Though she was blind most of her life, the impact Fanny Crosby made while alive was great. “It is estimated that she wrote more than 8,000 gospel song texts in her lifetime. Her hymns have been and are still being sung more frequently than those of any other gospel hymn writer.”[1] It was not uncommon for Fanny Crosby’s friends to compose music and then ask her to add words. This is the case with the song Blessed Assurance written by Fanny Crosby in 1873. The music for the hymn was composed by Mrs. Phoebe Knapp who was a close friend to Fanny. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this hymn, aside from its rich theological truth, is the rich imagery used to describe those truths. Let’s take a closer look at just a few of the incredible phrases we see in this hymn. 

 

“Blessed assurance Jesus is mine.” 

One of the most precious realities for believers is the understanding that “Jesus is mine.” Don’t misunderstand this concept. We do not own Jesus! When a husband says, “This is my wife,” it is not because he owns her. He says this because he is in relationship with her and they are united in a special way. 

When a person places their faith in Jesus a union also takes place. Jesus brings us from death to life and our relationship to him is forever changed. Just like a husband says, “That is my wife,” the believer at that moment can say, “That is my Jesus.” This relationship with Jesus provides assurance that supersedes any assurance this world can offer. The Apostle John writes, And, this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life. Here John simply affirms what we find throughout all of scripture; our assurance is certain if it is rooted in Jesus. 

 

“Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.” 

In his high priestly prayer Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”[2]  In other words, eternal life is not primarily about heaven or even escaping hell. Eternal life is primarily about God bringing us into relationship with himself. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” In a very real sense, the greatest benefit we receive from salvation is already available to us, in Jesus. However, we also know that this world is not how is should be and that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Through the resurrection of Jesus, we have been born again to a living hope, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…ready to be revealed in the last time.”[3] So while eternal life starts the moment we place our faith in Jesus, we also know that our experiences now are simply hors d’oeuvres (or a foretaste) compared to the glory we will experience for all eternity. 

 

“Angels, descending, bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” 

This is perhaps one of the more unique phrases in the song. Though it is tough to know exactly what Fanny Crosby had in mind when she penned these words, we find in scripture that angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.[4] While angels do at times minister to believers, it is important to remember that the primary way we experience the love of God is through the people of God. This doesn’t mean the song is inaccurate; simply that angels are not the primary way God mediates his love and mercy today. Certainly God is more than able to encourage believers in any way he desires but the primary way he works is through the local church. So as we gather throughout the week, we should constantly look for opportunities to show love and mercy to one another. 

 

Blessed Assurance Leads Us To Praise! 

When we consider our story, there is only one right response, namely to praise our Savior. Paul said it this way in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” John Piper says, “God is not worshiped where He is not treasured and enjoyed.”[5]  But, how do we learn to treasure God? Perhaps one of the best ways is by recalling to mind the blessings we have in Him. Like Fanny Crosby, when we understand the Blessed Assurance we have in Jesus, our lives will naturally overflow with praise. 

It is said that when Mrs. Phoebe Knapp brought the tune now associated with Blessed Assurance to Fanny Crosby and asked, “‘What does this tune say’ Fanny responded immediately, ‘Why, that says: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine.’”[6] Those words are no less true today than they were when she first wrote them and our response should be no different either. In light of our assurance, how could we do anything less than praise our Savior for the work he has done in our life?


[1] Osbeck, Kenneth W. 1982. 101 Hymn Stories. 4th Printing edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel Publications, pp. 43.

[2] 1 Peter 1:4-5

[3] Hebrews 1:14

[4] Piper, John. 2011. Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Multnomah, pp. 22. 

[5] 101 Hymn Stories, pp. 43.