In light of the current Coronavirus crisis, we’ve decided to release excerpts from the as-yet-unpublished book Why Do Bad Things Happen? A Devotional for Busy Families. This book will not be released until later this year, but we felt families could use these lessons to talk with their kids about what is happening now. Join the E-Team for updates on Nancy Ruth’s progress in finishing this book.
Unit 5, Lesson 1: Is there only one right way?
Teaching objective: By the end of this lesson, families should be able to discuss whether Jesus’ claim to be the only way to heaven is “intolerant.”
Biblical texts: Jn 14:6; Rom 1:25; 1 Chron 28:9; 1 Pet 3:15; Eph 4:12-15.
Supplies needed: a Bible (or Bible app)
Optional Time-Savers & Helps:
- Cue up the “Review with Music” song on YouTube.
- Bookmark the Bible verses used in today’s lesson (Jn 14:6; Rom 1:25; 1 Chron 28:9; 1 Pet 3:15; Eph 4:12-15). The benefit of this is saving the time spent looking them up. The drawback is that family members don’t get to practice their Bible skills. It’s your call.
Have you ever disagreed with someone about how something should be done? Maybe your friend or sibling tried to change the rules in a game you were playing. Sometimes people disagree on how to get to heaven too. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (NIV). Today we’re talking about Jesus, the only way to heaven. First let’s pray.
For younger children: Fold your hands and close your eyes. We’re going to talk to God. Lord, thank You that You love us. Thank You for Jesus, the only way to heaven. Teach us what that means. We love You, Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
For older children: Lord, we love You. Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for providing a way for our sins to be forgiven. Thank You for loving us no matter what. Thank You for rescuing us so we can be with You. Draw us closer to You. In Jesus’s precious name we pray, amen.
Bible Lesson, Part 1
In Unit 1, we learned the overarching storyline of the Bible: Say it with me. “Creation. God made the world. Fall. Sin broke the world. Redemption. Jesus is the only way to be saved. Glorification. Believers get to live with Jesus!” In Units 2 and 3, we learned that God is omnibenevolent, wholly-good, and omnipotent, all-powerful. In Unit 4 we learned that we all make choices. In this unit, we’re looking at the answers to some tough questions. Our goal today is to discuss whether Jesus’ claim to be the only way to heaven is “intolerant.”
Intolerant is the opposite of tolerance. The prefix “in-” means “not.” “Intolerant” means “not tolerant.” “Tolerance” used to mean that you put up with someone who doesn’t agree with you or act the way you think people ought to act. You’re still nice to them and treat them as a person loved by God, but you don’t agree with them. This is biblical love. However, the word “tolerance” has now taken on a second meaning. “Tolerance” now often means agreeing that everybody is right, no matter what. This is not biblical.
Let’s think about this logically. Pretend you’re playing a game of tag with your friends. You’re It. You tag your friend and she’s supposed to be It. But, when you tag your friend, she says, “You tagged me! That means you’re still It.” Wait a minute. That’s not how the game works. If you are both right, then nobody will be It. You’re not It because you tagged your friend. Your friend’s not It because you tagged her. That doesn’t make sense. You can’t play the game that way. It’s the same thing when it comes to how we get to heaven.
Break: Review with Music
Let’s take a break and sing a song. (Encourage more active children to dance, sway, or move around during the song. Choose one of the following to sing together.)
- “Jesus Loves Me” (younger children)
- “Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott & the Scott Family (praise & worship)
- “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less” (hymn)
- Your favorite song about following Jesus as Lord.
Bible Lesson, Part 2
We’ve learned that “intolerant” means “not tolerant.” “Tolerance” used to mean that you put up with someone who doesn’t agree with you or act the way you think people ought to act. You’re still nice to them and treat them as a person loved by God, but you don’t agree with them. This is biblical love. However, the word “tolerance” has now taken on a second meaning. “Tolerance” now often means agreeing that everybody is right, no matter what. This is not biblical and it doesn’t make sense. Not everybody can be right when they disagree. How does God view these things? Read Romans 1:25.
Let’s look at some examples of things people believe about God that are different from what the Bible says.[The rest of this section is taken from Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith by Natasha Crain. (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2016), 62-64.] Judaism denies that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They say He was not. Christianity affirms, says yes, that Jesus was the promised Messiah. This is what the Bible teaches. Can both Jews and Christians be right?
Islam (the religion of Muslims) affirms, says yes, that Muhammad was the greatest prophet and that he fulfilled the ministry of Jesus. Christianity denies that Muhammad was a prophet at all. They say he was not. Can both Muslims and Christians be right?
