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Jesus was unique in that He was the first to be begotten by God Himself through the Holy Spirit. This alone set Him apart from the rest of humanity. It thus requires us to ponder the implications of His virgin birth in our theology about His nature, His ministry, purpose, and ultimately what He actually accomplished.
If we understand the goal, we may more easily find the path that leads in that direction. The goal is briefly stated in Acts 3:25, 26,
25 It is to you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 26 For you first, God raised up his Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.
So Jesus was sent “to bless you,” and this is defined, not in terms of wealth and prosperity, but in terms of inner cleansing. He was sent to turn “every one of you from your wicked ways.” The question, of course, is whether or not He has succeeded or will yet succeed.
Most Christians today read this to mean that Jesus was sent to make the way possible so that men could turn if they were so inclined. In other words, the ultimate success of Christ’s mission (they say) yet depends upon the will of man. The will of God can be fulfilled only if the will of man cooperates. Unfortunately, very few people actually take advantage of the remedy for sin that Jesus procured on the cross. Hence, by this view, the realistic goal of history is to save a few and lose the many.
But the passage above shows that God’s intent to bless us is, in turn, to fulfill “the covenant which God made with your fathers,” Abraham in particular. The covenant with Abraham was a prime example of the New Covenant, which was established even prior to the Old Covenant at Mount Sinai (Galatians 3:17, 18). Any covenant where man makes a vow to God is part of the Old Covenant; any covenant where God makes a vow or promise is part of the New Covenant.
Hence, the promise to Abraham was part of the New Covenant in that it was made by God. God did not say, “I promise to make a way so that you can fulfill your promise.” No, He took the responsibility upon Himself to make it happen—not merely to help us make it happen. Whoever makes a promise is the one responsible to fulfill it.
So the New Covenant is fully dependent on the will of God and His ability to keep His word in spite of all opposition. If the opposition succeeds in any way, the one making the promise fails to keep His promise. That is why no one should make promises that they cannot keep.
Therefore, when God promised to bless all families of the earth, He took upon Himself the responsibility to turn every one of us from our wicked ways. Because we have New Covenant faith, which is faith in His ability to keep His promises (Romans 4:21), we believe that God will actually succeed in causing all men to repent, so that He can be the Savior of the world.
Christ was born in Bethlehem in order to that the promise of God could be fulfilled. Likewise, He had to be born of a virgin, fathered by God-seed, in order to set the pattern for all to become sons of God. He was the Pattern Son. Patterns are used to create duplicates. We are duplicated, one by one, each in his own order, either in our lifetime on earth or in the age to come. But in the end, “every knee will bow” (Philippians 2:10, 11), and all things will be subjected to Christ’s rule (1 Corinthians 15:27, 28; Hebrews 2:8).
In other words, by His infinite wisdom and the power of His own will, He really will succeed in fulfilling His promise to turn everyone from their wicked ways. The process involves the fire of the Holy Spirit, which burns the chaff from our lives (Matthew 3:12), whether it is applied in this lifetime or in the age to come (Revelation 20:13, 14).
Just as the Holy Spirit came upon Mary to beget Christ in her, so also does the Holy Spirit come upon us to beget Christ in us. The main difference is that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin from the start, whereas we ourselves were begotten first by mortal seed from Adam and only later by the incorruptible seed of our heavenly Father (1 Peter 1:23).
The New Breed
That which was conceived in us by the seed of the living and abiding word is “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27). It is Christ, because, like Jesus Christ, this embryonic “man” or “self” has both a heavenly Father and an earthly mother. God is the Father, and we are the mother. Or we may also say that heaven and earth have come together as parents to produce a new breed that is unique in the universe.
Each of us, being a single person, is a product of two parents. Speaking naturally, having two parents does not make any of us two people, nor do our parents give us two natures. We each have one nature that contains characteristics of both parents. Hopefully, the best characteristics of each parent has been passed down to each child, but alas, the sin of Adam has passed down mortality and corruption to all.
In the case of Jesus’ conception, since mortality and its resulting corruption comes through the male seed, this was not passed down to Him. That is the most important reason for the virgin birth. The same is true for all sons of God, although in our case, we must contend with the old man for the rest of our lives. Being begotten by God does not change the nature of the old man but generates a new man alongside of it. The old man remains in the soul; the new man is begotten in the spirit. These are in conflict, as Romans 7:23 says, until the old man of flesh actually dies (physically).
