Logical Importance of the Virginal Conception of Jesus

Al Mohler has a great article reflecting on A. T. Robertson’s arguments for the virginal conception of Jesus. According to Robertson, “The virgin birth is the only intelligible explanation of the Incarnation ever offered.”

This last Sunday morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, I preached from Matthew 1:18-25, and I opened the message with a string of seven points that show the logic of the virginal conception. In a series of “if” statements, we can see how the virginal conception is not expendable. It is connected to the primary doctrines of christology and soteriology.

  1. If Jesus had a human biological father in addition to his human mother, then Jesus would be merely human.
  2. If Jesus was merely human, then there was no deity joined to humanity and thus no incarnation.
  3. If Jesus was the product of two humans, then he had a sin nature because his biological parents would be sinners.
  4. If Jesus was a mere human with a sin nature, he could not bear the sins of others on the cross as their Savior–he himself would need a Savior!
  5. If Jesus was not an effective substitute for sinners, then there is no forgiveness granted when people believe in him.
  6. If there is no forgiveness for sinners when they bank their hope on Jesus, then the “Gospel about Jesus” is not Gospel at all, because Gospel means “good news,” and there would be no good news to share.
  7. If the essence of Christianity is the Gospel, then the insistence that Jesus had two biological parents guts the Christian faith.

Do you see the importance of the virginal conception? If there was no virginal conception, then there was no incarnation. And if you lose the incarnation, you lose it all.

My 2013 List of 10 Favorite Books

End-of-year lists are as expected as holiday leftovers, so I’m entering the fray with one too. Below are books in my Top 10 this year, though they weren’t necessarily published in 2013, nor are they in a particular order. If you click on the book’s title, you’ll be taken to its Amazon page.

(1) Jesus On Every Page by David Murray. We should read the Old Testament in light of the Person and Work of Jesus, and Murray is a helpful guide in this task. He unpacks ten ways to see Jesus in the Old Testament. I loved this book and reviewed it here.

(2) What Is Biblical Theology? by James M. Hamilton. This is an introduction to a crucial subject, and Hamilton compellingly and clearly provides the answer to the title. Bible-readers should aim to understand (and, yes, imitate) the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. I reviewed his book here.

(3) Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason Meyer. If I taught a class on preaching, this would be required reading. It is packed full of biblical insight, and in half of the book Meyer traces the stewardship of the word through the Old and New Testaments in a riveting way. Pastors, in particular, should get it for their 2014 reading.

(4) Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler. When I read this book back in January, I knew immediately it would be on my end-of-year list. Concise, powerful, and memorable, Mohler’s book on leadership is my number one recommendation on the subject. I reviewed it here.

(5) Father Hunger by Doug Wilson. As a dad, I find books on fatherhood to be a helpful and necessary addition to an annual reading regimen. Because of what I’ve read before from Wilson, I had high expectations for this book and was not disappointed. His substance and style is tremendous, refreshing, and a word for our times. Fathers, take up and read.

(6) Kingdom Come by Samuel Storms. For many years now I’ve loved reading books on eschatology, and I looked forward to the release of this one. As with any book on end-times issues, I don’t agree with every conclusion therein, but I enjoyed the journey through the subjects he evokes.

(7) The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson. In this important book for pastors, Jared Wilson (a pastor himself) talks about ministry in light of the Gospel. In a meaningful and carefully crafted exposition of 1 Peter 5 and the Five Solas of the Reformation, Wilson shows that the Good News is for ministers.

(8) Death By Living by N. D. Wilson. Like others who enjoyed Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, I wondered if I’d enjoy Wilson’s newest non-fiction book even more. And I did. His writing is a delight to read. It’s the kind of prose you swim in and climb out revived.

(9) When Shall These Things Be? edited by Keith Mathison. This book is a critique of an eschatological view called Hyper-Preterism. The line-up of authors consists of Doug Wilson, Ken Gentry, Keith Mathison, Charles Hill, Richard Pratt, Simon Kistemaker, and Robert Strimple. Again, I don’t affirm every sentence they write, but the book is a thoughtful and fascinating read (and, I hasten to add, a devastating and successful critique) of a very problematic eschatological perspective.

