Many Christians say that one of the clearest passages of the Gospel, which is perhaps the most well known verse in the whole Bible is found in the Gospel of John.
It is found in a conversation between Jesus and a Jewish religious teacher named Nicodemus. A deep conversation under the cover of night. The well known passage is none other than John 3:16.
It is particularly used as a proclamation for the Universal love of God towards every individual person who has ever lived. It is the great statement that conveys the assertion that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world.
It is the great text to declare to the entire world, that God loves everyone without distinction and that everyone should know that God loves him or her. It is the motivating force to preach and teach the Gospel to this world in need of God.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of this Scripture passage. The Gospel being the great love that God has for everyone, and the proof of that love being that He sent His Son into the world to die on the cross for everyones sins.
As this is the central message of Christianity and is the Gospel. We are to go forward and plead with the world to accept this love of God offered for them.
They are told to believe in this Gospel truth and accept Jesus into their hearts and lives, with the promise of living forever in Heaven and the promise of a new and better life here upon the earth.
Now all of this is the normative message of Christianity as it is generally taught and proclaimed today.
What would your reaction be if someone said to you that in actual fact, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not actually in John 3:16, but clearly in John 3:14.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
... I will argue that John 3:16 is actually a proclamation of the sufficiency of Christ and a promise of eternal security for believers, but the actual Gospel or good news of that proclamation is related in John 3:14.
Indeed the Gospel is not found in John 3:16 but rather John 3:14. Without a proper presentation of the atonement, there is no Gospel presentation at all. All the cliches of "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" means nothing unless the reality of sin, judgment and atonement is made known.