understood Isaiah 53 as talking about Jesus Christ.  No one has a problem with that.  But all of a sudden they have some big problem with Isaiah 7 as being some kind of prophecy that doesn’t relate to Isaiah’s time period.

You start playing games with Isaiah 7 and it’s not long until you’re playing games with Isaiah 53. And even beyond that what does Isaiah say in Isaiah 7:14 when he gives this prophecy, “Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a” what? “a sign:”  What is a sign?  It’s a miracle.  So how in the world is a child born naturally in Isaiah 8 a miracle or a sign?  But the virgin birth, now that’s a sign; that’s a miracle.

And one of the things to understand about Isaiah 7 is there’s actually two threats happening; you might have your Bible there, look at Isaiah 7, and notice verses 1 and 2.  And this is what a lot of people miss, they don’t put Isaiah 7:13-14 into the context.  It says, “Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it.”  Verse 1, the one I just read, is the crisis in Ahaz’s day at the time of Isaiah seven hundred years before Jesus was born.”

But look at verse 2, “When it was reported to the house of David, saying, “The Arameans have camped in Ephraim,” his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.”  Now we have a second crisis, a crisis to the Davidic line.  You say what’s the Davidic line? It’s the line coming from David to Jesus Christ; this particular conflict that was happening in Isaiah 7 is not one crisis but two.  Crisis A is to Ahaz, crisis B is to the Davidic line.

So what you’ll see in Isaiah 7 are two prophecies, not one.  If you’ll look at Isaiah 7:3 God deals with crisis A, the crisis to Ahaz.  “Then the LORD said to Isaiah, ‘Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field,” God says to Isaiah take  your child, Shear-jashub and I want  you to go and meet Ahaz who is scared because of this impeding political crisis.  And the name of the son is Shear-jashub.  Now guess what Shear-jashub means in Hebrew—a remnant will return.  The presence of your son with Ahaz is going to calm him down and tell him that no matter what happens with these foreign powers a remnant will come back. God sent Shear-jashub with Isaiah to help with crisis A, the immediate crisis.

But then there’s crisis B, what about the Davidic line leading to the Messiah?  God says okay, I’ll take care of that crisis in verses 13 and 14, our passage.  Notice Isaiah 7:13, did  you catch how it started, “Then he said, “Listen now,” what? “O house of David!” That’s crisis two, that’s crisis B.  And how does God say crisis B is going to overcome? He says this, the Davidic line will not be blotted out until the Messiah comes, and by the way, you’re going to know when the Messiah shows up because He’s going to be born of a virgin.

Did you catch what’s going on here?  Isaiah  7:3, crisis A.  Isaiah 7:13-14, crisis B.  that’s how it’s completely logical to take verses 13 and 14 as a futuristic prophecy which has nothing to do with Isaiah’s immediate time frame because God already dealt with the immediate crisis with Ahaz in verse 3 with the presence of Shear-jashub.  You’re not getting this explanation, Beloved, on the history channel.

By the way, when you get into verses 13 and 14, the prophecy of the virgin birth it doesn’t show up in English but if you know Hebrew it shows up real quick.  The personal pronoun “you” second person shifts from singular to plural and then back to singular again.  If you look at verse 9 and verse 10 it uses “you” in the singular. Why is it using “you” in the singular?  Because it’s dealing with the crisis to Ahaz personally.  Then you get into our territory, that’s on all the Christmas cards, the virgin birth of the Messiah.  And the personal pronoun “you” just shifted from singular to plural.    You see it in verse 13, you see it in verse 14.  Why does it shift from the singular to the plural?  Because it’s no longer dealing with Ahaz’s personal problem.  It’s dealing with something collective, something national, which would involve the Davidic line.  And then  you get outside of verses 13 and 14 and what does it go right back to? Verse 16, verse 17, the “you” is singular again.  Now why the shift?  Because in the surrounding verses God is dealing with crisis A, the immediate crisis.  But in the immediate verses, verses 13 and 14 that we read God is dealing with crisis B, a national crisis in the Davidic throne and in that mix God says there’s going to be a Messiah who’s going to be virgin born.  Don’t let anybody make you feel foolish for taking Isaiah 7:13-14 as a Messianic prophecy.

