Part 1: What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is the good news of Christ’s incarnation, life, death and resurrection. The Gospel is good news because through it we are able to spend eternity in the presence of God (Rom 1:6). The reason we are able to partake in this infinite joy is Christ. In eternity past, God knew that man would rebel and need a Savior. Christ, the son and equal of God, gave himself to receive the punishment mankind deserved. In order to be mankind’s replacement, Jesus had to live a sinless life, a feat not possible by a mere mortal man; however, Jesus was just as much God as he was a man (Rom 3:10). Christ’s sinless life led him to the substitutionary death of the cross. Jesus was crucified in a deluge of God’s wrath and punishment (Rom 5:9). While Jesus was being punished for the sins of the world, God the Father turned his back on Jesus breaking an eternal bond. After Jesus had died and been buried, he was raised again by God. When God raised Christ from the dead, he validated Christ’s sacrifice (Rom 1:4) opening salvation to all who would trust solely in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (Rom 5:1). So, what is the Gospel? It is the good news that Christ’s perfect life, substitutionary death, and validated resurrection allows us to partake in worshiping God forever.
Part 2: What must someone believe to be saved?
In short, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31),” but because Paul’s statement does not meet the required word limit, allow me to elaborate. Sadly, our modern English language has a hard time transmitting specific ideas in simple speech. The Greek words that Paul spoke in that dungeon and were later translated into the English word, believe, mean: having a complete, resting faith. In this statement, the belief is in Jesus Christ, but we must believe not only that Christ was a historical person, and not only that Jesus, equal in power and personage with the creator God of the universe, came to earth in perfection through a virgin birth to save the fallen race of man through his perfect life, vicarious death, and vindicating resurrection, but also that the only way to an eternal relationship with God is through complete dependency on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Belief on this must be exclusive; it must be your only defense or answer to the question, “Why are you going to heaven.” So, what must someone believe to be saved? Someone must believe that their only hope of getting into heaven is Christ’s work of salvation.
Part 3: How do you know that you are saved?