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).