"Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple." - Mission of the Redeemer, Pope John Paul II
So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 1 Peter 2:1-3
... salvation is from the Jews.
Salvation Through Faith and Works
1 Cor 13:2 and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
The Problem: Sole fide theology teaches that we are saved by grace alone, but that the only proper response to grace is faith - one need do no work in order to be saved. Instead of merely rejecting the idea that human work can, by itself, lead to salvation, an idea which all Christians, including Catholics, reject, it teaches that one need not respond to grace through definitive action at all - a response of faith is sufficient. In this theology, action has no effect on salvation whatsoever. Walking in the ways of God does not save, since good acts come after salvation has been attained through faith, and failing to walk in His ways does not condemn, since we are saved by the cloak of Christ's righteousness, which no wrongful action can remove from us. Some followers of sole fide acknowledge the fact that sinfulness can condemn us, but continue to refuse the idea that following God's ways can do anything to save us.
The Truth: We are saved by grace alone. No one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, which is the adoption into God's Body as His true child through baptism. All our merit and all that we merit ultimately derives from God's gracious condescension in adopting us as His own. Through this baptism, which cleanses us, adopts us, makes us a true child of God, we are enabled to become partakers by grace in the divine nature. As His true children, we obtain, as every child does, a right to a share in the life of our Father. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we, His children, image the First-Born, winning additional merit for ourselves and for others through our response in faith and action. Faith and action are similar responses with different outward forms. Thus, the sacraments are actual outpourings of the divine Life, grace, in which we must participate with faith in order to attain salvation, not that our faith makes the sacraments operative, rather, our submission to the Divinely instituted sacraments in both faith and action constitute the formal cooperation with grace in which we freely submit our will to that of Jesus Christ and thereby become One with His Body.
Eph 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
All denominations agree on one thing: grace alone saves. Grace is an unmerited gift from God. We must respond to that grace in order to be saved. What are the fruits of grace? The first fruit is that we are created for, prepared beforehand for, good works.
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
This passage from Hebrews describes the minimum response necessary for salvation - we must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Faith is one of the fruits of grace. How can we come to know Him?
Jn 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
We come to know Him through Jesus Christ, for, whether the evidence be the material world created through Him or the person of Jesus Christ Himself, it is only through the Person of Christ that all evidence of God comes to us:
Wis 13:1-9 For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works; 2 but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. 3 If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. 4 And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them. 5 For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator. 6 Yet these men are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him. 7 For as they live among his works they keep searching, and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful. 8 Yet again, not even they are to be excused; 9 for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?
Rom 1:19-20 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse...
Acts 14:15-17 "Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways; 17 yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
Acts 17:22-27 So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-opagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us...
Acts 10:34-35 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."
Early Christians' comments on Salvation Outside the Church.
Scripture is truth. Truth cannot contradict truth. While there are many passages which emphasize the importance of faith, often without mentioning the importance of works at all, the passages below emphasize the importance of works, often without mentioning faith at all. Just as Ephesians 2:8-10 says it is faith that saves, not works, so Scripture also says:
James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
The idea that work alone leads to salvation is as wrong as the idea that faith alone leads to salvation. Grace alone brings salvation. Grace produces two co-equal fruits in us - faith and works. We must respond to grace, and grace may require different kinds of response depending on our individual circumstance. Each writer of Holy Scripture was trying to emphasize the importance of a different aspect of grace working in our lives to an audience which didn't understand that aspect. Neither faith nor work precedes the other, but both act together, reinforcing each other.
Jn 5:33-36 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me.
We are supposed to act in the image of Christ. Christ specifically states that He does not accept human testimony. However, He also specifically states that His works, the works He is currently performing prior to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection, are greater testimony than anything John says. If we image Christ, then our good works are not ours, but God's works through us. Therefore, to deny the usefulness of good works is to deny the testimony of God.
Jn 10:37-38 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
Mt 6:1-4 1 "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Mt 7:12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Mt 7:19-23 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits. "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'
Mt 19:16-21 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
Mt 25:31-46 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Note that in the passage above, the saved did not even recognize Christ. They simply acted as they knew God wanted them to act, yet still they were saved, while those who knew Christ but did not act were condemned. Participation is necessary for salvation.
Jn 14:15,21 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments... He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
Here, Christ says that it is action, not faith alone, which saves. In fact, Christ does not even refer to faith as a necessary condition here, even though other passages attest to the need for it.
1 Jn 5:1-31 Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Sir 15:15 If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done.
Acts 10:34-35 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
In Romans 2:6 the word for "work" is "ergon," that is, it is same as the word used in Ephesians 2:8. But how can this be? Paul attacks works:
Rom 3:20 For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Gal 2:16 ...a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.
Gal 3:2-10 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4 Did you experience so many things in vain? if it really is in vain. 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
6 Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." 7 So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 9 So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them."
Is not this proof positive that works has no power? It is. But the works Paul speaks of with such derision are not the same works James speaks of with such approval. Paul is combatting a very specific problem - the Judaizers, who insist that the works of circumcision and animal sacrifices must be done in order to be a good Christian.
Acts 13:38-39 Let it be known to you therefore, brethren that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
We are freed from the "works of the law" of Moses.
Gal 3:16-17 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many; but, referring to one, "And to your offspring," which is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.
Paul's attack on the law is an attack on the law instituted by God and Moses upon the Chosen People, four hundred and thirty years after God made covenant with Abraham. That is why Paul was not schizophrenic when he attacked the law in one chapter of Galatians and said just a few paragraphs later:
Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
We are under a law, but it is not the old law.
