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Object Lesson on Faith vs. Works

This Bible object lesson on faith uses the concept of a train with its engine (faith) coming first followed by the train cars (good works).  Both are needed, but in their proper order and function.

The next time students see a train, they will think of it in a whole new way!

Photo by Pexels

All Aboard!
An Object Lesson on Faith

Jesus often taught with parables.  A Bible object lesson is similar in that it takes an earthly object and uses it to teach a spiritual lesson.  

Bible Lesson: The order & function of faith and good works

Lesson Title:  All Aboard!

Object:  Toy train or photo/drawing of a train

Primary Scriptures: Ephesians 2:8-10 

Main Point:  Faith brings salvation, but good works should follow as evidence of faith.

Object Lesson on Faith:

Train to Demonstrate Object lesson on Faith

Use a toy train, photo or illustration or draw a train as you teach this object lesson on faith vs. good works.

Ask students to point out the engine versus the train cars; ask which normally comes first  Ask what causes the train to move? Is the engine necessary? 

The engine is the driving force of the train; it comes first.  But would the engine be serving its purpose without the train cars?  Wouldn't you expect to see the engine pulling train cars behind it?

The train cars have no power in and of themselves, but they should follow a train engine...otherwise is it really a "train"?

Webster's Dictionary defines a train as:

  • a connected line of railroad cars with or without a locomotive
  • an orderly succession

Granted an engine can function and move on its own, but its purpose is to pull train cars.

If working with small children and using a toy train, allow them time to pull and touch the train.  The ultimate would be actually having an electric train set as the focus of this object lesson on faith!

Bible Object Lesson on Faith

In a similar way, faith is a lot like a train engine.  It is necessary; it is filled with power; it comes first. 

Faith is not just believing something in our heads.  Faith believes in something or someone so much that trust moves us to action.  It's like a child who believes in the love of their parent so much that when asked to jump into their arms, their trust moves them to jump!  Their action proves and is evidence of their faith in their mom or dad.

Good works, like the train cars, have no power within themselves. Good works do not and cannot save us from sin or punishment.  Only Jesus can save us because He paid the price for our sin and punishment.  When we place our faith in Him alone, we are saved.  We have to make a leap of faith not based on our ability, but on God's ability. 

Our "leap" is seen by others through how we live differently now; our good works should follow for the benefit of others seeing Jesus in and through us and also as a visible demonstration of our love for God. 

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Paul gives us a perfect example of this object lesson on faith versus works found in Ephesians 2:8-10.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; 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, that we should walk in them."

Have kids look up these Scriptures and find the word "faith" and put their finger on it; then find the words "good works" and do the same.  Ask, which came first?

Just as our train, faith comes first but good works should naturally follow.

In the Book of James 2:14-26, it tells us that good works are and should be evidence of true faith.  Belief and trust without action is like a train engine with no purpose.  There should be good works that follow a true faith that has changed us from the inside out.

Paul's testimony is a prime example that good works cannot save us, but they should follow after a true faith that has changed us.  Paul had "good works" before coming to know Jesus.  He had studied and memorized Scripture from the time he was a young boy and worked hard to obey it.  But that didn't save him.

It wasn't until He met Jesus on the road to Damascus and truly trusted in Him that he was saved.  His life changed and others saw the good works that then followed as He followed Jesus.

Bible Story for Object Lesson on Faith vs Works

"11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas (Peter) and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me."

Galatians 1:11-24

More Scripture for Object Lesson On Faith

Have different students volunteer ahead of class to look up and read the following verses about faith:

Hebrews 11:1, 6

Galatians 2:20

Galatians 5:22-23

1 John 2:6

Prayer time 
Object Lesson on Faith

Give each person a blank sheet of paper and something to write with.  Tell them to begin drawing a train.  As they do ask them to pray as you lead them in prayer prompts:

Thank God for His grace and the faith He makes available to us. Thank Him for what He had done and given you.

Repent and admit to God any areas you are not trusting or following Him.  Repent simply means to turn away from going away from God and turning to follow Him.

Ask God to help you see the opportunities around you for good works that will let your light and love for Him be evident to others.

Invite God to talk to you and listen.

Next time you see a train, let it remind you of how faith and good works go together to bring glory to God.

© Copyright 2022 Susan Smart

We also have another object lesson on faith with more ideas as well as an interactive fun object lesson on Peace.

An object lesson captures attention from the beginning and also helps lock the lesson into our memory.  We have over fifty other object lessons available in alphabetical order for your use in teaching others about Jesus!

Special note: We do preview the websites to which we link, but are unable to peruse them completely. We try to check others' faith statements and make sure they do profess Jesus Christ as God's Son and salvation is found only in Him. It must, however, be your responsibility to personally dig into God's Word and allow the Holy Spirit to be your first and final teacher on all subjects.

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