The Character and Power of Christ’s Resurrection

 •  31 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Acts 3:13-16; 4:1, 213The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:13‑16)
1And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. (Acts 4:1‑2)
; Philippians 3:7-117But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:7‑11)
These passages, beloved brethren, contain the subject that is to occupy us this evening, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in its character and in its power; or, to put it in another resurrection out from among the dead was resurrection in a certain character. Now we were looking at the facts of the resurrection, and last week at the fruits of the resurrection, and very blessed it is to look at it thus in its various aspects; there are various glories connecting themselves with it; we have already had before us the simple facts clustered around it, as well as the various fruits of His resurrection. But tonight we have to consider the character and the power of Christ’s resurrection. Now it had a peculiar character, which, thank God, connects itself with our resurrection too; because, as we have already seen, given the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in fact and in character, and you have got the resurrection of His people in fact and in character. His resurrection, in both these blessed aspects, determines ours. You cannot separate them. Christ’s place determines ours. Everything that relates to Him determines what relates to us. It is most blessed to keep that fast in the affections of our hearts. His place determines our place, His resurrection determines our resurrection both in fact and character, and we are moreover the fruit of it, blessed be His name.
But there is one point on the threshold of our consideration tonight, which I very earnestly desire to bring before you, and that is, that in this character of Christ’s resurrection out from among the dead, is clearly set forth the great fact, that God was about to establish and set up in the risen Christ, man in a new place and position altogether according to the counsels of God. God was about to begin an entirely new thing historically and in fact. And that is an immense thing to keep before our minds, because it was from that (and I will try to point out why presently) all the testing of Christ’s own beloved disciples here, and also the opposition of His enemies, sprang. It was the power and character of His resurrection as inaugurating a new thing altogether in God’s ways, that which was distinct from all that went before, the commencement of a totally new thing; the cross was the termination morally of all that was old and ready to vanish away, but in resurrection we have a new start. Now that is very important, and that is what provoked the opposition of the enemies, as well as disappointed the hopes of His friends. You know very well how the hearts of His own disciples lingered about things down here, and I suppose any of us that are exercised before the Lord know very well how our hearts linger about things down here, and how difficult it is to have the link snapped that connects us with the visible and what is around us, the terrible attractiveness of earth; I do not mean in wrong ways, I am not speaking of things that are unlawful, but things that are good and right. The native attractiveness of things below that binds us and ties us down here is so strong. And of course, with the disciples, who were educated in Jewish hopes and prospects, and who were looking for things on earth, it was doubly strong with them from what it ought to be with us, who never had earthly prospects held out to us, and who are not the earthly people. The disciples had to be taken out of all that; and to look at the death of Christ not merely as terminating all that, but as the death of earthly hopes, that was where the bitterness was. To the disciples, the death of Christ was the death of all that linked them with God’s promises in relation to His kingdom on this earth; the heir was was gone. You may say they ought to have known differently, verily they ought. So ought we for that matter, but then, that does not dispose of the matter. There was where their hearts were, and therefore where there was not faith and where there was all this tie and bond linking them to things down here, it was difficult to accept the fact in the first instance, that God was going to begin a new thing altogether, which was to be as heavenly in its character as the other thing was earthly in its character. You may say, “I see all that.” It may be quite true; but one often says to oneself, “I see that,” but what we find out is that there is oftentimes a very long distance between seeing a thing and that thing being made good in one’s soul. You may see it very clearly, but when it begins to operate, and to cut, and to work, then you find how very little you were prepared for it to come in its own power and work its own way with you.
That is the first thing I want to leave on your thoughts, that the character of His resurrection sets forth the importance of this new order of things altogether which God was about to set up and display, in Christ the risen man in a new place according to the counsels of God.
Now let me show that the assertions I have made are true according to scripture. Look at Mark 9:9, 109And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. (Mark 9:9‑10), “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen till the Son of man were risen from among the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves questioning one with another what the rising from among the dead should mean.”
