Rooted in Christ

A Creedal Christmas – Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary

This Advent series explores the identity of the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, using the description found in the Apostles’ Creed.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son,
and shall call His name JESUS.” (Luke 1:31, NKJV)

Jesus’ conception was unlike any other. We find records of barren women getting pregnant, women like Sarah (Gen. 18:9-11; 21:1-2) and Hannah (1 Sam. 1:19-20), attesting to the power of God to open the womb and to give life. But never do we find a woman becoming pregnant without male involvement.

Even the prophecy in Isaiah that the angel mentions to Joseph is not fulfilled in Isaiah’s day by a virgin. History would wait until the fullness of time, when God would send His Son to be born of a woman who was a virgin (Gal. 4:4).

In respect to procreation, God had performed the miracle of miracles. The Holy Spirit Himself had caused Mary to be with child. Not that we want to parse the conception of Jesus in biological terms, but we do want to see the uniqueness of Jesus as God the Son, taking on developing humanity like any other, in the womb of Mary.

Why was it necessary that Jesus be born of a virgin? It was not because the sexual act itself is sinful, or because the fallen sinful nature is passed on by the male, or because Mary was without sin and so a pure vessel for the Christ.

Rather, the virgin birth accomplished three things. As Matthew pointed out, it was a prophetic pointer to the Messiah. When a virgin conceived and bore a son, that was a telltale sign of the fulfillment of prophecy. The child was both Immanuel (God with us) and Jesus (the Lord saves)—God incarnate to save.

Second, taking on human nature allowed the eternal Son of God to be fully God and fully man in one person. He was the God-man.

Finally, through supernatural conception, Jesus was equipped to stand in the place of human beings as the sinless substitute. Jesus was unique in His qualification as the Christ of God.

The Bible teaches that everyone naturally descended from Adam carries the contamination and condemnation of sin. The apostle Paul explains this in Romans 5:12. Adam represented the entire human race, even to the degree that this can be said: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Sin, original sin, accompanies all those born into this world. It is not that the male is the sin carrier, like one would pass on a defective gene. Rather, the issue is being a descendent of Adam by ordinary means.

Jesus, however, was born without original sin. While every human is born in sin, sin is not part of humanity. It is part of fallen humanity. Jesus was uniquely conceived. He was born without a sin nature, beginning with His conception. (excerpted from The Christian’s Creed, pp. 75-76)

Digging Deeper (questions are from the Christian’s Creed Workbook)

  1. Jesus was fully _________ and fully __________ in one ___________?
  2. How was Jesus’ conception different from the miraculous conceptions of Isaac and Samuel?     

“Father, I thank You for the miracle of Jesus.” 

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.