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Scripture Memory: Rejoicing in God.

VERSE : Habakkuk 3:18 “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness 

20 December 2015

9.30am Combined English Christmas Service

Rev Lee Hock Chin (The Hope & Joy of the World, Matt 1:21)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Emmanuel: God With Us, Matt :23)

27 December 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Examine Yourselves, 2 Cor 13:1-13)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Ho Chee Lai (Teach Us to Number Our Days; Ps 90:9-12)

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BORN OF A VIRGIN

The virgin birth was a miraculous event that has taken place only once in all human history, at the time when Jesus Christ was born. This event has become so important that it is still celebrated every year at Christmas. According to Luke’s Gospel, a devout young Jewess named Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph, but they were not married yet. An angel broke the news to her that she was specially chosen by God to conceive and bear a son whom she should name Jesus. Mary was very perplexed how she could ever conceive as a virgin. The angel replied that the Holy Spirit of God would perform this great miracle in her.

Matthew’s Gospel provides more evidence that Jesus was born of a virgin. Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, before they could come together (Matthew 1:18). He naturally thought that Mary had violated the terms of their engagement. As he thought about what he should do to Mary, an angel appeared to him and revealed to him the same news Mary had received. He said, “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (verse 20). Joseph obeyed God and made Mary his wife, in order to protect her reputation, as well as to be a foster father to Jesus. Both of them were privileged to be part of God’s great work of bringing the divine Son of God into the world!

This may have seemed very new to Mary and Joseph at that time, but it was actually not new at all. God had already planned the miracle of the virgin birth from the very beginning. This can be seen in prophecies that were given many centuries before it took place.

It Was Planned by God from the Beginning

The earliest prophecy of the virgin birth is found in Genesis 3:15. Just after Adam and Eve sinned, God made a very intriguing announcement to the serpent that had tempted Eve – “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” The term ‘her seed’ (i.e. the seed of the woman) in this verse implies the virgin birth. In ordinary births the Bible refers to children 41 times as being the seed of the man, not of the woman (Genesis 17:19).

About 740 years before Christ was born, more details of the virgin birth were revealed through the prophet Isaiah, “Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:13,14)

Some people claim that this prophecy was about a virgin birth which was to take place as a sign from God to King Ahaz who heard these words. Ahaz had chosen unwisely to put his trust in a foreign power to deliver his nation from danger, rather than in God. But Matthew states that this prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ – “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22,23)

This led some to speculate that there were actually two virgin births, one that took place in the time of King Ahaz as a sign to him, and another when Christ was born 740 years later. There are several problems with this view. Firstly, Bible prophecies cannot be fulfilled more than once. Secondly, the name “Immanuel” given to the child that is born means ‘God with us.’ This implies that he would be the very incarnation of God Himself. No one but Jesus Christ can appropriately bear such a name. Thirdly, the sign need not be fulfilled in Ahaz’s lifetime, since it was given to the house of David (Isaiah 7:13). The word “you” in verse 14 (“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign”) is in the plural form, and therefore it cannot refer to Ahaz alone. The house of David continued to exist up till the time of Jesus Christ, and Mary and Joseph were both part of it. This proves that Isaiah’s prophecy must refer solely to the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It Transcends the Laws of Science

The reason why this is the only virgin birth in human history is that it is a biological impossibility. Human reproduction requires the union of the reproductive cells of a man and a woman. The normal human cell has 46 chromosomes. If any of these is missing or deformed, there can be no human life. But the reproductive cell of a man or woman has only 23 chromosomes. It has to fuse with its counterpart reproductive cell which has the other 23 chromosomes into order to be complete. This makes it biologically impossible for a virgin to conceive.

Scientists today try to circumvent the natural laws of science by means of cloning. This is done by transforming a normal cell which has 46 chromosomes in a reproductive cell. But the result of cloning is an offspring that is an exact copy of its parent, since it has exactly the same chromosomes as its parent. Christ’s virgin birth was not like this at all. If it was, Mary would have given birth to a girl like herself, and not to a boy. This means that the only way to explain how Mary could have conceived a male child on her own, is that God worked a wondrous miracle, transcending the laws of science.

Those who do not believe in miracles attempt to find a natural explanation. For instance, Liberal scholars claim that the Hebrew Word for “virgin” in Isaiah’s prophecy is almah and this should be translated as “young woman.” They argue that the word bethulah would have been used if “virgin” was meant (cf. Genesis 24:16). There is nothing miraculous about a young woman giving birth to a child, since she may not be a virgin. But contrary to what these scholars say, the word almah is used consistently in the Old Testament to mean “a young woman of marriageable age who is still a virgin.” (e.g. Genesis 24:43) This is confirmed in Matthew’s quotation of Isaiah’s prophecy in his Gospel, where he translated the word almah as parthenos in Greek. Parthenos means nothing else but virgin.

