The Good News!
At NewLife Burbank we like to say that the Gospel is not good advice; it's good news.
This means that before anything else, the gospel is not primarily a list of things that we are supposed to do for God, or ways that we are supposed to live. The gospel is primarily an announcement of what God has already done for us in Christ.
The Bible tells us that God is perfectly holy and perfectly just. This means that he must punish us for our sins, and that people stained by sin cannot be in his presence. However, the Bible also tells us that God is very merciful and gracious, and that he has compassion on us. Because God is just, he cannot ignore our sin or sweep it under the carpet; it must be punished. Jesus came as God's perfect solution. Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, so that he did not deserve any punishment. But when he died on the cross, he took on himself all of the punishment that we deserved for our sin. In this way, Jesus is our substitute - he died, so that we might live. Because God put the punishment for our sins on Jesus, those who believe are forgiven, and can enjoy communion with God. God accepts us not because of what we do, but because of what Jesus did.