“God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 ESV
The Gospel is the good news of God delivering, or saving, humanity from their sins, through the substitutionary death on the cross of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. This grace offered by God is a gift, unearned and accessible only by means of faith in Christ. When we believe in Jesus and His resurrection, when we trust Him and receive Him, our sins and our past no longer have the right to define us, only Christ and His Word.
The Heidelberg Catechism asks this very question in a different light,
Question 22: What, then, is necessary for a Christian to believe?
Answer: All that is promised us in the Gospel, which the articles of our catholic, undoubted Christian faith teach us in summary.
Question 23: What are these articles?
Answer: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting. Amen.
The above statement is known as the Apostles Creed and is the most fundamental and historic of our statements of faith, written originally for new believers seeking to be baptized.
What Must I Do To Be Saved?
You must recognize and feel in your heart that you are sinner who needs to be saved from God’s righteous wrath that will one day be poured out. And there’s nothing you can do by your own strength to save yourself–no good works, no good thoughts, no charity or volunteer work–which can cover or forgive your sins. This means that on your strength, you’re helpless and need someone else’s strength to save you. His name is Jesus and He came to save you. Why? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 ESV). Even though we are utterly helpless by our own abilities, God has not abandoned us, nor given us what we deserve (namely His judgment) but instead He has given us hope and forgiveness in His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus, because of His love for you, which is from before the foundation of the world, takes upon Himself all your sin and all His righteousness is given unto all that believe in Him. The Bible tells us that “For our sake [God the Father] made [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
If you confess your sin to God and believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, as the one to die in your place, your sins are forgiven. The Bible encourages you to come clean about your sin, not so that God can destroy or belittle you, but so God can wash you and make you new, BRAND NEW! God encourages all in 1 John 1:9 ESV, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And we are not left where God found us, but when we confess our sins and believe in Jesus we are welcomed into the family of God.
This act of confessing your sin to God is necessary, included in this confessing of sins is repenting or forsaking your sin. Jesus calls us all to repent, or forsake, or completely turn from our old wicked ways. We confess of our sin AND repent so that we can reflect Jesus more and more. We repent to enter into God’s Kingdom, which has come through the King Jesus Christ.