Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Catechism #17

Q. How did Christ, the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ became man by assuming a real body. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary.

In order for Jesus to be our Redeemer, He needed to live on earth as a man; He needed to live a sinless life in order to be a proper substitute for our sin debt. So Jesus came to earth in the form of a person—an event known as the incarnation—and was born with the mission to die.

When Jesus came, He did so in the most miraculous way: He was born of a virgin. Biologically we understand this to be impossible, but with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). The virgin birth is recorded by both Matthew and Luke. Matthew 1:18 says, “When His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with to be with child from the Holy Ghost.” In verse 20 an angel appears to Joseph and confirms what Mary told him, “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost…you shall call His name Jesus.”

Luke 1:27 twice calls Mary a virgin, and that chapter reveals the conversation between Mary and the angel about the baby Jesus. Matthew reminds his audience that this was the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bare a son, and you shall call His name Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us.’”

Some like to argue against the virgin birth, saying the word translated as virgin could also mean “marriageable maiden.” This is true; that is a secondary meaning of the word. But we need to remember two things: under the Mosaic Law maidens were not marriageable if they were not virgins, and consider Mary’s response to the angel: “How can this be since I have never known a man (Luke 1:34)?”

The Bible clearly teaches the virgin birth, but you might be wondering why the virgin birth is a necessary truth. Remember, the Redeemer needed to be a man, but He also needed to be God. By being conceived of the Holy Ghost Jesus was both God and man.

The Redeemer also needed to be sinless. Had Jesus been born of two human parents, He would have been born with a sin nature. The Bible teaches that the sin nature is passed through the seed of man (5:12), which is something Jesus was protected from being born of the Holy Ghost.  

People who reject the virgin birth usually do so because believing in miracles seems foolish. However, I prefer to believe in a God who can do the impossible; if God were not powerful enough to pull off the virgin birth, He could never live a sinless life or come back from the dead. I’m glad to serve a God who can and did all three.

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