Thursday, April 28, 2011

He Lives by Alfred Henry Ackley

Apparently, this hymn was written in response to a Jewish man who asked, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?" and a liberal pastor who claimed that it really wasn't important if Jesus rose from the dead or not. But it fails to respond to either person in a meaningful way.

The hymn begins by saying "I serve a risen savior" which is problematic because it really makes it a song about the individual singing it and not about Jesus. Jesus came to serve us, not to be served. But the rest of the song is even more problematic because it argues that Jesus must be alive simply because the person singing it can feel Jesus' presence in some mystical way:

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!
The liberal pastor who denies an actual bodily resurrection really wouldn't even have any trouble singing this song because in the song Jesus is nothing more than a feeling that lives inside of the person's heart. I don't even think the Jew would object to the idea of Jesus living on in people's hearts the same way a dead relative might. In Ephesians 3:17 Paul does pray that Jesus would dwell in the hearts of the believers in Ephesus but he never uses Jesus dwelling in his heart as proof for the resurrection. Instead, Paul appeals to the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. Paul says that Jesus appeared to over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6) including himself.

For Paul, Jesus was not just some feeling of some sort of presence. For Paul, Jesus was present in the preaching of the Gospel, baptism, and the Lord's Supper.

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