Object Lesson 11b: "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

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November 2nd, 2008

The following is an alternate version of "Nothing Gold Can Stay".  The lesson was re-designed for an adult audience.  It is also color-coded to aid the tech booth.  The original version designed for kids is available here.


A video of the mad scientist performing this object lesson is available here.


Start music -  “Weird Science” by Oingo Boingo

Show slide 1 – “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (title slide)



Fade music at hand signal



1. “Hello Fair Haven!” 
2. “For those of you that do not know me, my name is Dr. Dan and Kelly Neal chose me to be the resident mad scientist here at Fair Haven, because I am just so ‘Mad about Jesus’.”
3. “For over a year now, I have been secretly appearing to teach bible lessons to your young kids here at the church.”
4. “And of course, when a mad scientist teaches a bible lesson there must also be a really cool experiment to drive it home.”
5. “Today is no exception.”
6. “But today’s lesson not only has some really impressive chemistry, it has the most important message of all; Jesus died to save you.”
7. “So, let’s begin today’s lesson by first reading a famous poem by Robert Frost.”
8. “The poem is called ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’”

Show slide 2 with poem

"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."
-Robert Frost

Poem Meaning

9. “So what is this poem all about?”
10. “Well, it is all about life and death.”
11. “It says that every living creature, no matter how beautiful, will eventually die.”
12. “Now things were not always this way”
13. “Once, people lived in the Garden of Eden where death did not exist.”
14. “But something happened.”
15. “Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit.”
16. “From that point on, all living creatures were sentenced to death.”
17. “Now even the first golden blooms of the trees, the prettiest flowers, and all people will eventually turn to dust.”
18. “Nothing gold can stay.”

What is so bad about sin?

19. “But what is so bad about sin anyway?”
20. “Well, let’s just take a look.”
21. “I have a container of sin right here.” Show the second vase containing the spray starch with the skull and crossbones turned away from the audience. 
22. “It looks innocent enough.”
23. “In fact, it looks just like water.” Look into the vase.
24. “It even smells just like water.” Smell into the vase.
25. “But wait a minute.”
26. “There is something written on the back.” Turn the vase around to show the skull and crossbones to the audience.
27. “See the skull and crossbones?”
28. “Skull and crossbones are a symbol of death.”

Show slide 3 with verse from Romans 6:23

29. “Even the bible confirms this in Romans 6:23 when it says that ‘the wages of sin is death …’”
30. “That means that sins are like poison.”
31. “But sins cannot be poison to our physical bodies, or we would all be dead.”
32. “So sins must be poison to our eternal bodies, our souls.”
33. “But how?”

Show slide 4 with verse from Romans 3:23

34. “Well, the bible says in Romans 3:23 that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’” Stress the ‘fall short’ part.
35. “That means that sins make us no longer perfect.”
36. “Since God can only live with perfect creatures, sinners have no way to get to heaven.”
37. “So sins are like poison because they separate us from God.”
38. “Even when we commit a single sin our hope of eternal life with God is dead!” 

Introduce Goldie

39. “Today, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine.” 
40. “Her name is Goldie.” Show the yellow iodine containing solution in the first vase labeled ‘Goldie’ to the audience. 
41. “Now, Goldie is just like you and me when we were first born.”
42. “She is pure of heart just like gold.”
43. “That’s why I call her ‘Goldie’, because she is so beautiful.” Caress and admire her.
44. “But, nothing gold can stay.” Show concern.
45. “All it takes is for her to make one little mistake, one little SIN, and her luster of gold will disappear.”

Goldie does not stay

46. “Do you want to see for yourself?”
47. “Ok, let’s see what happens to ‘Goldie’ when she commits a sin.” Slowly pour out the contents of flask 1 into vase 2.
48. “Oh no, Goldie does not look very good anymore.” 
49. “She is now black with sin.”
50. “She is now unclean.”
51. “She has lost her connection with God and cannot fix it by herself.”
52. “Her hope of eternal life is gone.”

Good news

53. “But, I have good news!”
54. “A savior has come.”
55. “His name is Jesus.”
56. “He is God’s son.”
57. “He is a part of God.”
58. “And how do we know He is God?”
59. “Well, one way we know is that He performed miracles.”

Water to wine

60. “We can read in the bible that Jesus walked on water, could feed thousands of people with mere scraps of food, could control the weather, and even heal the sick.”
61. “But, there are two miracles I did not mention yet that I want to focus on today.”
62. “The first is Jesus’ first miracle, the second His best miracle”
63. “So what was Jesus’ first miracle?”
64. “Well, I will give you a clue, Jesus was at a party and they ran out of wine.”
65. “Remember now?”
66. “So what did Jesus do to help?”
67. “Well, the bible says that Jesus told the servants to fill some jars full of water.” Show the third vase of water to the audience.
68. “And Jesus, using the power instilled in Him from God, turned the water into wine!” Slowly pour the contents of the third vase into the fourth vase.

