For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4ESV).
Can One Be Christian without Knowing the Gospel?
In 2004, I preached at a youth camp in Cameroon, West Africa. One of my messages was titled “The Good News of Salvation.” I began by asking a series of questions, which follow with the answers the attendees gave:
Is the gospel message necessary for salvation? Answer, “Yes!!”
You mean you cannot be saved without the gospel? Answer, “Right!”
So you cannot be a Christian without understanding and believing the gospel? Answer,
Are you a Christian? Answer, “Yes.”
Do you believe the gospel? “Yes, we do.”
What is the gospel, then? ——— Unfortunately, I was met with blank stares. No clue how to articulate the answer. They could not outline the gospel message.
This is troubling for two reasons: 1) These well-meaning young people believe that they are Christians and heading to heaven. 2) Yet, they do not know what the gospel is. So the question remains: can one be a Christian without knowing the gospel?
This experience highlights a problem in many mission contexts. While the church exists in terms of numbers, it is deficient in terms of the gospel message. If one asks people in the vicinity of the church, “What is the message of the church,” what will the answer be? If you were to ask members of the church what they believed in order to be saved, will there be a clear statement of the gospel centering around the death and resurrection of Christ? In most cases, one looks in vain. We need to pay attention to the gospel we preach, to put in place means of preserving it through the years so that future generations will not be in doubt as to what the gospel is. This is the task of the missionary. To bring the gospel to a people, preach it clearly, and train others to carry on the task of proclaiming the gospel as they received it.