It was not, remember, the bare fact of resurrection, because resurrection in itself was believed in by the Pharisees, though rejected by the Sadducees. But resurrection from among the dead was another thing altogether, and that is what the Lord was presenting here. Keep, He says, these things amongst yourselves until the Son of man be risen from among the dead, until God sets forth that great manifest token of His own delight and complacency in that blessed Servant in raising Him up from amongst the dead. They did not understand that at all. That is what gives its character at once to it in the very beginning, it was a character of resurrection that was unknown to them, a kind of resurrection they were totally ignorant of.
Take another scripture, Matt. 17:22, 2322And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. (Matthew 17:22‑23), “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
Why? It slew all their earthly hopes; it was an end to all their earthly prospects. Now there is the scripture that substantiates what I have already said, that the death of Christ was to Jewish hopes the death of the heir, the death of the One who was their link to all the earthly prospects and promises that God had given to them as a people down here on the earth, and therefore their grief and sorrow.
To give you an illustration of it, it was exactly to them what it must have been to Abraham’s heart, when, after he had got the heir, God told him to offer him up. First of all, God gave him the promise of the land as an inheritance, and then God gave him the heir, as Abraham had no child; and then, when he had got the heir, and the heir was almost grown up to an age that gave vitality to the prospects of the man’s heart, God said to him, now take that son, “thine only son Isaac whom thou lovest,” and offer him up. Snap with your own hand the link, and that a divine link as well, cut the link in all the chain of promise; go and blast all your hopes that are centered in that Isaac. That is what the death of Jesus was to the disciples. He was the true heir to all the earthly promises that God had given to the fathers, He was the link with them, and the disciples recognized Him (because their faith went very little if at all beyond that) as the One who connected them with the promises that God had made to His earthly people. For Him to die, was death indeed; no wonder they were exceeding sorry; it blasted all their hopes, and all their prospects, and left them resourceless, so to speak, here in this world.
Now turn to Luke 24:1717And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? (Luke 24:17), and you will find it even stronger there. The two disciples are going to Emmaus, and talking of the things which had happened, and Jesus Himself drew near and went with them, though they knew Him not. “And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?”
Their hearts were heavy; they had left Jerusalem, they were going home, it was all over on earth. I think that Luke 24 is one of the most touching of scriptures, if you put yourselves in the position of the disciples for a moment. Their backs were upon Jerusalem, they had satisfied themselves that His body was not in the tomb, their faces were to Emmaus, it was the third day, and it was all over. No wonder their hearts were sad. “What manner of communications,” says the blessed risen One to them, “are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?”
Suppose you had been only a few hours in Jerusalem, is it possible that you could be ignorant of the crushing sorrow that has fallen upon us in consequence of all that has happened there? He replies (how skillful His love is in drawing out their hearts), “What things?” Well He knew, but there is nothing so skillful in this world as love, nothing.
“And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people;” now you get the sense of how much they knew, and what their hearts were connected with as to His Person. He was
Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death and have crucified him; but we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to- day is the third day since these things were done.
Now is there anything more interesting and instructive for our hearts? It is wonderful to think of it. This day that is spoken of in Luke 24 was the brightest day that had ever dawned upon this poor sinful world. And yet, notwithstanding that (and I will show you the comfort of it in a moment, the exceeding comfort too), notwithstanding that it was the brightest moment that this world had ever witnessed, their hearts were in perfect contrast with it all. They were bowed down, they were broken in heart, they were disappointed, chafed, everything gone, all their hopes had been slain on His cross and buried in His grave. And why, what was the secret of it? I would like to point out to you two things that were the secret of that condition, that state, and to press them affectionately on my own heart and on yours. In the eighth verse it says, “And they remembered his words.” Now mark that. Do you wonder and say, What is the force of it? This; their hearts had been leaky vessels as to those words; His words had dropped through those poor leaky vessels and were gone; they had forgotten them. Because the Lord had often spoken of it. The testimony was abundant as to the fact of His being killed by men, and by. His own people, and raised up again the third day; but they had forgotten it all. And how often it is so with you and me; we have forgotten His words.
