We are on the final stretch and are about to cover the last category for this in-depth analysis of NCFCA’s new Apologetics topics. If I am honest, the category of “Man and Sin” is a bit more diverse than I anticipated because it covers five unique concepts as they relate to man and sin. Before I start breaking down these concepts and provide with resources to construct cards here is the list of topics that have been placed under this category so you know what we are dealing with…
Holiness vs. Sin:
12. What is the righteousness of God and why is it significant?
15. What is God’s holiness and why is it significant?
8. Should I keep a commitment if I’m unhappy?
19. What is the fall of man and why is it significant?
29. If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?
20. What is the depravity of man and why is it significant?
23. What is sin and why is it significant?
24. What is hell and why is it significant?
30. Why would a loving God send people to hell?
4. Respond to the person who says, “I believe I will go to heaven because I have lived a good life.”
7. Respond to the common phrase, “You do you.”
14. Respond to the person who says, “God made me this way.”
15. Respond to the popular slogan, “My body, my choice.”
16. Is traditional Christianity homophobic?
18. What does it mean to be made in the image of God and why is it significant?
20. Respond to the person who says, “My life is not worth living.”
21. What is the purpose of man?
22. What does it mean to know God?
Alright, enough listed, let’s get started by analyzing the first section of this category; “Holiness vs. Sin”:
Based on a first glance of the three questions in this category, they are all similar enough to be covered by one single card because each question is driving at the same goal: the nature of God’s holiness. This is easy to understand for the first two topics but let me flush out the third one just in case… “Should I keep a commitment if I’m unhappy” pertains to the holiness of God because the answer to this question is rooted in a respect for the holiness of God and a Christian’s life-long pursuit of it. Essentially, we ought to keep commitments, regardless of whether or not we are happy, because an aspect of us becoming closer to God and his holiness includes a general respect of other people and their time, hence why we should keep commitments.
An idea of an outline for these cards could be: 1. What is the holiness/righteousness of God? 2. Man’s relationship to the holiness/righteousness of God. 3. How does God’s Holiness/righteousness affect the way a man lives?
Though you could certainly take each of these cards in a different direction, since your goal is to create cards effectively, progressing the thoughts of each of these topics together is essential. The outline listed above is just one way you can do that. You might read the outline and decide that you entirely dislike it all together, or maybe you just want to re-title a point and rearrange the order, it is up to you! I’m just here to help you get the wheels of your brain moving:)
Lastly, Here is some additional content and verses to help you prepare and brainstorm what you want to talk about in this card:
Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Isaiah 6:3, “And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” *this verse introduces an interesting avenue that you can take when discussing the holiness of God, try researching the significance of saying a word three times in Jewish culture.
If the direction of this content is not where you want to take these cards, I would encourage you to read John Piper’s article “Are Christians Righteous or Unrighteous?” for a different spin.
The next section to examine is Sin.
Unlike the previous section that we examined, the focus of the questions within this section is about sin and the condition of earth and its inhabitants. Before I proceed to break this section down, I want to present you with a challenge… this concept, man’s depravity and sin, has an unspoken list of classic verses that people use (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, ect). I want to encourage you to go outside the box of those verses. Dig deep within your Bible, your sermon notes, and your research, to find a unique approach to this section. Chances are that your judges have already listened to at least four people cite those classic verses in your competition room. Now is the chance for you to take the extra step and stand out while also digging deep into the Word of God.
A potential outline for this section could be: 1. What is _________? (Fall of man/depravity of man/sin, they can all be discussed from essentially the same content) 2. How it has ______ effected humanity (This point specifically makes room for the question about evil in the world) 3. What should our response be? (The purpose of this third point is to introduce an idea of change for the judge to implement after your speech. You don’t always have to end speeches with a call to action but it is a technique to leave a lasting impact)
Some alternative verses in regards to sin:
Matthew 15: 18-20, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…”
Romans 8:7, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”
Beyond just the content of GotQuestions, DesiringGod published a useful article about this section titled, “Worse Than We Think, What Total Depravity Is (and Is Not)“
Moving onto our third segment of Hell.
