“Born of the Virgin Mary”
(Reprinted from Bread Upon the Waters: Columns from the California Farmer [Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1974], 23–24.)
The Apostles’ Creed, as it summarizes the Biblical faith, begins, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary.” Among other things, these opening words emphasize two things. First, we cannot call this the church’s creed or reduce it merely to the apostolic age’s confession of faith. It is personal: “I believe.” It is intended to be a creed for every believer in every age. Second, it emphatically asserts the Virgin Birth. Jesus Christ was both truly human and truly divine. In Him God created a new man, another Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), so that humanity could have another beginning. The old humanity born of Adam, because of the Fall, is born into sin and death. The new humanity, which is born again in Jesus Christ, is born to righteousness and everlasting life.
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus declared that a new life and a new age began in and with Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit [that is, they who feel their spiritual need, as Goodspeed paraphrases it]: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). “Blessed are the meek [the tamed of God]: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Jesus brought in a new covenant, a new life, and a new age. The task of the church is the proclamation of this good news and the extension of Christ’s Kingdom of grace.
But many men, both inside the church and outside of it, have placed their hope for a new life and a new age in someone other than the Virgin-born Savior. They have looked for salvation by means of a political program, a socialized world, a humanistic society, by means of education, science, and other things. Basically, all these hopes have one thing in common: they believe that a new plan or a new arrangement of things can produce heaven on earth. They look therefore to a new environment to remake man. The Christian, however, looks to Jesus Christ who remakes the heart of man, who takes a man dead in sins and dead to God and makes him a new man under God. As St. John said, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13).
The Virgin Birth is a miracle, the miracle of a new creation, a new humanity. The rebirth of every Christian is also a miracle, the miracle of regeneration by Jesus Christ. This second miracle depends on the first. Because Jesus Christ is very man of very man and very God of very God, He is able to remake man after His own image. He is able to preserve man from the powers of darkness, and He is able to subject all things to His own dominion. Indeed, the goal of history is declared in advance: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). We have a glorious destiny in Him who is born of the Virgin Mary.
Topics: Creeds, Philosophy, Theology, Culture , Epistles, The, Church, The, New Testament History