How the Virgin Birth Confounds False Religions

the-incarnation-web-1360x277Jesus, born of a virgin woman, foretold in Old Testament prophecies. Jesus, sent by the Father, atoning for sin, now worshipped. Jesus is God and man. Many are prone to ask, “Well, which is it? God or man?” The similarity between people who have grown up hearing the Christmas story and those who have grown up in the shadows of other world religions is their misunderstanding of Jesus’ identity and nature. The Virgin Birth says He is both.

The following provides reason for why the Incarnation must be understood well by disciples of Jesus. The Incarnation causes disagreements about worldview, divinity, practices, and implications across the board, which warrant thoughtful dialogue.

The following beliefs discussed do not encompass the entirety of the religion. They are primarily representative of largely held views by the majority of adherents.

 

Animism

Animism takes on different forms across the globe since it is largely based on local traditions and teaching. Romans 1 provides insight that Animistic cultures have exchanged God’s clear “eternal power and divine nature” “for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” In the main of Animism, beings and forces can be manipulated for human use, but the Father sending Jesus makes a clear declaration that His mission is going to be accomplished, highlighting the inability of man and occultic divinatory powers. The Virgin Birth squares up with Animism to say God is the supreme power.

Atheism

The miracle of God in human flesh confronts the foundational Atheistic tenets of mankind is basically good and that it is impossible to know if God exists. We must ask and answer the question, “Why was Jesus born of a virgin if mankind is basically good?” The answer: we aren’t basically good. An Atheist Ethicist says, “Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.” She says thinking about that drives her to depression, So virgin birthing is the purest human conduit for human life. While miraculous, all must concede it is “as pure as it gets.” The historical birth and life of Jesus is not in dispute, so we must wrestle with God not existing with Jesus being Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Only two possibilities exist: God is not with us because He does not exist or God exists and is with us.

Buddhism

Buddhists principally believe people are aggregates of matter, feeling, and awareness, and the nature of Christ clearly disputes this. His birth necessitates Him Divine, which would be an impossibility if people are only the abstracts matter, feeling, and awareness. With Christ taking on flesh, the Bible speaks to Jesus’ body (Luke 2:40), a human mind (Luke 2:52), a human soul (John 12:27), human emotions (Mt 8:10, John 11:35) and human observation (Mt 13:53-58), all of which go beyond an aggregation of just matter, feelings, and awareness.

Cultural Christianity

The uniqueness of Jesus’ birth does not allow Jesus to be a functional Savior without Lordship. The undergirding thought for Cultural Christians is that the birth brings good gifts at Christmas celebrations, and His life provides good ideas for us to live by. Births of regular people who go on to be notable teachers, scholars, or philosophers may produce this type of response and following, but the birth of Jesus Christ is a different category, altogether. Only one person has been fully God and fully man. This is the most unique person of all history. Since Jesus is man, He is relatable to us. Since Jesus is God, He is authority to us. Jesus is not a menu which you pick and choose. He is all or nothing.

Hinduism

The most familiar aspect of Hinduism to most of the Western world is reincarnation–that your spirit comes back as a different being in the next life and was something different in the past life. The underlying purpose and principle of reincarnation is contradicted when Jesus is born. Reincarnating provides the human solution: the opportunity to be liberated from this life through enlightenment. Once the first human is birthed who does not need liberation or enlightenment, the whole system is thrown off. Also, His birth was not a spiritual rebirth from a former life, like everyone else’s would be according to this belief. Jesus has existed from the beginning of eternity, so He created the creation He then inhabited upon his birth.

Islam

The Qur’an teaches Jesus was born sinless of a virgin, but that Jesus could not be God’s Son because “It is not proper for God to have children.” (19:93) Another verse claims He is “above having a son.” (4:171) This misunderstanding of the Father’s relation to Mary ultimately comes from not believing Jesus is God Himself. Islam teaches prophets are men who cannot lie about God, and when Jesus is put on the spot, He says, “I AM.” The truth of Jesus is encapsulated in His Divine birth, but the Islamic view of Jesus’ nature leads Muslims to blaspheme against the power and sovereignty of God.

Judaism

In the time of Jesus, Jews awaited the Messiah, but most thought in political resurgences rather than spiritual salvation. Modern Jews refute Jesus as the Messiah their prophecies foretell. If passages like Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6-7 correlate with the New Testament Gospel accounts like Luke 1-2 or Matthew 1-2, then there is no way both Jew and Christian can be right about the Messiah. Either Jesus is the long awaited Savior, or He isn’t. His birth would be the first aspect of His life to dispute or confirm. He is either God with us and Jews need to be shown, or He is another false teacher and Christians are severely misled.
The Christian belief that Jesus came to Earth the way the Bible says He did flies in the face of relative truth and tolerating everyone’s beliefs as “good for them.” Brothers and sisters, be gracious with those that don’t agree with Scripture, but be resolved in the truth of God, and when you speak, speak of Jesus as the King–the one who separates truth from falsehood.

