Published April 22, 2014
Do you believe Christ actually rose from the dead? If you're a Christian, you must. This is a fundamental and indispensable truth of the faith, revealed countless times in Scripture. Paul simply stated the fact: "But now Christ is risen from the dead..." (1 Cor. 15:20). And Paul made clear its connection with salvation: "...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
Despite the fact that the resurrection has been exhaustively researched by theologians and other scholars over the years, no one has found a shred of credible evidence that Jesus' resurrection didn't happen just as the Bible says it did. In fact, all of the evidence far more than is available for many commonly-accepted historical events points to the Lord's resurrection happening just as Scripture records it.6
But what would you say to someone you encountered who said this is impossible, that Jesus never really rose from the dead?
Alfred H. Ackley (1887-1960) was a pastor and hymn writer who encountered such a person. A young Jewish student to whom Ackley had been witnessing in California asked him, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?"
The question may have taken Ackley by surprise, but he quickly answered, "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!"1
That encounter was heavy on Ackley's heart as he prepared his Easter sermon in 1932. Rising early, he turned on his radio and heard a famous liberal preacher from New York say, "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!"2
Ackley's righteous indignation flared up and, startling his wife, shouted, "It's a lie!" He said he wanted to fling the radio across the room in disgust.
If you've ever heard a "fired-up" preacher, Ackley after all this certainly was one. You can only imagine the fervor with which Ackley delivered his Easter morning sermon affirming the Lord's victorious resurrection! Likewise at the evening service.
Later, while he was still upset by those doubters, his wife gave him some wise counsel telling him to do what he did best, to write the message in song. So he opened the book of Mark, re-read the resurrection account, and the words began to flow...
I serve a risen Savior3
He's in the world today.
I know that His 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.
Ackley's faith in the resurrection, reflecting His faith in Christ, was rooted in the fact that Christ was alive in him. He felt the Lord working in him through His Spirit. That was all the proof He needed. As Paul wrote, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!4
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.
There is no evidence better than first-hand evidence. And for a Christian, the evidence that Christ is alive today is in our daily interaction with Him. You can't do that with a dead person although every religion other than Christianity apparently settles for that. Someone once said, "If Christ is dead, then who is it that I have a conversation with on my knees each night?"
Any long-time Christian can give you a host of examples of how the Lord has directed the course of his or her life. One can sense it usually all the more clearly in retrospect. But that's what we pray for the Lord's leading, guidance and direction in our lives. And as those prayers are answered, it's quite obvious that the One Who is answering them ... is alive! And, for that, we can certainly rejoice!
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,5
Lift up your voice and sing
To Jesus Christ the King!
1. "Hymns," Wm. J. & Ardythe Petersen, Tyndale House 2006, p. 599
2. "Then Sings My Soul ," Robert Day Morgan, Thomas Nelson 2003-2005, p. 237
3. "He Lives," A. H. Ackley, 1933, v. 1
4. Ibid, chorus
5. Ibid, v. 3 (part)
6. C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Lee Stroebel and other noted apologists have offered exhaustive studies on this.
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