Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Salvation Part 1

So far in our series we have talked about God, sin, and Jesus. Now it’s time to talk about salvation. It’s important to tell kids that God is one who saves. All we can do is receive His gift of salvation.

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

It is God who saves

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Because of God’s great love, He made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved by sending Jesus to die in our place. Because Jesus took our punishment when He died, we can have a relationship with God. God will forgive our sins and help us to live for Him.

Salvation means to save someone.

Salvation is a present; the best present ever. We do not deserve it and there is nothing we can do to earn it. Jesus did all the work for us. Because of what Jesus did, God now wants to give sinners the free gift of salvation. The gift of salvation is given to everyone who repents of their sin and believes in Jesus.

Illustration: Have large beautifully wrapped gift. Place it at the foot of a cross. Ask a child to come to the front and open the present. Inside the child should find a sign that reads “Salvation is a free gift!”

So, God offers us the gift of salvation. We can do nothing to earn it. Jesus did it all for us. Some kids might now be asking some very good questions:

Does this mean that all people are saved because of what Jesus has done? Does it mean that as long as you know the story about what Jesus did on the cross, you will be saved? How can I get this free gift from God?

Receiving the gift of Salvation

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 8-9

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

Accepting God’s gift of salvation is all we can do. There is nothing we can do to earn salvation and forgiveness. Our sin is just too big. There is no way we can get rid of it on our own.

How can we be saved? By believing what Jesus did for us on the cross and nothing else, we can be saved. Salvation is a gift. We can’t earn it. We can only receive it or accept it.

God gives salvation to everyone who repents of their sin and believes in Jesus.

REPENT

To repent means to turn away from our sin and look to Jesus for forgiveness. It means that you understand that you are a sinner who deserves punishment. You are very sorry for your sins. It means that you want to stop sinning and ask Jesus for forgiveness. You understand that Jesus is the only one who can do something about your sin and who can forgive you.

True repentance shows itself with a new desire to follow Jesus and obey Him.

Illustration: For this illustration you will need a sign that says ‘sin’ and the cross from the previous illustrations. Put the ‘sin’ sign up somewhere the kids can see it – on a wall or an easel. Put the cross opposite the ‘sin’ sign. Say, “Repentance means to turn away from sin.” Turn your back to the ‘sin’ sign. “It means you don’t want to do that anymore; you don’t want to live that way anymore.” Now turn towards the cross. “Instead, you want to ask Jesus to forgive you. You want to live Jesus’ way; following Him and obey Him every day.”

In part 2 of Talking about Salvation I will share some ideas for explaining what it means to believe in Jesus.

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Jesus Part 2

What did Jesus come to do?

“The Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.”1 John 4:14. (NIrV)

“She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That is because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (NIrV)

“Here is a saying that you can trust. It should be accepted completely. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1st Timothy 1:15 (NIrV)

“Christ died for sins once and for all time. The One who did what is right died for those who don’t do right. He died to bring you to God. His body was put to death. But the Holy Spirit brought Him back to life.”  1 Peter 3:18 (NIrV)

Jesus is our Savior! Jesus saved us! A Savior is someone who rescues. So the Son was sent to rescue the world. Rescue them from what? Sin & death. Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

How did Jesus save us?

Jesus saved us by taking the punishment for our sin when He died on the cross.

1. Jesus never sinned – He is perfect

“But you know that Christ came to take our sins away. And there is no sin in Him.” 1 John 3:5

Jesus is the only one who has never done anything wrong, so He is the only one who can rescue us who have done wrong.

Because Jesus never sinned He was the perfect person to save everyone. He was like us, but He was able to do something that no one else ever has. He never sinned! Jesus obeyed all of God’s rules perfectly.

Think about it: Jesus as a boy your age. He never disobeyed His parents; He never stole; He never lied; He never lost His temper; He never called someone a bad name; He never had a bad attitude. He never disobeyed God, not once. It’s hard for us to imagine, because we do those things. It’s hard to imagine someone not doing those things, but Jesus didn’t. Not once. Jesus was born and grew up and lived a perfect life. He didn’t sin.

