January 12: Doctrine of the Virgin Birth

This Day in Presbyterian History :  

A Sermon on the Virgin Birth

Preaching on a Communion Sunday on January 12, 1997, the Rev. J. Ligon Duncan, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi gave an interesting illustration from C.S. Lewis on the Virgin Birth of Christ.  Duncan recounts:

“There is a story that one day C.S. Lewis was sitting in his office in the English department when a friend, who was an unbeliever, wandered in.  There were carolers below in the courtyard singing Christmas carols, and as the two were speaking, they could hear them singing a Christmas carol that contained words about Jesus’ Virgin Birth.  His unbelieving friend said to C.S. Lewis, ‘Isn’t it good that we know more than they did?’  C.S. Lewis  said, ‘What do you mean?’  ‘Well, isn’t it good that we now know that virgins don’t have babies.’  C.S. Lewis looked at him incredulously and said, ‘Don’t you think that they knew that?  That’s the whole point.'”

Rev. Duncan continued by saying, “you see my friends, the fact that Jesus is born of a virgin is intended to surprise.  There is no example of this happening before in Scripture.  There is no precursor to this in Scripture.  It is intended to be completely unique to set forth who Jesus is.  The Virgin birth sets forth the divinity of Christ and His sinless humanity.  And without that doctrine of the virgin birth, these all-important truths are compromised.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is unimportant.  It is taught in the Bible and it has always been believed by God’s people and therefore it is important.  It is important because it sets forth His divinity and His sinless humanity.”

Words to Live By: To deny the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ is to deny His divinity and His sinless humanity.  J. Gresham Machen wrote on this important doctrine back in the early part of the twentieth century.  What he wrote then is just as important today.  Machen’s final treatise on the subject is available on the web, here, or may be purchased in a print edition, here. This remains an important Scriptural truth that must be declared and defended in an unbelieving age.

« Dr. Machen’s earliest publication on the doctrine of the virgin birth appeared in The Princeton Theological Review, 3.4 (October 1905): 641-670. Click here to view the entire article. Part 2 was published in January, 1906, and can be viewed here.

Through the Scriptures:  Genesis 37 – 39

Through the Standards:  The Holy Spirit is Supreme Judge

WCF 1:10
“The supreme Judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

Other Significant Events on 12 January:
1973 – Dr. Oswald T. Allis, one of the founding faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, died on this day in 1973, at the age of 92.

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