Paul had a unique encounter with Christ, and the evidence of his changed heart is extraordinary!
In this last lesson of the “Forever Changed” series, children will study the magnitude of Paul’s past and the power of God to turn his life around and use him to spread the gospel. They will also learn how to apply what they have learned throughout the series by coming up with biblical responses to every day situations that test our faith. Because God transformed Paul, an avid persecutor of believers, we have the confidence that we are also transformed by Jesus Christ and his resurrection.
TARGET AGES: 10-14
OBJECTIVE: To outline how Jesus’ resurrection made a difference in Paul’s life.
MAIN IDEA: Paul was a persecutor of the early church, but then he met Jesus and he was forever changed.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Acts 7:56-8:3, Acts 9:1-9 & 23-30, 2 Corinthians 11:24-29
MATERIAL(S): blank paper, markers and crayons
Introduction (10 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “Lord, help us learn from Paul’s life and choose obedience to your word. Thank you for dying for our sins and giving us victory over death through your resurrection. Amen.”
Acknowledge that part of being changed because we know Jesus means we will respond to situations differently than nonbelievers. Say, “We’ve seen how a few people in the bible responded to Christ’s resurrection by serving, preaching, and witnessing. Today we’re going to start by practicing our responses to everyday scenarios to show the world we’ve also been forever changed.” Read the scenarios out loud and ask for volunteers to respond in a biblical way:
- There is a bully at school who won’t leave you alone. You’ve told the teacher, but the bully doesn’t stop.
- A sibling falsely accuses you of wrongdoing and you are punished unfairly.
- The kids on your sports team secretly make fun of a teammate behind his or her back.
- An adult tells you that praying, reading your bible, or telling others about Jesus is against the rules.
- You always seem to be the one getting in trouble at school even though there are other kids in your class who act up too.
Reiterate that we have many examples in the bible of people who responded to tough situations in the right way, and God will give us the strength to also show others we are forever changed.
Lesson (15 minutes)
- Begin the lesson by explaining that Paul’s name was Saul before he became a believer. Say, “The first time the bible mentions Saul is at the stoning a Stephen, a believer who spoke in front of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish religious leaders).” Read Acts 7:56-8:3. Ask for volunteers to comment about Saul’s involvement in Stephen’s stoning and discuss the importance of the witnesses laying their coats at his feet (signifying his leadership). Comment, “Saul was one of the greatest persecutors of the early church, but we’re going to see how he was drastically changed and used by God.”
- Preface Saul’s conversion by explaining he had a one-of-a-kind encounter with Jesus after the resurrection and ascension into heaven. Say, “There is no other record in the bible of someone encountering Jesus this way! Let’s read Acts 9:1-9 to see what happened.” After reading, emphasize Saul’s plans to find more believers in Jerusalem and take them to prison, but then God intervened. Also discuss Saul’s awareness of Jesus (calling him “Lord”), his blindness, and the inability of his friends to see Jesus. Say, “Saul was drastically changed from a persecutor of the church to a believer in Jesus!” Then explain that a believer named Ananias helped Saul recover, but there were other challenges ahead. Read Acts 9:23-30. Ask, “Why do you think people questioned Saul’s conversion? Was it right that they wanted to find and kill him?” Help the children understand that while the other believers’ reactions were understandable, God would not have been pleased with their plans to kill Saul. Say, “Saul’s conversion teaches us that Christ can reach even the worst sinner. And because we are changed by the resurrection, we should do our best to accept other people of the faith even when they’ve made bad decisions in the past.”
- Lastly, mention that Saul was later known by Paul, perhaps because of his changed state. Ask, “Have you ever done something bad that hurt your reputation? Well, Saul certainly had many bad things in his past, so it’s very likely that his new name helped others learn to trust him again.” Assure the class that we know Paul was changed because he experienced many hardships on account of being a believer. Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-29. Say, “Paul became a humble servant, and that is why we know he was changed. If the resurrection had never taken place, then Paul would have died in his sin instead of receiving salvation and eternal life.”
Art Project: “I’m Forever Changed” (20 minutes)
Comment, “Paul was forever changed by his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. We are also forever changed when we become believers.” Tell the class why Christ came to earth and how to receive salvation. Then encourage the children to trust in Jesus today (if they are not already believers) to truly be changed forever. Next, pass out blank sheets of paper with the heading “I’m Forever Changed.” Ask the children to think of a way they would like to show the world they are forever changed because of their relationship to Christ, such as becoming a teacher or preacher, helping the needy, or starting a prayer group at school. Then pass out the markers and crayons and ask the children to draw a picture of their chosen method. Say, “If the world can’t tell that we are different because we know Christ then we will lose opportunities to tell others about him. Let’s strive to show the world every day that we are forever changed!” Display the artwork in the classroom as a future reminder of the day’s lesson.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Paul was forever changed by Jesus and gave up his life of powerful influence. He became a humble servant of God and was greatly used to spread the gospel.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, we know we are changed because of the resurrection. Help us follow Paul’s example of humble and sacrificial service so the world will see that we have been changed. Give us opportunities to tell others about you. Amen.”