THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: MATTHEW 1:18—25




INTRODUCTION:


  1. Recently, presidential contender Mike Huckabee (who used to be a Southern Baptist pastor) gave an interview to the NY Times.
  2. Regarding his opponent Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, former governor Huckabee said to the Times reporter, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’
  3. I find it rather strange that a Baptist preacher has to ask a worldly newspaperman a question about religion.  I suspect Mr. Huckabee already knew the answer to the question, and the answer is, “Yes, they do believe that.”
  4. Mr. Romney says that Mr. Huckabee is smearing his religion, and a spokesperson for the Mormon organization has put out a statement saying that Huckabee has misrepresented what they really believe.
  5. In fact, Mr. Huckabee was correct and it is a shame that he feels he now must apologize.  Just go on line and do a little research and you will see that the Mormons do in fact teach that Jesus and Satan are brothers.
  6. I hope that this political campaign opens peoples’ eyes to what the Mormons really believe.
  7. Mormon leaders have consistently taught that the Lord Jesus Christ was physically begotten by God the Father, who they teach possesses a physical body. 
  8. Furthermore, they teach that the Holy Spirit did not beget Jesus (cf. Matt. 1:20), and that Christ’s status of “only-begotten” refers to His physical lineage from the Father and Mary. This repulsive teaching is commonly supported by appealing to the writings of all the major Mormon leaders, including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
  9. Gordon Hinckley is the fifteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).  As president of the LDS Church, he is considered by its members to be a prophet, seer, and revelator. 
  10. Listen to what he said in a speech in 1998.  In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Mormon Church who say Mormons “do not believe in the traditional Christ. No, I don’t.  The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak” (Deseret News, Church News section, Salt Lake City, Utah, week ending June 20, 1998, p. 7).
  11. Recently Mitt Romney gave a speech on religion in Texas, and in that speech he declared, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”  Mr. Romney is a deceiver.  The Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/us/politics/06text-romney.html?pagewanted=print). 
  12. This Christmas season, let us be careful to tell people about the real Jesus – i.e., the Jesus revealed to us in the Bible.  Let us tell them the true story of His virgin birth.

 

I. THE MIRACULOUS INTERVENTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

  1. The conception of the Lord Jesus Christ is definitely attributed to the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18-20; Luke 1:34, 35). The Holy Spirit was the agent of conception.
  2.  
  3. All of the elements of the miraculous are present in the Christmas story – an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream, wise men following a star, the wise men being warned of God in a dream, the angel Gabriel visiting Mary, angels appearing before the shepherds, etc.
  4. But the most miraculous and wonderful part of the Christmas story is the virgin birth.
  5. The doctrine of the virgin birth has been viciously attacked.  Why?  Because it is central to the Gospel.
  6. John Shelby Spong, a liberal bishop in the Episcopalian church has written: “Am I suggesting that these stories of the virgin birth are not literally true?  The answer is a simple and direct ‘Yes.’  Of course these narratives are not literally true.  Stars do not wander, angels do not sing, virgins do not give birth, magi do not travel to a distant land to present gifts to a baby, and shepherds do not go in search of a newborn Saviour” (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture).
  7. On the other hand, Ian Paisley has written: “This assault on the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is, however, but one phase of a great battle to evacuate the supernatural from Christianity and to reduce it to the plane of natural religion. These naturalists in religion are out to destroy supernatural Christianity and to reduce it to the plane of natural religion.  These naturalists in religion are out to destroy supernatural Christianity.  They go through the Bible and tell us there is no supernatural revelation there; they go through the Birth of Christ and tell us there is no supernatural incarnation there; they go through the Person of Christ and tell us there is no supernatural deity there; they go through the sinless Life of Christ and tell us there is no supernatural purity there; they go through the Works of Christ and tell us there are no supernatural miracles there; they go through the Words of Christ and tell us there is no supernatural wisdom there; they go through the Death of Christ and tell us there is no supernatural atonement there; they go through the Blood of Christ and tell us there is no supernatural cleansing there; and they go through the Tomb of Christ and tell us there is no supernatural resurrection there.  Having jettisoned the supernatural from the Gospel Ship they have reduced her to an old hulk of man’s manufacturing, a mere plaything for the storms of unbelief and the reefs of infidelity.”
  8. The virgin birth is a fundamental doctrine.  Only the virgin-born, sinless Son of God could die on the cross as our perfect Substitute.
  9. The angel told Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).  The name Jesus means “Saviour.”  Is He your Saviour?
  10. Matthew goes on to show how the virgin birth of our Lord is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 (1:22, 23).  The virgin birth of Christ is stressed in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke (cf. Matthew 1:16; Scofield note on p. 994; Luke 3:23).
  11. The human nature of our Lord was begotten by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin, thus becoming “Emmanuel…God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
  12. Joseph took Mary as his wife “and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son” (1:25).  This indicates that there were other sons.  The Bible tells us elsewhere that Joseph and Mary had sons and daughters, and the Bible tells us some of their names (cf. Matt. 12:46-50; 13:55, 56).
  13. Furthermore, “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son,” indicates that Joseph did know his wife after our Lord was born.  The RC doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is totally unscriptural.  The RCC promotes this false doctrine so that they may exalt Mary way beyond what the Bible teaches.
  14. But it is wrong to exalt Mary.  We must exalt Christ, and Christ alone.  “That in all things He might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).