But now mark another thing, and this I would earnestly press upon you—memory is not faith; there is a great difference between them. Here you get memory resuscitated, revived; the memory of these forgotten sentences of Jesus all comes back, but it is no good, because, although they remembered His words, they turned their backs on Jerusalem, and they go to Emmaus as heart-broken, and disappointed, and vexed, and blighted in prospect as ever they had been before. Memory is not faith. I will give you a remarkable scripture in proof of that in Psa. 78:1919Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? (Psalm 78:19). “Yea,” says the Psalmist, speaking of Israel, “Yea, they spake against God: they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock that the waters gushed out and the streams overflowed”—there is memory; but look at the next sentence, “Can he give bread also?” there is the absence of faith. There was the memory, the recollection of what He had done previously, but there was no present faith as to what He could do now.
And, beloved friends, it comes out in this history of the disciples as to the Lord’s resurrection, and the divine moral of it is of the deepest importance and blessedness to our souls. Because what we want is not only the remembrance of former things, but that we can go on in present faith in a living Christ. You may remember well how the Lord helped you last year, or six months ago, or three months ago, but if you are not in present living faith in God and Christ to-day, the memory of the past will not be any help to your soul. It is present living faith in the word of Jesus, and not merely the recollection that those words were once spoken, and that all the pith, and substance, and power of them have gone from our souls, but it is living faith in those words. Now what I have noticed in my own poor wretched heart, and I have no doubt if you are exercised before the Lord you will find it in yours, is this, that there are a great many truths, things that people know are true, but they have no faith in them. What is the good of it? I will give you an instance. There is a truth beyond all price and preciousness to our souls expressed in those words of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Where two or three are gathered to my name, there am I in the midst of them {Matt. 18:2020For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)}. Now there is not a single person who has ever been taught the truth of that who does not know it to be true. But I feel in my own heart, beloved friends, and I have seen it in others (and I desire to condemn it a great deal more in myself), but I see there are people who know that to be true, but they have not any faith in it. It is not enough for you to say, “Oh yes, there it is, that is the ground, that is the position”; be assured there must be faith in it. And I do not mean credence; credence is not faith, but I mean such faith in it that I give myself to it, and go on with it, just as much faith in that, as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for my soul’s salvation; it is just the same principle. If there is not that, it is mere credence of certain truths that have no living vitality and power in our souls. And that is exactly what their memory of Christ’s words here was; they remembered His words; they had forgotten them; they were resuscitated in their memory by the women who gave the account of the resurrection, but there was no faith in the utterances themselves, and they were all adrift.
Now there is another cause in Luke 24 for the state they were in, and that is, that their eyes were down here on earth. And there is nothing that so perverts and distracts, and turns a soul out of the reality of what God in His wonderful grace would have our hearts in the full enjoyment of, and in the good of, as having our eyes bound by things of earth. You may say, “But it was the kingdom with them.” Oh! but it might be something else with us. And what is the difference? If it be anything on earth, it matters not what it is, the results are alike. It was the kingdom with them, but it was a kingdom on earth; the locality, observe, is to the point here, and that perverted the disciples, their eyes were in the wrong direction. How many of our eyes are in the wrong locality. Alas, how often we are looking where the object is not to be found. If we were only looking up to heaven, to behold the church according to the thoughts of God in its true heavenly character, what a different thing it would be. What is the reason that so many of us are so perplexed disturbed and distressed? Because our minds are over occupied with the administrative side of church truth, it is here there is always failure; but if we would only dwell more on the divine side, on the conception of the thing in the mind of God, it would be all so different. The administration side brings man in, and there is bound to be failure there. How could you be anything but perplexed, and disturbed, and distressed, if you are engrossed with how man carries the thing out; whereas if your thoughts were governed more by the divine conception of it, the heavenly thing before God, you would get power to meet the crash in the administration side of it. Let us seek to rise to the divine side of things, for that is always the side of power, and that is the power to be manifested down here in the human side, where failure alas, comes in.
