From “The Power of Christ’s Resurrection,” (1739)
It was this which the great apostle Paul chiefly desired to know. The resurrection of Christ’s body he was satisfied would avail him nothing, unless he experienced the power of it in raising his dead soul. For another, and that a 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 our hearts. 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 wrought 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 meet 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 concurrence and consultation 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. This then is what the apostle means by the “Power of Christ’s resurrection”…
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 called true believers, when we not only profess to believe, but… being quickened and raised by his Spirit, when dead in trespasses and sins, to a thorough newness both of heart and life.
The devils themselves cannot but believe the doctrine of the resurrection, and tremble; but yet they continue devils, because the benefits of this resurrection have not been applied to them, nor have they received a renovating power from it, to change and put off their diabolical nature… As Christ was born of the Virgin’s womb, so must he be spiritually formed in our hearts. As he died for sin, so must we die to sin. And as he rose again from the dead, so must we also rise to a divine life.
George Whitefield (1714-1770) was an Anglican priest and evangelist, a leader of the first Great Awakening. As a student at Oxford, he was part of John and Charles Wesley’s Holy Club, committing himself to serious discipleship. After his ordination he became an itinerant evangelist, and is estimated to have preached 18,000 sermons to as many as 10 million people in thirty years of ministry in Britain and the American colonies.