The separating and purifying of precious metals from other metals is called refining. Smelting is the separation of precious metal from non-metallic impurities. For centuries man has known how to use fire to test and refine metals to become as strong as possible. In this context Paul urges the people of God to prove all things making certain what is being taught is the true word of God. “Test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
One of the greatest tools in the pursuit of knowledge is asking questions. Inquiring minds thirst for more understanding of the why to a thing. Great discoveries are fueled by challenging what is being said and this is no less important to the word of God. Man has always needed to examine the word of God in light of his own life as testing metal by fire. Proving everything is measured by the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). As with some metals impurities can be present and must be removed. Only by careful testing can we know the word spoken or taught is from the true word of God.
Would you feel safe flying in an airplane with untested metals? The automobile would be a very dangerous machine if the parts were untested. Houses would be death traps if the structure was untested. There can be no less concern for the word spoken to be tested by the word of God. The Bereans had a greater sense of this idea than the people of Thessalonica because they examined the words of the apostles daily to find out if what they were teaching was true (Acts 17:11).
Testing or proving everything helps us grow in the knowledge of truth ourselves. If you wanted to know how a computer works you could disassemble each part examining how it fits in the schematic of the machine. The more we examine the scriptures the more we begin to see the diagram of truth embedded throughout the Bible. A theme beings take shape and we have a clearer view of what the word teaches.
A growing concern in the church of the Lord today is how often people are unable to find things in scripture. Growing up in Bible class knowing the books of the Bible was imperative. As adults we should never have a problem finding the book of Micah or Habakkuk or the easy ones like Genesis or Matthew. Testing everything cannot be done if we do not know how to perform the test. Having a familiarity of the Bible is necessary to perform the test.
The reason that apostasy creeps in to the church is because of the lack of testing the truth. This comes about by those who are unable to find the scriptures that establish authority. Why is instrumental music becoming more common in the churches of Christ today? Lack of testers! Inability of those who are told by the leadership it would be a “good” thing to prove it wrong; although no scripture in the last two thousand years has ever authorized it. Testing everything keeps the church pure.
Here is a test: can you find every book of the Bible with tabs or electronic assistance? Are you able to show someone what to do to be saved by a few simple passages? Have we come to the point in the history of the church that we believe the Bible has become so scholarly we are unable to discern its truths? The Ephesians were no more smarter than you and I yet Paul writes to them, “How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:3-4). Testing requires time and effort. The more time you spend and the more effort you put forth the easier it will be to test everything.
Here is a real test: how often during a sermon do you have your Bible open to read passages being taught? What truth can you find in passages like Hezekiah 4:3-6 that will help you in your life as a person of God? The more you test yourselves with the word of God the stronger you will be in every part of life. The sermons will mean more, your prayers will gain a deeper appreciation in your life and your hope will be brighter because you understand the will of God.
Test everything. Don’t let anything go by without a test. Strength comes from the testing by fire. Knowledge is power. It will change your life in so many ways. Fill your heart with the word of God and He will guide you in every way. Finally, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:16-17).