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Dec 21

BORN OF A VIRGIN

christmas-larger

I love how God keeps me humble. Just when I think I know what I’m talking about, He gently taps me on the shoulder and whispers. “Dear Carol…”

For over half a century I spouted eloquently each Christmas about Jesus. Within my spouting were words that included, “immaculate conception.” And really, I thought I knew what I was talking about.

But words have meaning. And folks—you know I am often the first to jump enthusiastically upon my soap box and defend the meaning of a word—often to the detriment of the original discussion. It’s much harder to step down once I learn I’d been wrong or ignorant.

So here’s me stepping down and sharing something that truly, truly, truly is not important in the eternal salvation of souls. But it’s something I’ve heard bandied about each Christmas season. So since it involves words, I want to encourage you also to use them appropriately.

Jesus is divine. Jesus has existed in human form since the beginning of everything. Jesus spoke the universe into existence. Then over 2000 years ago, Jesus left the glory of heaven and came to earth for a short while. Jesus was born of a woman, Mary. He was conceived when another person of the Holy Trinity—the Holy Spirit—came upon Mary in a supernatural way.

That, friends, is the theological doctrine of “virgin birth.” And Jesus’ supernatural birth through Mary who was a virgin, is one of the main tenants of Christianity, supported by Scripture.

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

Immaculate Conception on the other hand, has nothing to do with Jesus’ birth. The doctrine of Immaculate Conception, held by some, but not all Christian groups, refers to Mary’s conception.

What? Yup.

Mary was conceived in the regular, standard way that God developed when He first set the laws of nature into motion. Mary, however, it is believed by some, was given a special gift in that—when she was conceived in this regular, standard way—God removed the stain of Adam and Eve’s original sin from her soul. Mary was immaculate (sinless) when she was conceived.

That doctrine, nicely does away with any question about original sin passing on to Jesus through Mary although my personal theory is that we don’t need a stated doctrine to justify the truth that Jesus was born sinless.

There is no scriptural basis for the idea that Mary was born sinless. In fact Mary herself acknowledges herself as a sinner in need of a savior, when she said

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:47)

Immaculate Conception is an interesting doctrine and believed by many people. It may be what happened. Or not. But, while the doctrine of Immaculate Conception is one of those things we can discuss ad nauseum, it does not matter to our salvation.

What does matter is that Jesus is part of the Holy Trinity. Jesus is divine. Jesus is God. Jesus makes His permanent home in Heaven. Jesus came to live on earth temporarily. Then He offered Himself as a blood sacrifice to God the Father to not just cover our sins but to wash them completely out; leaving us stain-free for all time. If we but call upon His name and accept His free gift of salvation.

What I like about the concept of Immaculate Conception is how I can relate it to being born again. Each of us was born in the regular, standard way. And each of us is a sinner. But when we are born again—when we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation—it’s as if that second birth is immaculate. Our sin is removed and we get a brand-new birth in the Spirit. Through Jesus, our rebirth is immaculate.

So friends, this is the time of year when you will hear the term Immaculate Conception tossed around willy nilly. It’s not necessary to debate it theologically. Rather, when you hear the phrase, look at it as an opportunity to share Jesus—your love for Him and especially His love for us all.

Merry Christmas.

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