Two Biological Miracles of God

Luke

Two Biological Miracles of God

December 16th, 1956 @ 8:15 AM

Luke 1:35

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
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GOD’S TWO BIOLOGICAL MIRACLES

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 1:35

12-16-56    8:15 a.m.

 

 

For a few Sundays, we are breaking into the long series of discourses on the creation in the first chapter of Genesis because I have come to the verses in the account of Genesis of the creation of man and the Christmas season would break into the middle of that series of presentations.  So after the first of the year, just a few more Sundays, we shall go back to the Genesis creation; and for the next, beginning then, for the following six or eight Sundays, we are going to look at God’s creation of man: The Witness of Anatomy, The Witness of Biology, The Witness of Embryology, The Witness of Paleontology.  We’re going to look at it.  We’re going to look at all of those things whereby many scientists, so called, say are evident proofs that all of us came from a primeval protozoan.  We’re all the products of a green scum.  We evolved up through all of those species that were unicellular and then metazoan; then we were tadpoles and toads; then we were serpents and fish and fowl; then we were monkeys and anthropoids; then one of us was brilliant above his fellow apes and stood on his feet and walked.

We’re going to look at all that.  That is a sure fire theory in practically all biological circles.  We’re going to look at it.  Doesn’t hurt to look at it, does it?  We’re going to look at it, and we’re not going to look at it just passing it by.  We’re going to look at it, and if there is in any of it one little thing by which the Genesis record of the creation of man is contradicted by any single fact – not somebody’s imagination or somebody’s theory or hypothesis – we’re going to look at it.  And if there is a single fact that we can find, we’re going to find it.  We’re not going to be afraid.  Why should a man be afraid of the truth?

Anything that is true, let’s have it.  Let’s look at it.  Let’s accept it.  Let’s believe it – whatever is the truth.  All that we desire is that we be delivered from the category of dupes, and pawns, and psychopaths, and illiterates.  All we want to know is, "What is this thing?"  That’s all.  "What is the fact of this?  What is the truth of this?"  That’s all.  So we’re going to do it.  And I can tell you, having worked on this thing for months and months – – still working on it with all the energy of my mind and heart – still at it – I haven’t found yet, not in any of those sciences, one substantiating fact – not yet – that denies the inspired account of God’s creation of man.  So after the first of the year, we’re going to present that: this segment of it, and this segment of it, and this segment of it. It’ll be a marvelous thing to me, and I hope that it will be to you.  Now, we have broken into it, I say, so I could put it all together because one follows the other. 

And this morning, we’re going to speak of the two biological miracles of God.  Now, the first biological miracle is in Genesis.  The second one is in the first chapter and the second – the first chapter of Matthew and the first chapter of Luke and second chapters of Luke.

Now let’s take the Luke one first; let’s take the Luke one first.  In your Bible, turn to Luke, the first chapter and the twenty-sixth verse.  Then, if you have opportunity, put your finger at the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: Matthew 1 and Luke 1.  Now we’re going to read this, and we’re going to do it with an emphasis upon the scriptural testimony to the miracle of the birth of our Savior.

There’s no doubt – a man may deny what God’s Book says, but there’s no doubt about what God’s Word says.  "In the sixth month," that is, after Elizabeth, who was old and sterile, barren, childless, after Elizabeth had conceived [Luke 1:5-25]: "In the sixth month" – of that conception – "the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth" [Luke 1:26]. That’s a miracle in itself that an angel should be sent: "To a virgin" [Luke 1:27] – no doubt about that word.  You may have a whole lot of war in the theological world about the word in Isaiah 7:14, but you won’t have anybody warring about this word; " . . . to a virgin who was engaged" [Luke 1:27] we would translate that.  She was engaged: 

 

 . . . to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

And the angel came to her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."

When she saw him, she was troubled at his saying . . .

And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus –

Savior –

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:

And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end."

Then said Mary said unto the angel . . .

[Luke 1:26-34]

 

What did the Bible say she was?  She was a virgin.  "Then said Mary unto the angel, ‘How shall this be, seeing I’m not married – I know not a man, I do not have a husband?’" [from Luke 1:34]  That’s emphatic.  That’s in the very warp and woof of the story.  "And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, shall come upon thee . . . ‘" [Luke 1:35].  This is one of the great, great verses of the Bible – the one I’m now reading:

 

And the angel answered and said unto her, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

And, behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, in her old age, this is the sixth month in which she has been with child who was called barren.

