What is the importance of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ?
The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is a common emphasis during the Christmas season, but is it important? Why was it crucial that Mary be a virgin when Jesus was conceived and born? Why is it vital that Jesus did not have a biological father? Could Jesus have been God incarnate without the intervention of the Holy Spirit?
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One reason for Jesus' virgin birth is that it identified Him as the Messiah. Isaiah 7:14 prophesied that a virgin would be with child. Ever since that prophecy, the Jews had looked for that particular sign. God uses miracles to validate His messengers. A virgin birth is a powerful validation.
Another reason for the virgin birth is that having a biological father would have annulled Jesus' deity. He could not have been the son of Joseph and the Son of God at the same time. Every person born of man has inherited Adam's sin nature (Romans 5:12, 17, 19). It was only as God that Jesus could be the perfect sacrifice for sin, so it was the Holy Spirit who conceived Jesus (Luke 1:35).
The virgin birth is also a picture of our role in salvation: acceptance. Joseph had no part whatsoever in the conception of Jesus. Mary's role was passive; she merely accepted God's gift. As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, the work of salvation is done by God alone. Neither holiness nor salvation can be brought about by the effort of man.
There are some who do not believe in the virgin birth. Arianism teaches that the "virgin" of Isaiah 7:14 should read "young woman," and that at some point, God created Jesus. The Ebionites, an early Jewish Christian sect that closely followed Jewish law, taught that Jesus was Joseph's biological son and, because of Jesus' righteousness, God chose Him to be a prophet and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. The Gnostics, who believed the physical and the divine could not co-exist, claimed that God could not inhabit a material body; therefore, Jesus only appeared to be human.
Those who reject the virgin birth also reject the deity of Jesus, the sin nature of man, and the inspiration of the Word of God. Therefore, a denial of the virgin birth is antithetical to the Christian faith. God is all-powerful. Jesus is God. The Bible is God's Word. These are key points in the Christian faith, and they make a virgin birth a very simple matter.
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