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April 5, 2007 / Daniel

The apologetic method of the song “He Lives”

Cover of "He Lives"

Cover of He Lives

The song “He Lives” is a favorite hymn for many folks.  However, I wonder how many of those same people have thought about the apologetic method offered in the song.  Here’s the first verse and the chorus.

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 there.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today.

He walks 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.

It’s that last line that gives me trouble.   It sounds very presuppositional.  It relies primarily on personal experience. It’s an adequate answer, but hopefully you could come up with a better answer than “He lives in my heart.”  You’re not going to convince many skeptics with that line.  Compare this to the careful research of theologians like NT Wright or William Lane Craig.   They point to historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection on that first Easter morning.  What do you think?  Do you like the apologetic method offered by this song?    

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11 Comments

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  1. Matthew C / Apr 6 2007 4:29 pm

    I hate that song. It really is awful.

    We know that Jesus lives because it is an historical event, not because of some weird experience.

    • John M / Jan 29 2013 4:20 pm

      I know this is an old post, but I felt the need to respond.

      While there is historical evidence, if you rely on worldly logic that Jesus lived because “it is an historical event,” then it would follow, using the same worldly logic, that He would no longer be alive (being well over 2000 years old). Historical evidence merely proves He lived, not He lives.

      Assuming you are saved, did that happen logically? Or was it “because of some weird experience” as you call it? I doubt you received a special-delivery letter from Jesus inviting you to accept His Salvation and after a meeting for lunch and discussion, and then after careful consideration you decided it would be in your best interest to do so.

      If you remove faith (“some weird experience”) you negate the entire concept of personal Salvation through Jesus Christ.

      The hymn is just a simple expression in song of one’s personal joy of Salvation. It’s not a debate with an agnostic or atheist.

      Lighten up.

  2. Tim A. Blankenship / Apr 7 2007 3:55 pm

    Jesus lives more than just in our hearts, that is for sure.
    I think the writer of the song meant that it is important that He lives in your heart too.
    If He does not live their we will not believe that He is alive period.

  3. dawn / Apr 9 2007 1:39 am

    I have to agree with Tim. I don’t think the writer is necessarily evangelizing here, rather he/she is singing of how their own heart knows he is alive.

  4. adam / Apr 1 2008 2:06 pm

    He Lives… cute song..bad theology. Jesus did physically raise from the dead. Saying that I know he lives because he lives in my heart is very very shallow. There is eveidence that he rose from the dead and we as christians are trying to get that amazing message of grace out to others and we do it by saying “he lives within my heart?” I mean to an unbeliever we might as well be talking about an imaginary friend. God is so much bigger than our heart, he encompasses our lives and for some reason the traditional hymn writers thought it was ok to reduce Him to that… blah.. sorry i have a bad taste for that song.

    • John M / Jan 29 2013 3:33 pm

      I see this is several years old, however I felt compelled to answer anyway.

      You said “Saying that I know he lives because he lives in my heart is very very shallow.”

      And so I guess we instead should always rely upon logic and documentation instead of simple Faith?

      Ever read…

      And He said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

      And…

      The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

      The hymn is not offered as a debate with an agnostic or an atheist. It’s a simple song about the personal joy of one’s Salvation.

  5. Jessika Harris / May 1 2008 1:59 am

    Can you please send me the lyrics to “He Lives” because my dad wants me to learn the song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Mrs. Michalski / Feb 22 2009 1:44 pm

    I grew up,from a very young child with this song. I thank God for it. I find Joy Joy Joy, down in my HEART when I sing it. Trust me, I sing it often. My children now sing it with me and I pray that it continues to bring the Joy and Hope of Christ Jesus to them as they Serve a Risen Savior!
    May the Peace of our Lord be with you,
    Linda Michalski

  7. David Tucker / Apr 8 2009 11:36 am

    Even though Jesus did physically raise from the dead as the Word of God teaches,a person must accept this personally in order to go to heaven. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their savior, He moves in there heart and becomes the Lord of their life. A person can believe Jesus physically arose, but never accept him as their “personal” savior and die and go to hell.

    David Tucker

    • bev / May 1 2011 9:47 pm

      David you couldn’t have said it any better!

  8. John M / Jan 29 2013 3:20 pm

    I see this is several years old, but upon reading it I felt compelled to comment anyway.

    There is historical evidence of Our Lord’s existence of course, but the belief in Christ as one’s Saviour is also a very personal experience. I see this hymn as simply rejoicing in song about that personal experience, not as. a debate with an atheist or an agnostic.

    Additionally, the Scriptures have many references figuratively regarding the heart as the vessel or the essence of one’s soul.

    Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

    Luke 6:45
    The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

    Matthew 13:15
    That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and
    turn, and I would heal them.’

    …and of course the verses of John 14, beginning with….

    “Let not your heart be troubled.

    As I said above, it’s not a debate or a C.S. Lewis essay. It’s simply an expression in song of the personal joy of Salvation.

    Lighten up!

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