I can understand how people develop a works-based theology when I read passages like today’s.  In the Passover regulations, it is the actions, not the beliefs or character of the people, that saves them, namely blood on the doorposts.  And it is interesting to note the repetition at this point in history of the obedience of God’s people.  It will not be this way for very long.  In the New Testament passage, Jesus actually states that when He returns, he “will reward each person according to what they have done.”

So why do we turn away from works-based theology?  Alan Hirsch clarified this Tuesday night at the Midwinter Conference.  He said that all theologies have a verse of scripture to back them up, but that each is a reduction of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.  We all take a piece of the gospel and then base our entire theology on it, and this, he said, is the root of all heresies.  Heresy, he stated, doesn’t even mean something that is evil or bad, but something that is too limited.  We need a theology of the whole of Jesus Christ, of incarnation and crucifixion, of lord and savior, of action and power.

So what is wrong with a works-based theology?  It is too limited and therefore heresy.  Jesus doesn’t build His church on the rock of Peter’s activity, but on the rock of his faith statement, “You are the Messiah, Son of the Living God.”  Yet to dismiss our activities altogether is to limit our theology the other way.  May God save us from a heretical theology that ignores the work to which God calls us, or bases salvation on that same work, or limits Jesus in any way.  May He grant us a complete theology that includes all of who Jesus was and all of what Jesus said and did.

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