But the disciples (and that comes before the heart with exceeding clearness now) were looking for a kingdom here. “We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel.” There was the egotism of Judaism filling their hearts. What they needed was to get into the largeness of God’s thoughts as manifested in a risen Christ. The Lord keep us from a like principle. There are a great many other kinds of egotism besides Judaism.
Now we have looked at the effect of the resurrection in testing the disciples. Let us for a little look at the effect of it in testing the enemies of Christ, and that will bring us to those passages in the Acts. Note the words in ch. 4, and observe this—that ecclesiastical authority and hatred of the truth always go together. An awful picture when you think of it, ecclesiastical authority combined with hatred of the truth. That is one side of it; on the other side, the power of God in a risen Christ, witnessed in all the needs of men. This it was that aroused all the hatred and suspicion of those in authority in Acts 4, “Being grieved that they preached through Jesus”—through this risen Man, through this blessed One who had come up from amongst the dead, raised out of death by the power of God—“preached through Jesus” a character of resurrection, namely, resurrection out from among the dead, not purely and merely resurrection. And they could do it now in the power of the Holy Ghost. It is beautiful to see how fully they now had been led into the truth, how different from Mark 9, where they did not understand what He meant when He spoke of resurrection out from among the dead. Now they not only understand it, but they can preach it. They preach it through this blessed man, this Jesus, resurrection out from among dead people, and they brought hatred and opposition on themselves because of that.
Now why did men hate and dislike that truth? What was there in it that so excited their animosity and violence, which the bare fact of resurrection itself would not have done with the Pharisees or Jews? I will tell you. They had killed the Prince of life; that is what the apostle brings home to them in the third chapter, there was that holy One, that just One, you murdered Him: God has raised Him out from among the dead. Now you Jews and God are at issue. The Man that you murdered God has put honor upon; the Man whom you spat upon and nailed to that gibbet, God has raised Him out from among dead people. There was the issue. And mark this, there was the complacency of God expressed in Christ’s resurrection, there was the satisfaction of God expressed in it; further, it was an elective power, it was not only that He was raised, but others were left behind in their graves; that is the point. Therefore there was pleasure in it, there was complacency expressed and satisfaction as well. Every attribute of God, and all the satisfaction of His nature (I say it with reverence), combined to take that blessed, glorious Man out from among dead people. That is what they could not endure. They had crucified Him, hated Him, got rid of Him, nailed Him to the cross; God had exalted Him, glorified Him, expressed His satisfaction in Him. There is how it tested all these people. It brought out that they stood at variance with God as to Christ, the dealings of the Jewish people and rulers, with that blessed Lord Jesus Christ, made it all clear. And you will find everywhere that Christ is the test, wherever you go, amongst the saints or into the world. Christ is the test; bring in Christ, a crucified Christ, a risen Christ, a glorified Christ, and you have the test. All stand out in their true character in relation to Christ. The Lord give our hearts to bear these things clearly in mind, beloved friends.
Let me for a moment more state the three things I have before me –
(1) that the character of Christ’s resurrection gave the manifestation of the new order of things that God was about to set up in that risen Man according to His counsels;
(2) that the disciples were tested because their hopes were all bounded by earth and the things of earth; and
(3) that the enemies of the truth were tested because by it was manifested that God and the nation were at variance with reference to their conduct towards Him.
And now let us look at Phil. 3, where we have the two subjects brought together in the case of a man of flesh and blood like ourselves, and where we see the beauty and power of them in relation to the apostle Paul, once Saul of Tarsus. He says, The longing of my heart is “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection out from among dead people.”
