In his Dialogue with Trypho, the 2nd-century Christian apologist, Justin Martyr, summarizes the Christian life in those days:
And we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons, our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage, and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified… Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshipers of God through the name of Jesus.
Virtue does not emerge from some inherent goodness or nobility in man. Virtue is God’s grace manifested in men. Left to their own devices, men, and even women, are anything but virtuous.Dialogue with Trypho, CX
For Justin and the earliest Christians, many things about their newfound faith were probably still unclear. However, what was crystal clear, they knew that Jesus rose from the dead and His claim to be the Son of God was true. They knew that only by repenting of their past life and accepting Jesus as their Saviour and Lord could they receive the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and have the power to live the Christian life. Godly virtues, faith, hope, piety, righteousness, philanthropy were attainable only by the grace of God. These things were obvious to early believers in Christ.
Further, because of God’s grace, it was possible not only for men to become moral creatures, but it was by His grace that men could live freely. By His mercy, man could be liberated from the powers of supernatural oppression and the oppressive weight of their sins. In this freedom, the Christian had no fear of losing his head (literally), being thrown to wild beasts, put in chains, crucified, burned alive, or otherwise tortured. God’s grace provided the path to both virtues in life and victory over death.
As prophesied, men and women who reject any need for divine aid or help and who really believe a new revolution can solve the problem, are taking control of our institutions. Trade-offs are unacceptable for the advocates of the unconstrained view. Only total solutions are acceptable. Perfection is within society’s grasp, any identifiable flaw in the fabric of society must inevitably spur on the next revolution. The problem, of course, with this view, one Justin and the early church Fathers would have roundly decried as heretical, is that it consciously rejects what it regards as the most detestable doctrines of the Christian faith: original sin and the desperate need for God’s grace.