The Story Behind The Hymn: HE LIVES!
Several Sunday’s ago we celebrated Resurrection Day; one of my favorite times of the year. A day we celebrate the fact that our God is not dead, is not wood or stone, but is alive and well able to save! As I read over the story again in the Gospels, I came across Luke 24:41, “And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered…”
Jesus had just appeared to His disciples to confirm the reports of Mary Magdalene and the two that met Him on the road to Emmaus. Many of them hadn’t believed and thought that someone had taken Jesus’ body. BUT THEN HE APPEARED! Caught in the sudden amazement of it and marveling at His appearance, the disciples were having difficulty grasping what had happened.
We know the phrase, “It’s too good to be true,” and we understand why one would say this. But Luke 24:41 is a figure of speech in the Greek that means the same thing. This was so wonderful, so magnificent, how could such news really be true? They marveled in unbelief and stood there gazing when Jesus said, Luke 24:38-39 (KJV), “And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” This certainly was a miracle of God.
In the 1930’s, there was preacher named Alfred Ackley. During a time of evangelistic meetings he was holding, a young Jewish student asked the question, “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” Using the Scriptures to witness to him, Pastor Ackley began to explain to this young man how that Jesus was alive. “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.” (Forty Gospel Hymn Stories, George W. Sanville)
Ackley’s excitement and zeal about his risen Savior would not go away. Sparked by this young man’s question, and later refueled as Pastor Ackley prepared his Easter sermon, the resurrection of our Savior was ever on his thoughts. On that Resurrection Day as he rose early to prepare, Ackley turned on his radio. He was then shocked to hear a liberal preacher say something like this, “You know, it really doesn’t matter to me if Christ be risen or not. His body could have turned to dust long ago in some Palestinian tomb. But what’s important is that His truth goes marching on!”
“It’s a lie,” Pastor Ackley yelled. He was worked up by what he had heard and it mixed with his continual thoughts of the Scripture, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” Ackley preached with great fervency both that morning and evening on the realization of our Lord’s resurrection. But later that night, he still could not shake the question of that young Jewish student and the words of that liberal preacher. It was then that his wife encouraged him to do something about it.
Alfred Ackley was a talented musician as well as a pastor. When he was younger, his father had diligently trained him in the area of music. Mrs. Ackley encouraged her husband to use his skills and write a song about the truth of our risen Savior. After rereading the Gospel account of Christ’s resurrection from the book of Mark, Pastor Ackley began to pen the words to “He Lives.” Moments later he was at the piano putting music to the words the Lord had given him. Little did he know it would soon become one of the most favorite sung Easter hymns.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.
Why are Christians silent when the world attacks Jesus’ name? The devil is fighting to remove Christ from everything we have and do, and, unfortunately, it seems he is succeeding in much of it. Where are the redeemed of the Lord? Where are those that have been saved and look forward to that Blessed Hope? Should Christians do nothing when the world brings a fight?
What a joy, what a blessing, what power of God we have with the Truth that Jesus is alive and was resurrected from the dead. His victory over death gives us eternal life. Praise the Lord! It’s not too good to be true… IT IS TRUE! “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” Jesus said.
Whom have you told this to recently? With whom have you shared this life-changing news? Will you invite someone to a church service to hear the Gospel? Will you be present to praise His name and give thanks for all He’s done for you? Let us not be silent but zealous and loud that Jesus lives! I have a life of hope that’s worth living because He lives!I serve a risen Saviour,
He's in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him He's always near.