 

II. THE GRACIOUS CONDUCT OF JOSEPH (MATT. 1:19).

  1. I have never heard a sermon preached about Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Not a single word he utters is recorded in the Bible.
  2. Joseph is found only in Matthew 1 & 2, and Luke 1 & 2.  Then he fades from the scene.  Most commentators assume that he died before our Lord commenced His earthly ministry.
  3. But I believe that if God chose Mary because of her character and godliness, then He likewise chose Joseph as well, even though he was only the foster-father of our Lord.
  4. Please keep in mind that in the Hebrew home, the father ruled the roost.  Therefore, the man whom God chose for this important role would have to be a godly man, a strong leader – “a just (righteous) man” (Matt. 1:19).
  5. Can you imagine if he were not?  What would have happened if he had allowed Mary to be stoned to death?  (Cf. Matt. 1:18, 19).
  6. Mary was “espoused to Joseph” (Matt. 1:18). This means Joseph was legally betrothed to Mary.  This is why he is referred to as Mary’s “husband” (1:16, 19), even though they had not consummated the marriage (cf. Matt. 1:18, 24, 25).
  7. Betrothal was legally equivalent to marriage, and the relationship could only be broken by divorce or death.  The betrothal period began before the couple started living together and before they consummated the marriage.
  8.   
  9. In this way, it was similar to our modern engagement period. Infidelity during betrothal was regarded then as infidelity during marriage today (cf. Matt. 1:18, 19).
  10. It was during this betrothal period that Mary was found pregnant. One can only imagine what must have gone through Joseph’s mind during those days before the angel informed him of the virgin birth.
  11.  
  12. Mary went to visit her cousin Elisabeth and stayed with her for three months (Luke 1:56).  Joseph knew he was not the father.  He must have suspected that she was unfaithful.  Ungodly gossips were spreading this around (cf. John 8:40, 41).
  13. The law called for public exposure and the death penalty.  But Joseph loved Mary very much and was too kind to see her punished. He showed his mercy and compassion by putting her away privately and avoiding a scandal (Matt. 1:19).
  14. In this passage we can see Joseph’s gentleness, tenderness, kindness, courtesy, and compassion.  That is why God chose him to be the stepfather of our Lord – he was a considerate husband-to-be, and therefore, a good stepfather.
  15. The Bible says that “while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream” and revealed to him the news of the virgin birth (Matt. 1:20-25).
  16. Joseph obeyed the Lord.  Waking from his dream he took Mary to wife.  With what joy he must have hurried to her house!  It must have been a blessing for her to hear of it.

 

III. THE GLORIOUS FULFILLMENT OF OT PROPHECY.

  1. Right away we see that our Lord’s virgin birth was a fulfillment of prophecy (Matt. 1:22, 23; Isa. 7:14).
  2. He fulfilled prophecy by being born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1-6; Micah 5:2).
  3. Matthew quotes the Old Testament at least forty times.  From the very first verse, Matthew is setting out to prove that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.
  4. According to Genesis 3:15, the Messiah was to be the seed of a woman.  And according to Isaiah 7:14, He was to the son of a virgin.
  5. In Genesis 49:10 we learn that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.
  6. Furthermore, we know that the Messiah had to come from the lineage of King David.  One thousand years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Nathan told King David that the LORD would “stablish the throne of his (Christ’s) kingdom for ever” (II Samuel 7).
  7. Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5; cf. Matt. 1:1).
  8. Psalm 69 is a Messianic Psalm (Psalm 69:4; cf. John 15:23-25).
  9. Psalm 69:8 tells us that the Messiah had brothers and sisters.  In other words, after our Lord’s birth, Mary and Joseph had children together. 
  10. The RC doctrine of Mary’s so-called “perpetual virginity” is unscriptural.  The RCC has tried to turn Mary into a goddess.

 

CONCLUSION:


W Graham Scroggie divided this passage of Scripture into three parts:

  1. Christ’s miraculous birth – Jesus had no human father.   The virgin birth is clearly taught in the Bible.  If Christ were not born to a virgin, He would be a sinner like every other man.  If He were a sinner He could not be God, and we could not be saved.
  2. Christ’s mysterious person – that Christ was born of a woman shows that He is human.  That He was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit shows that He is divine.  Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is both God and man.
  3. Christ’s merciful work.  “He shall save His people from their sins” (1:21).  Are you saved?


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