Illustration: Use a white board or large poster board. Ask the kids to help you make a huge list of sins. One by one ask the question, “Did Jesus do this?” Answer: No. As you answer “no,” cross out that sin until all the sins are crossed out.

2. Jesus took our sin when He died on the cross

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

“He gave His life to pay for our sins. But He not only paid for our sins. He also paid for the sins of the entire world.”  1 John 2:2 (NIrV)

God’s plan was to have Jesus who has no sin take the punishment for all of us who have sinned. When Jesus died on the cross He took the punishment for the sins of the entire world.

In God’s plan, our debt was paid not by us, but by Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, God, the Father, put all our sin on Him, and Jesus took care of the debt we owed to God. Because Jesus died on the cross, sin is punished, the debt is paid and God is able to forgive us.

Because Jesus never sinned, he was the perfect substitute for sinners. What is a substitute? A sub is someone who takes the place of someone else. (like a sub teacher at school; they teach in place of your usual teacher.) God put the punishment of sinners on Jesus. Jesus took the place of sinners. Jesus took the punishment for all the sins of all the people. That is why Jesus died on the cross. So that God, the Father could punish Jesus instead of having to punish His people.

Illustration:
Have a child come to front. Have them stand on large piece of poster. Tell them this is their place. Then call another child up. Give them a sign that says “substitute.” Have them stand in the first child’s place. Say, “This child is being a substitute. Jesus acted as a substitute for sinners by taking the place of sinners. How? Jesus was willing to take the punishment for all the sins of His people.”

Illustration: Have the first child sit back down. Take away the substitute sign and give the child a sin that says ‘sinner.’ Then have them leave the spot and put a cross there instead. Say, “The punishment for sin is death. Jesus took our punishment when He died on the cross. Sin is paid for and sinners are saved all because of what Jesus did. Jesus is our Savior!”

Where is Jesus now?

Jesus died on the cross. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. Three days later he came back to life and now Jesus is in heaven with God. Jesus is a living Savior!

 

The next post in the series will be about salvation. See you soon!

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Jesus Part 1

 

“The Son is the gleaming brightness of God’s glory. He is the exact likeness of God’s being. He uses His powerful word to hold all things together. He provided the way for people to be made pure from sin. Then He sat down at the right hand of the King, the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NIrV)

God made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved – through Jesus! Jesus did something no one else could do. He took the punishment for the sins of the entire world, and made it possible for us to have a relationship with God. God sent Jesus to die for us because He loves us. Jesus came into the world to save sinners from death so that we can go to heaven and live with God forever.

When talking with kids about Jesus it’s important to tell them who He is and what He has done. In part one I will talk about who Jesus is.

Who is Jesus?

“In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (NIrV)

“The Word became a human being. He made his home with us. We have seen his glory. It is the glory of the one and only Son. He came from the Father. And he was full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIrV)

“In his very nature he was God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something he should hold on to. Instead, he made himself nothing. He took on the very nature of a servant. He was made in human form. He appeared as a man. He came down to the lowest level. He obeyed God completely, even though it led to his death. In fact, he died on a cross.” Philippians 2:6 (NIrV)

Jesus is totally God and totally human at the same time. This is hard to understand, but the Bible tells us it’s true, so we can believe it and trust it.

Jesus is God

  • That means he is perfect and holy. Jesus has never done anything wrong ever.
  • Jesus did the kind of things only God does.
    • Jesus made a huge storm stop – just like that. He had control over the wind and the waves and the storm. They obeyed Him. Only God has that kind of power.
    • Jesus healed people and made food appear out of nowhere. Only God has that kind of power.
    • And Jesus forgave sin – remember the guy who was lowered down through the roof. Jesus made him walk again, but Jesus also forgave his sins. Only God can forgive sin.

[**Here you may want to have a brief discussion about the Trinity. Kids will pick up on the fact that you have talked about God and now you are talking about Jesus who is God. The trinity is a concept that even adults have a hard time understanding, but it is important that you give kids a basic understanding:

There is 1 God.

Deuteronomy 6:4 – Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is the one and only God.

