w/m Alfred H. Ackley
I serve a risen Savior, 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
In all the world around me I see His loving care
And tho' my heart grows weary I never will despair
I know that He is leading thro' all the stormy blast
The day of His appearing will come at last
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find
None other is so loving, so good and kind
I grew up singing this song all the time in the little Baptist churches I attended. Looking back on the lyrics now with a more discerning eye, there are things I like about the song and things that just seem to fall short.
First, the Good: We do serve a risen Savior. This is the one thing that sets true religion apart from false religion. Our Lord is alive! He is in the world today in that He is not only omnipresent in His deity, but He has sent out His Holy Spirit to restrain evil and lead His bride. We can see God’s hand of mercy everyday in our lives as believers, but also in the lives of unbelievers. God shows incredible mercy in that He lets this world continue even another minute. Every breath we take is an act of mercy by a loving and just God.
Jesus does walk and talk with us in that He promised never to leave or forsake us. He is, through His indwelling Spirit, guiding our steps. Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”. He also talks to us, but this line is a bit misleading. God speaks, but He does so through His Word. Too many people today look to hear from the Lord but never open His Word, so they attribute feelings they feel, or instincts they have, or dreams they dream as God speaking to them. If you want to hear from God, He is speaking… read the Bible. If you want to hear from Him audibly… read the Bible out loud.
God’s loving care is all around us as there are many times God protects us from dangers we don’t even know exist. Even when tragedy and tribulation come, and our world falls down around us, God is lovingly caring for us. He is molding and shaping us through those circumstances to be more like Christ. We never need to despair.
We do look forward to the day of Jesus’ coming. It is coming, and those who seek Him will find Him and be ready when that day comes.
Second, the not as Good: We know that Jesus is alive. If we needed to proved it with evidence in a court of law, it would be a slam dunk. However, this song seems to use our belief and feelings as the evidence. “I know that He is living whatever men may say” is not really evidence. It is evidence to us, and we can sing it wholeheartedly, but it isn’t enough to convince a lost world that following Jesus is different. I would assume it took great faith in even a false religion to fly an airplane into a building on 9/11. Their belief was real… but our faith is only as strong as the object of that faith.
The real line that bothers me when I sing it is “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart." Our anecdotal experiences may solidify God’s existence and Christ’s resurrection in our minds, but we can do much better in answering that question, “How do you know He lives?”
There are many evidences to Christ’s resurrection:
You ask me how I know He lives? All of the evidences listed above… and He lives within my heart!
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for over 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship around the country. Bill and his family attend Belcroft Bible Church in Bowie, MD. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.