Welcome to the Cornerstone Baptist church podcast. My name is Justin Wheeler, I am the preaching pastor for Cornerstone and today we are in week 14 of our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism and I will be talking to you today about questions 35 & 36.
Our questions for this week are still focused on Jesus but also on the role the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ conception. The questions focus on Mary’s role in Jesus’ birth and what it means that she was a virgin. Finally, question 36 presses us to think and understand what Jesus’ unique and miraculous conception, and virgin birth have to do with us, with our Christian faith. Turns out, quite a bit actually.
Lord’s Day Focus...
Question 35: What does it mean that He “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary?”
Answer: That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took to Himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature so that He might become David’s true descendant, like His brothers in every way except for sin.
Among the miracles that highlight the life and ministry of Christ, none are more awesome than His incarnation and His resurrection. Easter morning is something we celebrate every year, actually we celebrate it every week when we gather for worship on the Lord’s Day. Resurrection refers to Christ being made alive even though he had been dead. He went into the grave on Friday and rose to life on Sunday; this miracle has forever changed the world.
But the incarnation is no less awesome. Incarnation refers to the eternal son of God taking on flesh and being conceived in the womb of a young, virgin girl named Mary. God has become a man and this truth is found all over the New Testament.
Phil 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
We also have the accounts of Jesus’ birth, from Matthew 1 and Luke 1-2. I won’t read through these passages, but you should as you work to understand and memorize the catechism this week. These birth narratives are familiar to most of us, not least because we read through them nearly every year around Christmas time. These passages make clear that Jesus’ conception and birth did not occur in the ordinary way.
Both Matthew and Luke tell us of how an angel of the Lord came to a young virgin girl named Mary. Mary was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph but before the marriage took place and well before they had a chance to consummate their union with sexual intercourse, an angel brought Mary a message. He told her that she would bear in her womb the Son of the Most High and when she asked, “How will this happen?” The angel told her that the child would be conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit.
This teaching has been a staple of Christian doctrine for 2,000 years. It is explicit in the gospel accounts and while some have tried to dismiss it or argue it away; this miracle remains a critical part of our faith. We have no idea how it happened, but we have countless Biblical reasons to believe that it did happen.
We even have Old Testament prophetic texts that point forward to the virgin conception of the Messiah. In Isaiah 7:14 we read, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Some have dismissed the virgin birth as mythological. Some have dismissed it as impossible. Some have dismissed it as unimportant. None of these is true but all of these are inter-related. Let me explain. The gospel accounts of Jesus’ divine conception read like the rest of the NT (historical narrative) and nothing like religious mythology. Mary’s encounter took place and the account was circulated while she was still alive and could confirm that the story was true, not made up or embellished to start a religion.
The virgin birth is naturally speaking, impossible; but since when has anything been impossible for God. By the way, the word miracle implies naturally impossible. A miracle implies that the supernatural has invaded the natural world. You may not be able to explain it, science may not be able to test for it, but a miracle of God doesn’t require either of those.
The virgin birth is also one of the most important truths of the Christian faith, such that if you take it away the whole thing falls apart. Here I want to quote from Kevin DeYoung again,
The virgin birth demonstrates that Jesus was truly human and truly divine. If Jesus had not been born of a human, we could not believe in His full humanity. But if His birth were like any other human birth – through the union of a human father and mother – we would question His full divinity. The virgin birth is necessary to secure both real human nature and a completely divine human nature.
But why? Why is it necessary for both of these things to be true?
Question 36: How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?
Answer: He is our mediator, and with His innocence and perfect holiness He removes from God’s sight my sin – mine since I was conceived.
Christ took our flesh upon him so that he might take our sins upon him. In order for man to have peace with God a man must pay the price. Christ maintained his deity because only a perfect Son could fulfill the righteous requirements of God. Only one who is fully God and truly man could bring peace between God and man.
He alone is qualified to remove our sin and bring us to God clothed in His perfect righteousness. So I guess we could say that the virgin birth is not only important but essential to our salvation and faith.
Thanks for joining me today as I discuss the Heidelberg Catechism. I hope you’ll join me again next week as we look at Lord’s Day 15 together and discuss questions 37, 38 & 39.
If you want to learn more about Cornerstone Baptist church, you can find us online at Cornerstonewylie.org. You can follow us on Twitter or Instagram @cbcwylie. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/cornerstonewylie. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or google play to stay up to date on all the new content.
Thanks for listening.
 Kevin DeYoung The Good News We Almost Forgot (pg. 78)