(Some of the many Q&A's and Bible articles on the "Wielding the Sword of the Spirit" web site at www.matthewmcgee.org)
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Bible Questions and Answers: Salvation

Matthew McGee


Q: How can a person get to heaven (become saved)?

A: To be saved from eternal torment, one must believe the gospel of grace. The gospel of grace is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, freely gave His life as the perfect sacrifice to pay for all of our sins, was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.

Please see my article, Roman Road to Salvation, which provides more detailed discussion on this topic as well as scriptural support.


Q: Is baptism in water required for salvation?

A: No, absolutely not. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Baptism in water is an act of work. Salvation is a "free gift" (Romans 5:15), not something that we earn by good works.

Romans 3:22 says righteousness is given to, "all them that believe", not just to all who believe and are baptized in water. Romans 1:16 proclaims that the gospel "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ...", with no mention of water. Likewise, Romans 3:26 says God is "... the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." It is faith in the gospel through which we are saved, not performance of any ritual. This is why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:17, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel ...." The gospel of grace is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, freely gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for all our sins, was crucified, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Romans 6:23 says, "The wages (earned) of sin is death; but the gift (free) of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Eternal life is given to us, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (rebirth), and renewing (receiving) of the Holy Ghost ..." (Titus 3:5).

Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-6, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized (immersed) into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted (buried) together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man (our old sin nature) is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed ...."

Paul is not talking about water baptism here. There is no mention of water at all in this passage. He is saying that when we become a believer, we are immersed into the body of Jesus Christ. Being in His body, we are considered by God to have died with Him on that cross, having been immersed into His death. Our old sin natures are accounted as dead in the eyes of God. We were buried with Him. If Jesus Christ had remained in the tomb, there would have been no hope for our resurrection, since we are in Him. But Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, and every believer rose with Him. Through His life, we have life. He is sinless, and since we are in Him, God sees us as sinless as well (even though we do still sin). So from the moment we believe, whenever God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 says, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ...." Note once again that this passage does not speak of baptism into water by a preacher, but rather of baptism into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). Ephesians 4:4-6 says, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all ...."

In Colossians 2:12-13 Paul says we are, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses ...." Thus we are made alive in Christ, and have been forgiven of all our sins.


Q: What is the unpardonable sin?

A: The phrase "unpardonable sin" refers to Matthew 12:31-32 when Jesus Christ said, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

When trying to understand any Bible passage, you have to always look at when it is spoken and to whom it is spoken. In this case, it is spoken to and applies to unbelieving Jews before Christ went to the cross, and before the Holy Spirit was given to believers. They were under the law of Moses, whereas today we are under grace. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit seals us (Ephesians 1:13-14). That was not the case with people before the cross. It makes no sense to try to apply that verse to Christians today who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In this present dispensation of grace, we are saved as soon as we believe the gospel. At that point, all of our sins, past, present, or future, are forgiven (Colossians 2:13 and 3:13). So the only thing that is unpardonable is unbelief.


Q: If certain groups, who call themselves Christian, are mixing law and grace, yet still believe that Jesus Christ died for them and rose from the dead, aren't they still saved, even with their mixing of law and grace?

A: The key is, do they really believe they are saved by grace through faith in the gospel of grace without works? If so, then they are saved.

Now some groups believe they have to be baptized with water, or that they must not work on Sunday, or that they must speak in tongues or perform certain good deeds or rituals etc. If they believe that Jesus Christ died for them and rose from the dead, and know that their works have nothing to do with their salvation, then they are saved (through faith alone, without an ounce of works). But on the other hand, if they do believe that doing this or that is required for their salvation (as many groups and denominations teach) in addition to their faith, then that is mixing faith and works. It is the same as that which Paul sternly warned the Galatians against in Galatians 3:1-3, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" We are saved through faith. The works of the flesh play no part in salvation.

Adding in works for salvation is basically the same as telling Jesus Christ, "No Lord, your death was insufficient." That is not faith in the gospel, and I see no scriptural reason to think that such a person would be saved. The errant doctrine known as Lordship salvation makes this mistake in a more subtle, but no less harmful, way. Saying that one must make Jesus Christ "Lord of your life" to truly be saved is really saying that you must add at least a little works to your faith in order to be saved. That is tainting the gospel. Salvation is by the grace of God alone through faith alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Faith does not equal works, but rather, faith is belief.

So among those who mix the dispensations of Law and Grace, the few who truly believe the gospel, keeping the works out of salvation, are truly saved, but the majority who are depending upon the works of the flesh are lost.

Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."


Q: Is speaking in tongues required for salvation?

A: Absolutely not. We are saved by faith in the gospel and nothing else. No works are required for salvation. Not speaking in tongues, being baptized with water, church attendance, tithing, or any ritual. Salvation is by faith plus nothing. In Romans 1:16 Paul writes, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ...." Likewise in Romans 3:22 Paul teaches on, "... the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe ...." Also, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Both Romans and Ephesians clearly tell that we are saved by believing the gospel. It should also be noted that there is absolutely no mention of tongues in either the book of Romans or the book of Ephesians.


Q: How did Jesus Christ atone for our sins? We know that all of the lost will receive eternal damnation in the lake of fire. We also know that Jesus Christ was cruelly tortured and died, but was resurrected after only 3 days. How does the 3 days balance out with the eternal punishment that the lost would receive? Wouldn't Christ really have to experience the permanent death to make it a fair substitution?

A: That is a very good question, since atonement is something that is often misunderstood.

There are some who would say, "Well, God is outside of time, and we don't know from the Bible exactly what Jesus Christ was doing for those three days while He was dead. So we can't say what level of punishment Jesus Christ actually endured or for how long."

But, from our human standpoint, it was three days. Even if the time was spent in flames of torment (and I am not saying that it was), it is still three days compared with the eternity that lost people will spend in the lake of fire. Therefore it "seems" (as far as we can tell) apparent that the pain and suffering are not equal. So how could that be a fair substitution?

The key is that the atonement does not hinge upon the level of suffering at all, but upon Christ's shed blood and substitutionary death for us.

It does not matter whether the suffering was equal or not. Here is why:

Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ...." That one man was Adam. He sinned, and all people are descended from him. Therefore, we are all sinners, and unworthy of the glory of God.

Continuing in verse Romans 5:17-19 Paul writes, "For if by one man's offence (Adam's sin) death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." So we all became sinners by the sin of one man, Adam, and we can all be declared righteous by the righteousness of one man, Jesus Christ.

Here is how it works: Paul writes in Romans 6:3-6, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized (immersed) into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted (buried) together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man (our old sin nature) is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed ...."

Paul is not talking about water baptism here. There is no mention of water at all in this passage. He is saying that when we become a believer, we are immersed into the body of Jesus Christ. Being in His body, we died with Him on that cross. Our old sin natures are accounted as dead in the eyes of God. We were buried with Him. If Jesus Christ had remained in the tomb, there would have been no hope for our resurrection, since we are in Him. But Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, and every believer rose with Him. Through His life, we have life. He is sinless, and since we are in Him, God sees us as sinless as well (even though we do still sin). So from the moment we believe, whenever God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death ....". We were in Adam when he sinned. So for that, we received death. But if we are in Jesus Christ, then His death counts as our death.

The atonement is accomplished by Jesus Christ's shed blood and substitutionary death for us. Atonement does not depend upon the level of suffering or length of suffering.


Q: As believers in the gospel, have all of our sins been forgiven, or are we to frequently ask God for forgiveness?

A: For this question, it is helpful to recall these three easy to remember verse numbers: Colossians 1:13, 2:13, and 3:13.

Paul wrote in Colossians 1:13-14 that the Father "... hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins ...." So for Christians, forgiveness of sins is something that "we have".

Then in Colossians 2:12-13 Paul says that we are, "Buried with him (Jesus Christ) in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses ...." Thus we are made alive in Christ, and have been forgiven of all our sins.

The fact that we have been forgiven of all our sins is confirmed in other passages to encourage us to forgive others. For example, in Colossians 3:13, Paul writes that we should be, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Likewise, he writes in Ephesians 4:32, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Being in Christ, we died with Him, were buried with Him, have risen from the dead with Him, and been forgiven of all our sins.

The fact that our sins have been forgiven stands in stark contrast with those who were under the Law of Moses:

At the time that the temple was built, around 1000 BC, God told Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." So we see that their sins had not yet been forgiven.

Also in Christ's earthly ministry (still under the Law of Moses), He told the disciples in Matthew 6:14-15, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

So we have to realize we are under grace, not law, as Paul wrote in Romans 6:14, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." If we believe the gospel as Paul preached (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), then all our sins have been forgiven.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, freely gave His life as the perfect sacrifice to pay for all of our sins. He was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.


Q: Why do some people say this or that church or denomination is doomed? Is God going to line us up by our denomination on Judgment Day?

