By Dr. James Orr,
Pyerian Baptist Church
“Why should I worship a dead Jew?” This challenging question was posed by a sincere young Jewish student who had been attending evangelistic meetings conducted by the author and composer of this hymn, Alfred H. Ackley. “He lives! I tell you, He is not dead, but lives here and now! Jesus Christ is more alive today than ever before. I can prove it by my own experience, as well as the testimony of countless thousands.” In his book, Forty Gospel Hymn Stories, George W. Sanville records Mr. Ackley’s answer to this searching question, which ultimately prompted the writing of the popular gospel hymn, He Lives.:
These are words that every Christian can live by and be sustained in every situation in life. Jesus lives! I made that discovery when I was fourteen year old and have been seeing the fruit of that discovery for the last forty-five years. Rev. Alfred Ackerly served the Lord faithfully in the early twentieth century as a pastor in California and in Pennsylvania, including a stint as a song writer for the Billy Sunday Crusades in the 1930’s. The dates are important, not to show the age of the song but to show the unchanging truth that Jesus Christ has been alive in every age of man since the Resurrection.
This illustration offers hope in a world that many have deemed mad. However, we should remember that there have been many “mad’ ages in the story of mankind. We need only to count back in my own life time to see the truth in that. 9/11, the sexual revolution, Vietnam, civil rights protest, the list goes on. The sin of man brings an unending result of sin, despair and loss of hope.
We don’t have to look at a world gone wild, we can see the same patterns in our personal lives. Often we leave a trail of disappointment and lost opportunities. We stumble around like the walking dead; and that is what we are. We need life.
Enter Jesus. With Jesus we are released from death walk in His light, the light of life. Enter Jesus. Literally. Enter into my heart, take over my deadness and bring life again. As Jesus said to dead Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” Only with Jesus can this be true. Only Jesus can change the world, only Jesus can change my world. I leave you with the refrain of Alfred Ackley’s song. It speaks better than I do.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives, He lives, Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart
By Dr. James Orr,