The idea that salvation is a "free gift" does not make sense to me. If it were really free, then we would not have to do anything for it, i.e., repent, get baptized, take the sacraments, give alms, participate in the life of the Church, etc.Repentance and the Sacraments are free gifts. I did nothing to earn my Baptism, Chrisimation and Communion as an infant. All it cost me was 4 locks of my hair at my tonsuring! The other things, almsgiving, prayer, loving our neighbour and our God, etc are simply the duties of a human being (i.e., we should be doing them anyway without hope of "reward").
Yet again we look at things from opposite ends Isn't salvation the ultimate example of something that isn't free? Salvation requires you to give your whole heart, mind, body, and soul over to Someone, whether you really want to or not. When the young rich man came to Jesus, and asked about what he had to do yet to be saved, Jesus didn't say "Well hey, do what you can". Instead he said "Give everything that you have to the poor, and come, take up your cross, and follow me" (I apologize if I am conflating a couple passages here). Doesn't sound free to me.
From a Christian perspective, what Christ as God was asking of the rich man, and of us, is nothing extraordinary, Christ was simply telling the rich man to do his duty as a human being created in His Image. Christ is not demanding
anything, rather He is pointing out the natural way
the man should live (ie. "This is what I created you for and therefore this is the way of life in which you live your full potential").
There are conditions to salvation, but these conditions are no more than what we as human beings created by God should be doing anyway (I speak as one who believes in God). For instance, the three conditions required for our sins to be forgiven are:
2) That we forgive all who offend us, and
3) That we judge absolutely no one.
But these three conditions are the natural duty of a human creature of God.
Also, Christianity requires a faith-full affirmation, an intellectual obedience of sorts... that's one thing I find difficult, and it certainly doesn't seem easy or free. So where does that leave us? As peteprint asked about, are there not conditions attached to salvation--the process of salvation?
What Christianity requires is belief " in
God, the Father Almighty...and in
One Lord Jesus Christ..,..and in
the Holy Spirit...and in
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church...and in
one baptism...." As you know, belief that something exists is not the same as belief in
it. Even the demons believe that God exists, and tremble. So belief in the existence of God is not in itself salvific.
As for "intellectual obedience", returning again to my earlier example, I was Baptised, Chrisimated and received Holy Communion as a full member of the Church when I was only six months old- so what "intellectual obedience" was required of me? My salvation then cost me no more than 4 locks of hair, yet I was a full Christian with the privileged of receiving Holy Communion at 6 months. As I got older, my intellect developed, and as a result I sunk deeper and deeper into plani (or "spiritual delusion") and the sins of youth and lost that former radiance. It was then that "intellectual obedience" was required, but it was only required because I had drifted away from my natural state. Theosis is the natural state of a human being, it is sin which is unnatural. Yes, I agree, it takes effort to come back and to strive to remain in the Church, but this effort was not initially required of me, and I was in a much better state at 6 months with no effort than I am now at 45 with so much effort!