Yet meanwhile, the life of the old man may be interrupted by the new man that is begotten in us by the Holy Spirit. At that point, two “men” exist, but we ourselves—that is, our conscious identity or “self”—can be just one or the other. The divine plan is for us to shift our identity from the old man to the new, reckoning the old man to be dead (Romans 6:11 KJV). By reckoning the old man to be dead, we ourselves do not actually die, but we have reckoned ourselves to be the new man.
In essence, we may crucify the old man without fear of death, knowing that we are being set free from the curse that has been passed down to all men. We simply change our identity, leaving the old man to die its natural death, so that we “might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
This is something Jesus did not have to do, and that is one of the main differences between Him and us. He was a Son of God from the day He was conceived in Mary; we are not conceived until later in life. Nonetheless, the process follows the same pattern.
How Many Persons are You?
The new breed is not merely spiritual but also physical. The sons of God—including Jesus—have two parents and therefore have characteristics of each. That is why Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of Man yet was not two persons. His flesh came through Mary, but His spirit came through His Heavenly Father.
One might argue that Paul talked about us being two persons: old man and new man. But if we were to compare ourselves to Jesus, the comparison must be done properly. The Holy Spirit begat Jesus Christ to produce just one Man who had a spirit, soul, and body. The Holy Spirit begat Christ in us as well, and our Christ, residing in our spirit, is also just one new man. The old man is part of the soul, whereas the new creation man is the only person residing in our spirit. The new man becomes the “real you” when you declare a change of identity.
That new man, once begotten, begins to grow and develop, as any embryo does, and it will not actually be “born” until the feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled. The birth of this new man will be like Christ in His post-resurrection self. Jesus Christ was given all authority in heaven and in earth, because He had genetics, as it were, in both realms. Therefore, He could go to heaven to minister to the Father or come into the earthly realm to minister to His disciples at will.
In the biblical prophetic types, this was pictured in the garments of the priests. They were to minister to God in linen when they went into the Holy Place, but when ministering to the people in the outer court (earthly realm), they had to change into their woolen garments (Ezekiel 44:16, 17, 18, 19). This tells us that no son of God may go to heaven as flesh beings, nor can a son of God leave the heavenly realm to minister on earth without first putting on a flesh body.
The new creation man is yet developing, but it is the real you—your identity. When fully brought to birth at Tabernacles, the embryonic development process will be complete. Each son of God will then be “a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Paul tells us that the job of the five-fold ministry listed in verse 11 is to feed the body of Christ with proper food (life-giving truth) until it reaches full maturity.
The first ones to deviate from the truth were the Gnostics as early as the first century. They did not understand the principle of Sonship, they defined Him in docetic ways, splitting Him into two Beings. Their view was based on the dualistic view which said that spirit was good and that matter was evil. With that viewpoint, they could not admit that Jesus’ conscious self resided in a fleshly body. The body, after all, was “evil.” In fact, they could not accept the idea that the Holy Spirit would taint Himself by indwelling “evil” human flesh.
Hence, they denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh (1 John 4:2, 3), claiming that He only appeared to inhabit flesh. They separated the spiritual Christ from His physical body, turning Christ into two persons, one real and the other illusory.
The truth is that Jesus was one Person who was a tripartite man like all of us: spirit, soul, and body. But being tripartite did not mean He was three Persons occupying the same space. By splitting Jesus into two persons, one spiritual and the other physical (human), the Gnostic view soon elevated the spiritual Christ to the point where His humanity was lost entirely. This defeated the whole purpose of Sonship, where God intended to marry heaven and earth to bring forth not only the Son of God but also many sons.
Gnostic theology taught that the material earth was evil, so they denied that a good God would ever do such a thing. Their view was the very opposite of biblical teaching. One of the earliest principles in Scripture is that of marriage (Genesis 2:24). The goal was for heaven and earth to be in the unity of New Covenant marriage (Revelation 21:2; Matthew 6:10). But the Gnostic/Greek doctrine insisted that such a marriage was the cause of original sin and that the only solution was to separate the two into distinct domains—in essence, to divorce them.
At its core, the two worldviews begin on opposite foundations, and they end with opposite conclusions. Everything in the middle is just more detail about the process or path to the goal.
We see, then, that Jesus’ virgin birth was an event where spirit and matter came together in marriage to bring forth a new breed. We may call Him a God-Man, if we understand the term properly and not try to split Him into separate persons. We must think in terms of marriage, where every self is the product of two parents (except when cloned, which is unnatural). We must rid ourselves of the Greek worldview of the great divorce, which leads only to theological disaster.