If you’re part of our E-Team, you know Nancy Ruth is working on a new family Bible study. The working title is: Why Do Bad Things Happen? While this study still has a long way to go before it’s ready to be released, I thought it’d be fun to share with you a stand-alone lesson from that study. Enjoy!
Week 4, Day 2: God Didn’t Make Robots
About 20 min.
Supplies needed: A Bible (or Bible app), your family pets (or stuffed animals), pet treats (real or pretend), a small rock
- Collect pictures of pets doing tricks or showing affection.
- Bookmark the Bible verses used in today’s lesson. 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.
Teaching Objective: Describe what life would be like without free will.
Biblical Texts: Romans 1:18-22, 25; Jeremiah 29:13; John 1:12
Yesterday we learned that we have a choice. “Free will” means being able to make choices. When we choose not to obey God, that is called sin. Today we’re going to look at the opposite. Robots have to do what they’re told. God could have made us like robots where we had to always do what He says. Today we’re going to see why God didn’t make us like robots.
Let’s begin in prayer. Lord, please teach us more about You today. Show us why you made us where we can choose what we do and don’t do. Help us to choose to obey because we love You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Our goal today is to describe what life would be like without free will. We’re going to look at what the Bible says before talking about pets. Then we’ll read a couple of more verses and talk about it. We’ll finish with our memory verse, prayer, and Bible skills. Let’s get started.
Bible Lesson, Part 1
We all get to make choices. “Free will” means being able to make choices. When we choose not to obey God, that is called sin. The Bible says that God made sure all people know about God. Some people choose to follow God and some people choose to ignore Him and do their own thing. This is a sin.
Read Romans 1:18-22 and verse 25. (For younger children, read only verses 21-22.) God gives us a choice whether to love and obey Him or to disobey Him and sin. Some people think God should have not given us a choice, but made us all love and obey Him. Let’s think about that and see if that would be better.
Review with Nature
3 min. (This can be extended if you have more time.)
Some families have pets. Some of these pets can be trained to obey and do tricks. (Take turns giving your pet or stuffed animals commands, even if they don’t obey.) Animals have a choice whether to do what we say or not. How do you know if an animal likes you?
What if you had a pet rock? Can a pet rock do tricks? (Take turns trying to get the rock to do tricks.) How would you know if a pet rock liked you?
It’s special when animals show us they like us. It’s just not the same with something like a rock. If God had made us without free will, without the ability to choose, we would be like pet rocks. We wouldn’t be able to love God and show Him we love Him.
God gives us a choice whether or not to love and obey Him. If we didn’t have that choice, we couldn’t love God. Our words of love and actions wouldn’t mean anything, because it wouldn’t be our choice to do it.
It’s like a pet rock. We can make it give us a kiss or say it loves us, but it’s not the rock’s choice to do those things, so it doesn’t really mean anything. Animal kisses are much better!
Bible Lesson, Part 2
Let’s see what else the Bible says about our choices. Read Jeremiah 29:13. God wants us to know Him. We read in Romans that God shows every person who has ever lived that He is real. Some people ignore that and say there is no God or that God is different from what the Bible says. This is a sin. But, Jeremiah 29:13 says that we can know God, even if we start off not sure of who He is. Read that verse again.
When we seek God with all our heart, He will teach us about Himself. We will learn that Jesus paid the price for our sins. When we believe in Jesus and repent of our sin, tell God we’re sorry and mean it, God forgives us. Read John 1:12.
Deciding to follow Jesus is the most important choice we can make. When we do, we become children of God. We are no longer separated from Him because of our sin. That is good news! God didn’t make us robots who had to obey Him. Instead, He gave us Jesus to pay for our sins, our wrong choices. God is so good!
5 min. or longer, depending on family dynamics
Free will is the ability to make choices. When we choose not to obey God, that is called sin. Today we’ve learned that we would be like rocks or robots if we didn’t have free will.
- What does “free will” mean?
- What would we be like if we didn’t have free will?
- Could we really love God if we didn’t have free will? Why or why not?
- Name some ways you can choose to obey God and show Him love.
- What is it called when we choose not to obey God?
God gave us free will, the ability to make choices. When we choose not to obey God, that is called sin. Today we’ve thought about what it would be like if we didn’t have free will. I’m sure glad God didn’t make me like a rock or a robot. Next time we’ll look at the consequences of sinning and making wrong choices. But first, let’s finish this week’s memory verse, prayer, and Bible skills.
We started memorizing 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) yesterday. Let’s practice what we know so far. Open your hands like they are a book. Where is this verse found? (Allow family to answer.) “No temptation” (nervous fingers near mouth) “has overtaken you except what is common to mankind” (point and sweep). It’s a long verse this week, but today we’re just adding a few words. We’ll also talk about what this verse mans.
Repeat after me “And God is faithful.” (Allow your family to repeat.) God is with us even when we are tempted to make the wrong choice and sin. Listen to the rest of this verse. “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
This verse tells us that when we are faced with a choice to obey God or not, we are never trapped into doing the wrong thing. God is with us when we are tempted. He will always provide a way out, a way to get away from the temptation. It may not be easy, but there will be another way. We need to look for the way out that God provides. It could be choosing to do something that we know is right. It could be that we need to literally walk or run away. God is with us and will help us if we ask Him to. Point up to the sky and say that last part after me. “And God is faithful.” One more time. (Say it again together with the motions.)
Now let’s say the part of the verse we’ve learned so far together. (Say the verses with the actions that you’ve practiced all week.)
1 min. (This time may be extended to include other praises and prayer requests.)
- Thank God for always being with us.
- Thank God for free will, the ability to make choices.
- Ask God to help us choose to obey because we love Him.
- Ask God to show us the way out when we are tempted.
- Thank God for His faithfulness.
Bible Skills Practice (Optional)
2 min. (This may take longer depending on skill levels.)
Without looking, what is the last book of the Bible? Turn to the book of Revelation. Now find the book of Revelation in the Table of Contents. What book comes before Revelation? The book of Revelation is called the book of New Testament Prophesy. Repeat after me. “Revelation is New Testament Prophecy.” (Allow your family to repeat.) Books of prophecy tell people what is going to happen. Tomorrow we’ll learn what kind of things the book of Revelation predicts. One more time, what is the last book of the Bible? What book comes before Revelation? What type of book is Revelation? You did it! Well done. Give a high five to one of your study partners.
Next Level Challenge (optional): At this more advanced level, we’re working on memorizing the Pastoral Letters and the book of New Testament Prophecy. What is the difference between the Pastoral Letters and the Pauline Epistles? What is an “epistle”? The all of the epistles, or letters, were written to believers or churches. They include encouragement to stand strong in the faith and corrections for ways people had begun to mess up. These Bible books contain a lot of good instruction on how to live for Christ.
Review the first two books (Hebrews, James). Next comes some numbered sets of books Find these books in your Bible’s Table of Contents. Memorize First and Second Peter. Don’t forget to start with the Pastoral Epistles you already know. When you can say all the books from Hebrews to Second Peter three times by memory, give a high five to one of your study partners.
Want more? (Optional)
Adults, college students, and high school upper classmen wishing to read more about the value of human free will in God’s grand design should check out at least one of the following:
- Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988, especially chapter 7, “God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility.”
- Crain, Natasha. Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2016, especially chapter 6, “Why would God need people to worship Him?”
- Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. New York: HarperOne, 1940, especially chapter 2, “Divine Omnipotence.”
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