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Mar 2021

Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 6:19–20

This Sunday, we will be introducing a new hymn to our gathering, Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor, by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. In his brief description about the hymn, Matt Papa writes:

“Playing up the metaphor of the sea, storms and the wind, the song is crafted around the idea of holding onto Christ (The Anchor) when trials are high in our lives. The first verse opens with the singer sinking in the midst of their storm. The next few verses remind us that, as the strength of the tempest grows, so does the ability of Christ as the anchor to root in deeper while we cling to Him; despite temptation, weakness and unbelief, we are assured of Christ’s steadfastness.”

Here are the lyrics to this modern hymn:

Christ the sure and steady anchor, in the fury of the storm
When the winds of doubt blow through me, and my sails have all been torn
In the suffering, in the sorrow, when my sinking hopes are few
I will hold fast to the anchor, it shall never be removed

Verse one starts off with the general storms of life and the suffering and doubt they often entail. It ends, however, as all four verses do, with the reality that Jesus himself is our hope, the anchor of our soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19-20).

Christ the sure and steady anchor, while the tempest rages on
When temptation claims the battle, and it seems the night has won
Deeper still then goes the anchor, though I justly stand accused
I will hold fast to the anchor, it shall never be removed

Verse two talks about failure and sin in the face of temptation, and the just accusation that is ours in our guilt. We are justly accused because of our uncleanness, but clean because of the grace of God who independently acts to remove our uncleanness when we are justified by faith in the guilt-clearing death of Jesus instead of us, which is exactly where verse two ends. When the guilt of our sin abounds, the anchor of our righteousness goes even deeper, keeping us firmly established in the love of God in Christ (Romans 5:20).

Christ the sure and steady anchor, through the floods of unbelief
Hopeless somehow, O, my soul, now lift your eyes to Calvary
This my ballast of assurance, see His love forever proved
All my hope is in the anchor, it shall never be removed

Verse three deals with the hopelessness many of us experience who battle against unbelief. When the floods of unbelief rip through our hopeless souls, it is then that we must “lift [our] eyes to Calvary,” to the true ballast of our assurance, which is not our own experience, but the all-sufficient, substitutionary, reconciling death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

What is a ‘Ballast”?

Verse three says that “this,” i.e., Calvary, is our “ballast of assurance.” So what exactly is a ballast? Well, in keeping with the nautical theme, a ballast is the weight at the bottom of a ship that keeps it upright and prevents it from capsizing. And the song says that Calvary is the ballast of our assurance. Think about this for a moment: The ballast that guarantees the non-capsizability of our salvation is not our own performance, not our moods, not our consistency, not our faithfulness, not our sincerity, not the fact that we prayed a prayer, walked the aisle, or signed a card, but that Jesus has died instead of us. It is the death of Christ that ensures our salvation cannot be capsized. His death is the ballast of our assurance.

Christ the sure and steady anchor, as we face the wave of death
When these trials give way to glory, as we draw our final breath
We will cross that great horizon, clouds behind, and life secured
And the calm will be the better, for the storms that we endured
Christ the shore of our salvation, ever faithful, ever true
We will hold fast to the anchor, it shall never be removed

The final verse of this hymn finishes with that last great enemy that we all must face: death itself. But if we belong to Christ, to die is to gain Him and to enter his presence once and forever (2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:21). Whatever our situation, whether we are beaten down by circumstances, battling doubt, or even facing death, Christ’s hold on us is stronger than our hold on him.

You can listen to Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor by watching the video below, and you can purchase and download the full song by clicking here. I pray that this song would remind us that along with the promises of God for our good, we’ve also been promised that our pilgrim journey through this life will be hard (John 16:33, Acts 14:22, Romans 8). Sin is the guarantor of trials, of doubt, of unbelief, of pain and sickness and death. Without some assurance beyond ourselves, the storms that arrive will surely wreak havoc and potentially sink us, or at best blow us off course. Yet as we “fix our eyes on Jesus” in these times in which we live, we find this hope immovable and secure (Hebrews 12). It shall never be removed!


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