Try to find out what the Gospel is and you'll get a lot of different answers. There is the social gospel and there is the street-corner gospel and there is the "Romans Way" and so on. Some agree, but trying to actually pin down the essential pieces can be tough. So I thought I'd do it from a single paragraph in Scripture. For your consideration, then, here is the Gospel in one paragraph:
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:19-26)
There. So let's see what we can find in there.
First, the initial problem. All are accountable to God. All have sinned. This is not a small problem. The violation isn't "bad things", but an assault on the glory of God. As a result, all have sinned and are accountable to God for attacking His glory. Bad news. Oh, and, I hate to break it to you, but no amount of "being good" -- obeying the Law -- is going to help. No one makes it that way either.
Now the good news. God has figured out a way to demonstrate His own righteousness and satisfy His own demands for justice while securing a solution to our sin problem. It isn't a method of earning it. (Didn't we just see that that won't work?) It is a matter of grace -- unmerited favor. Nor is it a matter of simply dropping the charges. That would violate justice. No, this plan of God's includes paying the price (referred to here as "redemption") and setting aside the righteous wrath of God (referred to here as "propitiation") by the death of Christ Jesus. His blood paid on your behalf for your sins, allowing God to be both just and justifier. Thus, by faith, we can be judicially declared righteous on the basis of Christ's payment for our sin.
Believe that -- place your trust in that -- and you have received the Gospel.
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"Point of Reference" from