There is only one God but three persons – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is hard to understand, even for grownups. We know it is true and we choose to believe and trust it. We can ask God to help us understand and to help us believe even when we don’t understand.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 20:19**]

Jesus is Human

  • Jesus was born a long time ago – over 2000 years ago. Jesus was a baby and He grew. He became a boy and kept growing, just like we do, until He became an adult. Jesus was a real person.
  • The Bible tells us that He felt pain, He got tired, He cried. Jesus got hungry and Jesus felt sleepy. So Jesus understands what it’s like. Jesus understands us.

In part 2 I will address the question, “What did Jesus do?”

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Sin

Once you have shared with kids the wonderful truth that God is; God is eternal and holy and righteous and their Creator King; you need to share with them the truth about sin.

What is sin?

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Sin is:

  • disobeying God
  • wanting to do things our way, instead of God’s way
  • breaking God’s rules

We haven’t obeyed God’s rules perfectly all the time. We have all fallen short of His standard of living. God is in charge and he has made a standard (or rules) of how we should live and all of us have broken the rules. No one can live up to the standard God has given.

Who has sinned?

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23.

“There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20

God is holy and because God made us to be like him, we must be holy too. But we’re not – we’re not pure. We have all sinned. The bible says that every single person has sinned.

When did sin start?

The Bible tells us about the first sin. Adam & Eve disobeyed God in Genesis chapter 3.

Since then, everyone is born a sinner. We were born with a desire to sin; a “want to” to sin.

We cannot obey God perfectly, no matter how hard we work at it. We have a sin nature that makes us like the wrong things & makes us want to do the wrong things.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

Why is sin a problem?

Sin is a huge problem because God and sin do not go together. God made us so we could have a relationship with Him. Because of sin, we are separated from God. We cannot have a right relationship with God because of our sin.

Sin gets in the way of our relationship with God because God hates sin! Sin is not okay with God, not even 1 sin. God can’t stand sin. God is holy and we are sinners. Sin needs to be dealt with if we are going to have a relationship with God.

Illustration: Make a sign that says ‘sin’ and a sign that says ‘God.’ Put the signs up as far apart from each other as you can. Say, “God and sin do not go together. We have learned that we are all sinners. So, we are all over here [point to ‘sin’ sign.] How do we get over there? [point to ‘God’ sign.]

Illustration: Make a whole bunch of papers that say ‘sin.’ Pile them up in front of you. Make a few papers that say ‘good deed.”’ Take one paper out of the pile. “What if I only did this one sin? Would that be okay?” Put it back in the pile. “Even 1 sin makes us guilty of all. What if I worked really hard and was really good. Would that take care of the sin? Like I am making up for my bad thing with a good thing.”  Put 1 ‘good deed’ paper beside the sin pile. “Hmmm. How about doing something else good? (put another ‘good deed’ paper by the pile) No amount of good deeds can pay for sin.”

What is the punishment for sin?

“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23.

We are sinners and God is just (that means He is fair) and righteous (always does what is right). Because God is just, He has to punish sin; He can’t ignore the rules. And we all know that we haven’t followed God’s rules. We have disobeyed God’s rules.

Since God makes the rules, He also decides on the punishment for breaking the rules. Because God is righteous, we know that the punishment will be right. Because God is just, we know that the punishment will be fair.

God says that the punishment for sin is death. That doesn’t mean that when you sin you are going to drop dead immediately! It’s eternal death – being separated from God forever; not being able to live forever with God in heaven.

God can’t ignore our sin; He can’t pretend that it hasn’t happened or that we don’t deserve eternal death. God is just and so, God must and will punish our sin.

That’s a pretty huge punishment!

What if you told a little lie? That’s not such a huge thing; the punishment for it would be small, like having to say you’re sorry and telling the truth.

But what if you did something really, really bad? You would expect to be punished a lot! Like being grounded for weeks and weeks or having your favorite video game being taken away.

Is the punishment for our sin little or big? Well, eternal death is a big punishment; that means that our sin must be really big to deserve that kind of punishment.

Think about the punishment for sin and you will start to realize just how bad our sin really is.

What can we do about sin?

There’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. It’s already too late. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves. We can’t work hard enough; we can’t be good enough.

 

Telling kids about sin is vital. Kids need to understand that they are sinners and that sin is a huge problem that they cannot fix. This is a big concept to understand. Let kids sit with it for a while. Give them a chance to mull it over. Give them a chance to realize that it is personal. All have sinned – them means me!

