Object Lesson 8: "Only the Penitent Man Shall Pass"
Good deeds are never sufficient for salvation. Our faith in Jesus saves.
One can spend their whole life doing good deeds to get into heaven, but no matter how much they tell the truth, how much money they give to charity, or how many people they help, in the end without faith in Jesus they are empty. This is easily demonstrated by adding items in into a coffee can. But, no matter how many good deeds (items) are added, the container never fills; salvation is never attained by good works alone.
What are good works?
How many good works are needed for salvation?
What is needed for salvation?
What is faith?
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no man can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
2 large identical coffee cans (metal not plastic)
Acetone (available in paint section at hardware store)
Clear plastic trash bag
Packing peanuts (several cubit feet worth – white Styrofoam*)
*Put a few peanuts in a small jar with acetone to insure they dissolve. White Styrofoam peanuts should dissolve rapidly, but some colored peanuts or ones made of starch will not and cannot be used.
Chopsticks or other wooden disposable item
Rubber gloves (to be worn during preparation and presentation)
Acetone is highly flammable. Use in well ventilated area away from sparks or flames. Also, as acetone has a strong odor, choose a well-ventilated area for the presentation; outdoors is preferred. Under no circumstances shall ‘Mad About Jesus Laboratories’ be liable for any damages or injury that result from the use of, or misuse of, this or any other object lesson or experiment. The use of this experiment is at your own risk. For future details please note the legal disclaimer on the website (www.madaboutjesus.net).
While wearing gloves, put approximately 1-2 inches of acetone into one of the coffee can. You can put the lid on to prevent evaporation and reduce odor, but remove just prior to the presentation. Set the can containing the acetone behind the display table in a spot not easily seen by the audience. Set the empty can on the display table in full view of the audience. Fill the clear bag with the peanuts and put it on the display table in plain site of the audience, with a few loose peanuts on the table as well. Keep the chopsticks handy.
1. “Hey kids.”
2. “Today I want to talk about what it takes to get into heaven.”
3. “Now many people in this world think you get to heaven by going good.”
4. “If you are a good person then you will get to heaven.”
5. “Do you know anyone like this?”
6. “I sure do.”
The great scale
7. “So, how does this work?”
8. “Well, some think that if you commit a sin you can do a good deed and make up for it.”
9. “It is kind of like a scale.”
10. “On one side you have all your bad deeds, your sins.” Use your left hand to demonstrate one arm of a scale.
11. “On the other side are your good deeds.” Use your right hand to demonstrate the other arm of a scale.
12. “Now, at the end of your life, it does not matter how many good or bad deeds you have done in you life, only the balance matters.”
13. “If the scale tips in favor of your good deeds, you go to heaven.” Show the scale arms in favor of your right hand.
14. “If not, well . . . you go somewhere else.” Show the scale arms in favor of your left hand.
The great container
15. “Others think that you need to do a certain number of good deeds to get into heaven, like trying to fill a container with good deeds.” Show the coffee can without the acetone (the one on the display table).
16. “For every good deed you do, you get a piece to put into the container.” Pull out one packing peanut from the bag and drop it into the can.
17. “But when you commit a sin, you lose a piece.” Pull the packing peanut out from the can.
18. “If at the end of you life your container is full, you go to heaven.” Look at the container as if it overflowing. Show the audience and smile.
19. “If not, well . . . you go somewhere else.” Look into the container as if it is empty. Show the audience and have a worried look on you face. At this point set the empty can behind the display table next to the one containing the acetone.
How many good deeds?
20. “So, how many good deeds are needed to get to heaven?” Wait for a response.
21. “Not an easy answer is it?”
22. “Well, let’s make it simpler.”
23. “How many peanuts are needed to fill the container I just showed you?” Wait for a response.
24. “Oh, I guess I should have left it out for you to see.”
25. “Let me get it out again so you can see.” At this point get the can containing the acetone from behind the display table.
26. “So, how many of these peanuts do you think are needed to fill this can?”
27. “Does anyone want to guess?”
28. “50, 100, 500?”
29. “If this was your salvation you would want to know, wouldn’t you?”
30. “Ok, well let’s just see.”
31. “Now remember, only by filling this container can we get to heaven.”
32. “Ok, let’s start with a handful.” Put one handful of peanuts into the container.
33. “Ok, well we are not full, so let’s add another handful.” Put another handful of peanuts into the container.
34. “I will use these sticks to be sure we do not cheat.”
35. “Remember, we need a full container.” Use the chopsticks to press the peanuts down into the acetone.
36. “Ok, still not full, let’s add another handful.” Put another handful of peanuts into the container. Use the chopsticks to press the peanuts down into the acetone.
37. “Ok, we better get serious.” Add another handful, stir with the chopsticks, then another, and another, until the entire bag of peanut is gone. This may take 5 minutes or more depending on the number of peanuts and the size of the can.
What did I do wrong?
38. “I do not understand it.” Show the empty bag of peanuts. Slightly turn the can towards the audience so they can see it is empty (the acetone is at the bottom along with some residue, so do not tilt it too far).
39. “What did I do wrong?”
40. “While it is true that I have committed some sins, as the bible says ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), I have spent my entire life doing way more good deeds than bad ones.”
41. “What did I do wrong?”
42. “What am I missing?” Wait for a response.
What is needed?
43. “Well, let’s turn to the bible for answers.”
44. “Now, in Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible says that ‘it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no man can boast.’”
45. “Oh, I get it.”
46. “So it is faith that gets me into heaven, not good deeds.”
Faith in what or whom?
47. “Ok, but faith in what or whom?”
48. “Well, let’s turn again to our bible.”
49. “In John 3:16 the bible says that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’”
50. “So, we need faith in Jesus.”
51. “Our faith in Jesus is the way we get to heaven.”
What about good deeds?
52. “So what about good deeds / good works?”
53. “Do we still need to be a good person?”
54. “Well, let’s see what the bible says about that.”
55. “In Matthew 5:16 the bible says ‘let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.’”
56. “So, do we still need to do good deeds?” Wait for a response.
57. “Sure we do.”
58. “Once we know Jesus, we should want to be just like Jesus.”
59. “That means we try to reduce sin in our lives and act like a Christian.”
60. “This honors our Father in heaven.”
61. “So, what have we learned?”
62. “Well, I hope now it is obvious that good deeds are not sufficient to get to heaven.”
63. “We are saved by our faith in Jesus, not our good works.”
64. “Just remember, you can spend your whole life doing good deeds to get into heaven, but no matter how much you tell the truth, how much money you give to charity, or how many people you help, in the end without Jesus you are empty.” Again, slightly turn the can towards the audience so they can see it is empty (the acetone is at the bottom along with some residue, so do not tilt it too far).
65. “Well, I better get back to the lab.”
66. “I have lots to do to prepare for my next experiment.”
67. “You see, I think I discovered magic pictures, a rubber ball that bounces only when it wants to, and a way to tell if an egg is hardboiled or not.”
68. “I just need to work the kinks out.”
69. “I will see you again soon.”
1. A demonstration of the amazing bottomless can (acetone dissolving packing peanuts) is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1m9q_tJd30
Please send comments, suggestions, and questions to Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org
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