If someone were to ask you the question, "What is the Gospel", what would you say? The ironic and difficult among us would simply answer "The Good News!" While technically correct, that kind of answer used to get you in trouble when I was in High School :). What news? What's good about it? What if I don't care about that news?, . . . the questions come fast.
As a Christian, the most important issue is NOT, "Can you answer a theological question correctly?". But, at the same time, we want to be really, really close to this truth. We want the words and news of the Gospel to be so close to us that it leaks out all the time. We want this news to not be stilted as it rolls off of our tongue. Even though we may get emotional when we say it. . . .we want this truth to flow out of us.
This isn't bible trivia. . . Alex Trebek isn't looking over the rim of his glasses at you. . . this isn't on the final. . . . This is the truth that fuels our whole life. We want to have a good grasp of it.
So, what is the answer? Well, it's simple, and very complicated. This is because the Gospel has many levels to be understood and many implications for every area of life. But, I think a basic, foundational answer to "What is the Gospel?" should include these parts.
1. The News:
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
2. The Truth
I'm a sinner, I'm in desperate need of God's grace, and unable to fix myself. The death of Jesus shows that a sacrifice needed to be made for sin. . . . my sin. I don't deserve this kind of Grace!
3. The Implications
The truth of this event means that I can put my faith in Christ (i.e. rely solely on Him for my salvation), be forgiven of my sins, and be put in right relationship with God FOREVER because Christ's perfect life and death have been given to me, just like my sin was given to Christ.
I'm totally dependent on Him. I don't contribute anything to my salvation because if it was based on the strength of my faith, my faith would be insufficient; if it was based on my performance, I could lose my standing with Christ; and if it was based on my goodness, I don't have enough goodness to merit God's grace.
That's good news!!!