Study for God's approval

2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

One message to pull from this is, "Study for God's approval."

So often I encounter folk who study for the approval of men.  Its like they want a Boy Scout's patch  from their church leaders for saying they see in the Bible the same thing as their teachers.  They want to be the "teacher's pet" of their pastor. This is not necessarily a bad thing if they are a new believer and happen upon a very good church.

But do we commend people for being that kind of follower of the Jehovah's Witnesses? Or of the Mormons? Don't we say, "If they would just open their eyes and read the Bible for themselves then they would see plainly enough the errors of those groups and come to the truth"?

There comes a time when one learns to study for God's approval rather than that of men, even of church men.  We do it for the love of truth itself, for the praise that comes from God rather than that from men.

Psalms 119:97-102
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long. 
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me. 
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes. 
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts. 
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word. 
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
NIV

John 12:26
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
NKJV

It is possible for a young man to understand the Bible's message better than an older man who has been at it longer.  It is unusual but it is possible.  This is one of the lessons from Jesus' example to us.  Many of the Pharisees who held Jesus in disdain did so because they were incensed that Jesus, a younger man, would surpass them. They were envious of Jesus.  And the same lesson is driven home from the lives of the prophets who, being specially called of God, had a greater insight into God's will than the conventional wisdom of the established religious leaders.  And the Apostles came to have greater understanding than the Scribes & Pharisees.

This is not to say that every person should disregard the guidance of those that have gone before, but that they should also be aware that the ultimate Elder of the Church is God Himself.  And God, like a loving Father, is ready to teach His people. Its part of being a father, so much so that "father" is what godly men used to call their teachers before Christ came. God is ready to teach you.  And you should not be too quick to disregard what God teaches you... even if, like the apostles and prophets, it differs from the conventional wisdom of our day.

John 6:45-46
It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.'
Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
NIV

To sum it up, we should learn all we can from the Word of God and from those who are respected in the Body of Christ, both living and from the past.  But we should also value the things that God teaches us personally, as a result of our personal Bible studies and walk with God.  All things should be tested.  And the more a teaching differs from the majority opinion, the more it should be proven from the Word of God which trumps all opinion of all men, even churchmen.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
NKJV

And avoid the error of the blind Scribes & Pharisees who were so intent on following their traditional views that they could not see the truth of John the Baptist's message and be baptized, nor could they humble themselves to regard Jesus' message of Salvation.  By their proud envy they became persecutors of the Truth rather than its disiples.