Monday, December 27, 2021

Why the Virgin Birth of Christ Matters


“The virgin birth is a necessary foundation to Christmas and the believer’s life,” says renowned pastor and seminary president, Jack Hayford.

Tragically, disbelieving foundational truths has become a normative part of modernity.

Agnostic Oxford professor Sir William Ramsey, one of the greatest archaeologists of all time, decided to scientifically disprove the fourth gospel. He skeptically thought it could not be trusted. Dr. Luke collected his information from a primary source, likely Mary. Luke references thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands.

After several years – and many miles – of diligent labor, Ramsey completely changed his mind, discovering Luke was accurate in every case where the critics disagreed. Ramsey wrote, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense; in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.” Much to the dismay of contemporary skeptics of his day, Ramsey spent the next twenty years proving and publishing the accuracy of the smallest details of Luke’s accounts.

Another skeptic turned believer was Thomas Oden, noted Methodist theologian. In his memoir, “A Change of Heart” (2015), he shared his pilgrimage from theological liberalism to orthodox affirmation of biblical Christianity. Explaining his early embracing of biblical skepticism, he admitted, “I loved the fantasies and I loved the revolutionary illusions. I loved heresy.” After spending years disbelieving the basics of the Bible, he says the Holy Spirit found him and set him on a completely different trajectory the rest of his life.

Attacks on foundational theological truths “emerged in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, with some theologians attempting to harmonize the anti-supernaturalism of the modern mind with the church's teaching about Christ. The great quest of liberal theology has been to invent a Jesus who is stripped of all supernatural power, deity, and authority” (Albert Mohler, “Can a Christian Deny the Virgin Birth?”).

The fountainhead of this movement was the skeptical, German higher criticism of the 19th century, with thinkers like Rudolf Bultmann, who argued the New Testament presents a fantasy worldview that we cannot accept as authentic. He pushed a program of thought called “demythologization” to strip Christianity from any hint of the miraculous or supernatural – including the denial of key components like the virgin birth and the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

American Protestant liberalism emerged in the early 1900’s with influencers like Harry Emerson Fosdick courting the same type of deconstructionism. By the mid 1900’s, two movements emerged countering theological liberalism. Fundamentalism, as with Bob Jones, Sr., and evangelicalism, led by figures like Billy Graham, Bill Bright, and Carl Henry saw the dangers and foolishness of rejecting Christianity’s foundations.

The Bible pictures truth as a plumbline. The next time you buy a house, build a storage shed, or drive across a bridge, ask yourself, “Do I care if this structure was built true to plumb (meaning exactly vertical or true)?”

Modern movements, such as the “Jesus Seminar,” however, fully embraced the serpent’s first tactic in the Garden of Eden: “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1). The abandonment of the full trustworthiness and authority of the Scriptures has led to fully embracing moral revolutionaries, the sexual revolution, and the questioning of virtually every standard of behavior.

Among most mainline denominations, Thomas Oden, said, “the world sets the agenda – it’s always trying to catch up with whatever is the latest and seemingly, apparently, the best and most productive form of psychotherapy. I was taught to be attentive to culture without having a sufficient grounding in the classical Christian confession.” 

Dr. Mohler warns, “Christians must face the fact that a denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Christ. The Savior who died for our sins was none other than the baby who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. The virgin birth does not stand alone as a biblical doctrine, it is an irreducible part of the biblical revelation about the person and work of Jesus Christ. With it, the Gospel stands or falls.

The authority of the Bible is almost completely gone where liberal theology holds its sway. The authority of the Bible is replaced with the secular worldview of the modern age and the postmodern denial of truth itself. The true church stands without apology upon the authority of the Bible and declares that Jesus was indeed ‘born of a virgin.’ Though the denial of this doctrine is now tragically common, the historical truth of Christ's birth remains inviolate.”

This Christmas, I’m thankful for Jesus Christ, the embodiment of Truth, and the Bible, the written revelation of Truth. He is the incarnate and now glorified Word of God, and it is the written and preserved Word of God.

It was necessary for Him to come through a virgin so the bondage of sin
would not be passed to Him. He became the sinless sacrifice – for my sins and yours. He met God’s demands perfectly. 

