What I Did For Vacation Bible School  

This is a recollection of what I taught the kids in my VBS class a couple years ago. It's not complete, some of it's in the wrong order, I need to edit for repetition, and add a few more links and verses, but I wanted to get it out before Sunday was over. I hope it will be helpful to someone....

I started out by saying how excited I was to get to talk about the Gospel with them. I told them that I love talking about the Gospel with young people; it was my one of my favorite things to do, so I was very excited to about it.

I showed them a "Science & the Bible" printout first. It talks about just a few of the scientific facts found in the bible, that the scientists of the that time didn't understand, but that we now know are true.

After going through the handout, I said, "God's pretty smart, huh? Now we're gonna see how smart you are" and I pulled out the optical trick called "Read the Triangles" and a sheet of trick questions called "Intelligence Test Questions" and went through those with them by asking for volunteers. They all laughed and got a big kick out of them.

I got another volunteer and asked him how many sodas he could name. I had to stop him at ten. By this time all the kids were in a great mood and were participating very well. Then I asked him how many of the Ten Commandments he could name. He named about three or four. A few of the kids made comments like, "Wow, it's a shame that people know more sodas than Commandments!" They made my point for me! Then a boy said, "I think I can do it" so he stood up - and as soon as he started, I could tell from the way he phrased them, that he had probably memorized them from a "Hey Kid's" tract (the same ones we bought to put in their goody bags at the end of the week). He said them in order and he only missed two.

Then I said that Jesus had been asked, once, what was the greatest commandment and I asked them what He said. They didn't know. So I briefly told them the story and what the two great commandments were. I said that these two were a summery of the Ten Commandments, and showed them how you can split the commandments into the "love God" commands and the "love your neighbor" commands.

I asked them what the Ten Commandments are for. I got a bunch of answers from them and then I said they were God's standard for righteousness, and I defined righteousness as "right-doing". I told them that He gave us the Commandments/the Law to us to show us where we've sinned and not been righteous.

Next, I went through a few of the "Good Test" questions (have you ever lied, stolen, disobeyed your parents, used “God” or “Jesus” to express anger, etc.) and then showed them how Jesus had used the Commandments, by reading Mark 10:17-27 with them. I talked about the “Why do you call me good?…” question and how Jesus was challenging the young man to admit that either Jesus was God or his idea of “good” was wrong. Jesus used the “love your neighbor” commands and the man said he had kept them all. It says that Jesus loved him, so He showed him where he had gone wrong, he had not kept the “love God” commands – he was one of “them that trust in riches” – he loved his stuff more than God.

Then I really slowed down at the last couple verses and emphasized with my voice that the disciples wondered, “Then who can be saved?” and Jesus answered, “With man it is impossible.” I paused here and said, “Jesus just said that with man it is impossible to be saved!… But look at the next part… with God all things are possible!” That’s good news!

Next I said I would show them why Jesus said it was impossible with man. I went through a few of the verses that say we have all gone astray, there is none good, etc. and followed it up with hatred is murder in God’s sight, so even the intent of our heart is judged. That really made an impact!

So I used an illustration to make it clear why hate is murderous. I said, “Come on now, you all know that if we had the power to call down lightening, there would be a lot fewer people walking around.” Nods all around. I continued, “Well it’s not out of the goodness of our heart, that we don’t hurt the people we hate – it’s because we are afraid of--" here one of the kids interrupted and said “--the consequences!” I said, “Right! We are afraid of what will happen afterward. It’s not because we are good.”

I asked them if they knew the biblical definition of sin, and I read James 4:17 and 1 John 3:4. I drew a target on the board and explained that the first verse was about falling short of a known target and pointed to the board. And the second one was about breaking through a set boundary. Then I drew a field around the target and put a fence around the field and illustrated “breaking” or trespassing/transgressing that boundary. I pointed out how some of the commandments say “do” something, in other words, “hit this target” (tap on the target), and others say “don’t do” something, in other words, “stay in this boundary” (tap on the field).

I said it is not unreasonable for God to require that, when we are faced with the choice, we choose what we know is right (hit the target) and to not choose what we know is wrong (don't break the boundary). That’s reasonable.

But we haven’t done that. We can’t say that when we lied we didn’t know that lying was wrong. We can’t say that when we’ve stolen something that we thought it was the right thing to do. There are times when we knew what was right and we chose to do wrong anyway. We’ve sinned.
Then I read James 2:10 and asked them if that made sense to them – that breaking one part of the Law, is the same as breaking it all. They weren’t sure, so I took out a paper chain, with ten links, that I had made. I said that I had made it good and sturdy and asked if anyone would like to hang from the top of a building by it. They said no, I asked why not and one said, “I’m not ready for a funeral,” I prodded, with "What-do-you-mean?", and he said the chain would break. I came back with, “Well, yeah, but probably only one link”. Then they got it!

I said, “If you are holding on to the commandments to keep from dropping into hell then if you break one you will fall just the same as if you had broken them all.” And I pointed out that if you violate even one of our civil laws you are considered a criminal – a lawbreaker, and can go to jail because you broke the law. The commandments aren't ten separate laws they are one Law -God's Law. "We haven’t kept God’s Law and that’s sin and that’s why Jesus said that with man it is impossible to be saved..." :dramatic pause:

"But with God all things are possible!" That's good news! It's GREAT news! The word gospel, means "good news". Then I went through a whole list of verses I have printed out about how Christ came to suffer for our sins. He took our iniquities (defined it as lawlessness) He was wounded for our transgressions, and on, and on, through about 10 or 11 verses (and a few more that came to me off the top of my head).

