The phrase "free gift" is as commonly associated with fast food joints as the phrase "would you like fries with that?" is. So is Salvation free in the same way that the plastic movie themed toy you can get with a burger is free?
Dr. Lybrand's book "Back To Faith" deals with the Reformed statement; "Salvation is by grace through faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone." Is always on my mind lately. Well ever since I read his book anyway.
Is the gift you get with your burger actually free? Could you get it without purchasing the burger? No. So you have to buy something in order to be "given" your "free gift" right? So you have to pay in order to get something that's been referred to as a "free gift."
It is surely not free. You have to pay to get it. What's more, the cost of the gift is built into the price of your burger. In the best case scenario the fast food joint takes the cost of the gift out of the profit margin of the burger. However, since they only give "free gifts" with particular meals, the cost of the gift is built into the price of the meal - from the very start. They are calling it a "free gift" but it is not free at all.
When you preach the Gospel do you do the same thing? Do you make God out to be fast with His words? And quick with a trick? Do you say that Salvation is through faith alone, but that "saving faith works"? Are you trying to say that the Salvation you preach about is a "free gift" that you can't earn and then demand that the person earns it?
Salvation in Christ is not a "Happy Meal" it's Eternal Life. It's not a "free gift" it's a FREE GIFT.