1) In the New Testament one perplexing problem is the virgin birth of Jesus. Please explain.
Answer: Very well. Please read Matt. 1:18-25. "Now the birth of Jesus was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he though about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.' Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.' Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called his name Jesus." Another text we shall read is Luke 1:26-35:
"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! ' But when she saw him, she was troubled at this saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the houses of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.' Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I do not know a man?' And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."
2) From this we can see that Jesus is both Son of Man and Son of God. But how is it that the genealogy of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Matthew is different from that in the gospel of Luke?
Answer: That is an important question. Matt 1:16 says, "Jacob begot Joseph," and Luke 3:23 says thast Joseph was "the son of Heli." Although the Bible does not explain why Joseph was called "son of Heli," we can make the following deduction: It is possible that the father of Mary had no son, so according to the principle given in Num 27:8, Joseph was his rightful heir. The text reads, "If a man dies and has no son, then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter." Jesus was the Son of David through Mary's blood relation, but His legal title to David's throne comes through Joseph, whose marriage relationship with Mary gave Jesus that title.
Jesus was to grow up in a regular home environment, setting an example to all youth. Luke 2:51 says, "Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them."
3) Apart from the prophecy in Isa 7:14, which says, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel," are there other prophecies of the divinity of Jesus?
Answer: Yes, Isa 9:6,7 reads, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." This text says that a Child will be called "Mighty God," and a Son will be called "Everlasting Father." These absolute contradictions are actually resolved in Jesus Christ!
4) Jesus always called Himself "Son of Man." Did He ever claim to be Son of God?
Answer: Yes. In John 9:35 Jesus said to a blind man He had just healed, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you."
In Exod 3:3 God declared His name as "I AM," the meaning of "Jehovah." In John 8 Jesus called Himself "I am" three times. In John 8:24 and 8:28 Jesus says, "I am He," the italicized He indicates that it is a word supplied by the translators. The Greek text simply says "I am." In John 8:58 Jesus says, "Before Abraham was, I AM." The Jews knew that by this He was using the name of God, so they took up stones to stone HIm.
5) How is the dual nature of Christ related to the plan of salvation? Please explain it from the Bible.
Answer: The earliest prophetic text is found in Gen 3:15. When man first sinned, God said to the serpent who was possessed by Satan, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Jesus was truly the woman's Seed, and He bruised Satan's head on the cross of Calvary. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." John commented, "This He said, signifying by what death He would die." John 12:31-33.
These words indicate the ruthlessness of the conflict between Christ and Satan. In order to eradicate sin, Jesus must die. But God cannot die. 1 Tim 6:16 says, He "alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see." For this reason Christ took human nature. "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil."
6) Some have said, One man can only die for one other person. How can Jesus die for billions of people? And since He rose again from the dead, could that mean that He did not die after all?
Answer: We explained this before, but because it is an important question, we will deal with it again. Heb 2:9 says, "Jesus, . . for the suffering of death . . . might taste death for everyone." The "suffering of death" refers to the second death of annihilation as told in Rev 20:14. Jesus is "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father." John 1:18. For the first time ever, God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor 5:21. Because He who had always been in the bosom of the Father was made to be sin for us, and God cannot coexist with sin, so on the cross the Father was for the first time separated from the Son.
The suffering caused by this separation is beyond the capacity of human beings to experience. For the "suffering of death" was the suffering of separation of Father and Son. And because their capacity for suffering was proportionate to their infinite divine nature, the "suffering of death" experienced by Christ far exceeded the sum total of all human suffering. Therefore after Jesus had tasted death "for everyone," He still had an infinite remainder of life, so He could legitimately rise again. He said, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command have I received from My Father." John 10:17,18.
The Word became flesh, that He might taste the suffering of death for everyone," another purpose was to set an example for us. Men say that the law of God cannot be kept. Jesus took human nature and bore human trials. Heb 4:15,16 says that "we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Since Christ was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, He is qualified to be our judge. "The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son. . .and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man." John 5:22,27. If any should say, "God doesn't know how hard it is to live in this world, Jesus will say, "I know, as I've been through it all."