The ones I had printed off:

1Peter 2:24
Isa 53:5
Isa 53:6
Isa 53:10
1Peter 3:18
John 3:16
John 3:17
John 3:18
Romans 3:23-26
Romans 10:3-4
Romans 10:9-10

When I got to Isaiah 53:10, I stopped and asked them why in the world it would it please God to do that to His own Son. A couple of them said, because it saved us. I talked about the fact that Christ was bearing our sins and because God is just (as in a just or righteous judge) and holy, He must punish sin. So His judgment came down on all the sins of the world in His Son’s body on the cross.

One of the kids said something like; “You mean it pleased God to do all that to His Son, just to save us?” And I said, “Yes, that’s how much He loved you! I’ve heard it said that, even if you were the only person on the whole earth Jesus still would’ve come down and died for you. And I think it’s true. Look at John 3:16.” I told them that if you read it with your name in it then it becomes personal. I read it with my name in it. For God so loved [WR] that He gave His only begotten Son, that if [WR] believes on Him she should not perish but have everlasting life.

I think I stopped at John 3:17 and explained God didn’t strike us dead the first time we sinned but we stand condemned for that sin. And so people who don’t believe on Christ’s name are condemned already, both because of their sins and then ultimately because they reject Christ. If a criminal is guilty of crimes and is on death row, he is going to die because of the crimes he committed. But, if the governor writes him a pardon and he refuses it, then he will die for his crimes because he refused the pardon. People who never heard the name of Jesus aren’t condemned to hell for never having heard --they are already condemned, because they sinned. Also, John 1 says that Jesus is the true light that gives light to every man that comes into the world, and Romans 1-3 says that they are without excuse because know the truth, God showed it to them. So even those in hell who never heard the name "Jesus" still had a chance to believe but rejected the truth and turned from the light because they loved the darkness.

Then, after all the verses, we went on to talk briefly about the resurrection and how that was the sign that God saw Christ’s sacrifice as an acceptable payment for sins --and it lets us know that if we also accept it then we can have eternal life. A man on death row may receive a pardon but of he refuses it he will still die.

Somewhere in all of that I used the courtroom analogy a few times and explained that we were lawbreakers, death was the sentence (talked briefly about the difference between the first death and the second death), but Jesus paid it for us so that we can be set free from the penalty of our sins.

I don’t remember if it was that night or the next night but I fielded some questions like, what if we confess our sins and what if we do good works to make up for our sins. But I answered by using the court analogy again and pointing out that a criminal who confesses isn’t set free – the judge has to have legal grounds to free him. That’s what Jesus’ sacrifice did. It is the legal grounds upon which God can dismiss our case. Also trying to do good things to make up for sin, was like trying to bribe a judge. If you washed the judges car on your way into court, and then brought it up as a reason for why he should let you go, what do you think would happen?

I continued to explain why 'good works' aren't enough, by talking about the fact that we owe God prefect righteousness every day (do good and don't do evil), if we failed to be righteous yesterday, then being perfectly righteous today could not make up for it, because we already owed Him that much today... For example, if you owe me $2 a day, every day, but didn’t pay me yesterday, then paying me what you owe me today wont make up for it – you already owed me that. And I talked about how Paul said that he counted all his good works as dung (told them what that was) so that he may win Christ. Abandon all hope in your works and turn to Jesus as your only hope.

A few more things I remember…

I let them all read a comic strip called “What Do People Say About You?” that I had found the day before. It’s made for kids, and is about a guy trying to make excuses for himself. It talks about the law, ends with the Gospel of Christ, and invites them to believe and ask God to forgive them. It was very light – not written with in a “heavy-handed” way and a bit humorous. And I gave out the “decision cards” from the church's packet and let them fill those out.

I talked to some of the kids individually

Most of Wednesday, after going through the lesson, I tried to answer questions and address things that I thought might have not been clear. I asked them a lot of questions and engaged them in discussion, so as to judge if they were confused about anything.

I used a lot of illustrations and analogies to try and make clear that it’s because we have already broken the commands that we cannot do good to make up for it, and that’s not what the law does anyway– it just shows you your sins, it doesn’t take them away, Christ’s sacrifice does that. It’s his perfect record of goodness/righteousness that gets you into heaven by replacing or covering your imperfect record. Law is just a mirror so we can see our sins, but when you see that you have egg on your face you don’t wash your face with the mirror – you go to the water to wash. Jesus is the living water.

The last night of VBS I printed off a bunch of verses on God’s love to show that His love is almost never mentioned without being directly connected with the sacrifice of Christ.
Here are the verses I used, about God’s love:

♥ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16.

♥ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13.

♥ But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8.

♥ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) -Ephesians 2:4,5.

♥ And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. - Ephesians 5:2.

♥ Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. - 1 John 3:1.

♥ Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: - 1 John 3:16a.

♥ In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. - 1 John 4:9,10.

♥ And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. - Revelation 1:5,6.

I read a little story [will edit to link to it later] to illustrate how God showed His amazing love for us on the cross by His own substitutionary (defined it) sacrifice that upheld the Law like never before by meeting it's holy demands, carried out the penalty against sin, and at the same time made a way for us to be justified (defined it – “just as if I’d” never sinned). Romans 3:19-26.

I talked about how when we are saved, we want to obey God and please Him out of sheer gratitude for all He’s done. Before, we obeyed to try and stay out of Hell - but after, we obey out of love for the one who first loved us. Our good works, as Christians, are not for salvation and we don't count them as righteousness. Christ is our righteousness. And I said that we ought to want to go out and tell others the good news. And lastly I talked about getting baptized and what it symbolizes.


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