But always leave kids with the hope of a solution to that problem! God is our good & loving King and He is kind to sinners. He hasn’t treated us the way we deserve. God has a plan. God made a way for sin to be punished and for sinners to be saved! God sent Jesus to take our punishment and be our Savior!

Check out the other blogposts in this series!

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about God

When I share the gospel, I always start with God.

Kids need to know that God is. God is real, God is amazing, God is eternal and holy and righteous. God created them and loves them.

I struggle with focus when I share with kids about God. There is so much to tell them! There are so many things to share about how awesome God is that I am tempted to spend all my time talking about the greatness of God. But it is important to focus. When sharing the gospel, there are attributes of God that it is key children understand – God is eternal; God is Holy; God is righteous; and God is our Creator King.

God is Eternal

Eternal means that God has no beginning and no ending. God was never born and God will never die; God has always been and will always be. God is forever.

God has always lived – before you were born, before your parents were born, before the universe was created.

God will always be – think about the future; think about heaven that will be even millions of years from now.

No matter how far back you go or how far forward, God is there because God is eternal.

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2

Illustration: Show a circle (a hula hoop is a good example, if it’s new!) Ask the kids to show you the beginning. Ask them to show you the end of the hula hoop. “There is no beginning or end because it is a circle. It goes on and on and on and on and on. That is a little like what it means that God is eternal – He is forever. God has no beginning and no ending.”

God is holy

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Revelation 4:8a

Holy means 2 things:

1. God is totally unique

There is no one else in the entire world like God. No one else even comes close to being like God. He is special. God is different from everything else. He is separate; He is one-of-a-kind.

“How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” 2 Samuel 7:22

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”           Isaiah 46:9b

2. God is absolutely pure

He is 100% good. He has never done anything wrong, ever and He never will. There is no evil in Him at all. He is completely separate from all that is wrong or impure or sinful. He can’t even stand sin to be anywhere near Him, He is so good. God cannot stand sin; He hates it. God is perfect in every way.

“He is the Rock. His works are perfect. All of his ways are right. He is faithful. He doesn’t do anything wrong. He is honest and fair.” Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIrV)

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.”                   Habakkuk 1:13a

Illustration: “Think of a treasure like a diamond. Diamonds that are very valuable have no defects; there are no bad spots; nothing is wrong with them; they are pure.” (Show a diamond – I have found large pretend diamonds at dollar stores.) “That is a little like what it means that God is pure. There is absolutely no sin – God is 100% good.”

God is righteous

Everything He thinks, says, and does is right.

Everything God thinks is right (point to your head); everything God says is right (point to your mouth); and everything God does is right (point out) (when you say’ right’, give a thumbs up.)

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”         Psalm 33:4

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.”       Psalm 145:17

Illustration: Hold up a card that says, “2 + 2 =” Say, “Let’s pretend that this is a question on a test. There is a right answer and there is a wrong answer. If I answered ‘5’ would I be right or wrong? The right answer is 4. There is right and there is wrong. God is always right. God is righteous. Everything He thinks, says, and does is right!”

God is our Creator King

God is the creator of everything. He made everything by Himself.

God made you and God made me. The Bible says that we are created in the image of God. That means we were made to be like Him in certain ways. God has given us minds so that we can learn about Him and hearts so that we can love Him. God created us so we can have a special relationship with Him.

Because God made everything, everything belongs to Him. He is the boss. He is in charge. God is the King of His creation.

As King, God gets to make the rules. God is righteous, so His rules are right. God is good, so His rules are good.

God made us; He is our King. We need to obey Him.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

“I am the Lord. I have made everything. I alone spread out the heavens. I formed the earth by myself. Isaiah 44:24 (NIrV)

Illustration: Use Lego and create something. Tell the kids, “Look what I made. I created it. I used Lego to make this ____. The Bible tells us that God made everything. What are some of the things that God has made?” Let the children answer. “I made this ____ so it’s mine. It belongs to me. God made the world and everything in it, so it belongs to God. God created you and me, we belong to God, God is our King.”

 

In the next post, this series continues with talking about sin.

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