Did Jesus Come in 1914

 

 

Did Jesus Come in 1914?

Richard Hollerman

We know that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is coming back!  He promised that He would come and believers everywhere look forward to this approaching climactic event.

The Lord promised, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). When Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the two angels told His disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

This is the “blessed hope” of all faithful and expectant believers. Paul tells us that we are to be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13). The same apostle says that we are to wait for His [God’s] Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). All of these and many other scriptures assure us of Christ’s literal, bodily return from heaven in the clouds to rescue His followers from this earth’s destruction.

Some Say that Christ has Already Come

Paul tells us that even in the first century, some false teachers were claiming that Christ had already come. In about AD 50-52, when the apostle wrote 2 Thessalonians, Paul wanted these believers to “not be quickly shaken from [their] composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). Paul goes on to say that “the apostasy” or falling away had to come first and the man of lawlessness was to be revealed (vv. 3-12).

In our own day, a certain false group of religionists believe that Christ came back exactly 100 years ago and has been on earth since that great event!  I refer to the so-called “Jehovah’s Witness” cult. (In fact, they don’t belong to Jehovah [Yahweh] nor do they witness for Him.  I am reminded of the statement in Proverbs: “A faithful witness will not lie, but a false witness speaks lies” (14:5). Numerous times members of this cult have lied to me—plainly and clearly uttered untruths. (This is called “theocratic warfare” or “theocratic lies.”) Thus, in no way can they be called faithful “witnesses” but are actually “false witnesses.”

We do not accuse these people of living immoral and wicked lives, but only false and apostate lives.  I was reminded of them when the story of the local meetings of the Witnesses was carried in the local Fort Worth Star-Telegram (June 21, 2014). The article was entitled, “Jehovah’s Witnesses Hold Meeting.” It told of a meeting in this city 100 years ago in which 1,000 Witnesses gathered in Fort Worth for a great meeting led by the founder and first president of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Charles Taze Russell.  This year, 100 years later, about 100,000 Witnesses are gathering for another convention.

Convention spokesman, Mike Andrews, said, “We do believe that this is the centennial of the year that Jesus sat down on his throne and began his rule” (Star-Telegram, June 21, 2014).  Last weekend 60,000 members had a convention at the AT & T Stadium. In July many more thousands will come for the Spanish-language members.  Authorities say that about 100,000 will attend both events.  This year’s theme is titled “Keep Seeking First God’s Kingdom.”

Matthew Edwards, spokesman for the convention, asserts, “This convention will explain what that kingdom is and how it can be a positive influence in our lives” (Ibid.). Members arrive from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

We would not question the devotion and commitment of these people. They regularly knock at my door and want to share their message. I have spoken with them—until they conclude that I am not a receptive prospect for their false doctrine. Then they leave for another house, to more promising people who may become new converts.

But we do object to the Witnesses’ message. It is false to the core and an offense to a Holy God who has already revealed His truth in Holy Scripture.  Regardless of what Charles Taze Russell or Judge Rutherford or any other Witness leader has revealed and taught, we must reject all false doctrine—whether taught by Catholics, Protestants, or the so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

What Has Scripture Said?

Why would we oppose the message of the Witnesses? Why would we reject the notion that Jesus sat on His throne 100 years ago and has been on earth ever since?

        1.    Theirs is a novel approach to the Bible. For many reasons, the Witness view of Scripture is false. Paul wrote, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). The Witness message is not based on the “standard of sound words” found in God’s Word. Thus we must outright reject it.

 

        2.    We oppose all false doctrine taught by false teachers and false prophets. Over the years, Russell (and later Witnesses) made many predictions of Christ’s return. This included the 1914 teaching that Jesus was going to come back. When He didn’t return on that 1914 date, the Witnesses altered the teaching of Scripture and said that He actually did return—invisibly! No, John tells us that “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him” (Revelation 1:7). We all know that “every eye” didn’t see Jesus return in 1914—in fact, no eye saw this climactic event!

 

        3.    Christ’s coming will be bodily and visible. We already noticed that Christ’s return will be similar to His departure (Acts 1:11). When He left this earth, Jesus left bodily and visibly! When He returns, He will come bodily and visibly!  He will not come secretly as the Witnesses affirm. Remember that “every eye” will see Jesus when He returns (Revelation 1:7). This surely will not be secretly and invisibly! (It is also noteworthy that Witnesses teach that Jesus did not bodily rise from the dead!)

 

        4.    Christ’s return will be an open display of glory and power!  Paul writes, “When the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10a). With fire? With His mighty angels? With retribution? With eternal destruction? This surely isn’t a secret experience of Christ sitting on His throne invisibly.

 

        5.    The return of Jesus will be open and loud!  We are speaking of “the coming of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15), and Paul went on to say, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumped of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (v. 14). Instead of a secret coming that is invisible and silent, it will be loud—a shout, the voice of the archangel, and God’s mighty trumpet! Someone said that this will be the loudest sound ever to be heard on earth! It may be the loudest verse in the Bible!

 

        6.    Instead of being able to identify the year of Christ’s return (1914), Jesus specifically said that “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). While Jesus may know when He is returning at this time, when He uttered these words, He didn’t know when that time would be. And neither do we!  The Lord went on to say, “Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (v. 42). Again, “The Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (vv. 44, 50). Neither Charles Russell nor modern day Witnesses nor anyone else knows when Jesus will return! So be prepared!

 

        7.    Far from Jesus taking His seat on God’s throne in 1914, Peter said that this occurred 2,000 years ago!  When Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascended back to heaven, He (the descendant of David) sat on the throne of David or God (Acts 2:30-36).  God said, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet” (vv. 34-35; see also 1 Corinthians 15:23-28). Jesus is sitting now—and has been since about AD 30—not 1914!

For these and other reasons, we must reject the Witness claim that Jesus has been sitting on the throne invisibly for only 100 years. When Russell gave the false prophecy that Christ would return 100 years ago and He didn’t come at that time, this doctrine was invented to justify the false prophecy and claim that it was fulfilled in a different way than was originally expected. True, the First World War began in 1914, but this is unrelated to Christ’s visible, bodily return for His own.

It is better to admit error, correct the false doctrine, and be willing to tell the world that these devoted people have been following a false teacher or false prophet for years. It is better to return and get right with God than to tenaciously cling to a false doctrine that will drag one down to hell!

(Addendum: Many other teachers and professing prophets have also predicted Christ’s return. For example, William Miller of New England, studied the time of Christ’s coming using the book of Daniel. He predicted that Jesus would return in the year 1843. Tens of thousands of New Englanders were convinced and prepared for this coming end-time event. However, the date came and went without Christ’s appearance. He thereupon revised his calculations and predicted that the Lord would return in the fall of 1844. Again, that date failed and both he and most of his followers disbanded in defeat.

(However, a handful of faithful followers were convinced that somehow he had been correct. A teenager by the name of Ellen Harmon fell into a long trance and claimed that the Lord revealed to her the answer. Instead of Christ returning on the date expected, He actually left the “Holy Place” in heaven and entered the “Most Holy Place” in heaven—where He would begin a judging process in preparation to His actual appearance. In this case, an incorrect prediction once again resulted in a “revision” of the original message—just as in the case of Charles Russell and his “Bible students.” Beware of eisegesis—reading into Scripture what we want to find!)

 

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