July 3: Rev. Alfred Ackley

“Why Should I Worship a Dead Jew?”
by Rev. David T. Myers

The Presbyterian evangelist in Los Angeles never forgot the callous challenge of the young Jewish man.  And yet every Christian can be grateful that the questioning man attending the evangelistic meeting of the Rev. Alfred Ackley asked this question.  For it produced in evangelist Ackley the desire to compose a hymn of confidence in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To the immediate question of our title, Alfred Ackley had responded, “But Jesus lives!  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 by the testimony of countless thousands.”  Those words were enough to convince the young man, and he received Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior that very evening.

Going home that night, Rev. Ackley couldn’t get the questioning words of doubt out of his heart.  So the veteran hymn writer, who  had already penned some 1500 spiritual songs and hymns during his lifetime, went home and wrote the words of “He lives.”  In fact, on his grave stone in Los Angeles, above his name is the score of beginning  musical notes from the chorus of this hymn, and the two words “He lives!”  Ackley died on June 3, 1960.

Words to Live By:  Not found in our Trinity Hymnal , review the familiar words (maybe sing them?) of the hymn.  You might find them in an older hymnal, or you can find them on the web. The point is, all of us from our own experience, the spiritual experiences of others, and most important, the testimony of Scripture, can be sure that we worship and serve, not a dead Savior, but One who is living yesterday, today, and tomorrow, until He comes.


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