Posted by: rcottrill | April 27, 2012

Blessed Assurance

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: Phoebe Palmer Knapp (b. Mar. 9, 1839; d. July 10, 1908)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Wordwise Hymns link tells the story of how the hymn came to be written. The Cyber Hymnal adds a novel account of how the hymn was used in an unusual way by the British troops during the Boer War.

Assurance includes a full confidence, and freedom from doubt and fear. It’s the other side of trust, or faith. The later is an out-flowing attitude, we put our faith in something or someone. And when we trust in God, the Spirit of God brings inward assurance that our trust is well founded.

In the New Testament, the Greek word plerophoreo is translated assurance. It means to be fully persuaded. And there is an assurance of faith: “Let us draw near [to God] with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). There’s also an assurance of hope (Heb. 6:11), and of spiritual understanding (Col. 2:2), as well as an assurance in the power of the gospel of grace (I Thess. 1:5).

All of that is wrapped up in the declaration of the first line of this hymn. The great assurance that Fanny Crosby celebrates is the fact that “Jesus is mine” (CH-1). With Mary she declares, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Lk. 1:47). As believers, we have been regenerated and made new through “Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Tit. 3:3-6), and we look forward to the return of “our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).

CH-1) Blessèd assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour, all the day long.

In what sense is Christ “mine”? Certainly not in the sense that I own Him, and have the authority to do with Him as I please. But in the sense that He has come into my life, by faith, and both lives with me and lives through me. Rather than leading to more of an expression of self will and self interest, the fruit of this intimate relationship is that, more and more, Christ is seen in me (Gal. 2:20). While it is true that He is mine, it is also true that I am His.

The development of these two aspects of our relationship is illustrated in the Song of Solomon, by the deepening bond between the Shulamite maiden and the bridegroom, King Solomon. At first her delight is “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (2:16). Then, she gives greater preeminence to him with, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (6:3). Finally, there seems to be a full surrender in, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” (Try reading these three texts, substituting “Christ’s” for “my beloved,” and I think you’ll see the point.)

In the surrender of faith in Christ is found the fullness of assurance. This is what gives the believer both a testimony (“this is my story”), and a song (“praising my Saviour”). It also gives us a certain hope for a future bound up in the Lord’s return, as we continue “watching and waiting, looking above” (CH-3).

CH-3) Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Questions:
1) What are the possible reasons that some Christians seem to lack assurance?

2) How can an attitude of confident assurance in the Lord be maintained?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


Responses

  1. One of my favorites from Fanny Crosby: how sweet it is to walk with such Blessed Assurance…


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