Christian Science denies the reality of sin. They say sin is not real. Christianity affirms, says yes about, the reality of sin and teaches that it’s an eternally significant problem that separates humans from God. In other words, Christians say sin is a big deal. Sin separates us from God. This is what the Bible teaches. Can both Christian Scientists and Christians be right?
Mormonism affirms, says yes, that there are three separate divine beings (gods): the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Christianity denies the existence of multiple divine beings. In other words, Christians say there is only one God. Christians emphasize there is one God existing in three persons, known as the Trinity. This is what the Bible teaches. (Don’t worry if you don’t understand this. It’s hard for adults too.) Can both Mormons and Christians be right?
Hinduism affirms, says yes to, a circle of rebirths (called reincarnation). They say when you die, you come back to earth as something else. Hinduism teaches that this leads to a person’s consciousness being absorbed into God or ultimate reality. Christianity says no and denies reincarnation. Christianity teaches that a person has a single life. After we die, we will be judged by God. This is what the Bible teaches. Those are two very different teachings. Can both Hindus and Christians be right?
We’ve talked about a lot of things today. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all. Here is what you need to know. Read 1 Chronicles 28:9. Everybody can’t be right. Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Now, does all this mean we need to go around telling everybody “You’re wrong”? No. Remember that first definition of tolerance. “Tolerance” used to mean that you put up with someone who doesn’t agree with you or act the way you think people ought to act. You’re still nice to them and treat them as a person loved by God, but you don’t agree with them. This is biblical love. We can talk to people about what we believe and why, but we do that kindly. If people don’t want to listen, then we can agree to disagree. Read 1 Peter 3:15.
For older children: Read Ephesians 4:12-15. These verses talk about one way we know we’re spiritually growing. What is it? (Allow the family to answer. Look back at the verses if needed.) As we study the Bible and draw closer to the Lord, we are better able to tell what is right and what is wrong. That is my prayer for you.
- Let’s see how well you listened and think about what we’ve learned.
- What does “intolerant” mean?
- What does “tolerant” mean? How do some people use the word today?
- What is biblical tolerance and love?
- Can everybody be right when they disagree?
- What is one religion that disagrees with Christianity?
- Is there only one way to heaven? What is it?
- How do we know what is true?
Memorize the first part of this week’s memory verse together. John 16:33 (NIV; Feel free to use a different version if you prefer.) “I have told you these things.” John 16:33. This is Jesus speaking. Jesus had just told His disciples that some hard things were coming. In this verse, Jesus is going to give them hope. He’s going to tell them what to do when bad things happen. Say the first part of John 16:33 again. “I have told you these things.” John 16:33.
What is the very first book in the Bible? What book is in the middle of the Bible? What are the first four books in the New Testament? What are they called? What book is at the end of the Bible?
Locate the Table of Contents in a Bible. [If you’re using a Bible app, find the list of Bible books.] What are the first five books of the Bible? Say them together. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. These are called the books of the Law. What book comes after the books of the Law? What is Genesis about?
At the end of Genesis, the people of Israel moved to Egypt. After a little while, they become slaves there for a long time. Exodus describes how the people of Israel exited Egypt. God rescued and delivered them from slavery. Then God brought them to a place where they started their own country, the nation of Israel. Find the book of Exodus. Say the five books of the Law one more time. What book comes after the books of the Law?
Optional Challenge: What is the first book of the Bible? What are the other books of the Law? Practice finding Genesis without using the Table of Contents. Practice saying the books of Poetry. Practice finding the book of Psalms without using the Table of Contents. Practice saying the Major Prophets. Practice saying the Minor Prophets. Work on memorizing the books of Old Testament History: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. These books tell about the history of God’s people, the nation of Israel.
Quick Summary & Peek At Next Time
Today we learned what tolerance and intolerance mean. Not everyone can be right when they disagree. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Next time we’ll look at how we know what’s good and bad.
Optional Further Reading:
Romans 1:16 – 2:11
- Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988.
- Chamberlain, Paul. Can We Be Good Without God?: A Conversation About Truth, Morality, Culture & a Few Other Things That Matter. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
- Crain, Natasha. Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2016.
- Habermas, Gary R. The Risen Jesus & Future Hope. Lanham, MD: Rowman & LittleField, 2003.
- Habermas, Gary. 2013. “Evil, the Resurrection and the Example of Jesus.” In God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled With Pain. By Chad Meister and James K. Drew Jr. 163-174. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
- Write, N.T. Evil and the Justice of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.