How To Prove Something
Robert Wurtz II
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
In this entry I wish to examine the Divine imperative to prove all things and hold fast to what is proven to be good. By implication, we are to reject and discard that which is not good. Our text uses the Greek word dokima¿zete (dechomai) and it means to test as one would metals. Mounce gives the renderings: “to test, assay metals; to prove, try, examine, scrutinize; to put to the proof, tempt; to approve after trial, judge worthy, choose; to decide upon after examination, judge of, distinguish, discern: approve; discern; test.” The verb is in the present active imperative, meaning that it must be done and done continually. Secondly, we have the Greek word pa¿nta (panta), meaning “all” or “every.” The word “things” is added by the translators. We are to “test all.” If we test all and find that which is good, we are to hold fast to it.
The process of proving
The process of proving something in the kingdom of God is one of guarded suspicion. Things are not added and then if they are found to be “not good” they are removed later. They must be proven to be good before they can be “held fast.” We live in a fallen world that is under the sovereignty of God, but also under the general control of the Prince of the Power of the Air (Satan). Things of this world are not to be blindly trusted. Prophesies are not to be blindly trusted. Methods are not to be blindly trusted.
Prove thyself before proving the thing
We have an important instruction given to us by Paul in Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Notice the phrase, “that you may…” This suggests that our ability to prove is conditioned upon the previous requirement, be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. If we allow the world to conform us to its manner and mode of thinking, we are dead in the water to prove anything to be “good, acceptable, and perfect.” So our first step is to prove our own way of life and ask if our mind is in agreement with God’s mind. Is it more in agreement with the world’s collective mind? Notice also that this is something that we must do, “Be not conformed…” It will not happen by chance, it must be deliberate. Until this is done, it is meaningless to read on.
Important questions in Paul’s theology
There are two basic questions that Paul typically moves in when judging things:
1. Does it glorify God?
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
2. Does it edify the born again.
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (1 Cor. 14:26)
Does it glorify God?
This is a general question: “does the ________ glorify God or does it glorify___________. In order to answer this question in the affirmative God has to be in view as the overwhelming recipient of glory. Many things have the potential of dividing the worship of God by placing the emphasis on the _________. Does the thing draw attention to God as the almighty sovereign God of all creation or does it bring God down from His lofty place. Is Christ exalted or is man exalted in the exercise or utilization of __________?
There is a common saying that the “message is sacred, the method is not.” It probably originated with Charles Finney as he began introducing new measures into the churches and defended against folk that had concerns about them. If the method contradicts the message then we are in error. For example: if someone sought to utilize the vehicle of mixed martial arts to promote non-violence most rational people would say that the method contradicted the message. Likewise, God is not going to bless any method that simultaneously militates against His word. This is common sense. God is glorified when the method is in harmony with His purposes.
Does it edify the born again?
You will notice that I have italicized born again for emphasis. People that are unconverted are built up by partaking of carnal things. They are repulsed by spiritual things. This is why there is often a mixture of carnal/spiritual in certain circles. They are trying to suit both groups. Paul asked in effect, “does it edify?” Does _________ build up believers in their most holy faith? Does it promote true godliness and holiness? Does it contribute to their spiritual growth in the Lord? Does it equip them to be salt and light or does it corrupt the salt and shade the light? Does it build the person up to walk in the Holy Spirit? This is a different question than asking if someone “likes” _______ or is “entertained” by __________.
The essential nature of testing
Radio altimeters are used to determine the distance between the plane and the ground. Without such an instrument, a pilot will not know how high of low he/she is flying and may crash into the ground. These instruments are electronic and subjected to rigorous testing. They are powered up and tested in extreme environments. Extreme heat and cold are but one phase of the testing. If the meter fails, it must be repaired before it can be fitted to the plane. No need to ask if we are glad these meters are strictly tested. To slapdash a test of this kind could cost hundreds of lives. So too in the churches of God, everything that is implemented into the service of God has to pass the test. It must be proven. It must be proven to effect the intended purpose of glorifying God and edifying the born again or it is to be rejected.
We have briefly demonstrated the Divine imperative to proves all things holding fast only to that which is good. We have said that all things must either glorify God or edify the born again (or both). This agrees with Paul’s admonition to “take heed” how we build upon the foundation that has already been laid (Christ). Methods cannot contradict the message; if they do, they must be rejected.