Confident in Christ: The Sure and Steady Anchor

In early Christian art, especially during the Roman persecution, the anchor was often used to symbolize a firm hope in eternal life with Jesus. This symbol can even be found on the tombs of Christians in the Roman catacombs.

Jon Courson mentions, “In the catacombs of Rome, where Christians hid in times of persecution, one symbol can be seen more than any other: the anchor. No matter what storms come our way, we are anchored in the Word of God, in the promises He made. We have this sure hope that He will do what He says….Be anchored in the immutable, unchangeable, sure, and steadfast Word of God.”

The hope that the world offers is temporary and limited, but the hope that Jesus provides is the only true and eternal source of hope. “Hope” in the Bible refers not to a desire, but to a firm and unwavering expectation of absolute certainty.

“Hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future.”

Holman Bible Dictionary

Throughout history, believers have found comfort and reassurance as they consider the security an anchor offers during tumultuous storms. The anchor has been a long-time theme for Christians. And thus, many songs and hymns have been written that refer to a spiritual anchor.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

Will Your Anchor Hold – Priscilla Owens, 1882

However, our hymn of the year for 2023 is the newer and perhaps lesser known, “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor.” In his brief description about this hymn, the author himself 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.”

Verse 1: Storms

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.

The first verse introduces us to the Anchor—Jesus—our Source of hope and the steadfast foundation of our souls, providing unwavering strength and security through sin, temptation, doubt, and ultimately death. In The Valley of Vision: Year’s End we read, “If Thou hast appointed storms of tribulation, Thou wilt be with me in them; If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation, I shall not drown; If I am to die, I shall see thy face the sooner.”

God and His Word provide the steady anchor and the sure foundation that we need to withstand the worst storms of life.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God.

Psalm 42:5a

Verse 2: Sin

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 the failure and sin that we face when we are tempted and fail, and the just accusation that comes with our guilt. We are guilty due to our own sinfulness, but through faith in the atoning death of Jesus, we are made clean by God’s grace. We are justified and our impurities are removed independent of our own actions. As the guilt of our sin increases, the foundation of our righteousness in Christ deepens, securing us in God’s love.

Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Romans 8:33-34

Verse 3: Doubt

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.
I will hold fast to the anchor

It shall never be removed.

The third verse addresses the feelings of despair and hopelessness that Christians may face while struggling with times of disbelief. When we are overwhelmed by doubts and despair, we must turn to the cross of Calvary as the anchor of our faith, the true ballast of our assurance. This assurance is not based on our own experiences but on the all-sufficient, substitutionary, and reconciling death of Jesus Christ!

And I said, “My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord:” remembering mine affliction and my misery…. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope: It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” saith my soul; “therefore will I hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:18-24

So, what is a “ballast?”

In the nautical world, a ballast refers to the weight at the bottom of a ship that maintains its stability and prevents it from capsizing. The third verse of the song states that Calvary serves as our foundation of confidence. It is this ballast deep down inside that provides stability through life’s greatest challenges. The song asserts that Calvary serves as this type of foundation for our assurance.

It is the death of Christ that ensures our salvation cannot be capsized. His death is the ballast of our assurance. In the words of New Testament scholar and educator J. Gresham Machen, “Salvation by faith does not mean that we are saved because we keep ourselves…in Christ. No, we are saved because, having once been united to Christ by faith, we are His forever.”

Without this ballast, our faith would be unstable and easily tossed around by the waves of doubt and unbelief. Just like a ship without a ballast, we would be prone to hopelessness—to capsizing.

I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Psalm 16:8-9

Verse 4: Death

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 secure.
And the calm will be the better,

For the storms that we endure.

The final stanza confronts us with the ultimate adversary that we all must face: death. However, if we are followers of Christ, as Paul the Apostle says, to die is to gain Him and to be in His presence forever (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21). And so the hymn ends that even “as we draw our final breath, we will cross that great horizon to Christ, the Shore of our salvation, with clouds behind and life secure.” What promise of hope is ours through Jesus!

Christ the shore of our salvation,
Ever faithful, ever true!
We will hold fast to the anchor
It shall never be removed.

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Christ, our anchor and our ballast

Give thanks to God for Jesus, who serves as the steadfast foundation of our souls and the source of our confidence. Find peace in this blessed certainty: Jesus Christ is the only reliable foundation and steadfast anchor for the soul. Be sure to place your faith in the unshakable Anchor!

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.

Psalm 146:5

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.

Isaiah 26:3-4

Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor
Text: Matt Boswell and Matt Papa
© 2014 Getty Music Publishing (BMI), Getty Music Songs LLC, Messenger Hymns and Love Your Enemies Publishing (admin. by CCLI #7045331

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Our purpose is to make much of our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel through the preaching of His Word and the making of disciples. At Friendship Baptist Church (FBC) we teach the Bible in order to facilitate spiritual growth in all of God’s people and to provide opportunities for Christian fellowship. God has graciously used Friendship to further His work both locally and across the globe since 1965.