Blood of Christ

69. “This was Jesus’ first miracle.” 
70. “But it was not His best miracle.”
71. “You see, during the life of Jesus He did many things for people He saw everyday.”
72. “But there was one miracle, one gift, that He gave all people, in the past, present, and future.”
73. “That gift was His life.”
74. “He went to the cross and spilled His blood for us.” 
75. “The most amazing part is that He did this with the knowledge that it was going to happen.” 
76. “It was the great plan.” 
77. “He even told His disciples about it the night before.” 
78. “He wanted them to realize what He was about to do for them, so He gave them something to remember it by.” 

Show slide 5 with verse from Matthew 26:27-28

79. “In Matthew 26:27-28 we read that (Jesus) ‘took a cup of wine, and when he had given thanks He gave it to them saying, ‘drink of it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’’”
80.  “So, Jesus used wine to represent his blood, the blood which was to be spilled.” Turn vase four around and show ‘Jesus’ blood’.
81. “This is why we take communion, to remember Jesus’ sacrifice.”

Blood washes away sin

82. “But why did Jesus sacrifice Himself and spill His blood?”
83. “Well, let’s see.”
84. “In my right hand I have all the sin in the world.” Pick up and show the audience the second vase (containing Goldie now blackened with sin).
85. “This is all the sin you have done or ever will do.”
86. “It is also all the sins that your sister or brother has done, that your neighbor has done, that your parents have done, and that your future kids will do.”
87. “It is all the sin that ever was or ever will be done by everyone on Earth.”
88. “This sin was all that was in the way of people, just like us, being with God in heaven.”
89. “If it were go away, our connection to God would be repaired, we could be perfect again, and could be with God.”
90. “In my left hand is the blood of Jesus.” Pick up and show the audience the fourth vase labeled ‘Jesus’ Blood’.
91. “The blood that he spilled for us on the cross.”
92. “The blood that when combined with sin . . . Slowly start to pour the contents of the second vase into the contents of the fourth vase so they mix in mid-air then fall into the fifth vase in the center of the table . . . washes it clean as snow.”

Accepting the gift

93. “Pretty incredible, isn’t it.”
94. “So you see Jesus paid the price for our sins by sacrificing Himself.”

Show slide 6 with verse from Revelations 1:5

95. “Jesus Christ . . . loves us and freed us from our sins by His blood.” Revelations 1:5 
96. “But, the bible says that isn’t enough.”
97. “We have to accept this gift.”

Show slide 7 with verse from John 3:16

98. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life - John 3:16” Stress the ‘believes in him’ part.
99. “So, we need to accept Jesus as our savior to become clean again.”


100. “So, is it true that ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’?”
101. “Well, it is true for our earthly bodies.”
102. “But thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, it is not true for our eternal souls.”

Show slide 8 with verse from Romans 6:23

103. State strongly: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord - Romans 6:23”


104. “Well, I better get back to the lab.”
105. “I have lots to do to prepare for my next experiment.”
106. “You see, I think I discovered a machine to harness the power of air.  I call it an Air-zooka.”
107. “I just need to work the kinks out.”
108. “But, I think your kids are going to love it!”
109. “Goodbye.”


(Helpers remove glassware and bring it to kitchen – first service only)

5 large clear vases, glasses or plastic cups (1 larger than the other 4)
Heavy duty spray starch
Bottle of iodine – 10% povidone / iodine works fine. 
Sodium Sulfite (available from online chemical suppliers)
Phenolphthalein solution (available from online chemical suppliers)
Wooden spoon
Measuring cup
2-liter bottle cap
Costume (lab coat, funny hair, funny glasses, bow-tie)


In the first vase put water and vinegar at a ratio of 3:1 (e.g. ¾ cup water to ¼ cup vinegar) and 7-8 drops of iodine per cup to make it yellowish.  Spray interior of second vase with spray starch for 2-3 seconds to coat the walls and make a small pool of liquid in the bottom (let sit for 5-10 minutes prior to start to reduce any foaming).  Put water and ½ teaspoon of sodium sulfite per cup of water into the third vase.  If powder does not fully dissolve, pour out liquid portion into other container, wash out vase, and re-add the solution.  Put 7-8 drops of phenolphthalein solution per cup of water into the fourth vase.  The fifth and largest vase will remain empty.  Label the first vase as “Goldie”, the second vase as “Sin” on one side and add a skull and crossbones symbol on the opposite side away from the audience, the third vase as “Water”, and the fourth vase as “Wine” on one side facing the audience and “Jesus’ Blood” on the other.  Arrange the vases in this order from the audiences’ perspective: Vase 1 (water, vinegar, and iodine – yellow solution – “Goldie”), Vase 2 (spray starch – small pool of clear liquid – “Sin” / Skull and Crossbones symbol), Vase 5 (largest vase - empty), Vase 4 (phenolphthalein solution – “Wine” / “Jesus’ Blood” – appears empty), Vase 3 (water and sodium sulfite – “Water” – clear liquid).

Click here for a diagram of the set-up and expected results.

A video of the mad scientist performing this object lesson is available here.