Season: 4 Episode: 054
Was the virgin birth a true event in hirstory? How do we know and how do we defend it? Shanda talks about Christmas apologetics in this week’s episode and she teaches you how to know and defend the birth of Jesus. She also talks about the purpose of God’s only son. He was born to die.
“Christmas is not a pagan holiday. It is celebrated in celebration and memory of Christ’s birth.”
“The war on Christmas is a spiritual battle; not a political one.”
“The man Christ Jesus took on flesh in the first century AD. But God the Son was, is and always will be.”
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. We are kicking off December with theology and I’m excited about this because it aligns to apologetics in a way that will help you defend your Christian belief in the sinless, incarnate, Son of God … and most Christians don’t know how to do that.
It will also help you defend the phrase “Merry Christmas” in a world that says we should say happy holidays.
Before we get into that, I want to let you know about a wonderful and insightful blog post by Albert Leon (who has also been on the podcast several times) called “A Month Away”. It really is a great read for this Christmas season. You can find that in the blog section at shandafulbright.com.
Also, I have a free 5 day devotional for you called, “Before There Was Christmas” and it will shed a lot of light on the topic today in a way that will encourage you and remind you that God has it all under control. So check that out at shandafubright.com/resources.
Now, I’m not a Merry Christmas nazi. I mean, I say it but I’m not going to attack anyone if they say happy holidays. I only get upset when they tell me not to say “Merry Christmas”. In reality, there is no Christmas without Jesus.
Christmas is not a pagan holiday.
It is celebrated in remembrance and recognition of Christ’s birth. And I don’t want to get too in depth on the use of “Merry Christmas” but before we get into the gist of today’s episode, I want to explain why it’s important we continue to use the term “Merry Christmas” if in fact we are celebrating Christ’s birth this season.
Got Questions says, “One reason put forth by those seeking to avoid the word Christmas is that it offends non-Christians. But, according to a recent Gallup poll, only 3 percent of adults in America say it bothers them when a store makes specific reference to Christmas. This fact gives the “war on Christmas” a more sinister twist. The exclusion of Christmas is less about sensitivity and more about censorship. Expunging all mention of Christmas from society is not really a way to “adapt” to a more diverse culture but a way to engineer a more secular culture.
Many times, the arguments against Christmas programs and displays are couched in political terms, but the bias against Christmas goes much deeper than that.
The war on Christmas is primarily a spiritual battle, not a political one.”
My goal is to bring a deeper appreciation for this Christmas season when we talk about the fact that Jesus was born to die.
Can you imagine being born with the purpose of dying? I mean, think about it. That is the reason God came down to earth. So today, we are going to talk about Jesus being born to die and the incarnation of Christ.
Some religions like Jehovah’s Witnesses think Jesus was created and that He is not God. Other religions believe that He was a man or a prophet, but not God. As Christians, one of the foundational principles to our faith is the belief that Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. If you do not know how to explain that … you aren’t the only one. But I will say that you need to know how to explain it, and the good news is that we are going to talk about that today.
So, I’m glad you’re here.
Today, we are going to talk about:
- How is Jesus both God and man?
- What does it mean that Jesus was born to die?
- When does the Bible first speak of Christ … this may surprise you.
When people say Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, that can be kind of confusing. We have to understand the reason for this before we can understand what that means.
The reason it’s important for us to believe and know that Jesus was sinless is because it proves He was both God and man. If He wasn’t sinless, He would not have been God, He would not have been the perfect sacrifice and our entire Christian faith is debunked.
I am going to show you today how He was both God and man and sinless so that you can go and share that with others because the truth is that many Christians believe God created Jesus and that He was not sinless.
I shared on my episode, “What’s shaping your worldview” that only 4% of self-professing Christians agree to 10 foundational truths of Christianity and one of them is that Jesus was sinless.
Just this year Don Lemon said Jesus wasn’t perfect. I mentioned this on one of my IG stories and said that this man doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But more than being upset with Don Lemon for having no theological foundation whatsoever, the question is, “Can you defend why Jesus was both God and man and why He was sinless?”
If not, keep listening. We are going to dive deep!
When you go back to Genesis 3, we see the first glimpse into the sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross.
The judgment to the serpent by God shows that the woman would have a child who would crush the serpent’s head.
Next, we see that God clothed Adam and Eve in animal skin. Here is the first death, the first sacrifice and the foreshadowing of Christ’s atonement. Atonement means “reparation for a wrong.”
For thousands of years, the Jews sacrificed animals to atone for their sins. So, why don’t we still do animal sacrifice to cover our sins? Because Jesus died.
There is also another issue with animal sacrifice. Every time someone sinned, they had to sacrifice an animal to atone for that sin. Sacrifices were ongoing. Jesus died once. That’s it.
