Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?
No, they should not, as everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ.
Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal 2:16)
Salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone.
Outline for lesson
- Open in prayer: Gracious God, thank you for the gift of faith. I praise you for revealing to me that faith and trust in Jesus is sufficient for my salvation. Please make me aware of the places in my life that I’m tempted to rely on works rather than grace. Grant understanding to the children who will hear this lesson. May they fully understand that salvation comes by grace alone through faith in Christ alone and be equipped to persevere in the faith. In Jesus’s name. Amen.
- Introduction: You will need Q33 Picture of Martin Luther (RD).
Introduce the children to Martin Luther. Explain that he was an important person in something called the Reformation. The Reformation was significant because many people read the Bible for themselves and rediscovered what true faith is.
Explain that Martin Luther made a huge personal discovery during his life. Martin Luther originally thought that he had to work his way to peace with God and that eternal life was earned by doing good things. Share with the children that one day he was reading his Bible, and he read Romans 1:17: ” For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.”
When Luther read, “The righteous shall live by faith,” he realized that he had it all wrong! He didn’t have to do anything to earn his salvation or work his way into God’s favor, but he had to accept God’s free gift of salvation.
Introduce them to Question 33: “Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?” Explain that this question will help them to understand why Martin Luther was right: salvation is by grace alone through faith! It is not necessary or even possible to seek salvation through works.
- Lesson: Introduce the teaching time by telling the children that many people believe that they will get to heaven by living a good life and doing good things. Ask them how they would respond to someone who said that.
Explain that some people who believe in Jesus still think that to get to heaven they need to do good things! Explain that Galatians 2: 15—21 will help them understand that Jesus’s work on the cross is enough.
Read Galatians 2:15—21. Provide Bibles for the children to read along.
Tell the children that we are going to look again at Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Highlight that this letter is all about helping the Galatians to understand how important it is to believe that Jesus’s work on the cross is enough. Faith does not need to be supplemented by good living or law keeping. In fact, if we trust in those things, we are not trusting in Christ.
Ask them to look at verse 16 and investigate whether Paul says a person can be justified by keeping the law. Paul says a person is not justified by keeping the law!
Ask them to identify how Christians are justified. By faith in Jesus Christ!
Explain that it’s sometimes difficult to believe that salvation is God’s free gift because it is uncommon to get free gifts in life. Most things in life have to be worked for. Ask them if they can name some things that come as a result of hard work.
Emphasize again that Paul says the only way to be justified is to believe in Jesus Christ. Explain that those who believe that good works are essential in order to have a relationship with God actually have a very low view of what Jesus achieved on the cross (and a high view of their own capabilities)!
The belief that we must add to what Christ has done says that Jesus’s death on the cross is not enough. Ask whether they think that kind of thinking might be offensive to God. It is deeply insulting to God to give the impression that Jesus’s sacrificial atoning death is not enough.
Also highlight that humans frequently fail to live in a way that pleases God. Believing that living good lives will make them right with God is trusting in abilities that have proven to be untrustworthy. No one is able to fully keep the law of God and thus please God—except Jesus.
Explain that the only way to know salvation is through Christ. Paul says in verse 20 that those who are in Christ have died to law-keeping. That means that Christians should fully trust in Jesus’s death and resurrection and resist believing that there are other ways to seek salvation.
- Activity: You will need pieces of paper and markers for every child.
Help the children to make signs that say “Jesus + Anything = NOTHING.” Give the children paper and markers and invite them to creatively decorate their signs. As the children are drawing, remind them that the only way to salvation is through Jesus. To add anything to Jesus makes the gospel useless.
- Recite: Help children memorize this week’s verse, question and answer.