A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward. In ancient Greece, philosophers went to the market place to exchange new ideas. According to Acts 17:18, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to engage the apostle Paul. Trying to be relevant, Paul references an idol in Athens, quotes a famous poet and makes a reference to being an offspring of God. When you don’t have much in common, its essential to find a starting place that will open the hearts and minds of a foreign audience to your point of view.
And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:3-4.
Meanwhile, Jesus used a different strategy, especially when confronted by first century religious leaders. In the passage above, a fallen angel, Lucifer, aka Satan tempts Jesus during his forty day fast in preparation of his earthly ministry. Instead of using a rhetorical question on this occasion, Jesus simply says, “it is written.” As a former archangel who knew God’s Word, Jesus corrects the deceivers request by referencing the Old Testament. This didn’t discourage Satan, as he quotes the Bible, daring Jesus to use God’s supernatural powers for selfish reasons. To finish this spiritual debate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct what Satan took out of context.
So then, if David calls Him (the Son, the Messiah) ‘Lord,’ how is He David’s son?” 46 No one was able to say a word to Him in answer, nor from that day on did anyone dare to question Him again, Matthew 22:45-46.
At the beginning of Matthew 22, Jesus endures an onslaught from Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders. Like a fierce game of pin the tail on the donkey, each expert of the law tried to trick Jesus into making a mistake by de-emphasizing one of the ten commandments. Beside using expressions like haven’t you read, Jesus answers each question with another question. One by one, each religious leader left defeated, no match for the Son of God. While no one possesses the wisdom of Jesus, if you find yourself losing a debate, reference the Bible by saying, “Haven’t you heard?” Then quote a passage of the Bible that relates to your discussion, “it is written.”
by Jay Mankus