Again, the question is why? Why was Jesus’ sacrifice necessary and how is He both God and man?
Could anyone have died on a cross for the sins of the world? No.
In the beginning
When Adam and Eve were created, they were perfect. They were sinless. Once they sinned, all of humanity was lost. All of creation came from Adam and Eve. But the fault of their sin was with Adam. God said that through Adam’s seed came the curse. All of mankind was destined for hell and that is why all of humanity is born with a sinful nature.
So what did God do? He chose the woman to bear children. It’s not her seed that’s cursed, it’s Adams. The sin nature is passed down from generation to generation by the father. And that takes us back to the judgment of the serpent by God when God told of her coming seed that would crush the serpents head.
I want to point out again that the woman is highly valued by God and the Bible explicitly shows this. The woman was chosen to birth the Messiah.
She was part of the greatest event in the history of the world because God could not use the man.
The sin of the world required a perfect sacrifice. Why didn’t He use the man? Again, it’s because of his sinful nature.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” The Messiah could not come through Adam’s seed. This is why in judgment, God mentions the woman birthing the child who would crush the serpents head.
When we look at the gospel of Luke, we see that Joseph is called Jesus’ earthly father, but he is not His biological father. He can’t be. It wasn’t through His seed that Mary was impregnated.
When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would have a child, she asked, “How can this be since I have never known a man.” The word “known” in the Bible often refers to having intercourse in some versions. She was a virgin.
The response of the angel in Luke 1:35 is,
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
This is how Jesus is both God and man. The egg of Eve was used to clothe the Son of God with flesh and the Holy Spirit overshadowed her to bring God to man. This is why the angels are in awe of His birth. They saw their Lord humble Himself and take on the appearance of a man, but He could not do it with the seed of sinful man.
God chose a woman.
In Matt 1:20, the angel tells Joseph, “What is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
This is the immaterial -the Holy Spirit, and the material -Mary’s womb, both being involved in the incarnation of Jesus. That shows how He is both God and man.
This was also prophecy fulfilled. You can say that Genesis 3 … when God judges the serpent, Eve and Adam for their choices is prophecy. But we see the virgin birth spoken of in Isaiah 7:14, and all throughout Isaiah we see prophecy of the coming Messiah as well as elsewhere in the OT.
So to recap this question: Jesus had no earthly father.
He only had a biological mother, Mary who was a virgin. Why a virgin? Several reasons:
- If she would have had other children and was married or had been with other men, the fact that Jesus was God would have been highly disputed. I know it’s disputed now, however, with the validity of the old and new testament, the proof of God’s existence, and the resurrection of Christ, the virgin birth is explained, prophesied about, and upheld for thousands of years in the Christian faith.
2) She also had to be a virgin to fulfill prophecy. If she would not have been a virgin, then prophecy wasn’t fulfilled and the orthodox Jews are correct in awaiting a Messiah.
3) Miraculous. For someone to be born of a virgin birth, the miraculous would have had to take place and that requires faith. But not doubt, that was a difficult situation for Mary to be in at the time. It’s not like our culture where people applaud having sex before marriage. I’m sure her reputation was tarnished before many. But she was called to this purpose. She was a submissive servant of God who was willing to be a mother of the son of God who was born to die.
What does it mean that Jesus was born to die?
We kind of touched on this with the whole Genesis 3 information, but Jesus only came to face the cross. He was the word made flesh. God incarnate. He knew He was going to die. He spoke of it many times and some of those times His disciples rebuked Him or didn’t understand what He meant.
But before we get to that, let’s go back to the OT and take another look because we must interpret the NT in light of the OT. The OT helps us understand many things in the NT.
Again, Gen 3 foreshadows Christ’s atonement when God covered Adam and Eve with animal skins. An animal had to die, showing the first death noted in the Bible besides Adam and Eve’s spiritual death.
The interesting thing about Christianity is that it is the oldest religion in history.
And of course the term “Christianity” wasn’t around before the first century, but the concept of Christianity was. And here’s what I mean by that:
Buddhism technically began before Christianity, but it’s not older than Christianity.
Islam and the Muslim religion began before Christianity, but it’s not older than Christianity.
God foretold of Christ’s sacrifice in Gen 3, thus the concept of the Christian religion was set in motion.
Now, let’s fast forward to the days of Isaiah. He prophecies of the birth of Jesus in 7:14 saying, “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign, ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and you shall call His name Immanuel.’”
This was written 700 years before Christ’s birth.
Micah 5:2 tells us the Messiah will be birthed in Bethlehem. Micah wrote these words 800 years before Jesus’ birth.
