What Grades Do I Get? (Justification by Faith)


We’re on Lesson 4 in the “What’s Up” Series, which is all about the heart of the gospel.  Last week, we talked about sin of the heart. This week, we’ll discuss how our “report cards” aren’t looking so good and there is no way we could earn our way into heaven.  We can’t justify ourselves.  That’s why we need Jesus to give us justification by faith.

What's the Big Idea

The Big Idea: Only faith in Jesus can give us “good grades” with God.

Large Group:

For our large group time, we’ll have a visit from Smug Scott, the Toucan, who basically thinks that his sin isn’t as bad as everyone else’s.  In fact, he figures that God is probably pretty pleased with him.

After Smug Scott gives his initial comments, we’ll all watch a short video on the parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee.  Here are a few versions to choose from:


I’m a big fan of Max 7, but this would need some unpacking and discussion with the kids since there are no words or narration.


This has some interesting illustrations, which would be novel for our kids.  I like also the “some people who think they are better than others”, which would fit perfect with our Smug Scott Toucan.

This is a modern day take on the Parable.   I kind of like it because it seems a little more “real” than the cartoon versions and I think the older kids would relate to it a little better. And I appreciate that they finished out the video with the actual reading of the Bible.  (Bible Cafe: Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector from Dominic Naranjo on Vimeo.)


This is a good one too, and I love the marker drawing versions!

Small Groups

Here are some ideas for accompanying activities or crafts to do in small group.

Keeping Kids Engaged in the Lesson

Prayer Time:

We’re going to discuss prayer in a few weeks as well, but this might be a great time to approach the subject with kids. Take a closer look at the Bible passage and compare (maybe even make a chart) how the two men prayed.  How do we approach God when we pray?  If you feel the kids are up to it, spend some time confessing sins and asking God to forgive during this time of prayer.

Who’s Prayer Is It?

Write down a few short (1 sentence) prayers on note cards.  Read the prayers to the kids and discuss who would have prayed it (either the Pharisee or Tax Collector).


What Would the Animals Say?

Talk with the kids about our animal friends and what they would say about getting a report card from God (page 61-63 can help with this).

Pharisee and Tax Collector

Fill ‘Er Up

This is an object lesson designed for 2-4 year olds involving a pretty box, an ugly box and some jelly beans.  Read all about it at Play Eat Grow.

What's Your Report Card Say?

Report Card

Have kids fill out a report card (see p58 for example or you can find free printables on the author’s website) on things such as telling the truth and obeying parents.  What makes doing the right thing so hard?  Why can’t we do the right thing ALL the time? Thankfully, God doesn’t look at our report card, he looks at Jesus’! Show the kids Jesus’ report card (all A’s) and glue it over top the kids report card to show that when we confess our sins and repent, God forgives them and remembers them no more.  Instead, he sees Jesus’ righteousness when he looks at us.

Want to Switch Report Cards?

This is a youth lesson, but it might be good for the older kids. I especially like the “what if” question about another student switching report cards with you in order to save you from punishment (page 5).  Check it out!

Coloring Pages:

Here’s a few coloring pages if you want to go that route:

From Children’s Gems

From Sermons for Kids


More Stuff to Check Out:

The God Report Card: Here is another blogger/church that seems to be doing the same curriculum (or reading through the author’s book) as us.  Check out this article on some helpful reminders.

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