Alfred Henry Ackley, a pastor in California, was preaching in special nightly meetings. A Jewish young man attended the meetings and became interested in the saving message of Christ. After the message one night, the young man pressed Ackley with the question, “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” Mr. Ackley quickly gave the response, “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.”
During the next several days, Mr. Ackley pondered over the resurrection account as found in Mark 16:6, “He is risen, He is not here!” After meditating on that passage, Mr. Ackley later said, “A thrill filled my soul – a glorious experience I will never forget. As I thought on the reality of his everlasting presence right there in the room with me, I could hold back no longer and began to write the verses and music to “He lives”.
Osbeck, K. W. 101 More Hymn Stories. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1985). p. 114-116.