Contend wisely, contend with love, contend without malice, but contend earnestly with zeal, truth, and boldness that the weak might not be deceived and the deceivers might not be wise in their own conceit. The tried and true way to protect the faith is to know the faith. You will quickly stumble if you are contending for what you do not know. Elisha protected his servant from the deceit and hopelessness of fear with the urgent exhortation, “do not fear,” followed by the revelation of the truth of God. Christian, at all cost and against all opposition, protect the truth!
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – II Kings 6:16-17
For my sons’ birthdays I have developed a habit of waking them early in the morning while it is still dark and reading a portion of Scripture with them with application to the year completed and the year ahead. It is always an enjoyable time before the sun rises and the day of celebration and thanksgiving begins. On Elisha’s 5th birthday, it was a logical decision to read from II Kings 6. While talking with my son about the text and how the Lord wants us to live in faith and die to fear, we were struck by the apologetic nature of the account of Elisha and Dothan. It seems that much of the Bible’s system of apologetics is summarized in these few short verses finding their culmination in verses 16-17.
How is the Christian individually and the Church collectively supposed to contend earnestly for the faith as Jude exhorts us to do? How are we to live for Christ whom we have come to know through His Word?
When Elisha’s servant was filled with fear, Elisha proclaimed the truth to Him, “those who are with us are more than those who are with them!” As his servant was falling into the sin of fear, Elisha protected the faith by calling his servant away from the broad path that leads to destruction and back to the straight road that leads to life by warning him, “do not fear.” As his servant heard his words of proclamation, Elisha than prayed to God for the illumination of his servant’s eyes and mind to see the reality all around him. As Elisha promoted the truth of God, God saw fit to reveal a measure of His glory, “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire.”
Like Elisha, the Christian and the Church contend earnestly for the faith they have come to know by the work of the Holy Spirit in these three ways: by proclaiming the truth; promoting the truth; and protecting the truth.