A: It is not proper to tell someone that their entire church is doomed. However, there are some denominations and churches that teach false gospels, which will lead all of those to their doom, who strictly follow that denomination's teaching. But those who believe the true gospel of grace, and not just whatever their denomination teaches, are saved regardless of the group with which they are associated. Conversely, one's denomination may preach the true gospel of grace. If one believes that gospel, then one has eternal salvation. But if one does not believe it, then one is lost even though the official teaching of one's denomination is correct. All the church attendance, baptisms, tithing, good works, and so on, will not save them.


Q: If a Christian commits suicide, do they lose their salvation?

A: No. Salvation cannot be lost. (See What Happened to Us When We Believed the Gospel?.) It is quite possible however for a lost person to think they have salvation, but be incorrect. Many think they are saved by being a good person, by attending a church, or by being baptized. But without believing the gospel, they are still lost. If such a person were to die by suicide or any other means, they would go into eternal torment.

One is saved by believing the gospel of grace: That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died as the sacrifice for our sins on the cross, and was buried, and rose bodily from the dead on the third day. One's deeds are not involved salvation. Salvation is a gift from God by His grace, through faith plus nothing. (See Roman Road to Salvation.)

Suicide is indeed a great sin, for which a believer may lose certain rewards in heaven, but not his or her salvation. Every believer has been purchased by the precious shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28). Therefore our lives are not truly our own lives to take. Rather, our lives belong to Jesus Christ. We should therefore live for Him while we are in these mortal bodies, and let Him decide when to take what is His and bring us home. God will take what is His when He is ready. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"

Suicide is never a good thing. For a Christian, it is a sin. For a lost person, it only takes them to a place that is worse.


Q: Is there a difference between salvation and rewards?

A: Yes. Salvation is a free gift, but rewards are earned by works. Salvation is a present possession of those who believe the gospel, but rewards are to be received in the future.

In 1 Corinthians 3:14, Paul teaches how to properly build upon the foundation which he had laid, "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward." In a moment, we will delve into this passage in more detail, but for now, let's look at the word "reward". The word translated "reward" is the Greek word "misthos". It occurs 29 times in the Bible, and is translated "reward" 24 times, "hire" 3 times, and "wages" twice. It is wages paid for work. That is, the results of one's labor.

Here are some of the occurrences of "misthos" in Paul's letters:

Romans 4:4 "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt."

1 Corinthians 3:8 "... every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour."

1 Corinthians 3:14 "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward."

1 Corinthians 9:17 "For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward ...."

1 Timothy 5:18 "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."

From these verses it is clear that "misthos" (rewards) refers to something which one earns by working. However, salvation is a free gift as these verses show.

Romans 5:16-17 "And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast."

So we see a clear distinction between salvation, which is a gift, and rewards, for which one labors.

Returning to Paul's teaching about how to build upon the foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:8-11 says, "... every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ is the foundation of the house, and Paul is the "wise masterbuilder" who laid the foundation.

We are saved by faith in what Jesus Christ did for us. Afterwards, we build upon the foundation with our works. Continuing on 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says, "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

If our works are in accordance with the will of God, they are the gold, the silver, and the precious stones, which will not be hurt when tested by fire. Thus we will receive eternal rewards for these works. But works which are not in accordance with the will of God, are the wood, the hay, and the stubble, which will be devoured when they are tested by fire. For these works, there will be no reward. In verse 15, all of the man's works are burned up, but the foundation, Jesus Christ, remains. Thus "he himself shall be saved" even though his labor merited no rewards. That is because salvation is given, not earned. Works play no role in salvation whatsoever. So 1 Corinthians 3:8-15 reaffirms that eternal life is a free gift of God.


Q: Was the blood of Christ shed for all people or only for those whom God knew would become believers?

A: This the question is sometimes called the question of limited or unlimited atonement. Romans 5:18 says, "Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus Christ) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."

The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ's shed blood was sufficient to cover all sins of all people for all time.

This is further confirmed in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, where Paul writes, "... if one (Jesus Christ) died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." Also in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 he writes, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

For the perfect shed blood of Jesus Christ to be applied, one must have faith. In Philippians 3:8-9 Paul wrote, "... I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith ...." Christ's sacrifice will cleanse only those who believe that He died for our sins and rose again, but the sacrifice is available to all people for the sins of all people.


Q: What are the narrow gate and the wide gate of which Jesus spoke?

A: When Jesus spoke those words, He was speaking to those who were under the law of Moses. However, the same concept of the narrow gate and the wide gate still applies today in this present dispensation of grace.

