My friend Charles Price who was the pastor of the People’s church in Toronto tells the story of the first time he flew on an airplane.
When he boarded the plan he was in a middle seat of three. Next to the widow was an old lady who looked really nervous. On the aisle was a business man who seemed like he had done this a hundred times before. Charles, in the middle, was up for the adventure, but never having flown before, he was just a little apprehensive.
When the plane took off, the businessman opened the newspaper, Charles held onto the armrests of his seat, and the old lady reached for the barf bag. When lunch was served, the businessman ate the whole lot, Charles ate half of his, and the old lady just looked at hers and didn’t even touch it.
Here is the conclusion to the story: All three passengers arrived at the same place at the same time! They were all equally safe, but they had very different experiences of the journey.
Faith gets into the plane; assurance enjoys the journey. Faith puts you “in Christ” where you are completely safe, even if you are full of fear; assurance is the joy and peace that comes from knowing that in Christ you are completely safe.
Your eternal safety does not rest on the degree of peace and joy you experience in your Christian life. We are by justified by faith, not by assurance. But the degree of assurance you know will make a big difference to your experience of the journey of the Christian life. That is why the writer says to people who believe: “We desire each one of you… to have the full assurance of hope!”