“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (Hebrews 6:19)
What we are in heart and soul is the definition of what we truly are. Stripping back the outer veneer, the parts of life and personality that are easily recognised, the soul lies at the heart of our humanity. While the body will die and perish the soul will continue to live, basking in the enjoyments of heaven or existing amid the dreadful torments of hell.
Therefore it is of ultimate concern that our souls are safe and secure.
Can we be sure? Can we have absolute unshakeable assurance that our souls are safe; never to be lost?
Here in Hebrews 6 we are greatly helped in our assurance from this wonderful and remarkable phrase “the anchor of the soul”.
1: The Purpose of the Anchor
The purpose of the anchor is very straightforward; to hold the ship fast, thereby preventing drift and destruction. The sea is a most unsuitable place if one wishes to remain in the one position. By its very nature the sea is moving, at times in a most violent and dangerous fashion. Therefore, the anchor is necessary for the safety of the vessel, to prevent it from being lost and wrecked.
This world is like the sea. Life itself is constantly ebbing and flowing being full of unpredictable surprises. The heart of man which dominates the thinking of the world is in a state of flux and turmoil constantly churning out dangerous deceits and fickle nonsense.
The course of this world loses souls. It carries men and women away from God and into the oceans of pleasure and sin. Ultimately these poor lost souls will eventually be shipwrecked on the rocks of God’s judgement, their souls will not be saved.
The anchor of the soul is powerful enough to give us certainty in a world of uncertainty. Despite the success and pleasure this life offers we labour constantly in the cold waters and swift currents of uncertainty. God’s anchor hold us fast and gives a certain hope in a hopeless world.
This anchor of the soul gives us a purpose in a world where many are simply drifting alone. Without Christ people drift through the various scenes of life; from youth to old age, from being parents to being grandparents, from college to business and onto retirement – there seems no purpose to it all. Living for the daily grind and then death comes as the great leveller. The grave opens wide to receive both the millionaire as well as the pauper. But the anchor of the soul gives us a purpose by preventing drift. As the ship is designed for travelling from port to port across the wide seas so we are designed for the glory of God. Without living for His glory our days are wasted and our lives are squandered. Only the anchor can steady us and keep us together for the work which have been designed for.
2: The Properties in the Anchor
According to St Paul, the anchor of the soul is made of two materials. It is therefore constructed from an alloy. We know that alloys improve strength. Therefore steel as an alloy of iron and carbon is extremely durable to the point of being unbreakable. Therefore this anchor of the soul is as strong as the omnipotent God can create. These two materials are described as immutable or unchangeable. When two unchangeable objects are blended together the result is an object which is eternal and timeless in nature. Only such an object made by God can guarantee our survival in this changing and difficult world.
These two immutable things are God’s promise and His oath:
“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:17-18)
God’s promises are scattered throughout Scripture. The people of God are the heirs of promise; our eternity depends upon their fulfilment but they themselves are the bond which assures us of eternal life.
Not content with extending His promise to us God also ratifies with an oath:
“For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.” (Hebrews 6:13)
As one summonsed to the witness stand will take an oath on the Bible to emphasise the solemnity of what is being said so God vows to keep His word by swearing on His own character. In essence God declares that to break His word would be an abdication of His divinity. A God who breaks His word would cease to be God. This oath is God’s covenant. It is a legal transaction lodged in the library of God’s decrees. All who the Father has given the Son will never be lost. No soul that is held fast by an anchor made of this indestructible alloy will never ever be lost.
The cost of creating this precious alloy of promise combined with oath is immense. It was forged in the fires of Calvary when Christ suffering the wrath of God for us. It was paid for with the ransom price of the precious blood which flowed from the lamb of God. The greater the price the more precious the purchase, the more valuable the possession and the more definite the security. The Crown Jewels in their vaults at the Tower of London are carefully protected for a reason, their value; it is their great value which keeps them safe and secure. Likewise the price paid for our souls indicates that they are so precious, they will never be lost. God’s jewels are guarded and be kept secure:
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2)
3: The Place for the Anchor
Every earthly metaphor falters in some manner, because earthly things always fall short of conveying spiritual truth. The reality is always more excellent than the metaphor just as the person surpasses the photograph and the scene beheld with the naked eye is more beautiful than the finest oil painting.
Unlike nautical anchors which are sunk into the depths to rest on the sea bed the spiritual anchor is in an upward location. It rests in heaven behind the rent veil, before the throne of God:
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6:19-20)
It is evident here, that the anchor is Christ, He is the immutable one, He is the guarantor of the Covenant of Grace, He is the embodiment of all of the promises of God as our Saviour and Redeemer:
“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2nd Corinthians 1:20)
“Jesus Himself is our hope. The soul is like a ship, tossed to and fro by the tumultuous waves of the sea, exposed to the temptations of Satan, the afflictions and sufferings of this present life, the difficulties and dangers of our earthly course, to doubts within and storms without. But we have an anchor, even hope; this anchor is fixed, in in the depth below, but in the height above, even in the everlasting and immoveable throne of the Most High…And as God in Christ is the sinner’s faith and love, so it is the Lord Jesus, once crucified and enthroned, who is our hope; and while earthly joys and encouragements vary and vanish, the Spirit commands the troubled and disquieted to hope in God.”
(Adolph Saphir, The Epistle to the Hebrews)
He is our anchor by virtue of His eternal priesthood, this is the significance of the location behind the veil. In the holiest place of all Christ our Great High Priest pleads the merits of His atonement and ever lives to make intercession for us. His person and His work anchors us. He holds us fast. We will never be lost.
This anchor of the soul is our hope, as our forerunner Christ has gone on before. One day we too shall be with Him where He is, following on after Him. There shall be no changing sea in glory, all with be secure forever.
Whatever we face in this world, nothing can separate us from His love because ultimately heaven beckons.
I subscribe to a blog written by a Canadian pastor called Tim Challies. Last autumn his son died suddenly not long before his wedding day. The author frequently refers to his terrible grief and the triumph of faith. I was particularly inspired and blessed by the relevance of the anchor to his own journey through grief:
“The anchor of my faith held in the moment of the first alarming text messages, when the winds began to rise and the waters began to swell. It held when I received the dreaded phone call, when the storm unleashed its fury and great waves began to pound against me. It held through the memorial and funeral services, when the eye of the storm passed over us with its preternatural calm. It held through the aches and agonies that followed, when I could barely hear above the howl of the wind, barely see through the driving rain. My faith, my anchor, has held, but not because I have been rowing hard, not because I have been steering well, not because I am made of rugged stuff, not because I am a man of mighty faith. It has held fast because it is held firm in the nail-scarred hands of the one who died and rose for me. He, by his grace, has held me safe thus far, and he, by his grace, will hold me to the end. I have every confidence that my anchor will hold—that my anchor will be held—until he at last delivers me to that safe harbour far across these troubled seas.”
Let us rejoice and be glad, let us rest and be satisfied because of Christ:
“the anchor of the soul”.