“We Beheld His Glory” His Incarnate Glory
By James Nelson Darby
(From ‘Counsel Magazine’ March - April 1987)
It has been said that John wrote his gospel to prove that the man of Galilee
was God, and that he wrote his Epistles to prove that it was God who became
man. However you view it, it is the central truth of our gospel that a divine
person has become incarnate and has dwelt among us.
When the divine Son made His advent, He came, as the scriptures had said He
would, by way of the virgin’s womb, conceived miraculously by the power
of the Spirit of God. We are not asked to explain this mystery, nor to fully
comprehend it. It is ours to believe it and to bow in wonder and worship.
There are probably three attitudes among men to the truth of our Lord’s
I. Many deny it, as being folklore and fable.
2. Some believe it, but do not require such belief of others.
3. We believe it, and say it is fundamental and essential.
There are four questions that might be asked.
1. What do we mean by “the virgin birth”?
2. Why do we believe it?
3. Why do men deny it?
4. What are the implications of denying it?
What we mean by “the virgin birth” is that our Lord Jesus was conceived
miraculously in the womb of a virgin; that His conception in Mary’s womb
was wrought by the ministration of the Holy Spirit as predicted by the angel;
that there was no natural link either with Joseph or with any other man. His
conception was unnatural and supernatural, and when He was born, He was born
of a mother who was still a virgin. (Luke 1:26-35; Matthew 1:20-25)
We believe this for two reasons, which are very basic, and in some senses very
Old Testament prophecies have predicted it,
and New Testament history has recorded it.
Both before and after the event,
Holy scripture teaches it so plainly that we cannot do else but rejoice and
But if this is so, then why do men deny it? Indeed, “Why”? Well
might we ask, for God has brought human life into our world in a variety of
ADAM was created out of dust, without the aid of either man or women.
EVE was made from a man, without the aid of a woman.
CAIN was made from the natural union of man and woman.
JESUS, the Saviour, came of a woman, without the aid of a man.
All these are miraculous; why deny the last one only? To do so is surely to
be grossly inconsistent and unreasonable. Denial of our Lord’s virgin
birth is nothing less than this - an assault upon His person and His Word.
What then are the implications of denying the virgin birth? They are many and
serious. To deny the truth of the virgin birth is to deny:
1. The Integrity of Godly Persons.
2. The Inspiration of the Written Word.
3. The Essential Holiness of the Living Word.
4. The Saving Value of the Preached Word.
There are five persons, in particular, whose character is tarnished by such
The integrity of Mary is affected to such a terrible extent that if there is
no virgin birth then Mary of Nazareth is unchaste, untrue and unreliable.
She alone could have told the story which is given us by Luke. The details are
so personal. It is well that the enormity of this implication should be spoken
plainly. It is too terrible to contemplate the mother of our Lord to be so.
If there is no such virgin birth as Luke records, then Luke, the beloved physician,
is an unstable and unreliable historian, or an accomplice of Mary in a dreadful
deception and lie.
Joseph is equally tarnished by denial of the virgin birth.
He has rehearsed substantially the same story as Mary, but from his standpoint.
Matthew has recorded Joseph’s story. If the story is false then nothing
afterwards in Matthew’s gospel is truly dependable.
And what of John? John, who writes towards the end of the first century, acquiesces
with it all when he writes, “The Word became flesh.” John had taken
Mary home from Calvary; why, if the story written by Matthew and Luke was not
true, did he not refute it in his later gospel? Is he too, an accomplice in
The inspiration of the written word is no more if there is no virgin birth.
There are narratives, phrases and words, which are called in question if there
is no virgin birth. Matthew 1:18-25 teaches clearly and unambiguously that before
the consummation of her marriage to Joseph, Mary had borne her Son, and that
her child had been conceived even before her wedding day. Note the accuracy
of Luke 3:23, “Jesus . . being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.”
Why this phrase “(as was supposed)” if there is no virgin birth?
Why too, the change in Matthew. 1:17, from the rest of the long genealogy? “Begat
... begat ... begat.” “Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was
born Jesus.” And what is the meaning of “The Seed of the Woman.”
(Gen. 3:15), and “A Body has Thou prepared Me?” (Hebrews 10:5) Why,
when we are “partakers” of flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:14) does it
say of Him that He “took part” of the same? Why is the wording altered
if His birth was normal? Galatians 4:4; Isaiah 7:14, and a host of other scriptures,
are all suspect, if the virgin birth of the Saviour is not true.
The essential holiness of our Lord Jesus, the Living Word, is affected too,
by denial of His unique conception. There must not be, there cannot be, any
natural link with fallen Adam. The introduction of a new headship in Christ
requires this; He is the second man. When we come to consider His moral glory
we shall see that such glory demands such an entry into the world as can only
be assured by the uniqueness of His virgin birth.
Perhaps to us, as needy sinners, the most fearful implication of a denial of
the virgin birth is this, that the gospel which we have heard is now of no value
without it. The substitute sin-bearer must be different to us. Natural birth
has brought us into condemnation as children of Adam. How can He be our substitute
who entered the world in the same manner as we? Natural birth has meant to us
that we have been born into the slave market of sin. How can one presume to
be our Redeemer from that market if by a similar natural birth He too is in
it with us?
It is a simple fact that He who would release us from the condemned cell must
not be in it Himself. He who would rescue us from the ignominy of the slave
market must Himself be apart from it. The saving value of the preached Word
is lost if there is no virgin birth of the Saviour.
The greatness of our gospel is this, that He who is our substitute, our sin-bearer,
and our Redeemer, has right so to be, because His advent into the world was
different; it was unique; it was miraculous; it was glorious.
It is His incarnate glory.
O ever homeless stranger,
Thus dearest friend to me;
An outcast in a manger,
That thou might'st with us be!
Come now, and view that manger-
The Lord of glory see,
A houseless, homeless stranger
In this poor world for thee.
There see the Godhead glory
Shine through that human veil,
And, willing, hear the story
Of love that's come to heal.
By James Nelson Darby
(From ‘Counsel Magazine’ March - April 1987 Used by Permissin)