And by the way, what is that child called that’s  coming from a virgin?  His name is Immanuel.  Now Isaiah 7-12 is what is called the Book of Immanuel.  It’s a book within a book, it’s a section within the book.  It’s focusing on this coming One, Immanuel.  Now who would that be?  We get a development of it in Isaiah 9:6-7.  You know this verse too, it’s on all your Christmas cards as well.  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.   [7] There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and right­eousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”

Who do you think that’s talking about?  Some kid born back in the 7th century?  No, that’s talking about the one that he just referenced in Isaiah 7:13-14, this coming Messiah.  [Isaiah 7:13-14, “Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? [14] Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”]

This coming Messiah starts to be analyzed more in Isaiah 11:2, it says, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”  In fact, when He sets up His kingdom the wolf will dwell with the lamb.  I was in a zoo not long ago and I noticed that wolf and lamb were in different cages.  This is talking about a time period when the two are dwelling with one another, peace in the animal kingdom.  It says in verse 8, “The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.”  [Isaiah 11:8]   Would you allow your kids or grandkids to do that today?  Oh just go out back, we’ve got a nice viper’s nest back there, just stick your hand in there, no problem.  “They will neither hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”  [Isaiah 11:9] That’s’ who Immanuel is.  He’s going to bring those conditions to the earth one day in what is called the coming kingdom.  Is that some child born back in Isaiah’s day, the 7th century B.C.  Of course not.

What am I really getting at here?  I’m getting at a simple point—you fiddle with the virgin birth and  you just toppled over a major domino in God’s Word called Messianic prophecy.  And that’s a problem because God says, Jesus says, John 10:35, “The Scripture cannot be broken.”  What God says is going to happen.  And if any pastor stands up and says the virgin birth isn’t important, what’s important is the resurrection of Christ, then we have a problem because God Himself said, through Messianic prophecy, that the Messiah is going to come forth and be born of a virgin.  That’s domino number one.

Domino number two is the virgin birth is necessary to emphasize Christ’s humanity and deity.   Who is Jesus Christ?  Well, He is the incarnate Son of God.  What does that mean?  It means He’s unique, being 100 percent God and 100% man in one individual, humanity added to eternally existent deity at the point of the virgin conception.  That’s when Jesus began with not just one nature but two.  The fancy name for that is the hypostatic union, the enfleshment of God, God taking on human flesh.  When did the whole thing start?  The virgin conception, the two natures of Christ.  And as you go through the Scripture what you’ll see is Jesus is very human without sin in His experiences.

For example, He had to toil and labor with His own hands as a carpenter in a carpenter shop, Mark 6:3.  [“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.”  Mark 6:3]  He had to work to survive just like anybody else.

He experienced distress, Luke 22:44.  [“And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”  Luke 22:44]

He knew what it was like to be troubled, John 12:27.  [John 12:27, “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour ‘? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”]  This is why He can identify with you in your struggles and me and my struggles, because He’s walked in our shoes.

He was thirsty, John 19:28.  [John 19:28, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”]

He was hungry, Matthew 4:2.  [Matthew 4:2, “And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.”]

He got tired, fatigued, John 4:6.  [John 4:6, “and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour”]

He felt sadness, John 11:35.  [John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”]

He even went through the frustrations that we go through where we just don’t understand where is God in all of this.  He didn’t lapse into unbelief, but He wrestled with the same kind of questions that we wrestle with as beings that are finite.  In fact, in His humanity He didn’t even know when He was coming back.  Think about that!  Matthew 24:36.  [Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”]

He even was tempted like we are tempted, yet in His case it was without sin. If you want to see the natural development of Jesus Christ in His humanity look no further than Luke 2:52, which says this: “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom” intellectual growth, “and stature,” physical growth, “and in favor with God” spiritual growth, and in favor with “men.”  Social growth.  The natural stages of development He went through.

But let me tell you something else about Jesus.  He was God!  He never relinquished deity, when He walked on planet earth He retained it. He always has been God, He was God when He was here two thousand years ago and He will always be God.

You say well how do you know that?  John 1:1, “The Word was God,” well who’s “The Word”?  John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Who is Jesus Christ?  Is He man or is He God?  The answer is YES!  He is the unique God-man.  And isn’t it interesting how the virgin birth of Christ brings out both facets of Jesus.  His humanity is seen in the sense that He was born of a woman.  In fact, the Book of Galatians, chapter 4 and verse 4 of Jesus says, “born of a woman.”  [Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”]

He was humanity but His deity is seen in the fact that it was not just an ordinary birth, the woman that gave birth to Jesus Christ, Mary, at that time was a virgin.  The virgin birth, supernatural.  Born of a woman, natural.  Virgin birth, referencing the deity of Christ.  Born of a woman representing the humanity of Christ.  The concept of Jesus having two natures, humanity and deity in one person really starts to come into focus with the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, which brings out both beauti­fully.  And if you tamper with the virgin birth of Christ you’re tampering with the two natures of Jesus; you’re tampering with the hypostatic union itself.  You say well, pastor, what hills are you willing to die on?  I’ll die on this hill!  I’ll die on this hill defending the virgin birth of Christ because if you don’t have the virgin birth of Christ  you don’t have Christianity.

