One miracle in the New Testament is subject to the fiercest criticism: the virgin birth of Christ. Today, R.C. Sproul teaches that the conception of Jesus is recorded in Scripture not as a biological anomaly but as an awesome display of the power of God.
Of all of the miracles in the New Testament—the miracles of Jesus walking on the water, turning water into wine, feeding five thousand people, raising people from the dead, and so on—there’s one miracle story that seems to have been singled out for particular controversy, and that being His virgin birth. I mean, there have been furious debates, particularly in our day, over the credibility of the New Testament documents at the very beginning of Jesus’ life, because the New Testament presumes to teach that Jesus was born of a virgin.
Now, some have tried to argue that the text doesn’t really teach it, but that seems to be an act of despair to support it. But others just say, “Well, this is part of the mythical surroundings of the New Testament documents that no scientific, educated, sophisticated person in the twentieth century could ever believe.” Because if there’s anything that we know through our research and our understanding of the biological process, the system of reproduction, it’s this: that virgins don’t have babies. That it takes two people, male and a female. It takes the egg to be fertilized by the sperm in order for a baby to be conceived—in vitro or ex vitro, doesn’t matter. It still takes both sides. A virgin, in and of herself, cannot conceive and have a baby. That is an inflexible, unbreakable natural law. And so anyone who would argue to the contrary must be involved in fantasy, legend, or myth.
But dear friends, let me say in the first instance that the New Testament is not suggesting that Jesus is born _de _like Athena out of the head of Zeus—that a virgin walks down the street and on her own strength and her own power suddenly conceives a child, and this child then is born and becomes the Messiah. No, it’s not as if we have a biological wonder that seeks to produce something out of nothing, that we can have the process of birth and the advent of life from no cause, no power. But rather, the New Testament is saying, “Yes, indeed. There is a normal power, a normal facility, by which the race is propagated and the species replenished that we call the reproductive system. And there is a power unleashed through the reproductive process.” The New Testament’s saying is that that power that we have in normal categories of nature has been set in motion and injected into this planet by a superpower that we call God, whose power stands behind all of creation, all of life.
Without the power of God, there can be no egg, there can be no sperm, there can be no life at all. The great miracle comes from the naturalist today who tells us that the world popped into existence on its own power. That’s the virgin birth of the whole universe. They deny the virgin birth that God Himself brings about by this power, this virgin birth, a very small thing for the Lord of heaven and earth to accomplish, indeed. And those who deny it put in its place the virgin birth of the universe. It’s incredible that we have this kind of thinking going on, but it’s there and we have to confront it every day.
But the point I want to make is this, that the New Testament says power stood behind the birth of Christ, but it was not the potency of Joseph that generated this child, but the potency of God the Father.