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.
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.
These words were written by Rev. Alfred H. Ackley, 1887 – 1960.
Alfred Ackley was born on January 21, 1887. As a young man he was a gifted musician, studying composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London and recognized as an accomplished cellist. He decided to join the ministry, attending Westminster Theological Seminary and becoming ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1914, serving congregations in Pennsylvania and then California. Throughout his ministry he always kept up his interest in hymns and hymn tunes. Word is that he wrote over 1,500 hymns in his lifetime, “He Lives” being the one that has become a favourite.
One day in 1932, Ackley held an evangelistic meeting where he spoke about Jesus. A young Jewish man was in the audience. Afterwards, the young man asked the question, “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” But Ackley could see the sincerity in the young man and gave a loving and enthusiastic response: “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.”
The following year Ackley was at his home preparing for the Easter Sunday service when a famous preacher from New York came on the radio. He was astonished at the message this preacher gave. “Good morning! It’s Easter! You know, folks, it really doesn’t make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned, His body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The main thing is, His truth goes marching on.”
Ackley was incensed when he heard this message going out to countless people on the airwaves. “It’s a lie!” he shouted. His wife heard the ruckus and asked him what was wrong. “Didn’t you hear what that good-for-nothing preacher said?” Ackley responded. He delivered his Easter message that day, but at night he was still agitated. His wife finally challenged him to do what he did best: write a song about it. The scriptures he used to prepare for his message, the testimony of the innumerable cloud of witnesses, and the burning in his own heart came together to form the lyrics and music of “He Lives”, which we are still singing eighty years later.
(Reproduced in part from NameThatHymn.com)
This brief testimony is the living experience of a man who “heard His voice of cheer”, when Jesus knocked on his door. Opening it, he experienced the truths spelled out in yesterday’s PT on Rev.3:20.