Pastor Jack recaps, “obedience to God’s Word allows one to be available for the fulfillment of God’s life-giving promises and that through the power of the cross, one can be released from the power of sin and be made righteous and pure before the Lord.”

Images provided with permission by Pexels.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

"Ring Those Bells" - Christmas album by Rhett and Tracey Wilson

Rhett and Tracey Wilson just released a new Christmas album called “Ring Those Bells.” Recorded at the Daywind Studios in Hendersonville, Tennessee, the album features old Christmas favorites such as White Christmas, O Holy Night, and Sweet, Little Jesus Boy as well as some new ones, like Circle of Love and Joseph

This is the third album recorded by the Wilsons. In 2007, they released “Lead Me On,” a collection of popular Christian music hits, and “Offered Praises,” a compilation of all-original songs written by Rhett, in 2008. All three albums are available for purchase in person or at their site:

Rhett works as Senior Writer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, North Carolina, and as a transitional pastor at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Lancaster, South Carolina. Tracey serves as the Director of Music Ministries at Covenant Baptist Church in Lancaster. The Wilsons will perform a Christmas Concert at Covenant Baptist Church on Sunday evening, December 19, at 6:00pm.

You can purchase a bundle of all three albums here.

It’s a Wonderful Life at 75: A Christmas Lesson Left on the Cutting Room Floor


Powerful, provoking article. I've watched the movie since 1988 and haven't ever pondered all of these insights . . .

"But for the powerful prayer of others … and divine intervention, George would never have learned his value. Remember, George did not know his wife and friends were running around town collecting money to save him.

Capra’s genius was not the plot device of George seeing what life without him would have been like for his beloved Mary and the town of Bedford Falls. It was spending the first three-quarters of the film hurling George Bailey toward destruction. Even amid the countless delightful moments, Capra is tightening the screws. Watch the film beginning to end without commercials and feel the tension build.

What makes the movie powerful is not the angel Clarence guiding George around town. It’s the devil whispering in George’s good ear until Clarence’s arrival. The same whisper so many of us hear."

Read the entire article here by Al Perrotta at The Stream.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Immanuel: The God Who is With Us


"So the message of Christmas is that we can know God—not just about God, but know God through our Lord Jesus, Immanuel. Salvation is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the way to the Father. On the cross, Immanuel—God with us—becomes our Savior and our sin-bearer. 

We live in a chaotic world that often seems out of control. The world of COVID-19 has resulted in divisions between those vaccinated and those not vaccinated. It has resulted in isolation, social distancing, lockdowns, furloughs and great personal anxiety and distress. But understanding this great truth of Immanuel will give you stability, security, hope and confidence for the future: God is with you. God is always with His people. Friends may forsake you; loved ones may die; disasters may come; wars may approach; the economy may go into a depression, but God is with you—for all of life, through the valley of the shadow of death, and for all eternity. Don’t be shaken by your difficult circumstances. Look to Immanuel: God with us.

This Christmas, invite Immanuel to perform a miracle in your life. Receive Him as your Savior. Trust Him with all your heart."

Read the entire article here by John Munro.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Truth Came to Us At Christmas

Over 150 law enforcement officers and their spouses recently attended one of these retreats at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to Bible teachers and Christian leaders in law enforcement, chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team were there to minister to the unique emotional and spiritual needs of these couples who serve our communities.

At law enforcement appreciation events led by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, officers and their spouses step away from the everyday stresses of their fast-paced lives.

“My husband began to talk on the retreat about the shooting that nearly killed him. It is the beginning of his healing,” said one wife of an officer.

Two other guests, Keith and Angela, first attended a retreat two years ago. At that time, their marriage was falling apart, and the stresses from Keith’s job drove him away from the Lord—and kept him emotionally distant from his wife and children.

“I was angry, frustrated, and resentful,” he said. At the first session that week, Keith felt instant freedom hearing the Word of God and listening to worship music: “Every session, I could feel His presence stronger and stronger. I just couldn’t get enough.” Later during the retreat, Keith responded to the Gospel invitation, sobbing on his knees as he came to the Lord in repentance and faith.

Two years later, at this fall’s retreat, Keith shared, “He’s been completely faithful in healing the damage I caused my wife and my children. I can truly say I am a new person because of God. To know that I’ve been given a second chance—not just in my walk with Him but in my marriage—is priceless.”

Read the entire article by Franklin Graham here.