The concept of hell is honestly an incredibly unique and interesting theological topic. It is easy to get carried away with discussing what hell will look like based off of the few details that we have from the Bible but I would encourage you to dig deeper than that and find way to approach these cards to leave an impact on the judge and audience. Every card that you make is being created with the goal of impacting someone’s life by giving the information and knowledge that will bring them closer to a relationship with Christ. So as you decide how you want to approach these cards, seek to approach these topics in a way that makes an impact.
An idea of what this might look like is to center on the second question in this section, “why would a loving God send people to hell?” because this one is certainly the most poignant and personal of all three. Think about why someone might be asking this question… Perhaps they fear that they will go to hell and are trying to debunk Christianity by pointing out beliefs that seem contradictory. Maybe they are challenging the idea of sending people to hell because they believe that most individuals don’t deserve to go to hell. In constructing your outline, consider taking one of these assumptions (or a different one that you have heard from other people) and constructing your speech around. I highly encourage my students to do this because it is not only ensuring that their speech will contain interesting content, but it also ensures that the content of their speech will be useful in real life.
Outline idea: 1. What is Hell? 2. Why people end up in Hell? 3. Hell’s role in the gospel
The reasoning for the first point is pretty simple, it is setting the stage and context for the general idea of the card. The second point is intended to be an incorporation unique ideas behind the second and third questions of this topic. By asking the question, “Why people end up in Hell” you are making room to explain why God, as a loving being, sends people hell in a way that simultaneously explains the falacies of good people going to heaven. The final point is there to create an interesting impact to the speech. Instead of simply saying how is this applicable to the judge, your specifically laying out hell’s implications in the gospel.
For some basic resources to start you out…
Francis Chan recently published a video titled “Two scariest lies in our world right now“. Not only is it just a generally useful video but he directly addressing the concepts in this section on hell.
John Piper also has a useful video titled, “Why Hell Exists“. Try listening to this video for useful concepts and take not of the way in which he encorporates Bible verses into his discussion.
Alright! We are getting close! The section on Modern Society is incredibly important because it is extremely relevent to the political and social movements happening today. I believe that the best way to approach these topics is by breaking down the fundamental ideas that support each of the topics. Once that is complete, you will find them to be fairly similar.
Each of these topics is related to what we have identified today as moral relativism and each person finding their own truth. In creating one card for these four topics, I would capitalize on that fundamental idea.
Potential outline: 1. Deconstructing the Mindset. 2. Christianity’s Mindset.
Because the content of each of these points is fairly intense, the goal of the outline above is to comprehensively address each point. Use the first point to deconstruct the ideology that supports the statements made and that proposes the idea of Christianity being homophobic. Then use the second point to break down what a Biblical mindset looks like on this matter.
John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth
Francis Chan published a video on Christian Sexuality that discusses the ideas being the modern sexuality movement while deconstructing them from a Christian perspective.
The final section to look at pertains to the nature of man. This is honestly an exciting section because nature of these sections allows for there to be a lot of diversity in the way that you approach it.
Potential outline: 1. Who God made man to be. 2. Where is man at now? 3. How do we reconnect to God’s Design?
Through the first point, make it your goal to set the stage for how man was originally created. What is man’s purpose? What was man’s original relationship to God? Why did God make us the way he did? These are all questions that you can use to drive the content of this point. The second point is important because it applies the original creation of man to where humanity is at now and it is also the part of the speech where you might need to tailor the card to the specific topic you are dealing with. If your card is to respond to the statement “My life is not worth living”, you will probably want to include a sentence or two that frames this card in a softer light. If your card is to answer the question “What does it mean to know God”, then your focus should be more on how man’s current state has broken our ability to know God.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, What is the chief end of man?
John Piper has a sermon titled, “How God made Me Happy in Him“. This sermon is incredibly powerful and does an excellent job at getting to the root of this section of topics.