There at least five reasons to note as to why it is important to believe that Jesus was miraculously conceived of a virgin.
First, it is important for the trustworthiness of the Gospel records.
Luke claimed that he wrote his gospel “having investigated everything carefully from the beginning” (Luke 1:3). If he was wrong concerning Jesus’ conception, he could have been also wrong in other areas. Matthew would have been wrong about the matter as well (Matt 1:23; cf. Isa 7:14). And, if we could trust neither Luke nor Matthew, we could not fully trust in the reliability of all of Scripture. If two authors are wrong, what’s to say the others aren’t wrong as well?
Second, it is important for Jesus’ sinlessness.
Suppose someone could be born of a virgin today. They would still be born as a sinner, having inherited their sinfulness from the mother. Conception does not make someone sinful only by means of the fact that there is a father. The Spirit’s role in Mary’s conception guaranteed that Jesus would be sinless. The Holy Spirit of God could not work a miraculous conception and leave the conceived as an unholy sinner.
Third, it is important for our salvation.
If Jesus was not sinless, we would have had no true substitute on the cross. If Jesus was a sinner, He would have been only a man and would have needed someone who was both God and Man to die for Him.
Fourth, it is important for the protection of Jesus (and Mary) from the blasphemous alternative, which is a string of outright lies.
Jesus claimed to have come from heaven (John 6:41–42). Mary claimed to be a virgin (Luke 1:34). Both our Savior and His earthly mother would be liars if this miracle were not true.
Fifth, it is important for the only correct theological explanation concerning the personality of Jesus.
Jesus was fully God and fully man, not half and half or a fusion of the two that created something more than human but less than God. He was not God who only appeared to be a man or man who only appeared to be God. Though we cannot completely comprehend the complexities of Jesus’ personality, we at least know that God and Man could be united in the one person of Jesus by means of Jesus’ miraculous conception.
Jesus stated of two commandments, “There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30). Just how can we tell if we are giving only some of our lives as opposed to all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength to God?
One way to see if we are giving all of ourselves to God is found in Jesus’ words in this passage. By identifying the two commands together, He implied that one’s love for God can be evaluated according to how one’s love is shown towards one’s neighbor, a term that extends all people (cf. Luke 10:25–37).
Another way to see if we are giving not some but all of ourselves to God is to see if we can imitate the characteristics of someone who was described as giving his all to God. Josiah was described as such a person, a king in Judah who reigned from 640–609 B.C. “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him” (2 Kgs 23:25; cf. 2 Kgs 22:2; 23:3; 2 Chron 34:31). What did he do, and how can we imitate him today?
Despite knowing that God would judge southern Israel for its sins after his death (cf. 2 Kgs 22:16–20; 2 Chron 34:24–28), Josiah lived a zealously righteous life. He restored the temple in detail (2 Kgs 22:3–7; 2 Chron 34:8–13; 35:1–5) and was personally generous towards this end (2 Chron 35:7). When the Book of the Law was discovered and read to him, he was penitent over Israel’s sin and sought reform for the nation (2 Kgs 22:8–20; cf. 22:19; 2 Chron 34:14–28). He covenanted with God to obey His Word “with all his heart and all his soul . . . And all the people joined in the covenant” (2 KGs 23:3). He undid idolatry as much as he could (2 Kgs 23:4–20, 24–25; 2 Chron 34:3–7). He restored the Passover and celebrated it in a way that had not been so for over four hundred years (2 Kgs 23:21–23; 2 Chron 35:1–19; cf. 35:18).
Josiah’s giving all of himself in his love for God was illustrated by his love for others, which for him was to carry out reform for his fellow Israelites. For us today we see that this love is guided by God’s Word and thus corrects sin, both personally and in lives of others (cf. 2 Tim 3:16–17). This love perseveres, whatever its end may be, and is generous in helping others, especially those in the household of faith (Gal 6:9–10). This love is carried out humbly, thoroughly, consistently, zealously, and with any other virtue the Spirit may yield. May we love God and show this love by how we love our neighbor.
In Mark 12:18–27, the Sadducees harassed Jesus over the resurrection, a matter they rejected. Sadducees held that only the Pentateuch was Scripture and thereby missed many important passages on the resurrection.
Roughly 2,000 B.C., Job implied a resurrection when he stated, “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). A millennium later, David implied the resurrection of Christ when he prophesied, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life” (Ps 16:10–11; cf. Acts 2:27; 13:35). David seems to speak of the resurrection and claimed, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Ps 17:15). Around this time, the sons of Korah would also say, “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me” (Ps 49:15). Asaph likewise implied the resurrection and stated, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory” (Ps 73:24).
Roughly 300 years thereafter, Isaiah implied the resurrection when stating of God, “He will swallow up death forever” (Isa 25:8; cf. 1 Cor 15:54). Isaiah was then more explicit about the resurrection and prophesied to Israel, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead” (Isa 26:19). Isaiah also hinted at the resurrection of Jesus, stating that though
“it was the will of the Lord to crush him” (i.e., Jesus), nonetheless, “he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days” (Isa 53:10).
Hosea prophesied to northern Israel before it was taken captive by Assyria in 722 B.C. and gave these questions from God, implying God had power to do what He asked: “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death?” (Hos 13:14; cf. 1 Cor 15:54).
Ezekiel prophesied to southern Israel before and after its captivity by Babylon in 586 B.C. and used the figure of resurrection for God’s revival of Israel, implying that God could literally fulfill the figurative action if so desired: “Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezek 37:12; cf. 37:1–10).
Daniel likewise lived through the Babylonian captivity and had many visions while serving in Babylon. One concerned the resurrection after Israel’s “time of trouble”: at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:1–2).
The NT would certainly teach more on the resurrection, but the Sadducees were without excuse. Let us today not be like them from long ago, described by Jesus as knowing neither the Scriptures nor power of God (Mark 12:24).
Hymn 88 - O Come, All Ye Faithful
Hymn 103 - What Child Is This?
Hymn 130 - Beneath The Cross of Jesus
Hymn 141 - Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed
Hymn 267 - There Is a Fountain
Hymn 90 - Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Booklet 42 - How Awesome Is Your Name (Psalm 8)
Hymn 115 - Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Hymn 109 - Silent Night! Holy Night!
Hymn 89 - Angels We Have Heard on High
Hymn 91- Once in Royal David's City
Hymn 115 - Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Hymn 104 - The Birthday of a King
Hymn 335 - And Can It Be?
Hymn 111 -Angels from the Realms of Glory
Hymn 115 - Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Booklet 44 - God is Our Strength and Refuge (Psalm 46)
Join us each Sunday night as we study through Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges.
Our study will have the same aims stated by Bridges: “First, I desire to glorify God by acknowledging His sovereignty and His goodness. Second, I desire to encourage God’s people by demonstrating from Scripture that God is in control of their lives, that He does indeed love them, and that He works out all the circumstances of their lives for their ultimate good” (p. 11).
Dates for the men will be 1/10, 1/24, 2/14, 2/28, 3/13, 4/3, 4/24, 5/22, and 6/12.
Dates for ladies will be 1/3, 1/17, 2/7, 2/21, 3/6, 3/20, 4/17, 5/1, and 6/5.
We have several copies of this book in our bookstore, or you can purchase it on your own.
Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. Colorado Springs, CO. NavPress, 1988. Note: This is the first edition.
Recommendation for Further Study
Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts: Discussion Guide. Colorado Springs, CO. NavPress, 2008. Application questions given in our study are copied or adapted from this guide.
We hope you can join us!
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.