Now there are these two things, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead,” that is the character of the resurrection; and the other is that he might know the power of it.
Let us look at this, for it is a blessed point in the history. What was it that left such an impress, as it were, on the soul of that man? He was as distinctively stamped by that which comes out in this, as he had been stamped in his former life. He was as distinct and ardent in his pursuit of these wonderful things as he was malignant in his pursuit of the saints of God and a glorified Jesus previously. What did it? Look at Acts 26:88Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? (Acts 26:8), a scripture you are familiar with, but I desire to refer you to the old things, this is not the day to be looking after new things, it is the old things that are so precious. This is Paul’s defense of himself before Agrippa.
Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?
Mark how he starts with this. He was speaking to people who denied this, whose hearts were at variance with God.
I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth [the risen One], which thing I also did in Jerusalem; and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
It was no half-and-half measures with him; he did not deal out persecution by driblets, not a bit of it, it was a whole-hearted, thorough, real desire to obliterate every trace of Christ and Christ’s from off the scene.
“Whereupon, as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me, and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth”—it is wonderful the way God brings us down to listen to His voice, as though He said, I am going to have a hearing; they are too busy, too occupied, the will is working too strong, the mind is too much at work, I must have a hearing. “When we were all fallen to the earth,” ah! beloved brethren, there is no place so blessed as to be down low before the Lord; do you know the point that is nearest to heaven? down low on earth before God.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise.
Oh, think of that; look at the two things that come together there; “fallen to the earth,” “rise.” It is the man that is down that God can take up; down on the earth, down in the dust in very truth, that is the man God can take up. It is what we want, beloved brethren, I am convinced in my soul, to be low enough down for God to take us up; according to the words of Hannah in another day, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.”
He says, “Rise, and stand upon thy feet; for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee,” and so on. Do you know what gives these words immense interest? Not merely the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, but those were the last words Jesus ever spoke from heaven to earth. Acts 1 are His last words on earth; Acts 26 are His last words from heaven to man on earth. And there is something very precious about last words; our hearts like to remember them.
Now what happened? Christ, a glorified Christ, the risen Man, imprinted His own blessed Person on the heart of that poor persecutor, and that blessed risen glorified Christ being revealed in him, the heart and affections of the man who was once Saul of Tarsus, the man whom all dreaded for his persecution and hatred, there was not a thing that was before that man’s heart and thoughts afterwards but Christ. Christ had imprinted Himself upon his soul, upon his spiritual affections, God’s Son was revealed in him. And what the apostle says here is this, as it were, That blessed One so fills my gaze, so fills my soul, that everything is gone; it is not bad things in Philippians, but good things. Numbers of people would be glad to get rid of bad things, but how many would like to be free from all things? You would like to drop the bad things, but are you prepared to drop everything, that is the question? He does not say, I count the bad things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, but “I count all.” The things that were gain to him were not the bad things, they were good things. And what is the thing before him? One desire, “If by any means,” that is, I will go through anything, I will go through death, I will accept martyrdom, anything if only I may become assimilated to that blessed One, in that wonderful new character of resurrection which He inaugurated in His own Person, “If by any means I may attain to resurrection out from among the dead.” There was how Christ’s glory fastened itself in its own blessedness on the soul of the apostle.
And then he says, What I desire now is to know Him; there is the person, “that I may know him.” I never saw a person yet, beloved friends, who knew anything of Christ who were not impressed with how little they knew of Him; and I never saw a person yet who thought they knew Him that knew a single thing about Him. One that knows Him feels, oh how little it seems; and why? Because in that case there is something to measure by. It is like a man going up a mountain, the nearer he gets to the top, the greater it seems to him, and the farther away it seems; and when he is down at the bottom he thinks he is very near; that is exactly how it is. “That I may know him,” it is the longing of his soul; he has tasted, as it were, of the peace of being in that blessed One, so he says, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.”