The Psalms speak of the death of Jesus. Many of them were written 1,000 years before Jesus’ birth and death on the cross, and Jesus fulfilled these verses when He repeated them while on the cross such as Psalm 22:1, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Almost all of Isaiah 53 speaks of the death of the Messiah: He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquity and by His stripes we are healed.”
Jesus knew His purpose was to die.
I didn’t list all of the prophetic verses that speak to Jesus’ birth and death, but you can look them up for yourself and that will help your understanding of what you believe and give a greater defense of the brith, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus’ said in Matthew 16:21-23, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”
When I first read this, I thought it was kind of harsh that Jesus would rebuke Peter.
But when we dig deeper, we see that Peter was not aligning his desire for Jesus to live with the prophecy of the OT, which he should have known well. If he did know it, then he wasn’t interpreting OT prophecy accurately because he didn’t truly understand Jesus’ purpose.
I’m reading a chapter of John a day to my youngest and in chapter 2, the Jews asked Jesus for a sign to prove His authority to flip over the tables of the money changers in what Jesus referred to as His Father’s house. Jesus replied in verse 19, “I will destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews thought He was referring to the actual temple. But after Jesus’ death and resurrection, they understood that He was referring to His body. Why? Because of the OT scriptures, and the word of Jesus finally came together and they understood.
In reality, many of the things Jesus taught them weren’t understood until after Jesus’ death and resurrection because that is when He truly fulfilled prophecy. They finally realized He was born to die.
When does the Bible first speak of Christ?
I wrote a devotional a couple of years ago called, “Before There Was Christmas” … you can also find that on my resource page at shandafulbright.com/resources. It’s a free downloand. I talk about the first Christmas. December 25th is not the actual birth date of Jesus. History records the actual birth taking place in the month of April.
The gospel of John is the only gospel that is not a synoptic gospel. Scholars believe Mark’s gospel was written first and Matthew and Luke used the events of his gospel to write their own. Synoptic means similar. John’s gospel, however, is different in that he focuses on the deity of Christ.
We see this in John 1:1. He says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
“Word” means logos in the Greek.
It is God’s divine revelation to man. This takes us directly back to Genesis 1, when God spoke creation into existence with the word of His mouth. Jesus is the word made flesh.
1 Peter 1:20 says, “For [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundations of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.”
The most telling terminology for the existence of Christ are the words, “before the foundations of the world.” Genesis uses the Hebrew word Elohim when God says, “Let us (that word us is the Hebrew for Elohim that I’m referring to) … let us make man in our image.” Elohim is plural for gods. That means the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all present and responsible for creation.
Jesus, battling the Pharisees in the NT, said to them in John 8:58, “Truly, Truly I saw to you, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
Their argument is that He was not yet 30 years old and He claims to have seen Abraham?? Jesus said that Abraham saw it and was glad. The fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in the OT was complete once Jesus took on flesh and came to this earth to die.
What’s the point here? What do I want you to take away from this episode? That Jesus didn’t begin to exist on Christmas Day in the first century AD. If we think that, we are no better than Peter who told Jesus He would not go to Jerusalem and die on the cross.
Let me paint a picture for you:
God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are taking counsel with one another. They, being all knowing and existing outside of time, space and matter, contemplate their decision to create mankind.
They know if they go through with the plan, man will misuse his freewill and disobey God, falling from perfection and severing the relationship with his creator.
But that’s not all …
If he does this, and they know he will, there will have to be a redeemer. And because the whole of creation will fall with man, there will be no sacrifice sufficient to redeem because nothing on earth will be worthy of such a fete.
And that’s when God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit had to make a decision.
Would one of them be willing to go? Would one of them take on flesh, be born in humble surroundings, take the route of a virgin birth so that He did not defy His human nature and could remain a pure and perfect sacrifice? He bear the sins of His creation that would separate Him from the Father .. something He had never experienced before?
And Jesus said, “I’ll go. I’ll be the sacrifice and I’ll redeem them from death, hell and the grave.”
And without hesitation God said, “Let there be light.” And thus space, time and matter were set in motion and you and I came into existence.
Jesus is God. He is eternal. The man Christ Jesus took on flesh in the first century AD. But God the Son was, is and always will be. We must understand that in order to truly understand what God did for us and why Christmas is all about Him.
I know this episode was somewhat deep. We took an apologetic route today and apologetics can get deep at times, but I encourage you to listen again if you need to. Take some notes and truly understand the incarnation, the sinless nature of Christ and the importance of Him having no beginning as God.
This is a huge part of the christian faith, yet many don’t quite understand this. We cannot defend the incarnation or the sinless nature of Christ and we should be able to. We must and if we can’t that means we do not understand our own religion.
I’ll have an encouraging episode for you next week called “Peace on earth” and how you can find peace this Christmas no matter what’s going on in the world.
And I’ll catch you on the next one!