But salvation really is like a proposal. I remember sitting down with Lauren before we made the decision to marry. In fact this conversation happened before we even started dating. I laid everything out on the table for her. Told her my plans and dreams and where I saw my family going in the future. I then asked her if she would consider being a part of that life. Would she be willing to forsake all other men and all other future plans that those men might would have for her and instead commit her life to me as my wife and follow me, submit to me, love me, remain faithful to me for as long as she lives. Thankfully she considered my offer worthy of giving her life to. She weighed the costs and determined that loving me and following me was the life she wanted.
This is God's proposal to us. We are to surrender to him in faith and repentance and enjoy salvation from our sin. But in that proposal is the offer to come and forsake all other gods, to follow him, submit to him, love him, remain faithful to him for as long as we live.
It's not that salvation isn't free. It's as free as the offer to Lauren was. She didn't pay me anything to marry her. I've never asked her for anything. But part of being my wife means that she devotes herself to me. And I commit to doing everything I can for her good. The offer from God is the same. He doesn't ask us to pay anything or earn the right to join ourselves to him. But he does expect our devotion, while he promises to work for our good.