With Christmas fast approaching, the secular media once again turn their guns at the virgin birth. Enemies of Christianity continue to attack Jesus’ virgin birth, and argue that how could Christians believe such an unscientific, impossible and supernatural doctrine. Is the faith in the Virgin Birth a legend or mythical? Does belief in the virgin birth make Christians “less intellectual?” Must one believe in the virgin birth to be a Christian?
The scripture tells, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). This is the fulfillment of the prophecy foretold by Isaiah “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
The secular world sarcastically calls Christians who believe in the virgin birth ‘less intellectual’. And, it is one of the biblical doctrines that is always questioned, criticized and then rejected. These critics argue, the doctrine is too supernatural. What they don’t know is that all it takes for a supernatural event to be possible is for a supernatural God to exist. Even some evangelicals claim that belief in the virgin birth is unnecessary, and the historical truth of the doctrine is not important, undermining biblical authority.
Must one believe in the virgin birth to be a Christian?
It is quite understandable that a person may come to know Christ and trust Christ as Savior without yet learning the virgin birth. A new believer may not yet mature in every Christian doctrine. So, the real question is, once he becomes aware of what the bible teaches, can he or she rejects virgin birth and continue to be called a Christian? The answer is, No. Of course, our Savior’s conception was supernatural, and it was the result of divine intervention. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy -the Son of God” (Luke 1:5).
The Real Myth – Perpetual virginity of Mary
The Catholic Church holds a dogma that Mary was and is Virgin before, in and after Christ’s birth. This doctrine goes beyond the mythical to heretical. The Doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary originates from Gnostic writings including: Ascension of Isaiah, Odes of Solomon, and the Protoevangelium of James. Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Luke 1:34-38), but the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary is clearly unbiblical. Rome teaches that Mary’s status of virgin extended throughout her whole life, and her marriage with Joseph became regarded as a nominal marriage, without sex, and the references in the Gospels to Jesus’ brothers were considered to be from a previous marriage that Joseph had, or Jesus’ cousins.
Matthew 1:25, speaking of Joseph, declares, “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus.” The word “until” clearly indicates that Joseph and Mary did have sexual union after Jesus was born. Joseph and Mary had several children together after Jesus was born. Jesus had four half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). Jesus also had half-sisters, although they are not named or numbered (Matthew 13:55-56). God blessed Mary by giving her several children, which in that culture was the clearest indication of God’s blessing on a woman.
Virgin birth is an essential biblical truth
A denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Messiah. The doctrine of virgin-birth does not stand alone. Those who deny the virgin birth undermine Christ’s nature and undermine salvation through Christ. The Savior who lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins was none other than the baby who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. This is the faith of the true church, established in God’s inerrant Word and cherished throughout the ages. Virgin birth is an essential biblical truth about the person and the work of Jesus Christ. Christians believe in the virgin-born Savior who died on the cross to reconcile sinners to God the father. There is no gospel without the virgin-birth. We cannot claim to believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and then turn around and cast doubts on some teaching. Why do you put your life on the line for a book that cannot be trusted in entirety?
If we do not hold to the virgin birth despite the fact that the Bible asserts it, then we have compromised the authority of the Bible and there is in principle no reason why we should hold to its other teachings. Thus, rejecting the virgin birth has implications reaching far beyond the doctrine itself. – Dr. Millard Erickson, Professor of Theology
Mary knew she was a virgin and that it is ordinarily impossible for virgins to conceive and bear children (Luke 1:34). Yet she believes that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37-38). Jesus had no ordinary origin but was conceived through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit.
05 Reasons why Doctrine of Virgin-birth is important:
The authority of Scripture:
If Scripture errs here, then why should we trust its claims about other supernatural events that scripture reveals to us, such as the resurrection? or ascension and return of Christ? If Jesus was not born of a virgin, the Bible teaches a lie.
The deity of Christ:
The incarnation is a supernatural event. God didn’t ask Mary for permission. He acted gently but decisively to save his people from their sins. For Jesus to be God, He must be born of God. Joseph, a man, and Mary, an ordinary woman, cannot produce God. God cannot be born into this world by natural human processes. To eliminate the supernatural from this event is inevitably to compromise the divine dimension of it.
The humanity of Christ:
Jesus was really born of a woman; He really became one of us. Not only does the Son of God have a fully human body, but also a fully human mind, heart, and will.
The sinlessness of Christ:
The sinful nature originated with Adam and is passed down from father to child. If he were born of two human parents, it is very difficult to conceive how he could have been exempted from the guilt of Adam’s sin and become a new Federal Headship. Since Jesus had not a literal, biological father, the sin nature was not passed down to Him.
The nature of grace:
The birth of Christ, in which the initiative and power are all of God, is an apt picture of God’s saving grace. It teaches us that salvation is by God’s act, not our human effort. No human effort is involved in the act of salvation from beginning to the end.
The miracle of the incarnation
This miracle of the incarnation is one of the deepest mysteries of the faith, but it is one that we dare not deny. All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ, the virgin-born Savior. As believers we shouldn’t merely celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas is an opportunity for us to celebrate every aspect of Christ’s life – His humble incarnation, His transformative ministry, His righteous example, and, ultimately, His sacrificial death.
Dr. John McArthur, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. Albert Mohler
John M. Frame, “Virgin Birth of Jesus,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology
Justin Taylor (TGC): 5 Reasons the Virgin Birth of Jesus Is Important