Friday, May 8, 2015

Why the Virgin birth must be affirmed - Biblical inerrancy

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

Today's post is about asserting not just a small curious teaching of scripture, but a significant and central truth - the virgin birth/conception of Jesus Christ. Touching His deity, the Son is eternal (John 1:1; Romans 9:5); God (Colossians 1:16-17; 1 Timothy 3:15-16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:1-2) with all power and authority (Matthew 28:18). When the Son chose to come into this world (Hebrews 10:4-5) as sent from the Father (John 3:16) with Whom the Son shares in the same undivided Divine nature (John 17:1-5); He came through the vessel of a young, Jewish, virgin, peasant girl by the name of Mary (Luke 1:35). Many today scoff at the idea of the virgin birth conception, remarking the needless effort to try to prove it. For many people, the virgin birth is a seemingly small detail. Moreover, since virgin births simply don't happen, perhaps the church has misinterpreted the scriptures. Some have even opted to try to translate the word "virgin" recorded in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 by the phrase "young maiden" so as to dismiss the doctrine altogether. 

Is the virgin birth/conception a small trivial detail of the Christian faith? Can we do without the virgin birth of Jesus' humanity? Would Jesus had been any less qualified of a Savior in His humanity if he had been born by natural means? This writer would say that unavoidable problems result. The incarnation (the enfleshment) of the Son into true humanity required and demanded a virgin birth conception. So the question is: what is the significance of the virgin conception/birth of Jesus' humanity? 

Affirming the virgin birth affirms the inerrancy of scripture
At stake in asserting the virgin conception/birth of Jesus is the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. When we read Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23, is the word translated "virgin" to be rendered "young maiden". Without going into the intricacies of the Hebrew and Greek words, suffice it to say, the word translated "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14, though frequently referring to young maidens who are of marrying age, can nonetheless refer specifically to young ladies in their virginity prior to marriage. The same word used in Isaiah 7:14 is used to describe the virgin is used the same way in Genesis 24:43 with reference to Rebekah. When used in Biblcial contexts that speak of young ladies prior to marriage, the implied meaning is with reference to them not having had physical relations with a man. Fruthermore, Rebekah is described earlier in Genesis 24:16 by a very technical Hebrew word that can only means "virgin", henceforth lending proof that it is very appropriate, given the contexts of Genesis 24:43 and Isaiah 7:14 to translate the prophecy as referring to a virgin birth. 

When we arrive at Matthew 1:23, we see Isaiah 7:14 quoted as fulfilled prophecy with reference to Jesus' conception and birth. Matthew 1:23 reads -  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” In quoting the Greek translation (called the Septuagint) of Isaiah 7:14, Matthew's words as superintended by the Holy Ghost preserve the original intent of Isaiah 7:14. Matthew uses a Greek word that is specific in its meaning: "virgin" in his quotation of Isaiah 7:14, thus demonstrating the Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment as being a true virgin birth/conception of the humanity of Jesus Christ. The New Testament repeats without apology the kind of conception/birth that made possible the humanity of Jesus - namely a virgin birth. 

These observations illustrate how exact and intentional the Holy Spirit was when He superintended the process of the writing of scripture. The very words and their selection was a combination of Matthew's vocabulary in using the Greek Old Testament version of Isaiah 7:14 and the Holy Spirit's work of Divine inspiration. Furthermore, the Spirit's inspiration of Isaiah's prophecy reinforces this point of the virgin birth as highlighting the Bible's 100% accuracy and truthfulness (inerrancy).

Closing thoughts
If we deny the virgin birth, what is at stake is the very integrity and character of scripture as being without error and Divinely inspired.