December 28, 2008
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
The Christmas season seems to bring many questions to the forefront. Most notably it seems would be questions regarding whether or not Jesus was really born of a virgin. Some have argued that Mary was a young woman, but not necessarily a virgin. They say this in the face of a great deal of Biblical evidence.
First, the very first prophecy of the Bible states that the “seed of the woman” would crush the head of the serpent. [See Gen. 3:15] Second, an obscure prophecy in the book of Jeremiah hints at the virgin birth. [See Jeremiah 31:22] Third, the prophet Isaiah specifically declares that a virgin would conceive and bear a son, and His name would be Immanuel, God with us. [Isa. 7:14] Isaiah prophesies not only the virgin birth, but the divinity of Christ as well. The Bible tells us that in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin by the name of Mary. The angel told her that she would conceive and bear in her womb a son, and His name would be called JESUS.
This was not just any birth. Women conceive and bear children every day of the week. This conception and birth were unusual. First, Mary had never had sex. She had never known a man. [See Luke 1:34] Mary wondered, how could this be? The angel answers Mary’s question, and ours by explaining, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. [Luke 1:35 NKJV] This was a completely supernatural conception. As we explained last time, it absolutely had to be this way. If Jesus had been born by natural means, the sexual union of a man and a woman, He would have inherited the Adamic nature. The Bible says,
12 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 NKJV] In short, Jesus would have inherited Adam’s sin nature that is passed via the blood stream to every person naturally born into the world. Adam stood as the representative of the entire human race. His actions and decisions, good or bad, affected every person ever born. It was of necessity that Jesus not have human blood. His pure blood was shed for our redemption. He inherited His blood type from His Father. Still, many theologians continue to debate the virgin birth.
One of the most notable of recent history is Bishop Pike. James Pike was an Episcopal Bishop whose main claim to fame was his vigorous denouncements of essential Christian doctrine, most notably the virgin birth and incarnation of Christ. He was declared, and rightly so, a heretic by his critics in 1961, 1965, and 1966. Interestingly, he died in the nation of Israel in 1969 while there writing a Gnostic book denouncing Christ. [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_Pike#Death]
The virgin birth is essential Christian doctrine. There is no redemption apart from it. Jesus came as the last Adam. He stood as the representative of the entire human race, just as the first Adam did. Whereas the first Adam brought sin into the world, and death by sin; so the last Adam brought life. [See Rom. 5:12 – 20] Christmas is all about the fact that the only begotten Son of God was sent into the world, born of a virgin, born under the Law, in the fullness of time, to redeem humanity. This is the true meaning of Christmas. It is what it is all about.
What about Christmas trees? Is a Christian forbidden to have a Christmas tree because of their pagan origin? Some point to a passage in Jeremiah 10 as proof that Christians should not have a Christmas tree. The Bible says, 3 For the customs of the peoples are futile;
For one cuts a tree from the forest,
The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
They fasten it with nails and hammers
So that it will not topple.
5 They are upright, like a palm tree,
And they cannot speak;
They must be carried,
Because they cannot go by themselves.
Do not be afraid of them,
For they cannot do evil,
Nor can they do any good.” [Jer. 10:3 – 5 NKJV]
For the record, I do not believe that this passage refers to a Christmas tree. Even if it did, verse 5 states, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good. I figure if God can decorate a tree in the forest, I can decorate one in my house. Be true to your convictions. If you feel you should not have a Christmas tree, don’t. If you are ok with it, then by all means enjoy the beauty of a Christmas tree.
How about Santa Claus? I do not believe that Christians should perpetrate the lie of Santa Claus. From an early age your children should know that you are the only “Santa” who is going to visit. On the other hand, just as a fun story or fantasy, I think it is ok. Just make sure they can draw the line between myth and reality. For the record, St. Nicholas was an actual historic figure. http://http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38
Many Christmas traditions have no basis in scripture. An example of this can be found in the average “Nativity scene” that many display at this time of year. Most of these feature shepherds, the “three wise men” or Magi, Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. While I will not take the space here to do it, a quick comparison of Matthew’s (Matthew 2) and Luke’s (Luke 2) accounts show they happened at different times, quite possibly two years apart. The Magi were not at the manger. Only the shepherds were. The “Wise men” visited Mary, Joseph, and the young child Jesus in a house.
It may not seem like a big deal, but I believe it is important for Christians to know what there Bible teaches.
A BLESSED New Year to you and yours! Next time we will return to our study on difficult prophetic passages. Join us then.
The Weekly Word is found in Isaiah 9:6. Here the Bible says,
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. [Isa. 9:6 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson