There is a “dictionary” problem when comparing Mormonism to traditional Christianity. Many key words have very different meanings in Mormonism than they do in biblical Christianity. One such word with huge implications is the “gospel.”
The Gospel is about what God has done for us.
In Mormonism, “gospel” means commands, covenants, ordinances, and a general set of “things we must do.” Generally, the Mormon view is that Jesus has provided for us those things we need to do to exalt ourselves and that God, through Joseph Smith and the LDS Church, has made those things clear in these latter days. This is how Mormonism can say that almost all people will ascend to some level of heaven, but only faithful Mormons will be exalted to the third heaven where they will one day be deified.
For evangelicals, the “gospel” is good news about what has been done for us, not about what we must do. Salvation is “universal” in that it is open to any who will accept it. But the good news is not that Jesus did enough for us to prove ourselves worthy to God. The good news assumes that we cannot ever be worthy enough; by grace we are saved and being saved.
The Gospel story starts with God’s creation.
The first and second aspects of the gospel are that God creates and commands. Because God has created, God has the authority to command. Adam and Eve’s obedience prior to their fall was an act of faithful trust.
The Gospel includes bad news.
The third aspect is the bad news—humans rebelled and continue to rebel. This represents a break in trust, and it is often difficult to convince “religious” people of this part of the gospel. Because religious people are generally good by society’s standards and are trying their best to do the right things, they believe God will honor their good intentions.
The Gospel is good news.
Fourth is the good news. In fact, the word “gospel” simply means “good news.” This good news is that Jesus rescues us. Jesus came to save sinners, not the righteous. This is just as relevant today as when Jesus first came. Just because we are better than some people does not mean we have de facto achieved God’s absolutely perfect standard. We are all sinners in need of saving.
The Gospel calls for a personal response.
The final element of the gospel is the response a person makes to God’s good news. We are not saved just because Jesus died, but because we place our trust in him. This represents a restoration of trust and a reconciliation between those who trust Jesus and God.