There is therefore no doubt that the virgin birth of Jesus is a powerful miracle wrought by God Himself. What we need to understand now is why this miracle was necessary. It was not done just to make Christ’s birth different from all other births. It was actually the only way that God could become fully man without ceasing to be God.

It Was the Means by Which God Entered into the World

This is stated in another prophecy of Isaiah concerning Christ’s birth, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God…”  (Isaiah 9:6). Since this child is the mighty God Himself, He must have existed before He was born into this world. In ordinary human conception, a new person begins to exist only at the moment of conception. But Jesus, who is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, did not begin to exist when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. The virgin birth explains how this happened. Since there was no union of two reproductive cells, no new person was created, but the existing person of God the Son took on a human nature at the moment He was conceived in a virgin’s womb.

This is indeed a great mystery. How can the almighty God become a helpless little baby? How can God who knows everything become a little child who has to learn how to talk, walk and put on His own clothes? How can an infinite God become such a finite creature? The conception and birth of God the Son will remain a mystery that defies all human reasoning, because human minds are incapable of understanding it. We accept this mystery simply by faith in God’s written Word.

The Word of God itself admits that it is a great mystery, according to 1 Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  What remains to be answered now is why did God do this? Why was He born of a virgin to become a human being like us?

It Was an Act of Great Condescension

In order to be born into this world God had to submit Himself to being limited by time and space. He had to put aside temporarily His unlimited powers and unlimited knowledge. As a man, He had to experience hunger, thirst, tiredness, pain and suffering. Jesus lived without many comforts of life. His birth took place in a stable where animals were kept. The manger where He was placed was their feeding trough. We can only imagine how filthy and unhygienic this must have been compared to the very clean environment in which babies are born today. After that, Jesus grew up in a poor family, for Mary and Joseph could not afford to offer an animal at the temple when they brought Him there to be dedicated to God, and they had to offer birds instead (Luke 2:24, Leviticus 12:6-8).

What He did involved untold sacrifice and humiliation because He had to endure living in a world that is full of sin and wickedness. This truly involved great condescension, because God is absolutely holy and pure and cannot tolerate sin at all. And He not only endured man’s sins throughout His earthly life, He also became its victim at the end of it. Philippians 2:7,8 tells us that He “… made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

No one has ever condescended as much as the Lord Jesus when He was born into this world. What was it that made the almighty God willing to undertake the task of living as a man?  

It Was an Act of Great Love

Above all things the virgin birth brings out the truth that God the Son loved us so much that He came down to save us from our sins. Then He removed our sins by dying on the cross for us. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Has any love ever been as great as this? Has anyone ever loved us so selflessly, so wonderfully and so completely the way that God loved us in Christ?

If you have not received Christ as your Saviour yet and you are still trying hard to save yourself by your own good works, listen to what He said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)                                        —Pastor

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Watchnight Service 
(with Holy Communion)

31 Dec 15 (Thu), 10.30 pm - 12.00 am

“A Year-End Benediction”

(2 Cor 13:14) by Rev Charles Seet

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1) The offering collected at the Christmas Carol Service on Thursday will be designated to help the poor, needy and underprivileged through Christian ministries in Singapore and overseas.

2) Scripture Memory Verse Review No. 4. The deadline for submitting the review is 3 Jan 16. Review Nos. 1-3 are also available. Obtainable at the front counter.

3) The Life B-P Church Camp 2016 will be held from 13 to 16 June 2016 at Novotel Melaka Hotel, Malaysia.  Speaker: Rev Edward Paauwe. Theme: “The Fruit of the Spirit”  Please book your annual leave now to avoid disappointment. Registration will begin in January.

4) Catechism Class for Easter Baptism resumes next Sunday at Beulah Centre Rm 2-1, 9.40am. Those seeking baptism, reaffirmation of faith and transfer of membership must attend the catechism class.

5) 62nd YF / 34th YAF Anniversary 2015. 31 Dec 15 (before Watchnight Service). 7pm. Beulah MPH.    “Remember Thy Creator in the Days of Thy Youth” (Ecc 12) by Elder Sherman Ong. Everyone is invited to fellowship over dinner thereafter (dinner will be provided)

Preaching appointment: Rev Wong at Nazareth BPC, 9.30am. Rev Lee at AF AGM, 11.30 am.

 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11