Now what is the meaning of “the power of his resurrection”? I do not think it means the power by which He was raised, I used to think it was, “that I may know the power by which he was raised.” No; I believe that you and I through grace are morally, in our souls, exemplifications of the same power, because we are co-quickened and co-raised with Him, and by-and-by we shall be literally and historically the exemplifications of it, for we shall be raised up in our bodies. But the power of His resurrection is a moral thing. In Acts, I look at the risen Lord alive on earth forty days after His resurrection before He went up into heaven. Now, beloved brethren, what had He to do with earth? What was earth to Him? He had left everything behind, He was a risen man down here on earth, and the whole thing was gone to Him. Of course things on earth were never anything in that sense to the Lord Jesus Christ, but I take the fact to illustrate what I mean; there He was on earth, His dealings with Israel all over, His presentation of Jewish hopes and prospects all over, His dealing with that nation all over; for the Jewish system was God’s system up to the cross, but the cross was the end of that system and the end as well of man morally. But here He was on earth forty days, and He talked to His disciples about the kingdom of God, He kept their prospects for the time being on earth, because although the system was morally given up, God was lingering in patient grace over them. But if we belong to Christ we are risen with Christ; that is, if we are Christians at all, and the power of His resurrection is this, that it cuts for us the link with present things, with the world, with everything down here—what have you and I to do with it? What real interest have we, if we have the power of His resurrection in our souls, with things that belong to the earth? Take politics, for instance; what interest has a risen man in politics? He is not bounded by things down here, he does not belong to the world, he has no vested interests in it; where are they? The apostle tells you himself. He says, Our polity, the state to which we belong, has its definite existence in the heavens, and from thence we look for the Lord Jesus as Savior; there all our hopes are, there is our country, there is our home.
How blessed, how glorious that redemption, in the power of which all who believe have been brought to God, extricated from all the misery and ruin introduced by the first man; we are through grace now in Christ the second Man and last Adam, and we have as such, thank God, a new position. And this new position in the risen Christ was manifested in the first instance by Himself when He rose from the dead, now in glory, a Man in a new position according to the counsels of God. That is our position, or, as it is commonly expressed, that is our standing before God. The power of it is the Holy Ghost which came down on the day of Pentecost, but do not confound the position and the power; they are not the same thing. There is a new life, and a new position, and there is a new power, and the Holy Ghost is the power of the new position, as also of the new life. The character of His resurrection sets forth that complete victory which God had manifested in His own Son, the risen Man; and when the Holy Ghost came down on the day of Pentecost, there was the power for the enjoyment of it.
Now the apostle says, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection”; this alone can take us out of things here. And, beloved friends, it is only in the power of this, That we can be preserved from the snares that await us on every hand. We often say, The danger is in having any other object but Christ. That is true; but there is another danger, and I believe there are those who have not any other object but Christ, but they have distractions, and distractions are as disastrous as other objects. Let us challenge our hearts, Have we any other object, beloved brethren? Have we distractions? I do not know anything that will eat out the vigor of the soul like distractions, I do not know anything that will sap and mine the vitality and power of a living Christ in the soul like distractions. You know what it is in earthly things. A man that is distracted can do nothing at all, driven hither and thither on every side. Be assured nothing can keep us, through God’s grace, free from other objects and from distractions, but a fixed, steady gaze on Christ in glory, and a jealousy over our own hearts, to set the Lord always before us. The Lord create and keep alive such holy jealousy in all our souls. It is the only kind of jealousy we ought to cultivate, that we ought to allow. I suppose there is nothing more hateful and detestable in this world than jealousy, but there is a right kind of jealousy, even over the heart within, that only Christ and the things of Christ should be there, engaging and occupying to the full our affections and powers.
The Lord give each of us to understand better, through His grace, the character of His resurrection and the power of His resurrection, for His name’s sake.