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A Bible object lesson is similar to how Jesus taught with parables in that it takes an earthly object like a baseball and uses it to teach a spiritual lesson helping us understand our need for Jesus. It is impossible for us to earn or work our way to Heaven.
My husband actually used this recently in a sermon, and I thought it is such a great illustration to help kids, youth or adults understand the truth of Romans 3:23. Many times when we explain "missing the mark" we use the illustration of a target and possibly a bow and arrow. Many kids are not familiar with these; so a baseball illustration may hit closer to home.
This Bible object lesson is short enough to be used as a children's sermon or devotional, but we've also included further Scripture and activities for a full Bible lesson.
This would also be a great witnessing tool idea if working with a baseball or softball team!
Lesson Title: Missing the Mark
Primary Scriptures: Romans 3:23, Romans, 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-10
Main Point: It is impossible for us to earn or work our way to Heaven. It is only possible by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
If you are able, demonstrate this object lesson outside. Mark off various distances and have a contest to see who can throw the baseball (or other type of ball) the farthest.
Then ask them if they think they can stand where they are and throw the ball into the next state! (My husband used the next parish since we are in Louisiana). Whatever goal you give, it should be a complete impossibility.
Explain that many were able to throw the ball far, and one person threw it the farthest, but even so, none could throw it into the next county or state. It is a complete impossibility!
If you are indoors, toss a baseball up and catch it as you ask who could throw a baseball to the other side of the room, to the other side of their yard, over the building, etc. until you finally ask who could throw it into the next county/parish or state!
Have students work together to name five famous baseball players or five people they know that may play baseball. Have them order the five into a list of who they think could throw the farthest to the shortest distance.
Ask if they think it would be possible for any of these baseball players to throw the baseball from where they are to the next county or state. Of course, not! It is an impossibility even for the most talented and practiced players.
Ask if anyone can quote Romans 3:23 and then have everyone turn to it in their Bibles. If you are using this as a Children's sermon or illustration, just quote it yourself and then turn to it in your Bible. We always want children to know these words are God's Words, not just what we are saying.
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
When we throw a baseball, and it does not make it to the aimed goal, it falls short. It misses the mark.
This verse tells us "all" have sinned. We "all" have fallen short of God's glory. He is perfect and we are not! We cannot ever do enough good to earn or work our way to God.
The very best baseball players still can only throw so far, just like the people who look the best on the outside doing good works can still only do so much good. As humans we are flawed by sin; we are limited.
Just like we don't have the power or ability to throw a baseball all the way into the next county or state, we are incapable of living a perfect life like Jesus, God's Son, did.
We fall short. Every. Single. One of us.
Sounds a bit hopeless doesn't it? And it is based on our own ability. We all have chosen to do things our own way and disobey God. We want what we want instead of wanting God. We do what we want instead of obeying God.
Romans 6:23 goes on to tell us that the payment for sin is death. This death is not only a physical death some day, but also separation from God for eternity in a place where there is no peace, no joy, nothing good or right because God is not there. The Bible calls it Hell.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
what we couldn't do on our own, Jesus did for us! The rest of Romans 6:23 talks about the free gift of eternal life Jesus earned and bought for us with His own blood.
Ephesians 2:8-10 puts it simply -
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
We are unable to earn or work our way to Heaven no matter how good we are. Some are able to throw a baseball farther than others, but no one could throw it all the way into the next county or state from where we are.
God sent Jesus to do what we couldn't do, and He offers this eternal life as a gift! No one works to earn a gift, but we do have to receive it if it is to be ours.
God did the work for us. Verse 10 tells us we are His workmanship. It also tells us we were created to do good works, but not so we earn our way to Heaven. We were created to love and please God, but first we all need to receive His great gift, His Son, Jesus Christ.
Photo credit - Pixbay
Have students partner up and stand a distance from each other.
If outside, you may want to use some type of ball they can throw back and forth. If inside, have them wad up a piece of paper to throw back and forth.
Have them throw first from a distance where the object thrown cannot make it to their partner. Then have them begin to take a step toward each other before throwing again and continue repeating.
Have them notice that the closer they come together, the more often they are making it to their goal. As we draw closer to God each day, He draws closer to us. (James 4:8). The closer we walk with God, the more we will know Him and become more like Jesus.
The Bible tells us we won't completely make it to our goal and be like Jesus until Heaven, but until then we should still be aiming for the mark of faith as believers in Christ.
Encourage students to remember these truths any time they see a baseball or baseball/softball game. Let it be a reminder of all God has done for us and urge us to live a life to please Him and draw close to Him.
Take time to pray Paul’s prayer he
prayed over the Philippians in Philippians 1:9-11:
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God." NLT
© Copyright 2021 Susan Smart
For other object lessons like "Missing the Mark" take a look at our Object Lesson Index A-Z with more than fifty creative lessons.
Money can be used as another object lesson to share the Gospel and salvation.
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