The narrow gate is the gate through which all those who truly believe the gospel pass to eternal life. The gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, freely gave His life on the cross to pay for our sins, and He rose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). If we truly believe that, then God will count our sin debt as having been paid, and we will have eternal life.

The wide gate is the gate to destruction through which everyone else passes. All of the unbelievers will pass through the wide gate. This includes those who deny that God exists, the agnostics, and those of religions that worship other gods. But it also includes all of those who call themselves Christians but believe they will be saved by their good works rather than by God's grace through faith in the gospel. Unfortunately, this is where most of the people who say they are Christians are today. They are headed for the wide gate.

I once heard a non-denominational Bible teacher tell of a discussion with a man who had placed his faith in the teachings of a very large denomination. The man had asked the teacher about Matthew 7:13-14, which says, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

The teacher then asked the man, "Is your denomination many or few?" The man replied, "Many." So the teacher said, "Then what does this passage tell you?" Realizing the truth of the passage, the man replied, "They are headed for destruction."


Q: Can a person be truly saved and then lose their salvation?

A: No. Our salvation is a one-way process. Those who are true believers in the gospel of grace should understand our position in Christ and assured salvation. We have been crucified with Him, buried with Him, raised from the dead with Him, baptized into Him, seated in heaven with Him, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and chosen before the foundation of the world. Please see my article, What happened to us when we believed the Gospel?, which addresses this topic much more extensively.


Q: Should Christians tell potential believers to, "Ask Jesus into your heart."?

A: In Romans 1:16 Paul wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ...." To be saved, we must believe the gospel. The word "gospel" means "good news". But before we can believe the good news, we have to know what it is.

Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel ... that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures ...." This is the gospel which we must believe in order to be saved.

But far to often, well meaning Christians substitute popular cliches or trite expressions in place of the gospel message. One of the most popular such cliches is, "Ask Jesus into your heart." Or how many times have you heard, "Make Jesus your Lord and personal Savior."? Another such phrase is, "Say yes to Jesus today."

Such cliches are powerless to save anybody. Only the gospel is the "power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ...."


Q: Does a person have to initially believe in the virgin birth in order to be saved?

A: The article Elements of the Gospel and Our Ascended Lord may be very helpful with this question. It details the elements of the gospel as recorded in the letters of Paul, and shows from the scriptures just which facts are part of the gospel message and which ones are not. The virgin birth is a fact, but it is not part of the gospel. The gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, freely gave His life as the perfect sacrifice to pay for all of our sins, and was crucified and rose from the dead. If a person is not aware of the virgin birth, but believes the gospel, then they are saved by grace through faith in the gospel, despite not knowing about the virgin birth.

In all of his 13 letters to the Gentiles (Romans-Philemon) and Hebrews, our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13) only makes one reference to the virgin birth, and even that one is somewhat veiled. In Galatians 4:4 he wrote, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law ...." The phrase "made of a woman" may be a reference to the virgin birth. Was Paul so negligent as to forget to include part of the gospel message in his letters proclaiming the gospel? Of course not. The virgin birth, touched upon only once in Paul's letters, simply is not part of Paul's gospel. By contrast, Paul mentions Christ's death 64 times, and His resurrection 40 times (by my counting detailed in the article).

Of course, if a person were shown from the Bible that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, and then said that they did not believe it, then we might suspect that they do not really believed the gospel either. For which is harder to believe, one being born of a virgin or one rising from the dead? From the human standpoint, both seem equally impossible, but with God, both are equally possible. In any case, one is saved by grace, through believing the gospel (Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 1:16). Beyond the gospel, other Biblical understanding is very important, but not essential for one's salvation.

Some doubters of the virgin birth may argue that the word "virgin" in scripture does not imply that a girl has yet to know a man, but that it simply means "a young girl". Well that might be an interesting word study, but regardless of whether such an interpretation of the underlying Hebrew and Greek words are correct, it is still very obvious from the scriptures that Mary had not known a man at or prior to her conception of Jesus. Isaiah 7:14 prophesied, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." In order for a birth to be "a sign" from God, there has to be something miraculous about it. An ordinary conception and birth would never qualify as "a sign".

Matthew 1:18-25 makes it even more obvious, "18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 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. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." Given that this passage refers to Mary being "found with child of the Holy Ghost" and the angel of the Lord saying "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" and that Joseph "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son", it is obvious that the doctrine of the virgin birth is not dependent upon an interpretation of the underlying Hebrew and Greek words for "virgin".


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