I like the translation of the word gospel found in many versions of the Scriptures: “good news.” That is exactly what it is. But not just any good news. It is the good news about God’s attitude toward needy human beings in a fallen world.
Many theories and heresies have been called gospel. To many who grew up hearing the Bible taught, it was not good news at all; instead, it was a restrictive noose around the neck and a heavy weight around the feet. The gospel was presented as something we need to heed in order to make it into heaven, but it was certainly no fun to live with.
The problem, I believe, is that so many proclaimers of the gospel never really have heard it themselves. Consequently, it has become just another ruined word in the vocabulary of fallen human beings as they endeavor to figure out some way to gain favor with God.
Grace Works, Vine Books, 1992, 125.