Have you ever watched a master debater? He calmly listens to his opponent. Then when he steps up to the podium, he begins to talk quietly and deliberately, relying on the power of his simple words to demolish the opposition.
Is it possible—or even proper—for Christians to have such power?
When sharing our faith, our job is infinitely harder than a debater’s . . . and infinitely easier. It’s harder because our goal is to win our opponent’s heart, not crush it; and it’s easier because changing hearts is not our job.
Successful debaters must know their opponents, their resources, and their best arguments. During preparation, they usually jot down the main points in crib notes and commit them to memory. Then when they stand up to speak, they’re ready.
Consider how Paul dealt with the Greeks who flaunted their education and worldly wisdom (sound familiar?). In the heat of debate, he never lost sight of the big picture. He knew that his job was to proclaim the basic truths of God’s Word. The main problem was not people’s ability to understand God’s Word. The problem was their pride, and only God could change that.
So the apostle intentionally kept his messages simple.
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Paul understood that all debates come back to the foundation of all correct philosophy and understanding—Christ.
Far from being a simpleton who knew nothing about the intricacies of Greek philosophy and oratory, Paul was a master, educated at the feet of the leading teacher of his day, Gamaliel. How ironic that God chose such a man to show Christians how to answer the skeptics!
Paul understood that all debates come back to the foundation of all correct philosophy and understanding—Christ. In Him are all the riches of knowledge and understanding (Colossians 2:3).
Even the most challenging questions of our day, such as evolution over millions of years, boil down to the authority of Christ’s words, beginning in Genesis. Do we trust God or not? To answer every question, we must first turn to Scripture, written in language that even a child can understand (see “10 Basics Every Creationist Must Know,” pp. 48–60).
Paul’s success in witnessing reflects his grasp of one main truth: it’s all about Christ. Everything begins and ends with Him. Paul understood and declared that God made all things according to a foreordained plan of redemption, and He is working out that glorious plan toward its final end.
If we search carefully through Paul’s writings, we can find what appear to be his crib notes:
“Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
“I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).
Those thoughts empowered Paul. When battered by the raging storms of skepticism, he never turned his eyes from the simplicity and power found in Christ and His Word.
“Christ is all”—may every believer commit those words to memory!