Why compete in Apologetics? The ultimate answer lies in two verses, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 1 Peter 3:15.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
So the ultimate goal of Apologetics speaking is to develop men and women of God who are thoroughly equipped. In the real world, what does that look like? First Peter 3:15 gives a more specific explanation when it states, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
If you are thoroughly equipped, you will always be prepared to make a defense of Christianity. Moreover, you will be prepared to take the truth you hold in your heart and head and apply it to a real-life situation.
I had an opportunity to apply this principle at my last tournament. Before speech breaks on Saturday morning, all the students were sitting in the sanctuary listening to announcements. When the announcements were over, breaks weren’t quite ready—so, the tournament coordinator decided to “stall” a little bit. She asked whether one of the senior students wanted to give any sort of testimony. I had something on my heart, so I volunteered.
Recently, I had been reading through the book of Numbers. I told the students and parents in the sanctuary that Numbers—and other books like it—often get left out of our consideration when we say, “all Scripture is…profitable.”
I then briefly discussed Numbers 7:1-9. For context, the full passage reads:
“On the day when Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and had anointed and consecrated it with all its furnishings and had anointed and consecrated the altar with all its utensils, the chiefs of Israel, heads of their fathers’ houses, who were the chiefs of the tribes, who were over those who were listed, approached and brought their offerings before the LORD, six wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for every two of the chiefs, and for each one an ox. They brought them before the tabernacle.
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Accept these from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service.’ So Moses took the wagons and the oxen and gave them to the Levites.
Two wagons and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service. And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder.” [italics mine]
That seems unfair! Why is it that the Gershonites received one-third of the gifts, the Merarites received the other two-thirds, and the Kohathites received nothing?
Verse 9 provides the answer. The Kohathites had a special job—they carried the holy things, which couldn’t be pulled along on carts. They didn’t receive the gift of oxen and carts because God had something better for them.
How does this apply to speech and debate? Well, at every tournament many students break and advance to outrounds—but many do not. The metaphorical “oxen” of breaking are not given to every student. Here’s the key: If a student doesn’t break, perhaps it is because God has something even better for them. God had good reasons for not giving the Kohathites the oxen, so why shouldn’t we assume that He has good reasons for not giving certain students the gift of breaking?
Or perhaps the oxen just haven’t arrived yet. Before the oxen arrived, the Gershonites and Merarites had to work without that gift. Perhaps the student will break in the future, but God wants to develop aspects of their character, such as trust and patience.
So if you don’t break, don’t despair—it may be that your oxen haven’t arrived yet, or it may be that God has something even better in store for you if you are only willing to trust Him. Overall, we find comfort in our knowledge that our God is the Sovereign Lord who works all things together for our good.