An Excerpt from a sermon by George Whitfield.
Let us hear from the past as George Whitfield commends us in understanding how we can know “the power of [Christ’s] resurrection; that is, Whether or not we have received the Holy Ghost, and by his powerful operations on our hearts have been raised from the death of sin, to a life of righteousness and true holiness.
The chief end of our blessed Lord’s rising from the dead, was to enter heaven as our representative, and to send down the Holy Ghost to apply that redemption he had finished on the cross, to our hearts, by working an entire change in them.
Christ Would have Died in Vain…
Without this, Christ would have died in vain. For it would have done us no service to have had his outward righteousness imputed to us, unless we had an inward inherent righteousness [formed] in us. Because, being altogether conceived and born in sin, and consequently unfit to hold communion with an infinitely pure and holy God, we cannot possibly be made to see or enjoy him, till a thorough renovation has passed upon our hearts.
Without this, we leave out the Holy Ghost in the great work of our redemption. But as we were made by the joint [agreement] and [discussion] of the blessed trinity; and as we were baptized in their name, so must all of them concur in our salvation: As the Father made, and the Son redeemed, so must the Holy Ghost sanctify and seal us, or otherwise we have believed in vain.
Power of Christ’s Resurrection…
This then is what the apostle means by the “Power of Christ’s resurrection,” and this is what we are as much concerned to know, as that He rose at all.
Without this, though we may be moralists, though we may be civilized, good-natured people, yet we are no Christians. For he is not a true Christian, who is only one outwardly; nor have we therefore a right, because we daily profess to believe that Christ rose again the third day from the dead. But he is a true Christian who is one inwardly; and then only can we be true believers, when we not only profess to believe, but have felt the power of our blessed Lord’s rising from the dead, by being quickened and raised by his Spirit, when dead in trespasses and sins, to a thorough newness both of heart and life.
For we are but dead men, we are like so many carcasses wrapped up in grave clothes, till that same Jesus who called Lazarus from his tomb, and at whose own resurrection many that slept arose, [does] raise us also by his quickening Spirit from our natural death, in which we have so long lain, to a holy and heavenly life.
And O that we were all likeminded! That we felt the power of Christ’s resurrection! How should we then “count all things as dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord!” How should we then recover our primitive dignity, trample the earth under our feet, and with our souls be continually gasping after God?”