BORN OF A VIRGIN
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:18-25).
The story is told that an unbeliever once asked a Christian this question: “If I should tell you that a child had been born in this city without a father, would you believe it?” The Christian answered,
“Yes, I would believe it IF that child should live as Jesus lived.”
Skeptics mock, liberals disregard the narrative, but the simple language of Holy Scripture is quite plain, Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. Satan has tried to corrupt the gospel narrative by introducing into ancient literature counterfeit stories of virgin births bred in pagan mythology. However, in comparing the stories from pagan mythology there is an obvious difference between the gross indecency they speak of and the beautiful narrative of the gospel. Matthew and Luke tell the story of the virgin birth of Jesus because it actually happened in this way.
Mary, the mother of Jesus was engaged, or solemnly promised in marriage to Joseph. In the ancient world a betrothal was serious and binding. In a restricted sense it was essentially the marriage. But then, time passed before husband and wife lived together and enjoyed the intimacy of marriage.
It was during this interval of time that Mary was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.
Mary knew what had happened to her because the angel Gabriel had told her what would happen (Luke 1:26-35). Mary was a willing servant to God, and is certainly to be blessed among women. But, we should be careful. No creature is to be exalted above the Creator. Mary is not blessed above all other women.
If Mary were to visit churches today, she might be grieved at the inordinate attention she is given as a co-mediator between God and man. The Bible says, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Mary would be surprised at the concept that she remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus.
“That is not true!”
Mary would say.
“Joseph the Carpenter was a good husband, young, strong, and healthy when we were married. He was a righteous man and just before God. Instead of divorcing me, he listened to the Lord God who explained my situation to him in a dream. I loved Joseph, and he loved me. We had some wonderful children. Jesus had brothers and sisters to enjoy in our large household” (Matt. 12:46,47; Mark 3:31,32; 6:3; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12; 7:3,5,10; Acts 1:14).
The Bible tells us plainly that Joseph took Mary to wife, and did not know her in an intimate way until she had brought forth her first-born son. And they called him Jesus.
What a lovely name that is.
“There have been names
that I have loved to hear,
But never has there been a name so dear,
To this heart of mine, as the name divine, The precious name of Jesus.
Jesus is the sweetest name I know,
And He’s just the same as His lovely name,
And that’s the reason why I love him so;
Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know.”
It was no accident that He was called Jesus. The Bible said that His name would be called Jesus “for He shall save His people from their sins” (v. 21).
Observe first in this holy promise the certainty of salvation.
If there is a penalty to pay for sin, there is also a wonderful provision whereby the penalty could be paid, the justice and righteousness of God satisfied, and an individual restored to fellowship with the Lord. Love found a way to bridge the gap between the Holy God, and fallen man. Satan tried to stop Jesus from saving His people. The Royal Bloodline was attacked. Alternative plans of salvation were suggested. Prophets were killed. The Word of God was corrupted. Still, the Saviour came in the fulness of time. “Salvation shall be accomplished,” said God. There is Divine certainty in any omnipotent undertaking.
Observe second, the limits of salvation.
“He shall save His people.” Not all people shall be saved. The Bible tells us that Jesus was crucified with two thieves. One was converted, so that no person needs to despair, even at the door of death. But only one was saved, so that no one should presume upon the grace of God. While one thief believed in Christ. the other cursed and stepped into a godless eternity.
As not all men shall be saved, so not all women shall be saved. The Bible records the vile deeds of such women as Jezebel, who killed the innocent Naboth because her husband, King Ahab, was consumed with greed.
Not all young people shall be saved. The Rich Young Ruler turned away from following Christ. He loved his money more than he was willing to love the Lord.
Only HIS people shall be saved. Who are His people? According to John 10:11 His people are “His sheep.” “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
Countless men, women and young people, are never going to be saved. That is the sad reality of history, and it is the tragic observation of the hour. It is also the clear teaching of the Word of God.
But why? Why do so many perish? Why do so many spurn the free grace of the gospel, belittle the precious blood of Christ, and mock all that is decent and holy? A few years ago Madonna’s album “Like A Prayer” caused such a sensation that it was suspended from prime time TV. Why this mockery of the Church by Madonna? Why do many people not love Jesus and follow Him?
The answer is found in the theological concept of sin. The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
But what is sin?
Sin means to “miss the mark” of Divine perfection and righteousness.
Sin is lawlessness.
Sin is the transgression of God’s will.
Sin is failure to do what God requires.
Sin is doing what God has forbidden.
Sin can occur in thought, word, or deed. When we hate, use profanity, or hurt someone we sin.