7) It was not strange for Christ to overcome, for He was the Son of God. and after all, His human nature was different, for He was born of a virgin, and we were not.
Answer: That is not true. Jesus did not use His divine nature to overcome. The first words of the tempter to Jesus was, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." Jesus replied, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Matt 4:3,4. When Jesus was on the cross, men mocked Him saying, "If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." Matt 27:40. This was the strongest temptation, because it was something He could do. In fact, He could have avoided danger in the first place. When Peter drew a sword to fight, Jesus said, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" Matt 26:52-54.
These words refer chiefly to the prophecy in Isa 53, to which He had referred even before His arrest. He said, "For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end." Like 22:37. He quoted from Isa 53:12. Jesus the Son of Man gave us the example of watching unto prayer and filling our memory with the word of God, teaching us to repel the tempter with the answer, "It is written."
It is wrong to say that Jesus cannot be our example, because He was the Word made flesh. The purpose of the Word becoming flesh, was to lead us creatures of flesh to become the Word. God wants every human mortal to receive the Holy Spirit, that we may be born again and overcome just as Christ overcame. 2 Pet 1:4 says, "By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
8) The main points of the Gospel is that (a) Jesus the Son of God was born of a virgin, and (b) Jesus was crucified not for Himself, but for the sins of the world. Some people doubt these two points. They say Jesus was a bastard, and His vicarious death was a later invention by His followers.
Answer: God foresaw all this, therefore He had men write prophecies hundreds and even thousands of years ahead of time, on which all who honestly want to know the truth can build their faith. Aside from prophecies of Jesus' miraculous birth, Isaiah made ten statements that Christ died not for Himself, but for the sins of us all
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its sheareers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of My people was He stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked---but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief, when You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgresssors." Isa 53:4-12.
9) 1 John 3:9 says, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." Heb 10:26 says, "If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries." These texts seem to contradict. One says a person born of God does not sin, another says that he can willfully sin. Please explain.
Answer: We shall begin with the topic of the rebirth. John 3:6 says, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." It was explained that the rebirth is from God, because the Spirit comes from God. 1 Pet 2:2 teaches Christians as newborn babes to "desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby." this "milk of the word" refers to the Bible, for "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Matt 4:4. This works according to natural laws. If a reborn Christian does not receive spiritual milk, he will starve to death and sin again, and eventually even sin willfully.
The kind of person who "does not sin" is one who feeds on the milk of the word and becomes a strong lively Christian. The one who sins willfully after receiving a knowledge of the truth is one who has died spiritually after having been born again. He then becomes a false Christian. Satan will make use of such people, enlist them into his ranks to oppose God, and continue in sin. That is why you must always "watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matt 26:41.
10) 1 John 2:1 says, "My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins." Does this text contradict the "cannot sin" of the previous text?
Answer: The "does not sin" or "cannot sin" of 1 John 3:9 and the "may not sin" of 1 John 2:1 are slightly different in their Greek forms. The "does not sin" means "does not continue in sin," A habitual thief stops stealing, and a prostitute quits her occupation for an honorable one. But Christians can fall in moments of weakness, like Peter denying his Lord three times in succession, and then weeping in contrition. The Lord forgave him. But Judas sinned willfully and hanged himself, because he did not truly repent because he hated his sin, but was fearful of impending retribution, so he was not forgiven. Although Peter fell, the object of his loyalty--Jesus Christ--did not change. But Judas consistently lived for self, so he was not saved.
In summary, everyone's fate depends on his own choice, and develops according to natural laws. God says in Isa 55:11, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the things for which I sent it." The parable in Luke 8:5-8 reveals that though there is life in the seed, the harvest depends on the nature of the soil into which the seed is sown. Seed sown by the wayside bear no fruit, while those that "fell on good ground, are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience." So all who have repented and believed in the Lord, must continually watch in prayer and study God's word. As long as we have a "noble and good heart," even when we stumble and
fall, we will rise again to walk on the narrow road, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, overcoming even as Christ overcame. Such people do not sin, because they pray like Jesus, "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart." Ps 40:8.