For with God nothing shall be impossible."

[from Luke 1:35-37]

 

As though somebody were to read that and say, "What an unusual thing!  A virgin with a child and a sterile old woman named Elizabeth now in her sixth month: "For with God nothing shall be impossible" [Luke 1:37].  And Mary gave herself as the handmaid of the Lord [Luke 1:38].  And then you have those beautiful, beautiful stories which we’ll come back to at the last point of this sermon. 

All right, now let’s turn to Matthew.  You will find the same emphatic thing there – the same emphatic thing.  All of this, all of it, will be a miracle of God.  Now the eighteenth verse: "Now the birth of Jesus was like this on this wise: When . . . "  [from Matthew 1:18].  The one in Luke goes back to Mary, this conception, and on and on.

Now, you come to Joseph.  Luke’s account is written from Mary’s point of view, and I’ll tell you why at the latter part of this sermon.  This one is written from Joseph’s point of view.  Matthew – all of these things about genealogy and the stories are all from Joseph’s point of view in Matthew.  All of them are from Mary’s point of view in Luke.

"Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, before they came together" – you have the same thing again: before they came together, before they were married – "she was found with Child of the Holy Spirit" [Matthew 1:18].  You see, that’s from Joseph’s point of view.  Joseph found that his engaged wife, before he was married to her, she had a child – she was heavy with child.

 

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, thought within himself to put her away privily.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord –

there’s your miracle –

appeared unto him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins."

Now all of this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

"Behold, a virgin –

The Holy Ghost translates that word almah, "virgin" –

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel" –

Immanuel –

which being interpreted is, ‘God is with us.’"

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his espoused wife –

his engaged girl.  Now look at it –

And knew her not –

was not married to her –

And knew her not –

See how emphatic the Bible will say those things –

And knew her not till she had brought forth her first born Son: and he called His name Jesus –

Jesus, Savior –

                        [from Matthew 1:19-25]

 

Now, that has been a storm center from the very beginning, and I mean the very beginning.  When you read the story of Jesus here in the gospel, you will find in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John the Jewish leaders down there at Jerusalem pointing their finger to Jesus and saying, "We were not born of fornication" [John 8:41] – and could I put in parentheses, "like you were."  It’s what they meant by it: "You illegitimate.  You son of a Roman soldier." 

And in the Talmud and in all the Talmudic literature, you’ll find rife from those days in which Jesus lived the repeated story of immorality that Mary gave herself to a Roman officer by the name of Panthera and of that illicit union Jesus was born.  Voltaire [Francois-Marie Arouet, 1694-1778] repeated those stories in his inveighing against the Lord; and even Tolstoy [Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910], in his work entitled The Four Gospels [The Four Gospels Harmonized and Translated, by Leo Tolstoy, 1895], repeats the same stories.  You had it from the beginning.  Didn’t develop.  It started that way.

Now in the days of John the apostle, who was in his latter years an elder in Ephesus, there was in the same city, Ephesus, a Gnostic, a philosopher of tremendous intellectual proportions, whose name was Cerinthus [c. 100 CE].  Cerinthian Gnosticism is a philosophical term you’ll come across in any study of theology. 

Now, Cerinthus leveled his attack at the deity of Christ right here at His virgin birth.  Cerinthus said that Christ was one of the aeons.  That’s one of the tokens of Gnosticism.  God is so removed and the earth is so evil that the only way pure, holy, removed God could ever touch evil earth was through a succession of eminencies, through a succession of angels – "aeons" they called them.  One would be right next to God, then there would be another under Him, another under Him, another under Him, and another under Him.  I could have a great king who’d have a prime minister, who’d have a secretary of state, who’d have an undersecretary, who’d have an office boy, who’d have an errand fellow who touched this dirt out here. Well, that’s the way Gnosticism is built. 

Now, Cerinthus said that Jesus was that last aeon – the one that touched the earth.  Cerinthus said that the aeon came upon Jesus at His baptism and left Him at the cross.  And his [Cerinthus’] center of attack was that Jesus was a man like any other man, born like any other man, and that He was the son of Mary and Joseph.  Well that was Cerinthian Gnosticism, and John [the apostle] had a holy abhorrence of Cerinthus.

