Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Virgin Birth

“And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “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. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God”” (Luke 1:34-37).

Throughout time, men have desired to deny the virgin birth. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” However, for those of us who believe in the Son of God it should come as no surprise that His birth took place miraculously. The same God who brought life from dust (Genesis 2:7), brought life to the dead (2 Kings 4:34-35), and gave life to those beyond childbearing age (Genesis 21:5-7), can surely bring a child into the world without the assistance of a man. God is not dependent upon His creation for life. Indeed, it is the Spirit who gives life, but the flesh which profits you nothing (John 6:63).

In this article, I want to consider a few reasons to have faith in the account of Mary’s pregnancy through the power of the Spirit.

Luke was a physician (Colossians 4:14).

Certainly medicine has developed significantly since the time Luke practiced as a physician. And yet, since the time of Adam, man has understood that children are conceived through man and woman. Therefore, it ought to give us pause that one so close to the medical profession would willingly agree to speak falsely so as to embellish the birth of Christ. If his better judgment had thought the event ludicrous, not to mention against the laws of nature, his likely conclusion would have been to not include it in the scriptures. The fact that a physician does include the event in his history ought to lend credence to its validity.

Joseph remained faithful to Mary, not knowing the father.

Joseph’s trouble with Mary’s pregnancy did not stem from a lack of knowledge concerning conception. On the contrary, he believed she had been unfaithful to him. However, in her honor, he decided to put her away quietly, “not wanting to make her a public example” (Matthew 1:19). If Joseph and Mary gave birth to this child through natural means, how is it that Joseph knew not who the father was? If Luke and Matthew’s recording of the virgin birth is not to be believed, then we must accept that their history of Joseph’s handling of the situation is also not entirely true. Either Joseph’s own sin, or some other man’s sin, was covered up by the writers (which they were not accustomed to doing: see Matthew 14:30-31, 16:21-23, 20:20-28; Luke 22:54-62) or the events recorded are exactly as received by them in truth.

The prophets said it would happen this way.

There is indication in the words of God in Genesis 3:15 that Eve’s Seed would bruise the head of Satan. It is peculiar to this passage that the woman is spoken of as having seed (cf. Jeremiah 31:27, Daniel 2:43, and Acts 13:23). In general, seed is of the male and is brought to life through fertilization in the womb of woman. The fact that this passage clearly shows the seed to be that of a woman may well hint at the fact that God would supply the seed within Mary. It would not be the seed of man.

In Isaiah 7, the prophet is speaking directly with king Ahaz. Ahaz shows no use for God or the prophet, and yet God offers him a tremendous prophecy of hope for his kingdom. The prophecy is provided in Isaiah 7:14-25, with verse 14-16 focusing on the birth of a child from the virgin. The passage seems to indicate that in short order the enemies of Ahaz would lose their thrones due to the Assyrians. Matthew 1:23 helps us understand the later and greater fulfillment. God was with us.

Promiscuous behavior does not lead to the Savior.

If the virgin birth is not to be believed, then we must accept that God chose to allow the Savior of men to be born out of a sinful relationship. This is inconsistent with God. The sin of David did not result in the line of Christ; it resulted in death. Rather, it was the forgiven and God-condoned marriage to Bathsheba that brought forth Solomon and Nathan. It was not Rahab’s harlotry that brought her into the line of Christ, but her faith in God. God did not allow an illegitimate son to bring legitimacy to mankind. Rather, of the Holy Spirit came the glorious seed which was born of a woman. Galatians 4:4-5 exclaims, “But when the fullness of the time had come, GOD sent forth HIS Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

It was of God that His Son came into this world. He was Immanuel: God with Us. Isaiah proclaimed it (Isaiah 7:14), the

Holy Spirit performed it (Luke 1:35), and Mary testified of it in praise (Luke 1:48-49).

Praise be to God for blessing Mary with child. For God brought His Son into this world with great joy and peace. And through faith in His name, we receive life. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9)

~ Joshua Riggins

Acceptable Words

“Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable in Your sight” (Psalm 19:14).

