Do you want a three-word definition of the gospel that even a two-year-old could remember? Jesus saves sinners.
If we are not sinners, the gospel message is not good news at all. It would be predicated on a lie, and Jesus would have died for nothing. That is why the Apostle Paul spends from chapter 1 verse 18 to chapter 3 verse 20 in his Letter to the Romans giving a preface to the gospel message. For just as the author of a book will state why he or she went about the effort of writing a book in the preface, so the Apostle states why the All-knowing, Almighty, and Holy God wrote the gospel into his eternal plan for restoring his world. It is as if the Apostle, like a specialist in precious jewels, lays down a black cloth, so that when he places the diamond of the gospel upon it, we will see it in all its multi-faceted splendor.
You cannot receive the gospel message without first admitting your sinfulness. John the Baptist prepared for Jesus’ arrival similarly by proclaiming a message of repentance (Matthew 3:1-2). Jesus himself summarized his message by saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (for example Mathew 4:17).” The other apostles said much the same, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins… (Acts 2:28).”
Admitting you are a sinner, that by nature you have this tendency to rebel against God, can be a bitter pill to swallow. However, though it tastes bitter in the mouth, it comes into the body to heal it. Just as an alcoholic must admit that he or she has a problem as the first step toward sobriety, so we sinners must first confess our sin problem before the gospel can make any difference in our lives.
Christ died for a reason. For Christ to come down to us and hand himself over to be crucified would become lunacy unless our situation necessitated it. (To warn you, what I say next will be graphic.) If someone put a gun up to their head and said, “I love you so much I am going to kill myself,” you would say they were crazy. However, if a bus was about to run you over and someone knowingly sacrificed their life to push you out of the way to save you, you would call that person your hero. Jesus died for a reason. He died to save sinners like you and me.