Jesus & the Word
We believe Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit and was born to a virgin. The virgin birth is a crucial doctrine of the Christian faith.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God told the Jewish people to look for someone who would be virgin-born: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).
The name Immanuel refers to the divine essence or nature of the Son and supports other Scriptures that teach Jesus was the incarnate God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (cf. 9:6; Jn. 1:1, 14; Rom. 8:3; 1 Tim. 3:16). The book of Matthew records the prophecy’s fulfillment:
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Mt. 1:21–23).
The fact that Matthew, who was Jewish, quoted the Isaiah prophecy reveals some Jewish people of that day understood Isaiah 7:14 referred to an actual virgin.
However, since the second century, the Gospel writer Matthew has been falsely accused of deliberately mistranslating as “virgin” the Hebrew word almah, which means “young woman of childbearing age.” The word virgin refers to a woman who has never had a physical relationship with a man. However, there is strong support for the word virgin.
It’s found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Translated nearly 200 years before Jesus’ birth, Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, translated the Hebrew word almah into parthenos, which means indisputably “virgin.”
Yet the truth of the virgin birth does not depend on one word. It is a doctrine taught in Scripture. Before Mary and Joseph ever came together, the Bible says Mary “was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 1:18). Even after their wedding, Joseph had no physical relations with Mary until her child was born (v. 25).
After being told she would conceive and have a Son, Mary questioned how the event would come about, as she had never known a man (Lk. 1:30–34). The angel Gabriel told 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” (v. 35). Scripture supports that Jesus was the incarnation of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Isa. 9:6; John 1:1, 14; Rom. 8:3; 1 Tim. 3:16).
Many people question how such a miracle could take place. Yet, if God can create the entire universe with merely a word, and the first human being by breathing on a pile of earth, then He can easily cause a virgin to become pregnant. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Lk. 1:37).
— Peter Colón, FOI creative resource coordinator
Jesus As Messiah
We believe in all of human history that only Jesus Christ meets the biblical qualifications of the Messiah. He is the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world.
If we’re honest with ourselves, only two schools of thought exist on this subject: Either Jesus is the true Messiah and Savior, or He was the greatest of all deceivers.
Dig deeper into Isaiah’s prophecies of Jesus in Isaiah’s Messiah by Victor Buksbazen.
Jesus alone fulfilled Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. Isaiah prophesied the Redeemer would come from the “Root of Jesse,” meaning the lineage of King David (Isa. 11:10). The Messiah would be virgin-born (7:14) in a little Judean town called Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), die a substitutionary death for the sins of the world (Isa. 53:4–6, 12), and rise from the dead (v. 12; cf. Ps. 16:10). He also would make the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk (Isa. 42:6–7; Mt. 11:5).
Without the Old Testament prophecies, we would not know how to recognize the promised Redeemer. Jesus said people who reject Him don’t believe Moses: “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (Jn. 5:46). God told Moses, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him” (Dt. 18:18–19).
Jesus alone fulfilled these Messianic predictions. He said, “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Lk. 24:44).
Contrary to what many claim, Jesus confirmed He was the “King of the Jews” and the Messiah of Israel. Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded His answer to Pontius Pilate’s question, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “It is as you say” (Mt. 27:11; Mk. 15:2; Lk. 23:3).
When the Jewish high priest asked Him, “Are You the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus replied, “I am” (Mk. 14:61–62). Thus He claimed to be the One God promised would bring salvation to mankind. His name in Hebrew, Yeshua, means “He who saves.”
Jesus also made the bold proclamation, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). Scripture says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
We believe Jesus is the Messiah of the Jewish people and the Savior of the world. If you do not believe He is who He said He is, the only alternative is to believe He was a contemptible deceiver.
— Peter Colón, FOI creative resource coordinator
Inspiration of Scripture
We believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture, meaning every word of the entire Bible is God-breathed.
Many people will tell you the Bible is nothing more than ancient fables and stories produced by men of imagination. Therefore, nothing it says pertains to us today, and we don’t have to abide by its dictates. To those people, the Bible means nothing; but to us, it means everything. We believe it is the very Word of God.
The apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The word inspiration means “breathed.” God, as the originator of Scripture, breathed His Word into existence through men whom He chose to communicate to us. We believe every word of the entire Bible is God-breathed.
Although men penned the Scriptures, God guided each author’s intellect to choose the exact words to be written in the text of the original manuscripts. The men wrote, not by their own will, but as they were moved or carried along by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21). Jesus said every stroke of the pen (jot or tittle) is of God’s design (Mt. 5:18).
The word plenary means “full” or “complete.” All parts of Scripture are equally authoritative and of divine origin. While on Earth, Jesus Christ approved of everything written in the Hebrew Scriptures (Lk. 24:44; Jn. 5:46) and authorized what would be revealed in the New Testament (Jn. 16:12–13).
We also believe Scripture is infallible and inerrant. Infallible means the Bible is incapable of being wrong. Scripture as originally written is always correct in its revelation and rules of instruction on our faith and practice because it is from God, who is truth and cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Jn. 17:17; Ti. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). Inerrant means the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts and was God’s divinely inspired Word to reveal Himself to mankind (2 Tim. 3:16).
Consequently, the Bible was written by men chosen and superintended by the Holy Spirit to express, through their personalities and literary styles, the God-breathed Word without error (2 Pet. 1:20–21). The Holy Spirit assures Scripture’s inerrancy in all matters it touches: creation, geography, salvation, doctrine, life sciences (ethics, social, physical), world history, literature, and every area of knowledge. It is without error in the original autographs and entirely true in all it affirms—and, therefore, we must obey it.
— David M. Levy, FOI media resource specialist
Interpretation of Scripture
We believe the only way to understand the Bible correctly is to use a literal, grammatical, and historical method of interpretation in order to discover the original intent of the text.
The apostle Paul exhorted us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). That statement means we must interpret Scripture carefully and truthfully, without falsifying it.
The literal method interprets the words of Scripture using their plain, everyday, common usage. For example, the word Israel always refers to the Jewish people, never to another people group. Every word is interpreted using its primary, literal, ordinary meaning, unless the context and other related passages clearly indicate otherwise. The literal method, of course, also takes into consideration the genre and its use of types, symbols, figurative expressions, parables, and obvious allegories, as stated in the context of the verse(s) being interpreted.
The grammatical method applies the rules of grammar regarding words, sentence structure, and parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, articles, prepositions) to determine their meaning and syntactical usage and ensure they are interpreted properly from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages. This method ascribes to each word its literal or customary usage for the time in which it was written.
The historical method diligently studies the historical settings of the ancient cultural, political, and religious practices of the time in which the words of Scripture were written. In other words, we need to consider the context and historical culture of that day to help us understand why an author used certain words and alluded to certain customs. Archaeological finds from biblical times also have given us a better, clearer meaning of the text being studied. The historical method guards us from giving the words a false interpretation or application drawn from modern definitions.
Scripture always must be interpreted within the context in which it was written. The author’s meaning is of primary importance in determining a proper interpretation. The author, not the reader, determines what the text means. A passage of Scripture can have only one meaning within the paragraph and cannot be interpreted accurately apart from context in both Old and New Testaments. It may have many applications, however. For a proper interpretation, we must compare Scripture with Scripture. The Bible is its own best commentary.
— David M. Levy, FOI media resource specialist