The word 'gospel' simply means 'good news'. It refers to the basic core of the Christian faith - what a person needs to believe in order to become a Christian.
To understand the gospel, you need to understand these two things:
The gospel is not something that is simply believed in your head - to be real, it must be lived.
As Christians, we believe certain things. For example, we believe that Heaven and Hell are not physical places, but they are realities which people can experience something of in this life, and they are the only realities we will experience after life.
However, our beliefs are not all equally important. The most important things we believe can be expressed in the following way.
We can receive eternal life only as a free gift. We cannot earn eternal life, and we could certainly never deserve it.
Not only do we not deserve eternal life, we behave in ways which deserve the opposite - we harm other people by the things we do and say, and we fail to help people when we get the chance.
God loves us and wants the very best for us - He wants us to enjoy eternal life. But God must uphold justice and punish sin whereever He finds it.
God came to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully human. On the cross, Jesus took the punishment for the things we have done wrong so that we can be forgiven.
Faith in Jesus is the means by which we receive eternal life. This means believing the things He tells us, following His example in the way we live, and accepting His total authority over our lives.
Being a Christian - following Jesus - makes a difference to our lives. While all generalisations are false, it is generally the case that...
We are committed to obeying Him. We sometimes fail, and sometimes mis-understand what He wants, but failure does not change that commitment.
What happens when someone decides to follow Jesus is more than can be explained in purely psychological, intellectual or emotional terms. It is also a spiritual event, and when it takes place, people receive eternal life. This means that they become spiritually alive in a new way and become part of God's family.
When people become spiritually alive, God's Holy Spirit comes to live within them. He does not take over - He does not control what we do or prevent us from making mistakes. But He does guide us when we choose to listen to His voice, and He does give us the inner strength we need when, on our own, we would not be able to do what God wants.
This relationship is more than formal prayer and Bible study, useful though those two disciplines are. The relationship is developed in and through everything we do, because He is there with us, sharing every aspect of our lives.
We do not do good so that God will love us - we do good because He does love us, because He shares in what we do, and because He so enjoys being able to bless other people through us.
We do not go to church on Sundays to meet with God, because we meet Him in every step of every day. But we do meet with Him in a special way when we meet with His people
Jesus said the reason why He came was so that we may have life in all its fulness. It is hard to put into words what this means, especially as different people find different aspects are more important to them than others.
Some people discover real inner peace for the first time in their lives; others a sense of purpose, meaning and a direction for their life. For some, being accepted as a child of God continues to astonish and delight them, while for others it is the fact they have been set free from fears or other influences which previously controlled their lives.
If you give yourself to God, He will give Himself to you. Your experience will be unique, because He has made each one of us unique, and He wants the very best for each one of us.