(10) Finally Free by Heath Lambert. Jesus promised that the pure in heart shall see God, and Lambert is honest with his readers that purity is warfare. Many snares await disciples, hoping to seize them and enslave them with images and habits that deaden their love for God and neighbor. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful, and it’s the only power that can set the captive free. Lambert’s book is full of Gospel-saturated wisdom and strength.

Observations about this list: There are (1) two books on reading the Bible, (2) three books by guys with the last name Wilson, (3) two books on end-times stuff, (4) three authors associated with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, (5) two books especially helpful to pastors, and (6) two books whose titles ask a question.

Have you read any of these books? Would they make your end-of-year list?

Can You Reject the Bible’s Teaching about the Virginal Conception and Be a Christian?

Al Mohler says NO. Here’s an excerpt from his answer:

“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 by 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.”

 

My Review of Albert Mohler’s Book “The Conviction to Lead”

Starting the new year off with a great read is the right way to begin. First up this year was Albert Mohler’s latest, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Bethany House, 2012).

I’m a doctoral student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where Mohler serves as president, so I was especially interested in what our leader would say about leadership.

I opened the book with high expectations, and I was not disappointed.

The Format

The book is organized into 25 chapters that convey the same number of leadership principles. The chapters are designed to be 7 or 8 pages long, and each one is focused to unpack, illustrate, and apply the principle in view.

Momentum builds throughout the book as it opens with the importance of conviction and ends with the aim to leave a legacy. Can a leadership book be a page-turner? Mohler has proven it can!

Importance of Conviction

It’s no secret that leadership books are a dime a dozen, but Mohler’s aim isn’t to add to the noise. He warns you in the first chapter “my goal is to change the way you think about leadership” (p. 15), and I deem his goal achieved.

The central theme of the book is summarized in a number of places, but this sentence is as clear as any: “The leadership that really matters is all about conviction” (p. 24).

Mohler’s approach to convictional leadership is flavored with personal anecdotes that enliven the material even more. He is a president of a large institution, yes, but he’s a husband, a father, and most importantly a disciple of Christ.

From the Christian worldview, he makes his case that convictional leadership is what lasts and is what followers must embrace for the organization to continue.

What Is Addressed

Helpful subjects that Mohler tackles include the importance of thinking, the “story” that frames the organization, the art of communication, the task of reading, the moral virtues of leadership, and even the inescapable minefield of media relations.

A common denominator appears early in the book and underlies the overall tone and argument: stewardship. Mohler wants leaders to steward their position well because they will answer to God. Leadership is a temporary stewardship and is exercised in light of the final judgment.

The chapters are concise, substantive, helpful, and well-written.  The book is also populated with autobiographical elements that show what so many already know about Mohler: he is an astute leader with relentless energy and remarkable intellect, a man driven by conviction and the pursuit of truth. More than that, he is a man who loves the Lord and gleans his convictions from Holy Writ.

Who Will This Book Help?

First, this book is for leaders in any capacity. Good leadership sense matters both in the secular world and in Christian organizations, and leaders will be helped by what they find herein. Do you lead five people or five hundred? Do you preside over a denominational agency or a school? Do you teach a class or mentor a group? Then get this book.

Second, this book is for pastors. Every pastor should get this book and learn. Have a pen ready to take notes. You will pastor your church with greater clarity and conviction after reading it. Mohler unashamedly argues his points from his biblical worldview, and thus his words can strengthen your hand in the ministry as you lead those in your charge.

Third, this book is for people who aren’t sure whether they’re leaders. Mohler doesn’t mince words and is honest about the cost leaders often pay. He tells you what a leader must have and what to avoid. He sobers the delusional and speaks frankly about how people risk shipwrecking their stewardship of responsibility. Do you wonder if you’re a leader? Let Mohler’s book be a mirror. Let it inspire you and compel you to lead better, with greater faithfulness and, yes, with greater conviction.

A Final Commendation

I loved this book and plan to visit it again. Mohler says his friends C. J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and others all pushed him to write it (p. 13), and I’m so glad they did. The Conviction to Lead is the best book on leadership I’ve read, and its breadth of topics will surely prove helpful to just about anyone.

Christian leadership in the 21st century calls for courageous conviction, and I’m thankful to God for men like Al Mohler who help equip us to meet the challenge.