Which takes us to a third domino that quickly falls over; if we do not accept the virgin birth of Christ as literal factual history the third domino that falls over is you lose the emphasis on Christ’s eternality, the fact that Jesus Christ has always been.  There never was a time in which He was not.  I hope you don’t think that somehow the virgin birth of Christ started the life of Christ.  NO, all that did is it added humanity to eternally existent deity but Jesus has always been and He will always be.  This is why many of the statements that He makes to the religious leaders of His day are so perplexing to them.

John 8:56-59 puts it this way: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” [57] So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” [58] Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”’ And they knew exactly what He was talking about because verse 59 says, “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”

Under the Mosaic Law if a mere man claims to be God he’s to be stoned to death, Leviticus 24:15.  [Leviticus 24:15, “You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If anyone curses his God, then he will bear his sin.”]  They just thought Jesus had blasphemed.  The problem is He wasn’t blasphem­ing because He is God.  He was God, He is God, He always will be God.  And He makes a reference here to the fact that He was even around when God was dealing with Abraham.  Now when did that happen?  Last Sunday?  That’s two thousand years before the birth of Christ.  Jesus says I was around to see that.

And so this idea of Jesus Christ, you can’t think of Him as somehow starting at some point; His humanity started at a point but He has always been.  He has always been the eternally existent second member of the Godhead.

Now there was a heretic very early on in the life of the church Christianity, a man named Arius, who challenged this.  Arius even had a song, obviously I’m not going to sing it because I don’t have an audio of it, but it went with these words:  “There was a time in which He was not.”  And he almost convinced Christendom itself that Jesus had a beginning point.   You say well pastor, I wish you’d teach something relevant.  Well here’s the deal; the Jehovah’s Witnesses, not when, not if, but when they come to your house they’re going to say the exact same thing. They’re going to tell you that Jesus Christ is a creation of God the Father; Jesus therefore had a beginning point, He is not eternally existent, and so what the Jehovah  Witnesses are teaching is recycled Arianism.

As Solomon said, there’s nothing new under the sun.  Right.  Heresies aren’t new, I mean this is exactly what Arius said.  And consequently Christendom developed a creed against Arius called the Creed of Nicea.  The Creed of Nicea is designed to say Arius is wrong.  And here’s what the creed says, written about A.D. 25.  “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God;” watch this, “begotten, not made,” The moment they put that clause “begotten, not made” into the creed of Nicea they were taking a stand against Arius and saying Arianism is wrong.

Now what does it mean here “begotten” you recognize that word just from simple Bible reading.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” what does “begotten” even mean?  Here is the Greek word for “begotten,”  monogenḗs, translated “begotten.”  “mono, you recognize that word from monopoly, someone has a monopoly on something, they’re the sole owner; mono means by itself.  You recognize the word genḗs from a study of biology, a certain species or kind, sometimes called a genḗs or a genus I guess is how you say that.  You put those two words together, monogenḗs, and what it says is Jesus is one of a kind.  Well why is He one of a kind?  Because there has never been and there never will be someone who has walked this earth that is fully God and fully man in one person.  Begotten, sure; one of a kind, sure; made… no way!  Created… no sir!   Unique… yes!  But not created!

You say well I thought this was a study on the virgin birth?  What does this have to do with the virgin birth?  It has everything to do with the virgin birth.  Think about this for a minute.  If  Jesus had had a normal conception as you have had, as I have had, you know what?  He had a beginning point, because I can mark my beginning to when that conception took place.  Every natural conception marks a beginning point.

You say well, didn’t Jesus have a beginning point?  NO He did not because His conception was not natural.  His conception was miraculous, it was supernatural and it had to be that way.  And if it’s not that way then Jesus would have had a beginning point like the rest of us and He would not be eternally existent.  You knock over the virgin birth and suddenly you’re in very dangerous territory because you’re damaging the eternality of Jesus Christ.