Guest Blog From an Aspiring Missionary

At the age of 15, the Lord burdened my heart for the nations in a way that was different from brothers and sisters around me. I knew the trajectory of my life had come into focus on my first international missions experience. Due to the support and mission at Parkwood, I’ve been able to spend anywhere from a week to 10 weeks in different countries making disciples and leading others to do the same. The time is drawing near when my family will become “official” missionaries working among unreached peoples in Central Asia.

William Carey is best known as a British missionary who served until his death in 1834 in India. Some regard Carey as the “Father of Modern Missions.” Currently, the International MiWilliam Careyssion Board is discussing professionals using their jobs to take the Gospel to the unreached. Carey wrote about that in 1792. Currently, common practice is to send missionaries to join missionary teams rather than to work independently. Carey advocated that to be a better practice in his day. Currently, unreached people groups are the focus of missionary sending. Carey produced one of the first charts statistically accounting for how many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Pagans (we would now delineate as Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, and Atheists) exist in every part of the world. He wrote an essay, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, that is still pertinent to our considerations of to what the Gospel’s calls our lives. Friends, family, and strangers have all made sure I was aware I could make disciples in my city because not everyone is a Christians here. The same have also given reasons as to why most individuals shouldn’t go, but, brothers and sisters, please contemplate William Carey’s rebuttals that he wrote before 1800.

“They are too far away.”

“Whatever objections might have been made on that account before the invention of the mariner’s compass, nothing can be alleged for it, with any colour of plausibility in the present age…Yea, and providence seems in a manner to invite us to the trial, as there are to our knowledge trading companies, whose commerce lies in many of the places where, these barbarians dwell.”

The compass was thought of as technology sufficient to get to all peoples. May I ask, what is our excuse when we can communicate instantly with 40% of the world?

“The way of life is too barbaric.” [Read more…]

4 Ways to Use the Holiday Season to Glorify God

Tradition is not sinful; in fact, it is often helpful. We must consider tradition a servant rather than master. David Crabb explains our traditions should “exist to serve the ministry of the Gospel, not the other way around.” We all have or have had traditions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. So now, let us “work-shop” traditions to “serve the ministry of the Gospel,” instead of allowing tradition to dictate our holiday bustle. Think about these 4 challenges alongside any tradition you may have.

  1. Invite those with little or no family to join yours. Everyone has a different home life and family culture. Some people cannot imagine enjoying a Thanksgiving spread without their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, while others cannot remember such a gathering. Is there a person in your Growth Group or office that you ought to move towards? Think about the new neighbors who just moved in across the street or the new person in the break room. Keep in mind holidays magnify loneliness and hurt, so invite them to join holidays with your family.  A sincere invitation can be the “ministry of the Gospel” most needed.
  2. Strategically disciple at gatherings. Can you think of one family member you don’t want any of your friends (especially from church) to meet? Mark Dever states in Discipling, “Discipling requires you to be willing to be watched, and then folding people into your life so that they actually do watch.” Don’t let your family hinder your obedience to make disciples. Invite them to join holidays with your family. Let them see how you deal with all the scenarios that arise when your family, large or small, gathers. Bringing your spiritual family around your earthly family will benefit both. [Read more…]

Sorrowful, yet Rejoicing

2 Corinthians 6:2-4, 10a 2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.“  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: … 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…

As I watch and listen to the followers of Christ, I sense that many share the inner struggle that repeatedly pulls at me as I think about election day and the future of the U.S.  I admit that I have moments that border on despair as I ponder on what looks like a dead end road.  Other times my heart fills with great hope.  I have searched the Scripture for answers as to how to respond and walk in faithfulness.  2 Corinthians 6 continues to encourage my heart and give light for what lies ahead.  As I observe the now and consider the future, I find my heart both sorrowful and rejoicing.  

  • I am sorrowful that the two main presidential candidates represent impropriety, situational ethics, and a vindictive spirit.  My heart grieves that the nation has to choose between people who obviously lack character.  As a result, one can only conclude that character does not matter for most Americans…disheartening.
  • I am sorrowful that North Carolina has become the battleground for what appears to be a win/lose situation for the transgender bathroom issue.  How has a state in the heart of what was once the Bible Belt become a tipping point on the issue of whether we are male and female?  With a grieving heart, I confess that we are clearly exchanging the Truth of God for a lie.  (I hope that the presidential confusion does not overshadow this important issue on election day.)
  • I am sorrowful that the people of God have attacked one another over the issues surrounding this election.  Brothers and sisters, we of all people should be able to show a divided nation how to disagree and have civil debate without turning on one another and giving into name calling.  

However… [Read more…]