I was given an opportunity to express, as briefly as possible, what the essence of the Christian message is, for someone who has little Bible knowledge. This is my answer:
1. God who is relational, composed of three persons, decided to create this universe.
2. He created mankind to have a relationship with him. The creation was “very good” in God’s eyes.
3. Mankind decided to rebel against God, bringing evil into the world, resulting in such things as ugliness and hate and suffering coming into the world.
4. God decreed that the right penalty for this rebellion was to separate mankind from himself (otherwise known as death and hell).
5. However, God decided to be merciful, and delay doing this, on the basis of a rescue mission that he was going to send.
6. That rescue mission was Jesus, one of the persons of God, becoming a man (~5BC), so he could be our representative (champion), and he took on himself the penalty of separation, as he died on a Roman cross (~33AD).
7. He rose from death 3 days later, showing that he had indeed totally paid the penalty.
8. As a result, anyone who decides not to continue in rebellion against God, but instead acknowledges his role in their lives, and accepts Jesus death as payment for their rebellion, can have their relationship with God restored, now and into eternity.
9. God will be winding up the world as we know it in the future, at a time yet unknown, when those who have decided to acknowledge him will live instead in a renewed world into eternity.
10. Those who have decided to continue in rebellion will at that stage suffer the penalty originally specified – eternal separation from God = death = hell.