There’s a church called First Church of the Nazarene (wouldn’t that be the Catholic Church?) near our house and like most Protestant churches they have a sign out front to put pithy little sayings. Currently it says “Following Jesus is about a person, not a path.”
Translation… Faith alone saves us.
Now as a Catholic I recognize that it faith that moves us to do all else regarding our salvation. But if you take that sign at face value, you have to just believe in Christ and that’s it. You’re done. Pack your bags and hope you don’t get airsick when you’re raptured suddenly.
But is that really what Christ said and meant in the Gospels? I don’t think so. Yes he said that you must be born of water and spirit to be saved. He said that you must repent and believe. There’s so much that He said you must do. It doesn’t make sense to pick one thing out and minimize the message of the Gospel to one small proof text.
Christ gave us the Church and gave it and Peter the power to loose and bind… That means to make rules and instruct the faithful on the meaning of what Christ taught. The Church has always taught that salvation involves more than believing in Christ and the Good News alone. There IS a path. The Church teaches that we must manifest our faith in our good works. We must be about the business of Christ which is bringing lost souls home to his Church… Loving God first and foremost… And loving each other as we love ourselves.
The parable of the sheep and goats plainly teaches that not all who claim faith in Christ are known by him or will enter the pearly gates. He makes plain that taking care of the temporal needs of the sick, poor and those in prison is the same as doing it to Him. Those that do so will please Him. Those that do not just might not want to pack sweaters for that rapture.