Summary: This sermon is a study of God’s Word to see what he says about the conception and birth of Jesus Christ, or, what I will call the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
As we continue our series in The Apostles’ Creed I would like to examine today what it means to believe in the conception and birth of Christ. Please listen as I recite the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Does truth matter? In the day in which we live most people would probably answer that question affirmatively. Perhaps the debate is really over the issue of whether or not truth is relative or absolute. It is critically important for us as Christians who believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word to know that truth is not relative but absolute.
Our society, and particularly our intellectual culture, is aggressively opposed to biblical truth. Our society is opposed to the notion that God has acted personally in history.
One of the ways in which this is seen is in the denial of the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ. In the late nineteenth century this denial was widely taught by liberal theologians, first in Europe and then later in this country. By the early part of the 20th century mainline churches all over America did not believe in the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ. Our own denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, was born out of the mainline Southern Presbyterian church that denied, among other truths, the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ.
Friends, we believe that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. And the reason we believe this is because this is what we are taught in God’s Word. Aside from our human depravity, one reason why our society denies this truth is because of an erosion of confidence in the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word.
And so today, I want to study what God has to say in his Word about the conception and birth of Jesus Christ, or, what I will call the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In our lesson today I want to look at:
1. The Promise of the Incarnation,
2. The Subject of the Incarnation,
3. The Manner of the Incarnation,
4. The Cause of the Incarnation, and,
5. The Benefit of the Incarnation.
I. The Promise of the Incarnation
First, then, let’s look at the promise of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
One of the blessings Adam enjoyed in the Garden of Eden before the Fall—that is, Adam’s Fall into sin—was the personal presence of God. It seems that God would personally visit Adam in the garden from time to time (cf. Genesis 3:8).
However, after Adam’s Fall into sin, Adam no longer enjoyed that same kind of personal interaction with God. But, in his grace, one of the most precious of the covenant promises that God made to his people was that he “would walk among them and be their God” (cf. Leviticus 26:12).
The Lord fulfilled his promise in various ways. First, God gave symbols to Israel of his special presence in the tabernacle. When God gave instructions to the Israelites about how to build the tabernacle, he said, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). Throughout the time of the tabernacle, it was the symbol of God’s presence with his people.
Second, God demonstrated his presence by his willingness to help his people in time of need. For example, the Psalmist said: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day” (Psalm 46:4-5).
Third, God’s promise of his presence reached its fulfillment in the incarnation of his Son. Matthew tells us that the birth of Jesus took place to fulfill what the Lord had promised in the Old Testament: “‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).
We also read in John 1:14a: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Interestingly, the English phrase “made his dwelling” comes from the Greek word that means tabernacle. John purposely uses the very same word picture that God gave the Israelites to indicate that he was now dwelling among his people.