There are many differences between mankind and the rest of Creation.  One of the primary differences is our ability to communicate through words and sentences that express thoughts.  Yes, I know, animals communicate through various means, and yes, I have read that some monkeys can speak a word or two, but they cannot communicate as man does.  It is not even close.  The Creator has only given mankind the ability to communicate with one another through words, and this is just one of the vast differences between mankind and the rest of Creation.  James implies that our ability to speak is one more aspect we are made in His image (James 3:9).  The ability to speak and communicate is a great and glorious gift that our God has given to us, and accordingly, we, especially as the Lord’s people, have a great responsibility to use our words and tongues in a manner that is acceptable in His sight as the verse listed at the beginning of this article teaches.

As in everything the Lord has given to us, we need to be disciplined and in control of the words we use for they can be used for both good or evil.  In this way, our tongues are a great dichotomy.  James writes of this in the third chapter, verses 9-12.  He writes (words by the way) of how with our tongues (using words) we have the ability to glorify our Father.  But we also have the ability to speak curses to men out of the same mouth!

Now, I wish to make it clear that I am NOT writing as if I have learned to control my own tongue as well as I would like.  For I certainly have not, which is in line with what James wrote in 3:8.  I continue to say words that are indeed not acceptable to the Lord.  This is an issue that most of us have trouble with.  However, it is an issue we all must continue to work on.  Our tongues are often indeed an “unruly evil” and full of “deadly poison.”

Consider some of the many ways we can use our tongues for good.  We can speak about God to others.  We can speak of the most glorious message in the world ever given to man of how our God sent His Son to die for mankind, and that through His gospel mankind can be saved!  And these words include the many sub-categories that we can speak in regard to His kingdom.  For instance what greater way to use our tongues than to praise His name?  Or to speak of His wondrous works?  The apostle Paul speaks of such uses in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”  Do the words we use impart grace to the hearers?  If so, God is pleased.  The good we can do with our words can be one of the most glorious and godly activities that we are capable of!

However, due to the dichotomy of our tongues, we can use words to speak evil of and to one another.  Indeed, these type of words are part of what the apostle wrote of as “corrupt words.”  We can curse other men and women with these same tongues.  We can take the Lord’s name in vain that we claim to love and honor.  It is probably fair to note that most of you reading this article would never take His name in vain as much of the world does by directly or clearly using the Lord’s name as a curse or other ungodly manner.  However, there are many words in the English language that are “pseudo” (or substitute) ways to use His name.  They may sound nicer and gentler to the ears of man, but they really are just another form of taking the Lord’s name in vain.  I believe these are also examples of “corrupt words.”  We need to keep in mind that words have meanings, especially names in regard to the Lord.  I do not think I need to give you a detailed listing of such words, for I am confident you know them.  And the interesting thing is that most of the world also knows these words, and when they are used by Christians, the lessons they are taught by the use of such words are not good.  The result is that God is not glorified.

It is my conviction that there are only a few areas in which using the Lord’s name is appropriate.  They can be used when praising, teaching, blessing or praying.  I cannot think of any other times when it is appropriate to use His names.  When we are using His names while speaking of these things, that is glorious and right.  Certainly, not as curses or even idly.  It has been my observation in myself and others that often some use His name out of habit.  We need to bear in mind the Lord’s admonition in Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  These are serious words to consider in regard to how we speak, even idle words.

We also can speak lies and gossip of and to our fellow-man not to mention of and to our brothers and sisters whom we claim to love.  And the damage we can cause can leave horrible scars and wounds that may never heal.  And they certainly do not glorify the Lord, nor do they help unbelievers turn to Him.  Actually, they do just the opposite, for they can cause those who may be skeptical to be driven even farther away from the Lord and His Truths.

With these thoughts in mind, what a grave responsibility our Creator has bestowed upon us, and even more so as His people.  Therefore, we must take great care as to the words we use.  As the psalmist pleads for in the verse at the beginning of this article, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).  What a glorious goal for all our lives!

Think about the words we use.  Are they acceptable in His sight?  Do they glorify His name to the world?  Are they edifying to our brothers and sisters?  Do they help others think more positively about the Lord and His Word?  If  not, they are not acceptable to our Lord and neither are we.

~ Jay H. Graham