The Virgin Birth of Christ (Part 3)

We have seen the historical and supernatural qualities of the Nativity. Now let’s consider its significance for the Christian’s salvation and abundant living.

3. The virgin birth of Christ is doctrinal.

There are many theological and doctrinal implications of Christ’s conception and birth.

a. It confirms Christ’s nature as fully divine and fully human.

The Gospel of John begins with a profound declaration of Christ’s deity and human birth:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-3,14).[1]

The “incarnation” of Christ designates how the eternal Son of God clothed Himself with human nature. The apostle Paul affirmed, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:5-7).

The human birth of Jesus through the virgin Mary did not cancel His deity. He came as Immanuel–“God with us.” However, Christ temporarily laid aside the direct use of His divine attributes for the purpose of achieving perfect human righteousness. This leads us to another doctrinal truth about the virgin birth.

b. It confirms Christ’s role as the Last Adam.

This is one of the lesser known titles of Christ. He came as the One who fulfilled what our first parent forfeited. As federal head of his people, Adam foreshadowed the coming of the Redeemer “… Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” (Rom. 5:14). If Christ were born naturally, He would necessarily have been in Adam’s line, inheriting his guilt, spiritual death, and depravity. This is the sad case of everyone else: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Because we were naturally born “in Adam,” we need a second, supernatural, spiritual birth. As Jesus instructed the Jewish leader, Nicodemus, “…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Thankfully, Christ’s conception by the Holy Spirit bypassed Adam’s failure. Christ was innocent, as the first Adam was when God originally breathed life into him at the dawn of human history (see Gen. 1:26,27,31;2:7). Unlike Adam, Christ kept the covenant conditions, living a perfectly righteous life.[2] This attainment qualified Him to be our perfect substitutionary sacrifice: “For He [God the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

In his book, The Mystery of Godliness, Ian Thomas points out the indispensable role of the virgin birth:

“Deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and you have laid the axe to all essential doctrines of the Bible; the Fall and depravity of man, the deity and sinlessness of Christ, the atoning efficacy of His death and resurrection, the necessity of spiritual regeneration as the basis for holiness of life, and the truth of the Bible itself!…”

Thomas also contrasts our plight with Christ’s ministry as the last Adam:

“As descendants of the first Adam, we were born uninhabited by God–heirs of His absence–and inhabited only by sin. The Lord Jesus, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, was born uninhabited by sin and wholly inhabited by God! He was the Last Adam–the second Man…”[3]

The apostle Paul repeatedly contrasted the consequences of Adam’s failure and the last Adam’s victory: “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21,22).[4]

When we were unsaved, we had a spiritual history that went all the way back to Eden. We were in Adam when he sinned, and we died in him (Rom. 5:12). We inherited separation from God and a depraved nature from him (Eph. 2:1-3). But this “bad news” is the opposite of the “good news” of what it really means to be in Christ.

If Christ is in you and you are in Him, you no longer are “in Adam.” “But of Him [God the Father] you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). What a difference! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).[5] Since you are now one with Christ spiritually, He is your life! (1 Cor. 6:17; John 15:1-8; Col. 3:4). In Christ you have a new nature, a new identity, a new freedom, and a new potential. You not only have a new future; you have a new PAST! What a Christmas gift.

Not only did Jesus die for you, you died with Him (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20). So, say good bye to the “old you”! The new you has been raised with Christ and even ascended with Him.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).

This means you share His power and authority to partner with Christ in righteous living and royal service.

Conclusion

Friend, are you “in Adam,” or “in Christ”? It’s not about religion, denominations, or good works. Rather, having spiritual life here and now–and everlasting life in the hereafter–boils down to this issue:

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11,12).

The Nativity story doesn’t end with the famous events of two thousand years ago; Christ came to rescue you. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The wise men traveled hundreds of miles to find the newborn King and worship Him. This Savior King traveled from heaven to earth to reconcile you to God. This King calls you to bow the knee, repent of living your own way, and receive Him as Savior by faith.

A stanza of O Holy Night echoes this invitation:

“Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.

The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need–to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!”[6]


Part 3 (of 3). The first 2 articles are online at GraceNotebook.com

[1] The Watchtower Society denies this teaching, putting in the Jehovah’s Witness’ New World translation …”and the word was a god.” The Greek literally reads: “God (nominative case, subject of the clause) was the word.” For further detail see http://www.equip.org/article/john-11-and-the-new-world-translation/

[2] Although the term “covenant” does not occur in Genesis 1-3, the components of agreement, conditions, warning, and blessings are included. Hosea 6:7 seems to confirm this “But like men [lit. Adam] they transgressed the covenant…” Christ came to establish the New Covenant.

[3] Major Ian Thomas, The Mystery of Godliness (Zondervan, 1964) p. 99. The sinlessness of Christ and His completed atonement is a major theme of the book of Hebrews (2:9-11;4:14-16;7:26-27; 9:24-27; 10:10-14,18;12:24; 13:12,13).

In case someone questions whether or not Jesus just appeared to be human, Scripture further confirms, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14,15).

[4] The epistle of Romans gives the most extensive exposition of this contrast: “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s [Adam’s] offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:15-17; Cf. 1 Cor 15:45-49).

[5] Although your mortal body is not “new” and your soul (mind, will, and emotions) are in the process of renewal, your spirit has become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Just as you were in trouble when Adam was your source, now you are abundantly blessed to be represented by Christ! See Dr. Charles Solomon’s tract, A Guide to Freedom through the Cross and his poem, Could You Use a New Past?

[6] The rarely heard second stanza of O Holy Night, by Placide Cappeau, 1847; translated from French by John S. Dwight (1812-1893).

Copyright 2006 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint for non-commercial use if credit is given to the author and Grace Notebook. Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version, copyright by Thomas Nelson.

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Copyright, John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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