This song is now timeless. It is easy to mix this song into a heap of other songs known as “hymns.” As a matter of fact, if you have people keeping track of how many hymns you have done vs contemporary songs, you will not often find this song as a contemporary song, even though it was very much considered contemporary as much as thirty years ago.
That said, you should resist keeping score of hymns vs contemporary music. It’s a silly and cynical scoresheet to keep.
Instrumentally, this is entirely dependent upon which style you are trying to accomplish. If you are looking to emulate the Gaither style of old-school Southern gospel, you will want a great pianist and organist. They will need to be adept at playing 7th, diminished, and minor/7th keys. If you are using a pop-style band, I recommend your guitars capo into a G shape, as it facilitates a good country style.
Vocally, I find that the key of A is challenging, but not impossible for a male voice. Singing it in A will have your women screeching the melody or hunting around for the harmony.
If you have this song led by a female vocalist, G or below is a great key for a soprano,
Use in Worship
Because this song is so grand and sweeping, it makes for a good final song or even as a closer for a service. I like to start it with minimal sound and a soft undersung voice on “God sent His Son…”
It has lots of room to swell emotionally through the song. Since it is so well known, it also makes for a great a cappella final verse.
The first verse is a retelling of the Gospel and its impact, i.e. Jesus is the Son of God, He worked miracles, He was crucified as a propitiation of sin, and He rose again on the third day.
The second verse calls to mind the simplicity and tenderness of a baby. It then states one of the great hopes of this baby is that Jesus lives. It calls to mind Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (ESV) I have never until singing this song connect the idea that I can be comforted in that scripture as a result of the living Christ.
The final verse of the song looks forward to forever in the embrace of the father. Interestingly, it references crossing “that river,” an analogy for death in the Old South and in ancient mythology.
God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives.
How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and the joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives.
And then one day, I’ll cross that river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns. 
- Gloria Gaither and William J. Gaither, “Because He Lives,” Hannah Street Music, 1971. CCLI# 16880