There’s a fourth domino that falls over very fast if the virgin birth is not true and that relates to the sinless perfection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the only person that has ever walked the face of the earth that never sinned.  In fact He said in John 8:46, to His enemies, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?”  Can you imagine standing in front of your enemies and saying go ahead, point out a sin in my life.  I mean, we’ve had some modern politicians try to do that.  Follow me around and see how pure I am.  And lo and behold it takes about two weeks to uncover all the dirt.

Jesus is standing in front of the people that hated His guts and saying go ahead, pull a skeleton out of the closet.  In fact, this is why when Jesus was rushed through the judicial system to get Him killed the evidence brought against him was manufactured.  Matthew 26:59 says, “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.’” Why do they rely on false testimony?  Because there wasn’t any true testimony.  The man was sinless!  And you know a lot about people by asking the opinion of who knows those people the best.  If you want to know about Andy Woods you might a little question to my wife, Anne Woods and she’ll be able to produce a truckload of problems.

There were no closer people to Jesus than Peter and John, the inner circle. And  have you read John’s testimony about Jesus?  1 John 2:1, He calls Him Jesus Christ the righteous.  I John 3:3 He is pure.  I Peter 2:22 “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.”  [John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”  I John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”]

You say well, this is all interesting but what does it have to do with the virgin birth of Christ?  Everything!  The sin nature is something inherited from conception.  Psalm 51:5, David says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”   At the point of conception I inherited a sin nature from Adam.  And folks, biblically guess who the sin nature is passed down through?  The man.  The women are saying I knew that was so.  [Laughter]  The man with the seed passes it down.

Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  If Jesus had had a normal conception He would have had a sin nature.  See that?  But the virgin birth, the miracle that it was, allowed a single human being to be born into this world,  (A) with no beginning point, and (B) with no sin nature.  You start fiddling around with the virgin birth of Christ and saying you know, it’s not that important, how Jesus got here is not that important.  You’re on very dangerous ground because now you’re fiddling around with Christ’s eternality, number three, and Christ’s sinless, number four.  And if you start fiddling around with those two things you’re going to find yourself in dangerous territory with number five because the whole bodily atonement starts to fall.

You say well what’s the bodily atonement?  The bodily atonement is simply this; Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to bear in His body as our substitute, you have to have the word “substitute” here in this, He didn’t just die on a cross to show  us how to live, He didn’t just die on a cross to show us how to be a good Joe, or Joette, or whatever.  He died on a cross to absorb the wrath of God in my place; it should have been me on that cross, it should have been you.  But He stepped into the line of fire and absorbed the wrath of holy God the Father in our place.  That is what we mean by the bodily atonement.  And the virgin birth is linked to the bodily atonement.  Why is that?  Because the thing to understand is the sin that took place in Eden was eternal.  It was an eternal offense against God Himself and it actually brought to the human race an eternal consequence.  It wasn’t just somebody stepping out of line, there was an eternal ramification that came to the human race because of the sin of our forbearers in Eden.

And how do you fix an eternal problem exactly?  Well there’s only one person that can do that and that’s eternal God Himself.  Only an eternal God can fix an eternal consequence.  See, the Bible says things like the day you eat from the tree is the day you’ll die.  Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.”  What kind of wages are we dealing with here?  We’re dealing with things that are outside of the human ability to fix, things that are eternal in nature.  A human being can’t reverse this, a sole human being.  Someone eternal has to fix this and that’s why the virgin birth is such a big deal because the virgin birth protected Christ’s eternality.  If the virgin birth didn’t happen miraculously and was a natural conception then He would have a beginning point.  If He had a beginning point He’s not eternal.  If He’s not eternal He’s disqualified from serving I the bodily atonement.

Beyond that think about this for a minute.  What kind of sacrifice does God accept?  You read the Book of Malachi and God is so upset with the priests because the priests are bringing to the sacrificial system all of these animals that are blemished and God doesn’t like that.  And you learn from the Book of Malachi that God doesn’t accept any sacrifice; He accepts a perfect sacrifice.  In fact, this principle is revealed as early as the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12:5.  What kind of lamb would work to satisfy a Holy God?   Exodus 12:5 says, “’Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.”  It’s very clear it must be unblemished, no spot, no blemish, no impurity, to imperfection, genetically pure.

