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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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Ask Me How I Know He Lives
Based on the Hymn "He Lives"
Mark 16:1-8

Please look at the words to the hymn He Lives found on the screen. 
Many of the old favorite hymns have a story that goes with them.  This one is no exception so I would like to introduce you to Alfred Henry Ackley, the writer and composer of "He Lives."  He was an accomplished musician, hymn writer, and a Presbyterian Pastor.  He was born in PA in 1887 and was trained in music by his father and along with his brother Bentley became renowned gospel songwriter.  
Alfred pastored in PA for a while then was called to pastor in California.  There in 1932 he became a friend of a Jewish man – he would talk to him about story of Christ and what it meant to follow Him.  The Jewish man would counter Alfred's witness of Christ with a simple but disturbing statement - "Why should I worship a dead Jew?" 
            The statement played on his mind as he prepared his Easter message in 1933. "Why should I worship a dead Jew?" 
            As was his practice on Sunday morning he rose early and went over his morning message a few times.  As he was shaving he listened to a famous radio preacher out of New York.  The preacher started off his Easter message this way.  "Good morning - 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 dust in some Palestinian tomb.  The main thing is, His truth goes marching on."
Ackley relates that he wanted to throw the radio across the room.  Alfred woke the whole house up as he shouted, "It's a lie."  His wife came to the bathroom door asking why he was shouting so early in the morning.   He explained his frustration with the preacher's sermon.
Alfred preached with a great deal of enthusiasm that day but was still bothered by his Jewish friend and the preacher in New York.  He was still troubled even after a wonderful Easter morning.  So when he was grumbling about these comments his wife told him - "listen here, Alfred Ackley.  It's time you did that which you can do best.  Why don't you write a song about it and maybe you'll feel better?"
Alfred re-read Mark's gospel account of the resurrection.  In a few moments the words of He Lives just flowed out of him.  A few minutes later he was at the piano putting it to music to the lyrics.  It was therapy to his soul.  He never dreamt it would become one of the church's most treasured Easter hymns. 

There seems to be articles and TV shows disclaiming Christ’s existence and His resurrection every year around the time of Easter and Christmas.  I can’t write musical lyrics, but I can proclaim the Good News I would like to tell you how I know He lives this morning.  But first let us sing together He Lives. 

Look at the refrain with me for a moment.  "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 with in my heart."

Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)
    "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. [14] "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.


            If Christ is not transforming your life at this moment I have a simple formula for you to be adopted into the family of God.          
Believe + Accept = Become

He Lives!
Words and Music by 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.

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.


Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.