Now the thing continued.  In the second century, Celsus – – and there are not any arguments against the Christian faith that in the second century Celsus did not give voice to – – great Greek rhetorician, philosopher, marvelous writer.  Celsus repeated the same immoral stories in trying to cut down the tremendous stature, moral and religious, of the Lord Jesus.  And that has continued through all the years.

Matthew Arnold [1822-1888] said, "I do not believe in the virgin birth for that would imply miracle; and miracles do not happen" [Preface, Literature and Dogma, by Matthew Arnold, 1883, pg xii].  In his theology entitled The New Theology [1907], Dr. Reginald Camel [1867-1956] says, "The doctrine of the virgin birth tends to put a barrier between Jesus and the race.  It operates as a hindrance to spiritual religion.  The simple and natural conclusion is that Jesus was the child of Joseph and Mary and had an uneventful childhood."

Soltau [Wilhelm Soltau, 1846-1924], in the book entitled The Birth of Jesus Christ [1903], says, "Whoever makes further demands that a Christian shall believe in the words," then he quotes from the Apostle’s Creed, ‘"conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary,’ unwittingly constitutes himself a sharer in the sin against the Holy Spirit of the true gospel as transmitted to us by the apostles." 

Now, the attitude of these men is this that the virgin birth is an accumulation of those legends that inevitably grew up around any and all of the great heroes of that ancient world and that we have those legends and these legends about Jesus are just like those legends about all the other great heroes.  Well, it doesn’t take much time for a man to look at the legends about the great heroes and compare them with the stories of the birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  Now, let’s take just a moment and look at those legends.  They say all of these things are mythical, legendary, imaginative, and they grew up like a snowball about a great personality.  Well, let’s just look at them. 

One of the legends of the ancient world regards Alexander the Great [356-323 CE].  Alexander the Great became so great until he disdained to be known as "the son of Philip of Macedon" [Philip II of Macedon, 382-336 BCE], his father.  He had to have some miraculous birth, so finally Alexander went around saying that he was the son of his mother and of a serpent who cohabited with her.  Now, that’s the miraculous birth of Alexander the Great: between his mother and a serpent.  And Alexander the Great himself promulgated that. 

All right, another great hero of the ancient world is Caesar Augustus.  The legend of the birth of Caesar Augustus is that his mother lay asleep in the temple of Apollo, and a serpent came.  The god took upon him the form of a serpent, and in the months later, Octavius Caesar Augustus [63 BCE-14CE] was born.  Wouldn’t that thrill your soul?  Isn’t that a tremendous revelation?  That’s how Augustus was born, they said. 

Well, Gautama Buddha [c. 563-480 BCE]: for two or three hundred years after Buddha there was no story of his birth at all.  But after about three hundred years, they began to circulate this story that his mother was sleeping, and in a dream she saw a great white elephant with six tusks, and the elephant forcibly entered her side.  And in the months that followed, Gautama, who later became known as the Buddha, the Enlightened One, was born.

Well, another one is about Hercules.  Hercules was the son of a beautiful woman, Alcmene, who was the daughter of Electryon, King of Mycenae.  And Jupiter fell in love with her.  And while her husband was away, Jupiter assumed the form of her husband, and Hercules was born.

And when Juno, the wife of Jupiter, learned of it, she sent two serpents to slay the baby Hercules.  Snakes always get into it.  I don’t know why, but they’ve always got serpents around.  And Juno sent those two serpents to slay Hercules; and the little baby with one hand seized one great dragon and with his other hand seized the other great dragon and destroyed them both.  Well that’s Hercules.

Another one is Achilles. Achilles is the son of Peleus, the king of Thessaly, and Thetis, a sea nymph, who dipped him in the River Styx by his heels to make him immortal and invulnerable.  But Paris, you remember, shot his arrow and wounded him in his heel – a poisoned arrow – and he died.  That’s Achilles. 

Oh, you don’t need to go on.  You can go on and on and on, but you’ll find in no one of them first a virgin birth – not in a one of them.  And, in the second instance, the legends are manifestly imaginative, fictitional, silly, ridiculous.

When I enter into the stories of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, I enter a different world.  I come out of the filth, and the immorality, and the mire, and the dirt of man’s depraved mind into the clear, beautiful, white light of the pristine loveliness and beauty of God. 