And that’s why Jesus qualifies to be our substitute, because He’s pure.  1 Peter 1:19, “But with the precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”  Jesus is accepted as our sacrifice because of His purity.  You say well, what does this have to do with the virgin birth?  If Jesus had had a normal conception what would He have inherited?  The sin nature.  You inherit a sin nature you’re disqualified from being that great bodily atonement.  Eternal God can fix an eternal problem, we need the virgin birth because the virgin birth protects us.  A perfect substitute is the only thing that will be accepted.  Jesus is qualified because the virgin birth protects that.  You take away the virgin birth you’re taking away His eternality, you’re taking away His sinless life and it doesn’t matter if He died on the cross.  That’s a sacrifice that God Himself will not accept.  You go through the virgin birth and isn’t interesting how these dominoes just to start to topple over so quickly.

There’s a sixth reason for the virgin birth and that is to circumvent the curse of Jeconiah.  All the way back in the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 22 and verse 30 God pronounced a curse on an individual named Jeconiah and it says this: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’” [Jeremiah 22:30,]  God says this guy’s whole lineage is under a curse because of things that Jeconiah did back in the days of Jeremiah.

Now we have a big problem because the legal lineage leading to Jesus Christ through Joseph, which is described in Matthew 1, guess who’s in the lineage?  Jeconiah is in the lineage!  In fact, you’ll find a reference to that in Matthew 1:12, you’ll see the various names and the genealogy and right there in the middle of it is Jeconiah.  [Matthew 1:12, “After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.”]

So if Jesus Christ is naturally born through that lineage He’s got the same curse on His life, because God cursed all of the descendants of Jeconiah.  And so how do we get out of this dilemma?  The virgin birth is how you get out of.  If Jesus had had a normal conception He would have been in that line but God circumvented the whole thing by giving Him a supernatural conception, making Joseph His legal father but not His biological father.  And all of a sudden, just like that, God says the curse of Jeconiah does not apply to Jesus Christ.

Now some of you should be worried about this because if He’s brought out of the lineage of Matthew 1 then He’s not qualified to fulfill the Davidic Covenant, is He.  I mean, don’t you have to be a legal descendant of David to inherit the Davidic throne one day?  Doesn’t 2 Samuel 7:13 say, “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”  The Messiah has got to come from David’s line, but now we have Jesus Christ not a biological heir of Joseph.  It gets Him out of the curse of Jeconiah, no problem, but does it take Him out of the Davidic promises?  And there’s a lot of tension about this.   I mean, this ought to be something you’re up late at night worrying about, not how you’re going to pay for all those Christmas gifts with your credit cards but this ought to worry you.

And we have an answer because there’s another genealogy.  Whoooo!  Thank You Lord.  There’s another genealogy in Luke 3 and this is tracing the genealogy of Jesus Christ through Mary and guess who’s in that genealogy?  A guy named Nathan and guess who Nathan is related to.  David!  [Luke 3:31, “the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,”]

See what the Word just did here with this virgin birth?  With the virgin birth He took Jesus out of the curse of Jeconiah.  And you say well, wait a minute, what about the Davidic promises?  Those have been rerouted, not through His father, Joseph but through His mother, Mary.  So through the virgin birth not only is Jesus outside the curse of Jeconiah but He is still the inheritor to the Davidic promises.

I mean, it is mindboggling, mind-numbing what the Lord through this virgin birth of Christ.  And to have evangelical pastors, with large followings, stand up and say it really doesn’t matter is just astounding to me that people can say that.  I’m wondering at what point you quit calling them evangelical pastors?  I don’t think they’re evangelical pastors any more, I think they’re false teachers.  They do not deserve the title “pastor,” they do  not deserve the title “Bible teacher,” they do not deserve the title “Protestant Christian”  “evangelical.”  They just deserve the title false teacher because whether they know it or not they are gutting Christianity by saying a word against the virgin birth of Christ.  Even marginalizing the virgin birth of Christ the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.  God help us to understand this.

The last reason why the virgin birth was so significant is to vindicate the New Testament.  Well, it doesn’t matter if it’s a literal fact or not.  The problem is the Bible tells you it’s a literal fact.  You ought to gather  your family around this Christmas Eve (after our Christmas service) and read to the Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:16-35, Luke 2:1-19, just so your hearts and minds as a family are focused on the reason for the season, Jesus Christ, His virgin birth.  If you say the virgin birth is  untrue you’re going against what the Bible says.

And this particular evangelical pastor that I’m quoting, he says well it’s only mentioned in two books of the Gospels.  What kind of reasoning is that?  I mean, how many times does God have to say something before we believe it.  I mean, would Adam and Eve say when they are from the tree of knowledge, ‘Well Lord, You only told us to stay away from that tree one time.”  Once is enough, isn’t it?  But then it shows up a second time and this guy says well, it doesn’t show up in Mark’s Gospel.  Well, there’s a reason for that.  First of all Mark’s Gospel was written after Matthew’s Gospel so why would Mark cover things that Matthew’s already covered.

