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“It says what it means..”

by Lynette Carnahan Gray

“It says what it means, and it means what it says!”

How have you formerly felt about hearing that famous phrase?

When I was a student at Freed-Hardeman, my youngest teacher told this autobiographical event. As a neophyte professor, one Sunday “Rob” chaperoned some college students to a congregation in another town. Since Rob represented the college, when the elders asked him to teach their adult Bible class impromptu, Rob felt obliged to comply. Then they told him that their text was the book of Revelation!

The elders assumed they had hit the teacher jackpot-a guy from a seat of higher education known for its Bible scholarship. However, Rob was only 24-years old with degrees from outside the Bible department. He never imagined himself teaching an adult class on Revelation!

But, Rob persevered. He read the first verse and asked, “What does this means?” “It says what it means, and it means what it says,” was their only reply. Rob longed to say something enlightening. He would’ve if he could’ve.

Then Rob read verse two. “What’s John saying here?” he asked. Again, they chanted their motto, “It says what it means, and it means what it says.” Rob had little to add. He read verse three. Sure enough, when he asked, “What does this text tell us?” their quip was still, “It says what it means, and it means what it says.”

Their slogan furnished no explanation, no information, and no motivation toward transformation! In fact, some people use it as a cop-out or like a stop sign – a place to silently pause before you move on. Furthermore, how would visitors feel about the echo of one maxim which confuses those not steeped in Scripture?

If you quote, “It says what it means, and it means what it says,” then tell why it was said or how we should respond. Or, expound upon a certain word therein. Or, describe if there’s a difference between what that Scripture meant to its original audience versus what it means today. Consider companioning the Scripture being discussed with another fitting Bible text. After all, Scripture is the best commentary on other Scriptures.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV).

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One thought on ““It says what it means..”

  1. The elders should have been wise enough not to have put poor Rob in this precarious position in the first place. You don’t put a 24 year old in an adult class teaching Revelation! I was 57 years old when I taught an adult class in Revelation. It took six months of intense preparation and study “before” the class began. I handed out notebooks to the class which contained outside sources to the book, plus notes.The study took one year to complete. The class begin with 30 students and ended with 10 of the faithful few. This is one of the many reasons why the church is no longer growing spiritually. No one wants to take the time or the effort to meditate on and study God’s word. If you do something haphazardly, you’ll get haphazard results. God and His word deserve far more effort than that, for souls are at stake.

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