I'm attacking a hidden assumption Christians often make, which isn't true. Your claim that God is making a conditional promise is the typical interpretation of this passage. So I am not being critical of you personally. But for whatever reason, Christians are confused about the true nature of things and it takes analogies like the one I gave to highlight the truth, which is that a conditional promise is nothing more than a "contract", which is an agreement two parties make in exchange for compensation. Christians mistakenly believe that Peter was talking about a conditional promise, apparently not realizing the implications of their mistake.
Originally Posted by poorinspirit
The Biblical picture is NOT that God is offering us a conditional promise, i.e. a contract for the delivery of salvation upon receipt of belief (in other words, compensation) Rather, the Biblical picture is that God's salvation is a free and unmerited gift, given to those whom he choses to bless according to his kindness.
We are so accustomed to being marketed that we accept this as being normal. The common offer we see is when an advertiser offers us a "free gift" for trying their product. We have been trained by this world system to think of free gifts as compensation for something. We hear the words "free" and "gift" but we all know that the compensation isn't actually "free" and neither is it a "gift."
"Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
We read that and we go, "I know what that is. I have heard it before on TV. Peter wants me to repent, which is something I wouldn't normally do anyway, in exchange for a "free gift", which we all know isn't actually free."
Most Christians reading this would probably say, "You're being ridiculous; You're just being stupid for some reason. Of course salvation is a free gift and it really is free and unmerited. We aren't saying otherwise." But you are. If you think that Peter is offering a conditional promise, you are holding two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time, which is a skill many human beings have learned. But such contradictory ideas shouldn't be allowed to exist side by side.