Summary: A review of Paul's understanding of the Virgin Birth of our Lord. The impact of being a "son of God" through faith in the Risen Christ.

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” [1]

Religious holidays—and Christmas still qualifies as a Holy Day for the Faithful—demand that those who proclaim the Word focus on great truths that underscore the particular holiday. While our congregation does not follow the liturgical calendar, I am nevertheless cognizant of the church year. Though doctrinal truth must be consistently presented to the assembly, some dates demand attention since they present a grand opportunity to present teachings that might otherwise be neglected or ignored.

As an example, Easter Sunday affords opportunity to emphasise the Resurrection of the Master. While the Faith is built on this truth that Jesus conquered death, it is important that we emphasise His resurrection on this special day. Had He not risen from the tomb, there would be no Christian Faith—there would be no hope. Another example may be afforded by Pentecost Sunday. The day provides opportunity to speak of the Spirit of God and the manner in which He empowers the faithful for service. Likewise, the Advent Season provides opportunity to present again the comforting truth of the presence of the Saviour with His people. God sent His Son to redeem fallen people, and Christmas reminds all people of the love of God in tangible form.

The birth of the Christ was miraculous—we cannot account for that birth by natural means. Throughout history, individuals have attacked the virgin birth because the virgin birth of the Christ is essential to the redemption of fallen man. Thoughtless individuals imagine that they may discount the doctrine of the incarnation by arguing that the account is found only in the Synoptic Gospels. Such assertions reveal an abysmal ignorance of the Word.

The Letter to the Galatians is predicated upon the truth that God became man. Nowhere is the doctrine of the Incarnation more prominently displayed than when Paul contrasts the present freedom enjoyed by the children of God and the present enslavement to sin of those who are in bondage within the world. Clearly, the Apostle understood that without this virgin birth, without the Son of God becoming man, there can be no freedom—no salvation, no life, no hope. However, our Lord did leave His throne and become man that we may have life. I invite you to join me in exploration of this marvellous truth as revealed in the words of the Apostle.

THE SON OF GOD WAS BORN AT A DEFINITE TIME — “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…” These are indeed glorious words which show that the entry point of the Christian message is at the same time the turning point of history. Even our dates confess this truth. It is now 2017 AD—Anno Domini … THE YEAR OF OUR LORD. Apart from the words which are penned in this text, life offers no future; we are left without hope and without God in the world if this is not 2017 in THE YEAR OF OUR LORD. But God has intervened in a way which brings effective and complete salvation—hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. That is the Christmas message.

What do you suppose the Apostle meant when he used the term, “the fullness of time?” The thought conveyed in the original language, precisely captured by our translation, speaks of fulfilment, especially as related to time. Even a casual acquaintance with life in the ancient world understands something of the significance of the word translated by this English phrase. Christ was born during the era historians identify as Pax Romana. The rule of one government ensured worldwide peace imposed by conquering armies. This peace extended over most of the civilised earth making travel and commerce possible in a way previously unrealised. Great roads linked the empire of the Caesar’s, ensuring free and uninterrupted communications with the furthest outposts of civilisation and providing rapid access to all corners of the empire.

An even greater factor unifying the diverse regions of the empire was the all pervasive language and culture of the Greeks. Greek had become the lingua franca of the empire, being readily understood and read throughout the whole Mediterranean world. Not only linguistically, but also culturally, the ancient world was dominated by the prior educational conquests of the Greeks. Therefore, politically, culturally and linguistically, the world was unified; these conditions combined to ensure a rapid spread of the Good News concerning the salvation purchased through the death and resurrection of our Lord.

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