Fire assaying is an ancient and time-honored science used to separate metals from impurities to determine the metal content of an original sample. There are spiritual parallels we can learn from this scientific tradition.
A passage about it from an A.D. 1556 text called “De Re Metallica” by Agricola states:
“It is necessary that the assayer who is testing ore or metals should be prepared and instructed in all things necessary in assaying, and that he should close the doors of his room in which the assay furnace stands, lest anyone coming in at an inopportune moment might disturb his thoughts when they are intent on work.”
In this day and age we’re constantly bombarded with more and more contradicting “facts.” Often we don’t even have time to digest one “fact” before we’re hit with more that either contradict, or agree with the first one.
So, when we hear a multitude of supposed “facts,” how do we go about determining the truth?
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” Interestingly, the word translated as “test” here is dokimazo and means “to approve, analyze, examine, test, scrutinize, as metals,” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance.
We’re told to not just believe everything, but to go about examining it carefully, to see whether what we hear is true or not.
There are some interesting similarities between the assayer and us as Christians testing all things:
1. The assayer is to be prepared and instructed in all things necessary in assaying. In the same way, we as Christians have to have a command of the Scriptures and know how to study the Bible to be able to accurately examine what we hear to find out if it’s the truth or not.
2. “He should close the doors of his room in which the assay furnace stands, lest anyone coming in at an inopportune moment might disturb his thoughts when they are intent on work.” When we’re going about proving whether something is true or not, we need to be diligent about it, not going about it in a haphazard way, but being intent on accurately determining whether what we hear is true or not.
By using the same diligence in proving all things as an assayer in separating metals from impurities, we can be better equipped to separate truth from error.