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Theological Fitness, Why We Need a Fighting Faith

by Aimee Byrd, P&R Publishing, 2015

A fighting faith? Perhaps you are thinking this will be a legalistic type book, where faith becomes a difficult burden? No! Definitely not. Rather, Byrd paints a realistic and balanced picture of our life of faith. Just like any other relationship, knowing God and being in a relationship with God will require effort on our part. We can’t simply coast along for the ride, but be participatory in it.

Byrd grew up in a home that emphasized physical fitness, in fact her parents taught martial arts and aerobics, and she uses this as an analogy to spiritual fitness throughout the book. Don’t worry – even if you are not “into” physical fitness – you can relate to it. But certainly those who are active in sports or fitness training will relate all the more! Again, Byrd is not burdening us, but pumping us up for our life of faith and pointing us to Christ.

The book revolves around Hebrews 10:23: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

It is divided into sections/chapters based on each phrase of this verse: Let Us, Hold Fast, The Confession of Our Hope, Without Wavering, and For He Who Promised is Faithful. Yes! And it works really well, as she unpacks each phrase for the reader, putting the points into their greater context of the entire book of Hebrews and the Bible as a whole. I think a great idea would be to read through Hebrews, and then read Theological Fitness. Throughout the book, there are occasional footnotes and references to help you study deeper if you’d like – such as Exposition of Hebrews by Arthur Pink.

Let us? These chapters focus on the importance of the church and other believers in our life of faith. We are to exhort each other daily. Byrd also teaches a proper approach to self. I liked this statement: “The problem with self-image is the self. I don’t want such a narcissistic focus.” (pg 43)

Hold fast? Here she says “Faith is a fighting grace.” (pg 58) We must hold fast, persevere, be patient, and endure. We may not care for some of these words! Endure? The key here is focus. Hebrews emphasizes a forward-looking faith, and we run towards what we worship. Jesus Christ is both the message and the means.

The confession of our hope? “Christians, what do you believe?” (pg 99) Sadly, many Christians are lacking in this area, and fuzzy about what they believe. How can we hold fast to a confession of hope that we know little about? These chapters focus on who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

I particularly liked one challenging and convicting point in this section. The author of Hebrews reprimands his readers for their theological immaturity, and is writing to remind them of remedial truths of the faith. Yet many Christians today find Hebrews a difficult book that is hard to understand. Did you get that? Read again if need be.

Without wavering? Some sentences I highlighted in this section:

“We often have a tendency to think we are much farther along the path to holiness than we actually are.” (pg 129)

“We are eager to get to the status of a mature disciple, but not so willing to go through the training and discipline to get there.” (pg 138)

“There is no plateau in the Christian life. We are either growing closer to Christ’s likeness or we are falling away.” (pg 144)

This section exhorts us to keep at it. But to clarify, Byrd emphasizes that the genuine believer is secure in Christ. She hammers away on 2 points throughout the book: every Christian will persevere, but faith is a fighting grace. (A theological point I agree with.) Which brings us to the last section…

For He who promised is faithful? We are not perfect, and our faith is in Christ and HIS perfect work on our behalf. The security of a promise depends on the one making the promise, and God keeps His promises. We can REST, secure in Christ. Yet we have a part to play. The book is, after all, entitled: Theological Fitness, Why We Need a Fighting Faith. But it is not a self-oriented striving, and our sufficiency is in Christ alone.

I recommend this 188 page book to you, and consider it appropriate for a general Christian audience, and not particularly directed toward men or women – but both. After each chapter there are questions for personal thought or group discussion to help you contemplate the material. Thanks Aimee for your time and efforts in writing this worthwhile book. Follow her blog here.

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