Justification means that we are made good in God's eyes (or justified) because of what Jesus has done for us. Our sins are forgiven and our broken relationship with God is healed! We are saved by God's grace through our faith (Ephesians 2:8).
- Grace is a gift we didn't earn or deserve. This is a big deal. We don't have to do anything to be saved. It's a gift from God!
- Faith means that we trust God. When we trust that God will give us the gift of love and salvation, a huge weight is lifted off of us and we are free to live in love (not guilt!).
Let's test our understanding of justification. See if you/your kids can answer these questions:
1) What do you need to do to be saved?
a. get good grades
b. make sure your hair and clothes look great
c. always come to church
d. nothing, Jesus does it for you
2) What does it mean to have faith?
a. you know all the right answers at Sunday School
b. you've read the entire Bible
c. you trust that God loves you and will care for you
d. you follow the Ten Commandments
1) All of these things (a-c) are good things! Its great to dress up, do well in school, and come to church to hear about God. However, you don't need to do any of these things to be saved. You don't have to do anything! God has already saved you. When Jesus died and came back to life, he won against sin and death. We don't need to worry because God loves us and rescues us.
2) All of these things (a, b, d) are good things! They are things we want to do because we have faith (even though you don't always have to have the answers, because there's always more to learn!). We want to learn more about God by reading the Bible and to do what God says because we love and trust God. Faith means that we trust in God's love for us. We know that Jesus saves us! It can be hard to have faith when things aren't going well. That's why it helps to go to church, read the Bible, and surround yourself with people who support you. This helps us remember!
A Scripture lesson you can study about justification is Galatians 2:15-21 or RETELL the story below for kids:
(From Be The Story Curriculum)
I am Paul, and I was a Pharisee, a teacher of the law. Boy, was I smart! I did everything so perfectly and all my teachers were proud of me. I really wanted to please God, too, so I did everything a good Jewish young man should do. According to the Jewish Laws, I was perfect! But inside, I was filled with doubt, fear, and shame.
Then, because God loves me, God gave me a vision of Jesus. God wanted me to go to the people who are not Jewish, who haven’t heard about God’s love, to tell them all about Jesus and what he means.
So, I spent some time alone praying, but eventually began preaching Jesus and his love. And, boy, did I get in trouble! Even Peter the disciple and I argued! Many of the leaders like him in Jerusalem didn’t like that I was accepting non-Jewish people in my churches freely. They thought they should become Jews first and then become Christians, that they should keep all the old laws like what to eat, how to wash your hands, and all that. I disagreed.
Here is the deal! God doesn’t love us because of what we did or didn’t do! Our friendship with God is all about our trust in Jesus. When we trust in Jesus, Jesus comes into our hearts and makes us good. Then, it’s like Jesus is living inside of us. You see? It’s not how smart we are. It’s not how good we try to be, because we can’t be perfect, we just can’t! It’s only our trust and faith in Jesus that begins to change us and our hearts. That is good news!
Here are some discussion questions:
- What was Paul like before he met Jesus?
- Do you ever feel "doubt, fear, and shame" when you don't look or act perfectly?
- How does the "good news" that you don't have to earn God's love make you feel?
- What does your faith make you want to do differently?
Dear God, thank you for loving us no matter what. When I feel guilty or afraid, remind me of your grace. Strengthen my faith so I can trust you more. In Jesus' name, amen.
Get treats or candies for your child(ren). Come up with some chores or exercises they need to do to earn their treat (10 jumping jacks, take out the garbage, etc.). After, give them a treat without doing anything to earn it. Talk about which they liked better: doing works or receiving grace. It might be easier to do works because we are so used to earning things. Is it easy or hard to trust in God's grace? (Also, grace doesn't mean we never have to do chores! We do chores because we love helping one another!)
Using this worksheet or your own paper copy Ephesians 2:8 several times to help you remember:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not your own doing it is the gift of God."
- Which part of this verse do you like the best?
- What questions do you have about this verse?