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THE SECOND COMING IN 1914?
Each year in either March or April, the Jehovah's Witnesses observe their Memorial or the Lord's Evening Meal. Their annual Memorial "celebration" corresponds with the Passover and Nisan 14 on the "Bible's lunar calendar".
Although they use the term "celebration" it is not what one would normally expect of a celebration. Near the end of one of the evening meetings we attended, the presiding elder seemed to be attempting to convince everyone present that they had benefited in some way by their attendance, and commented that there was no other special occasion like the Memorial (or Lord's Evening Meal). A significant problem is presented in their Memorial celebration.
The elder presiding over the meeting actually used the Scripture reference, I Corinthians 11:26 which was very interesting in light of another major doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses. According to their teachings, Christ returned in l914! The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published a book titled "You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth". On page 147 we read these words,
"In the same way, Christ's return does not mean that he literally comes back to this earth. Rather, it means that he takes Kingdom power toward this earth and turns his attention to it. He does not need to leave his heavenly throne and actually come down to earth to do this. As we have seen in the previous chapter, Bible evidence shows that in the year 1914 C.E. God's time arrived for Christ to return and begin ruling. It was then that the cry was heard in heaven "Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ." Revelation 12:10
Of course, J.W.'s teach that Christ's return was invisible. They believe that Christ took "kingdom power toward the earth" and claim that "God's time arrived for Christ to return and begin ruling" in 1914. Mention of Christ's return is used at least seven times on page 147 of the above-mentioned Watchtower publication.
My question to them then, is this! If Christ returned as they believe in 1914, then why do they continue to celebrate the Memorial in light of 1 Corinthians 11:26 which they read twice at their meeting? This scripture says,
"For as often as YOU eat this loaf and drink this cup, YOU keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives." (NWT).
Do they really believe Christ arrived in l914? If so, why do they continue to celebrate the Memorial? They should have quit in 1914! One of us posed this dilemma to one of the elders and he commented that "that thought crossed my mind" when I Corinthians 11:26 was being read. Interesting!!! Now, if he would only act on that thought!
We have presented this problem to many Jehovah's Witnesses. The only response that we have received is the statement that there are still approximately 8500 of the anointed class (the only ones allowed to partake of the emblems) that have not gone to heaven so they continue to hold the Memorial each year. This is not a correct answer and cannot be supported by Scripture.
Lorri MacGregor, a fifteen year veteran ex-Jehovah's Witness pointed out that during her days as a J.W. they applied the phrase "until he arrives" to the invented second phase of Christ's Kingdom power, when He supposedly extends His heavenly dominion to the earth at Armageddon. Therefore they continue to celebrate the memorial until Armageddon.
However, she pointed out that this reasoning too is faulty. Why so? According to J.W. doctrine, Christ came first as a man on earth. That's one. Then Christ supposedly had an invisible second coming in 1914 (originally it was visible, but become conveniently invisible when their prophecy failed!) That's two. If they interpret 1 Corinthians 11:26 to show that Christ "arrives" at Armageddon, that would make a THIRD coming! That's three, and one "coming" too many according to the Bible!
One article titled "Why the Lord's Evening Meal Has Meaning For You" (WT March 15, l993 pg.5) states "Until he arrives, said Paul, evidently meaning that these observances would continue until Jesus' arrival to receive his anointed followers into heaven by a resurrection during his "presence."
Another reference, "Insight To The Scriptures", Vol. 2, page 269 states "Regarding the duration of this observance, "until he arrives," the apostle Paul evidently had reference to Christ's coming again and receiving them into heaven by a resurrection during the time of his presence."
So what are the answers? Did Christ return in 1914, and if so, why do they continue to celebrate the Memorial in light of I Corinthians 11:26? Does their annual celebration of the Memorial indicate that He really did not return in 1914?
Why do they use the term "Christ's return" on page 147 of their book "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth" if He really didn't "return"? If He did return in 1914, then are they looking forward to the third return (coming) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when the anointed followers are resurrected? Which one of the two events really is the "second coming" according to the Watchtower Society? Ask these challenging questions, and make them think!
We trust that this presentation will be helpful to you as you witness and share the love of Christ with those that come to your door with "another Jesus" and "another gospel".