Rom 3:28-30 For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith.
The Romans passage could be translated "For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from the Torah" (Surprised By Truth, p. 63). Simply acting righteously was not enough. What was inside had to match what was outside - the work Christ requires has to be performed with a pure heart, pure intentions, and pure love. The Chosen People were saved from temporal death by the external sprinkling of blood on their doors. The Body of Christ is saved from eternal condemnation by having, cooperating with, and shining forth the pure Blood of Christ in their hearts.
Neither the works of circumcision or the Mosaic law justified. If they had, Abraham would have been justified by circumcision. That is not what happened. Abraham responds in faith to God's call in Genesis 12:
Gen 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." So Abram went, as the Lord had told him,; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Har-an.
He was seventy-five years old when he makes his faith response to God and commits himself to the Lord.
Gen 15:6 And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.
But it isn't until Genesis 15 that Abraham is made righteous. Yet he travelled in faith through Canaan, down into Egypt to avoid famine, got embroiled with Pharoah, travelled back into the Negeb, and lived through a war, rescuing his cousin Lot before, God finally blessed him with righteousness.
Gen 17:9-11 And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.
Abraham was righteous BEFORE circumcision. However, he wasn't righteous simply because he had faith in God. He had a long faith walk first.
Rom 4:9 We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.
And so it was. But that was not enough.
James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
Truth does not contradict truth. Faith is the beginning of righteousness, but there is much more which must be done in order to achieve justification.
Col 1:24-26 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints.
When we suffer in union with Christ, we make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.
Gal 5:4-6 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.
Galatians 5:6 truly summarizes the position of the Catholic Church.
Mk 2:1-5 And when he returned to Caperna-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
Mark's account is a beautiful example of the principle. Christ sees the faith and works of the four friends who lowered the paralytic through the roof, and on the basis of their faith and works, He forgives the paralytic's sins. The four friends understand the law of Christ. Faith alone is not enough. Each must...
Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Gal 6:6-10 Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Phil 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
James 1:22-27 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
26 If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 2:6-26 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme that honorable name which was invoked over you?
8 If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," said also, "Do not kill." If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believeand shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, 23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.
The only time the word "alone" appears with the word "faith" in the Greek text is in James 2:24 we are "not saved by faith alone." Luther added the word "alone" to the phrase "you are saved by faith" in both Galatians and Romans in order to shore up his flawed theology. When he was accused of altering the word of God, he responded: "You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word 'alone' is not in the text of Paul. If your Papist makes such an unnecessary row about the word 'alone,' say right out to him: 'Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,' and say:'Papists and asses are one and the same thing.' I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word 'alone' is not in the Latin or the Greek text, and it was not necessary for the Papists to teach me that. It is true those letters are not in it, which letters the jackasses look at, as a cow stares at a new gate... It shall remain in my New Testament, and if all the Popish donkeys were to get mad and beside themselves, they will not get it out." (Rebuilding a Lost Faith, John Stoddard, p. 136-137)
Note also James' argument in v. 19 - even demons believe that Christ is Lord, believe that He is risen from the dead. They proclaimed Him the Anointed One of God when He threatened to cast them out. Yet their belief and proclamation will not save them. Faith alone does not save.
1 Jn 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
James 4:17 Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
1 Jn 2:3 And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 Jn 4:17-21 In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because he first loved us. 20 If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also..
1 Jn 5:2-4 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
2 Tim 2:11-12 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; 12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us...
1 Cor 6:20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Jn 4:11-12 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Heb 6:7-10 For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned. 9 Though we speak thus, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.
Just as verse 7 above testifies to the fact that our response in works to grace wins us additional grace, so verse 10 demonstrates that our works are part of our love. Faith alone is insufficient.
Jn 2:23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; 24 but Jesus did not trust himself to them, 25 because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.
Jn 8:29-31,37-38 And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him." 30 As he spoke thus, many believed in him. 31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,... I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
These two passages attest to the insufficiency of faith alone, for both groups of Jews believed in Christ, but neither was accepted by Him - one group was even accused of trying to kill Him. Further, the second passage attests strongly to the need for works. They must ACT in addition to believe, they must "continue in His word," anything less is seeking to kill Christ.
Mt 23:27-28 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."
Ezek 13:10-16 Because, yea, because they have misled my people, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace; and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets daub it with whitewash; 11 say to those who daub it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, great hailstones will fall, and a stormy wind break out; 12 and when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the daubing with which you daubed it?' 13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath; and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to destroy it. 14 And I will break down the wall that you have daubed with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare; when it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it; and you shall know that I am the Lord. 15 Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall, and upon those who have daubed it with whitewash; and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who daubed it, 16 the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, says the Lord GOD.
God has no love for the appearance of righteousness without the underlying reality of righteousness. If He pronounces this curse on such whitewashed walls, why would He allow those who believe in Him to become like this?
Lk 11:38-41 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.
Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.
The sin of Adam MADE men sinners, the obedience of Christ MADE men righteous. Just as we really have Adam's sin, so we really are cleansed and obtain Christ's righteousness. It is not just a legal statement, it is a reality formed by the Word of God, whose Word forms reality.
Psalm 51:1-2, 7, 9-10 Have mercy on me, O God, ... blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow... Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Christ certainly gives us legal righteousness, but righteousness doesn't stop just with legalities. God deals in reality. God's Word is effective, His Word forms reality. Therefore, His Word actually removes our sin. He says we are to be holy as He is holy, and He gives us the means to accomplish this: the blood of Jesus Christ.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.