Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Following Jesus Part 1

“Christ died for everyone. He died so that those who live should not live for themselves anymore. They should live for Christ. He died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIrV)

Salvation is a free gift offered to you by God and it is given to everyone who truly repents and is trusting in Jesus. But this free gift will cost you your whole life! What does that mean? It means that when we accept God’s gift of salvation, we are choosing to follow Jesus. We are putting our complete trust in Him. We are admitting that we need Him, we love Him, and we will obey Him every day. It means you must do things Jesus’ way instead of your own way. It means every day you must trust and follow Jesus for the rest of your life.

Living life Jesus’ Way

“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Jesus tells us in the Bible what following Him looks like. People who want to follow Jesus need to say no to themselves and say yes to Jesus. This means a change in how we think. Instead of doing things our way and only caring about what we want to do, we need do things Jesus’ way and care about what Jesus wants us to do.

When Jesus says we must pick up our cross, He is talking about being willing to give up our lives for Him. The cross was a way they killed people back when Jesus lived. When he said the word, “cross,” the people listening understood exactly what He meant. We don’t use crosses anymore, so we don’t really understand. But we can understand that Jesus wants us to make Him more important than our lives! We need to say that Jesus is the most important thing in our lives – everyday! Every day, we need to think, “Jesus, You are more important than my PS2. Jesus, You are more important than my cool, new bike. Jesus, You are more important than my Mom and Dad, even.”

When we repent and believe in Jesus, we are putting Jesus in charge of our lives. Now, we do what Jesus wants us to do. The things that are important to Jesus should be the things that are important to us. In order to find out what is important to Jesus, we have to get to know him better.

Illustration: “Imagine a castle; inside the castle is the throne room where the King sits. Picture the throne. The one who sits on the throne is the King – the one in charge. Now, imagine one of the servants in the castle sitting on the throne instead of the King. Is that right? Is the servant in charge? No, the King is. That is a little like what happens when we decide to be in charge of our lives instead of letting Jesus be in charge. Jesus is the King; Jesus should be sitting on that throne.”

We need to let Jesus take charge and we need to listen and do what Jesus says to do. We don’t want to be that servant who sits on the throne. The servant is not in charge – just like we are not in charge. We need to let Jesus be in charge and we need to live our lives the way Jesus wants us to.

Spending time with Jesus/Becoming More Like Jesus

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Jesus.” Philippians 3:8

So, we have decided to follow Jesus and put our trust completely in Jesus. Now, we want to live our lives obeying Jesus. As we live like that, we become more and more like Him!

Illustration: Show a gold coin. Say, “This is a gold coin. It’s pure gold – it’s worth a lot!” Then show a big diamond. “This is a big, beautiful, pure diamond. A big diamond is worth more than a gold coin. When you look at them together, the gold coin almost seems worthless compared to the big, beautiful diamond.” Throw the gold coin in the garbage. “When you realize what something is worth, it changes how you act toward it and how you treat it. That’s a little like how our relationship with Jesus is. The big diamond was priceless. Once you understand the real value of Jesus, other things just don’t compare to Him.”

The more we get to know Jesus, the more we will want to spend time with Him. More and more He will become the most important person in our lives. Knowing Jesus is priceless. Everything else in our lives seems worthless when compared to Jesus.

Knowing Jesus is the best – better than your friends, better than having money, better than having lots of toys, better than anything. The man who wrote this verse understood how valuable Jesus is and when He compared Jesus to everything else he had in his life, he realized that it was not worth hanging on to; he was willing to get rid of all it (like getting rid of garbage) if He could have Jesus.

How can we learn from Jesus, the Master and be more like Him? Well, to learn from Jesus and become more like Him, we have to know Him.
The best way to get to know Him is to spend time with Him.

We can get to know Jesus better by:

1. Reading the bible

  • Your Bible is where you will discover Jesus! You will find out what He was like, what He did, what He said, and how He wants you to live your life. It’s so important.
  • The books in the Bible that tell us about Jesus are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Those are the 1st books in the New Testament part of the Bible. Start there – but then keep reading! Read the whole Bible – discover God and His plan for His people.
  • So, spend time every day reading the Bible. That is one way we can spend time with Jesus.

2. Talking to him (that’s called prayer)

  • It’s a little different than talking to other people, because we can’t see Jesus. But we can know that He hears us.
  • Talk to Jesus; tell Him everything. Tell Him about school and your family and your friends. Tell Him how you are feeling. Remember, He understands what it’s like. Tell Him that you love Him and want to be more like Him.
  • Praying is talking to God. Following Jesus means having a relationship with Him – getting to know Him better. That means talking to Him. So, talk to Jesus everyday – about everything!

Live every day with Jesus!

Part 2 will be about telling kids about the Holy Spirit who is our special friend and telling others about Jesus.

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Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Salvation Part 2

BELIEVE IN JESUS

Believing in Jesus means that you believe true things about Him. You believe that He is God’s Son, that He never sinned, that He died on the cross, that He was punished for your sin, that He is alive and living today. You believe that He is the only one who can save you and bring you to heaven to live forever with God.

But believing in Jesus is not just about knowing and agreeing with true things about Jesus.

Illustration: For example, let’s pretend that I am on vacation. I have decided to go scuba diving. I’m in the boat in the middle of the ocean, but before I can get any of my gear on, a freak storm comes up and our boat sinks. I am in the water with nothing. I need someone to save me. A rescue helicopter arrives and a man jumps out wearing the full gear. Now, I can believe that this man is a fully trained rescue diver, but if I am afraid to swim to him and hang on to him and let him get me safely out of the water, I am showing that I do not really believe in his ability to rescue me. If I believe that he is good at his job, I should trust in his ability to rescue me and not be afraid. That is a little like what it means to believe in Jesus. (Use an inflatable saving device as a prop.)

Believing in Jesus means that you trust him to save your life. You are depending on him. You are putting all your confidence in him. You believe he died on the cross for YOU not just for other people. You believe that he will bring YOU to heaven to live forever with God.

So, to believe in Jesus (or trust in Jesus or put faith in Jesus) to depend completely on what He has done in his death and resurrection for my sin, so that my hope of being right before God is all because of Jesus and has nothing to do with any good thing I might ever say or do.

This faith we put in Jesus involves a hope in Jesus and a love for Jesus that leads us to obey Jesus.

Repentance and belief always go together. If you believe in Jesus (if you trust Jesus) you will also repent of your sins. If you truly repent, you will also live to obey Jesus, trusting Him to save your life and help you live for Him.

“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

The next post is all about talking with kids about what it means to follow Jesus.

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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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