Pre-Nicene Salvation By Effort
A key component of pre-Nicene Christian theology was a strong emphasis on human effort required to live virtuous lives and be saved. Christianity worldwide in the second and third centuries was a religion that put the strongest possible emphasis on the freedom of the will and the need to make an effort to live righteous lives in order to pass God's final eternal judgment that would be according to works. I find it fascinating how Christianity has changed over the centuries and how many modern Christians are precisely against the very doctrines that were originally considered the foundations stones of Christianity.
The following two ancient quotes capture the typical view nicely:
"Man was not created perfect, but created suitable for acquiring virtue... For God desires us to be saved by our own efforts." -Clement of Alexandria, ~200AD, Stromata 6.12.96
"I do not know if these commandments can be kept by man, because they are exceeding hard." [The Angel became extremely angry] and said to me, "If you lay it down as certain that they can be kept, then you will easily keep them, and they will not be hard. But if you come to imagine that they cannot be kept by man, then you will not keep them. Now I say to you, If you do not keep them, but neglect them, you will not be saved, nor your children, nor your house, since you have already determined for yourself that these commandments cannot be kept by man." -Shepherd of Hermas, ~150AD, Commandment 12.3-4