Character matters. God wants us to develop and demonstrate qualities which reveal our values and convictions. Character counts as the sustaining force which enables us to make an impact over the long haul – more than intelligence, skills, or education.

When God selected the Christmas couple – Mary and Joseph – he chose two people with sterling character, including traits which qualified them to be Jesus’s earthly parents. While the Bible contains scant details about their appearance or proficiencies, it emphasizes the kind of people they were – their character traits – as the reasons for their selection for their all-important roles.

Joseph found himself in an awkward situation. The Bible describes him as a “righteous man” who obeyed the law of God (Mt. 1:19) but who wanted to divorce Mary. Why? Well, you know why! She was pregnant. And since Joseph knew what caused that, and also knew he wasn’t the father, he wanted out of the relationship.

Yet, Joseph’s love for Mary was evident in his hesitancy to go through with the divorce. The Bible says he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace” (Mt. 1;19) so he was considering ways to end the relationship quietly. Then God sent an angel with a very clear message – don’t do it! The angel gave him the details – the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, his name will be Jesus, you will marry Mary, and your son will save people from their sins.

What a startling message that must have been! But Joseph’s response reveals the depth of his convictions and desire to obey God – “he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him” (Mt. 1:24). Joseph obeyed God, continuing to live as a righteous man by obeying the new insight he now had into what it meant to be righteous. It was not about following the Law, but about obeying the new direction God provided through the angel.

One more aspect of this story has always intrigued me. The virgin birth is an important fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and an essential part of orthodox Christology. Joseph was the key person in making this happen since “he did not have sexual relations with her (Mary) until she gave birth to a son” (Mt. 1:25). Note this key distinction. Jesus conceived in a virgin was God’s miracle; Jesus being born of a virgin was Joseph’s responsibility. The virgin conception was caused by God. The virgin birth was assured by Joseph.

God chose Joseph because he lived by convictions. He obeyed God, end of story, no matter how difficult it was. He set aside his rights and privileges to do what was right. As you reflect on the Christmas couple this Christmas season, draw strength from Joseph and live by your convictions in obedience to God’s directions.

The Advancement of Technology is Not Towards Heaven

As technology continues to advance, we must be careful not to find an underlying belief deep in our hearts that our job is to create heaven on earth.

Mike Kirby
Professor of Computer Science, University of Utah
Mike Kirby is a professor of computer science within the Kahlert School of Computing at the University of Utah.

To Live Biblically – My Family

My oldest son, Micah, has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a neurological disorder he was diagnosed with at 5 months of age. He is non-verbal, cognitively around 3-4 years old, and has some significant behavioral issues.

Kelly Womack
Trustee at Gateway Seminary
Kelly Womack lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas with her husband and sons. She earned a MDiv from Gateway Seminary in 2003.

Thank You and Goodbye

Dr. Iorg expresses thanks to all who made his time at Gateway Seminary remarkable.

Jeff Iorg
President Emeritus
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president emeritus of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.