Swath asked what repentance and faith means. Those are very good questions. One I am not sure I can answer. I have struggled with the meaning of these words in the context of salvation.
Repentance. It means to turn around or to turn away. But how does one do that? What must we turn from? Does it mean turning away from a particular sin we struggle with? Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. Surely she still struggled with her sin after that. She was still tempted, I imagine, as we all are. I know I have an ongoing struggle. Always have and always will. So does repentance indicate I will never sin again? I don't think that is what it means. It means that my way of thought has changed. Instead of filling my mind with things that will "water seeds of evil" so to speak, I fill my mind with the teachings of Christ. My mind has turned. So instead of dwelling on thoughts of anger and bitterness, I dwell on thoughts of love and compassion. Instead of dwelling on lustful thoughts. I dwell on thoughts of love. I will always struggle with sin. There will always be seeds of sin within us that if given proper conditions will grow. There will also be seeds of good in us, that if watered will grow into the fruits of the Spirit. So I tend to believe repentance is a change of what our mind dwells on. When Jesus told the adulterous woman to go and sin no more, it was much deeper than the outward manifestation of sin. It was her heart. Before, she desired sex or companionship with one other than her husband. Now, she desires to learn the teachings of Christ and follow them. Paul struggled and indicated the things he does not want to do he does, and things he wants to do he does not do. Yet Paul had repented. So the struggle will persist, but it is about our minds and how we will water the seeds that are in our hearts. At our foundation, we have anger, laziness, greed, lust, impatience, selfishness, etc. Prior to Christ, we tend to create an atmosphere in which those things will flourish. Instead, we need to fill our minds to water the seeds of love, joy, peace patience, kindness that is within us. So I think that is what repentance means. Turning away and not filling our minds with things that will foster the growth of sin and harm, and filling our minds of things that will promote growth of fruits of the spirit.
So what is faith? Is it mere belief? Is it academic assent? Does faith require action? I believe faith and action are intertwined. Faith goes to the core of our being. It is our philosophical outlook on life. It guides and dictates our actions. This goes back to repentance above. As we fill our minds with the teachings of Christ, our faith with grow. As our faith grows, our actions will reflect that through the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit.
Salvation is a free gift. Yes. That is true. However, it is a costly gift as well. It changes us at the core of our being. It puts aside anger, selfishness, pride, lust, greed, etc. It kills those things which our in us. The seeds will still be there and attempt to grow back, thus the eternal struggle we have during our lives. It is also extraordinarily complex to describe what happens and how God accomplishes that work. A description is not necessary to experience it. Salvation is something we grow into. We start of as babies, and Paul puts it, and then grow as we learn and follow the teachings of Christ.