An extensive area of scholastic competence that is of utmost importance to ministers is hermeneutic excellence. The ability to discover the meaning of the biblical text is vital for the spiritual formation of modern disciples. In a plea to today’s pastors Raymond Ortlund observed that, “Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrines of grace create a culture of grace, a social environment of acceptance and hope and freedom and joy.” Hermeneutic competency coupled with humility before the inspired text enables one to recognize one’s own neediness of the Gospel and the knowledge of a proper response to those in need of pastoral guidance. Paul Tripp, a highly sought pastoral counselor, warned that “it is possible to use the Bible outside of its intended purpose.” Therefore, ministers must be faithful to the text as it was inspired as intended by the Holy Spirit. The Lord desires for all people to undergo personal transformation through His word (Isaiah 55:10-13), and ministers of the Word are the primary conveyors by which transformation takes place. Hermeneutic excellence is not only helpful, but vital to the tasks of preaching, teaching, and counseling as the minister rightly interprets and applies the Scripture.
Hermeneutic excellence benefits the minister by enabling him to develop scholastic competence in theological understanding. The ability to obtain and to communicate the knowledge of God, as discerned by the correct interpretation of the Scriptures, is not only necessary, but critical for both personal and corporate worship and discipleship. The locus of ministry is in the Godhead, and all ministry flows from knowledge of and dedication to God. Knowledge of God is always better than its only alternative: ignorance. As explained by R.K. Hughes to those studying Paul’s directions to Timothy, “A virtuous man may be ignorant, but ignorance is not a virtue.” One of the greatest benefits of theological competency is that it propels the learning and understanding of the character and nature of God. Because God seeks to be worshipped by those who worship him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), ministers must be able to thoroughly obtain and soundly convey the truth about God if he is to lead in worship and discipleship.