Furthermore, Mark is portraying Jesus to Roman Christians as a suffering servant.  In Greco-Roman times a servant did not have a genealogy; it was unknown for a servant or a slave to have a genealogy.  And because Mark is shaping his material to portray Christ in a certain way he doesn’t deny the virgin birth of Christ, he just doesn’t dwell on it, he skips over it because that’s not germane to Mark’s purpose in writing.

And this particular evangelical pastor says well it’s not found in John’s Gospel.  Well, it is found in John’s Gospel indirectly.  Notice John 8:41, and with this verse we’ll close.  This is the Pharisees speaking to Jesus.  “‘You are doing the deeds of your father.’ They said to Him, ‘We” us Pharisees, “are not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.’”  They just accused Jesus of being an illegitimate child.  They accused Him of being born of a virgin.  Why did they do that?  Because I think they had some kind of understanding of what happened in Mary’s womb, that the birth and entrance of Christ into this world is abnormal and they just took what was understood and twisted it around and said the reason you don’t have a biological father is because your mother was a fornicator, that’s basically what they just said, you’re an illegitimate child.  They had some kind of understanding of what was happening and they simply twisted it around to suit their own purposes.

But here’s the deal folks; with any doctrine it’s going to start affecting another one very fast, like dominoes falling over. Why is the virgin birth so significant?  Number one, to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:13-14, which are very clear Messianic prophecies related to the virgin birth of Christ.

Number two, the virgin birth of Christ is something that is necessary to emphasize the God-man, 100% God and 100% man.

Number three, the virgin birth is necessary to emphasize and protect Christ’s eternality.

And number four, His sinlessness.  And if He wasn’t eternal and sinless then He can’t be number five, the One who pays the penalty for our sins in His bodily atonement.

And number six, you’ve got to have a virgin birth to circumvent the curse of Jeconiah and  yet rewrite the Davidic promises through Mary’s lineage.

And number seven, you’d better have a virgin birth of Christ because your Bible says it’s true.

What did Jesus say?  “earnestly contend for the faith.”  Jude 1:3, [KJV “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

That’s what we’re doing here folks; we’re defending the biblical record so that the offer of salvation can be open to anybody without any ambiguity, or any confusion.  What a great time to be born spiritually, this time of the year as we focus on the birth of Jesus Christ.  What a wonderful thing it would be to receive Christ personally and be born spiritually.  Jesus says to Nicodemus, no one can see, no one can enter without the spiritual birth.  The physical birth of Jesus is wonderful but it doesn’t help someone until they trust what He did and receive the new birth.  How do you receive the new birth?  You trust in what Jesus did.  Jesus said “It is finished!”  You place  your confidence and  your hope for  your future, not on yourself, not on your good works, not in what your favorite preacher says but in Jesus and His Words.  He said “It is finished!”

You trust in Him and Him alone for salvation independent of yourself which is the only way you can receive a gift from God, by doing that.  God won’t accept us any other way.  And as you trust Him and Him alone for the safe keeping of your soul you find yourself, number one, receiving the gospel, but number two the light goes on because the Holy Spirit, which has been convicting us of our need to do this, now comes into us and lives inside of us forever.  And you’re born again at that point; you’re a new child of God!  And our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church is for people to do this, people even listening via internet or social media, our exhortation is to do this.  The Bible says “Today is the day of salvation.”  [2 Corinthians 6:2, “for He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPT­­­­­­­­ABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.’ Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION.”’

Why not experience the new birth now, during the very time period on our calendar where we celebrate the physical birth of Jesus Christ.  I would invite you to do that right now as I’m talking, it’s not necessary to raise a hand to do this, to join a church to do this, fill out a card to do this, give money to do this, make New Year’s resolutions to do this, but it’s just a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, where you trust in Him and Him alone for salvation.

It’s something you can do in the privacy of  your own mind and the quietness of your own heart as the Holy Spirit places you under conviction.  If it’s something that you need more explanation on, although I don’t know how to give a better explanation than this one here, but if it’s something that you’re still confused about I’m available after the service to talk.  Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for this time of year, we’re grateful for the virgin birth, better said the virgin conception of Jesus, the Messiah.  Help us to understand the significance of this doctrine that we might hold out a virgin born and resurrected Christ as the only solution to a lost and dying world. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name.