You compare them.  You do it yourself.  You go back there and read any of those stories of any of those heroes.  And yet these men of great critical and theological and philosophical stature say that the stories of the birth of Jesus are just one other instance of those legendary tales that accumulated around the rise of some great political or statesmanlike or warlike figure. They’re not in the same category. 

Now, the thing that happened here with regard to the Lord Jesus is you have the most unique, separate, undefiled, apart – the most unique of all of the men, all the personalities, all the characters – you have Someone who after the centuries of close scrutiny and study still appears in stature above all others in this earth.  Like the sun is above all of the planets in its glory and in its light, so you have Jesus separate and apart.

Well how do you explain it?  How do you explain Him?  Well, Joseph said, "He is not my son," and he thought privily to put Mary away [Matthew 1:19].  "He’s not my son.  He’s not my son."  And he planned quietly, without venom, without retaliation, he planned quietly to put her away.  Joseph said, "He is not my son, not mine."  Mary said, "He is not the son of Joseph." 

When Jesus was tried for His life, they put Jesus to death because He said God was His Father, making Himself God [John 19:7].  All Mary had to do to save Him was to come forward and say, "That’s a hallucination.  That’s an imaginative story.  Joseph is His father.  God’s not His father."  She didn’t do it because her lips were sealed. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit [Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35].  Mary said, "Joseph is not his father."

The gospel writers say that Joseph is not His father.  I’ve just read it.  There’s nothing clearer: Joseph is not His father.  The witness of the apostles, the witness of all of the Scriptures, the fulfillment of the prophecies: Joseph is not His father. 

Well then, who is the father of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Who begat the Savior of the world?  There is only One who ever claims or claimed to be the father of our Lord Jesus Christ and that is God in heaven.  He said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" [Matthew 3:17].  The only one who ever has claimed to be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is God in heaven.

Now, may I return to this story?  Where did Luke get this story of the birth of Jesus as he recorded it?  All right, you’ll find in the second chapter of Luke.  Here’s where he got it.  Of the people who knew that story, these intimacies of marriage and home, you don’t wear them around on your sleeve.  You don’t publish them in the paper.  They are things just between you and your wife.  All of us realize, cognizant of, sensitive to that.  You don’t need to expatiate on that.  So this thing that happened to Mary was something in Mary’s heart, in Mary’s life, and it was in Joseph’s life.  And it was in Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias – it was in her life [Luke 1:5-80].  Those things were intimate things: deeply personal, spiritual, holy things that pertain to marriage in your own soul.

Now, Joseph died.  We do not know when.  Joseph must have been older than Mary.  Joseph died.  And when Paul came with Luke to Judea, after his third missionary journey, they put Paul in prison for over two years [Acts 24:24-27].  When Paul is sent to Rome, Luke is right there still with him [Acts 27:1, 28:11-14].  So for over two years, for over two years, Luke, the beloved physician, was in Judea while Paul was in prison down at Caesarea.  What did Luke the beloved physician do?  He says, in the preamble, in the preface of his gospel, that he ascertained the truth of these things that are most assuredly believed among us [Luke 1:1-4].  He went to the eye witnesses [Luke 1:2].  He went to everybody he could find.  And among those whom Luke the physician visited and talked to was Mary the mother of Jesus. 

And Luke shows where these things came from by things like this: in the second chapter of Luke in the nineteenth verse.  Look at that, look at that: second chapter of Luke in the nineteenth verse: "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" [Luke 2:19].  He was a physician [Colossians 4:14].  And he talked to Mary.  And Mary, all of those things – those intimate things, those holy things – they came out of the heart of Mary.  And Luke, the beloved physician, visited Mary and learned these things from Mary the mother of Jesus.  He repeats that same thing again in the fifty-first verse of the second chapter: "But His mother kept all these sayings in her heart" [Luke 2:51].  That’s where Luke got them.  And that’s the way they are presented to us by the testimony of these holy men of God.

Now, may I say just a word about those two biological miracles?  The first biological miracle is in the first chapter of Genesis when God created man out of the dust of the ground and began that order of mitosis that has characterized the growth and expansion and development of the race ever since [Genesis 1:26-28].  There are two kinds of cells in your body.  There are somatic cells, body cells – all the cells that are functional.  You’ve got them in your finger, and in your brain, and in your stomach, and your lungs, and your heart, and your skin – everywhere: somatic cells, functional cells that have different specific assignments.  Then you have another kind of cell in your body: it’s a reproductive cell.  In a woman, in a girl, it’s an ova in the ovum.  In a man, it is a spermatozoa. 