Sin has enslaved the whole human race.
The chains of sin hold all Natural Men in spiritual bondage. Evidence abounds that people are in bondage to sin, for individuals lie, cheat, and makes promises they do not keep.
Individuals drink to excess and consume drugs.
Individuals cry in secret shame, and long for their personal addictions to stop.
“Most men live lives of quiet desperation.”
Sin is the source of all sickness and sadness.
Sin is the culprit of all crime and cruelty.
Sin is the perpetrator of all profane conversations.
Sin fosters cultic and occultic experiences.
Sin is the plague of all plaques.
Worse than polio, and more destructive than cancer or AIDS, sin is the monster that devours societies by consuming citizens one at a time with a ravenous appetite.
Sin has many avenues onto which people may walk to their certain destruction.
For some, one avenue is marked ROCK MUSIC. Not because of the beat, but because of the message that captures the mind.
Another avenue for many is marked SELF-ESTEEM.
Self-esteem theology is simply a rose-colored facade for the slippery slide towards self-exaltation and godhood. Self-esteem says, “I am virtuous and you are not.” “I am up here in moral superiority, and you are down there in the gutter of life.”
It is not difficult to understand why Jesus said that the road to destruction is broad, while the path to eternal life is narrow, and few there be who find it. Salvation is limited in each generation.
In Noah’s generation only eight souls were saved.
We believe that God will ultimately have a number which no man can count, but it is also true that some generations are more favored than others.
How many will be saved in this generation?
The evidence continues to mount worldwide, that civilization, as we know it, is moving towards some great cataclysmic event.
Perhaps it will be World War III.
Perhaps it will be a nuclear holocaust. Perhaps it will be Armageddon.
Perhaps it will be an unknown epidemic that will rival the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages, or the Influenzas Epidemic that followed World War I.
The Bible speaks of a nation becoming saturated with sin, like Nineveh, so that it comes under Divine judgment. Surely our society cannot stand much more of the stain of sin.
We are murdering our children at the rate of one million and a half each year. Since 1973, and Roe v Wade, millions upon millions of unborn children have died. We are destroying the foundation of society with the breakup of the home. Homosexuality is openly practiced. Drug addiction takes thousands of lives each year. In 2017, more than 72, 000 people died of drug overdoses, nearly 200 a day (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). One needless war, in Vietnam, after twenty years of fighting, took 58, 220 lives. The sad statistics go on and on.
Sin is not only measured in statistics, such as murder, rape, robbery, alcoholism, and drug addiction, it is also measured in terms of emotional trauma. One of the fastest growing ministries of the church today is the counseling section.
People are in distress.
People are confused.
People are depressed.
People are lonely and hurting.
The mental anguish is real and abundant.
While many will never find salvation from the pain and penalty of sin, our text says that a limited number will be saved.
Who will be saved?
The Bible says, “His people.” All that the Father has given to the Son shall come to Jesus (John 6:37). They are, “His people.” In the eternal decree of God, it has been foreordained that some of fallen mankind will be saved for the purpose of the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:6). While God is under no obligation to save anyone, redeeming grace condescends to save some.
Who shall be the Saviour?
His name is Jesus. There is only one name given under heaven whereby we must all be saved. That one name above all names is Jesus. Jesus will save His people from their sins. That means the liar shall cease to lie when Jesus comes. The immoral man will learn to bring every thought into captivity for Christ. The profane person will praise the name of God, and cease from cursing.
Jesus breaks the power of sin when He saves a soul, and proceeds to cleanse the heart from spiritual pollution.
Jesus is not only a powerful Saviour, but He is also a sufficient Saviour, for He is Immanuel, God with us. In Christ, God came to dwell
with the sick to heal them,
with the demon possessed to liberate them,
with the poor in spirit to bless them,
with the care ridden to rid them of care,
with the lepers to cleanse them,
with the diseased to cure them,
with the hungry to feed them,
and with the lost, to seek and to save them.
The most important issue that a person will ever address is this:
“Has Christ saved me from my sins?”
“Am I a Christian?”
“Has God worked a work of grace in my heart?”
“Do I love the church?”
“Do I long for communion?”
“Do I love others?”
The answer to these questions will determine heaven or hell, eternal life or eternal destruction. If we would be a Christian then we must do three things.
First, we must repent of our sins. Repentance means that we feel sorrow for sinning and we want to change.
Second, we must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Third, we must believe by faith, that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. “Whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Any person can be saved in this very hour by calling upon Christ and saying, “Lord be merciful to me the sinner.”