1 Thessalonians 5:21
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
I. RELIGION ADDRESSES US AS SENSIBLE BEINGS.
1. Not every religion, nor even every section of Christianity. Some say, "Do not inquire; submit implicitly to the teachings of your Church." Truth does not do this; it courts examination because it can afford it.
(1) There are difficulties in our faith, but they yield before a clear mind, patient study and prayer, and a correct life. There are many things above reason, but reason proves that it is reasonable to believe them.
(2) Surely this is what religion ought to be. Has God given us our mental faculties for nothing? You are responsible for your beliefs, and while before God we shut our mouths; yet before men we are bound to ask does God say it? I must have faith, but it must be an intelligent and manly faith, else my religion will be unworthy a creature so highly endowed.
2. "Prove" refers to the process of testing coin whether genuine or counterfeit. "Lest by any means I should become a castaway," i.e., as a piece of money that could not bear the test, "Reprobate silver." So are you to prove whatever is presented to you, as carrying the mark of the King of kings, therefore asserting a Divine claim upon you, whether it be true or a forgery.
II. WHAT IS THE TOUCHSTONE BY WHICH WE ARE TO GAUGE THE REAL AND THE FALSE? What is that spiritual alchemy which shall always make the base to precipitate to the bottom, and the right and holy to come up to the surface, separate and clear?
1. The first criterion of religious truth is personal experience, "Come and see;" have you come?
(1) God will give everything He has promised to simple, earnest, persevering prayer. Have you proved this?
(2) When a man turns to God in penitence and faith he is forgiven. Have you done this?
(3) God speaks of "a peace which passeth understanding." Have you put yourself in the way to get an experimental proof whether there is such a peace or not.
(4) So with happiness, wisdom, doctrine. Is it not shere madness to refuse such gold and say "I will not test it." If it do not turn out what it professes to be, then is the time to reject it.
2. The grace of common sense and moral perception which God has given us. These, of course, are vitiated by wilful sin, and they will lead us wrong. But if a man will only be careful to have a good conscience, lay open his heart to the influences of the Spirit, and honour and obey them when they come, he will not make any great mistake.
3. God's Word is the measuring line of all moral truth. If we give up that ultimate appeal there is no resting place for the mind. This does not mean taking solitary verses which in the Bible as elsewhere may be made to prove anything you like. You must gather the general intention of the mind of God by study and prayer, dealing with the proportions of truth.
4. Above the Bible is Christ, the living Word. Everything is to be tested by Him.
(1) Doctrine — where does it place Him?
(2) Promise — does He seal it?
(3) Duty — does He command it?
(4) Pleasure — does He sanction it?
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.