And all of the cells of all the species of the world have a certain set number of chromosomes in them – every one.  Every species has its own set number of chromosomes in every one of those cells, every one of them.  There are about three trillion cells, somatic cells – body cells – in your body – every one of them in you, in me, in every human being.  All humanity: we have a set number of chromosomes in those cells – every one of us.  The monkey has a certain number in his cells – all monkeys.  A tadpole will have a certain set number in his cells, an elephant in his cells, the hippopotamus in his cells, a bird in his cells, a little ant in his cells.  All of them have a certain set number of chromosomes.  God set it.  That’s the biological miracle.

But in the reproductive cell, the chromosome number is cut half in two.  And when they join together, half from the male, half from the female, then the number is the same again.  And that goes on, the mitotic process, through all of the generations.  It is a miracle of God.  Huxley [Thomas H. Huxley, 1825-1895] said, "The miracles of the church are as child’s play – the mysteries of the church are as nothing compared to the mysteries of nature" [from The Church Eclectic, by Thomas H. Huxley, 1906].  If I were to say that to the mysteries of God’s handiwork, same thing. 

Now, the same miracle that God began and is continued in me, in you, that is as much a miracle as any other miracle that God’s ever done: the miracle of you – and if you have a child, the miracle of your child.  "Oh, Preacher, I can just stand up there and explain the birth of my child just like that."

 I’ll tell you what I’ll do.  As long as you give me any assurance that you can explain the birth of your child, I’ll sit down and listen to you.  If it takes me a year of my life, it’d be worth it.  I’d like to know where’d the soul of my daughter come from?  Where?  Where?  Where did all of that thing that makes life, and personality, and character, and being – where’d it come from?  How?  That’s the biological miracle, the first one of God, when He created us and gave us the power of that reproductive process.  That’s one.

The second miracle is when God intervened.  He who began it could stop it.  And the second biological miracle, and it’s no greater than the first one, the second biological miracle is when God reached down and intervened, interposed, and shaped.  Without an earthly father, He placed God’s chromosomes – – and I don’t understand that – – but He placed God’s chromosomes by the side of the chromosomes of the flesh, the womanhood, blood, of the virgin Mary.  And that holy thing born of her womb was the Son of God [Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 1:35].

I don’t understand either one of them, but I see the handiwork of God here and around me: you, you, and I [Psalm 139:13-14]. I see it.  And I see it in the marvelous outpouring of the floods of love and grace and mercy in the life and character of Christ Jesus.  With awe we take off our shoes [Exodus 3:5] and bow our heads in the presence of the great God above who loved us, who made us, and in Christ Jesus who redeems and saves us.  It’s a great gospel.  It’s a marvelous story.

All right, let’s stand and sing our song.  And while we sing the song, just this first stanza, somebody here to give his heart to the Lord or to put his life in the fellowship of our church: would you come and stand by me while we stand and sing the song?

TWO BIOLOGICAL MIRACLES OF GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 1:26-37

12-16-56

 

I.          Introduction

A.  Mary’s point of view (Luke 1:26-37)

B.  Joseph’s point of view (Matthew 1:18-25)

 

II.         The birth of Jesus a battleground from the beginning

A.  In His lifetime (John 8:19, 41)

B.  In the lifetime of the apostles

      1.  Cerinthian Gnosticism carried through the centuries

C.  Modern theology scoffs Holy Scriptures and virgin birth

 

III.        Is it just another legend?

A.  All great men of the past had supernatural births, according to tradition

B.  Compare the ludicrous, immoral conceptions with the holiness, purity and beauty of the virgin birth

 

IV.        The unique character of Jesus

A.  An accounting must be made for Jesus (John 7:46)

B.  Joseph was not the father (Matthew 1:18-19)

      1.  Only One who claimed to be His Father (Matthew 3:17)

C.  Luke tells the story from Mary’s side (Luke 2:19, 51)

 

V.         The two great biological miracles

A.  Creation of Adam from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7)

B.  God broke into the chain of mitosis, created sinless Son of God