How do we know we are saved? Many kids not wonder over this with too grave concern, and may not understand it either. But when questions begin to arise, it’s important to give them a solid background sense of what their faith is and why. This lesson reminds us that it’s not our own power, but God working in us that grants life and makes us a new creation.
Lesson focus: We do nothing to earn our salvation, but through the amazing work of Christ we are able to have new life in Him. The Holy Spirit makes us transformed.
Passage: Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Masking tape, pictures, cardstock paper, pencils, thumb tacks, printed passages.
–What and how…start off with a little exercise combining Simon says and charades elements…explain that you will be asking kids “what” something is, as well as “how” something is. If you ask “what,” they should verbally explain…if you ask “how,” they should pantomime to act out what is happening. For example, “what do you do with a fork?” Kids explain (eat, pick up food, etc…). But “how do you use a fork?” should receive a response where kids pretend to eat. Consider examples like brushing hair, feeding a dog, making pizza, etc….
This will be a link to the story of Nicodemus, who asked how to be saved, and had a hard time understanding…he was focused on the literal “what” of re-birth and missed the fact that the Holy Spirit does the work.
-Do the impossible…use masking tape or chalk (if outside) to mark off a spot quite far from a starting spot. Challenge students, one at a time, to try jumping from one side to the other. Is it difficult? Can they make it on their own?
This will reiterate how we miss the mark every time when we try to use our own power to do what is right…but through Christ we can receive hope and life in God.
Explain that we will be looking at some Bible explanations of how we become new people in God’s eyes.
Pass out Bibles or copies of today’s passages. Have students read along with you, and pause at random for kids to fill in the words and participate. Start with the Ephesians passage.
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. -Ephesians 2:1-10
Talk about things that change, either during their lives (caterpillar to butterfly) or from egg to animal state…play a little game of “match-up” using several pictures of eggs, animals, and stages. Invite students to match the egg/larva stage pictures with the others….how did they know which went together? (or did they?) What do you think it means when some animals are, to an extent, “re-born” like the caterpillar undergoing metamorphosis? Does this ever happen with people??
Well, likely the dutiful Sunday School student will be prepared with an answer for this one…but elaboration never hurts. Obviously, we do not shrink down to embryonic state and re-enter the womb…but Jesus allows us to have new life. Even though we are naturally sinful (thanks, Adam), through Christ we are a new creation. To further illustrate, discuss the story of Jesus and Nicodemus. Give or read some background of who Nicodemus was, and then explore the story of the night conversation in the same way as the Ephesians passage:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. -John 3:14-21
Note that within this text we have the classic verse that may be most quoted and memorized in the Bible: John 3:16. Here we see a bit of the context around that. Living “by the truth” and “in the light” means that we recognized we are saved to be new people. We still inhabit the same bodies, but hopefully we remember that God values us and has destined us for another life, with Him.
Reiterate the “what” and “how” that is taking place here, and remind kids of those opening activities…how do we receive the free gift of grace? We just accept it! That’s all! We do not earn it, because we cannot earn it. Nothing we do will earn us grace, just as nothing we could do would help to jump far enough to reach the other side. In order to allow Christ to live in us, we merely have to allow it. It is that easy. We accept, and the Holy Spirit takes care of the rest. We cannot see His work, but it’s there as certain as air…
Make a “pinwheel” to celebrate the Holy Spirit work. Decorate a template and cut. Help children fold the template to create the sides of the “wheel,” and push a tack through and into a pencil top (or other long straight object). Secure with a small amount of tape, making sure the pinwheel still moves.
If time allows, play a mix it up game with the words of John 3:16, seeing if students can remember them when placed out of order or with parts missing (write the words on note cards ahead of time).
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Ask for strength as we look to Christ alone for our hope and strength in all things.
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