Without faith it is impossible to please God well.
Have you ever thought, ‘Am I the kind of person Jehovah will want to save during the great tribulation and bring into the new world?’ One very important requirement is that we cultivate strong faith. The apostle Peter drew special attention to the importance of faith when he spoke of its “tested quality” that “may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Since the great tribulation is fast approaching, do we not want to make sure that we have the type of faith that puts us among those whose faith will be praised by our glorious King when he is revealed? Most certainly, we want to be “the sort who have faith for the preserving of our lives.” With this goal in mind, we may plead like the man who said: “Help me out where I need faith!” Or we may be moved to say, as did Jesus’ apostles: “Give us more faith.”
It is no exaggeration to say that the cornerstone of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the belief that Jesus began ruling the world in 1914. Since 1933 the Watchtower has taught that 1914 marked the beginning of an invisible presence of Christ. (Prior to 1933 the Watchtower taught that an invisible presence had begun in 1874.)
It is a very curious fact, though, that at no time has the Watchtower ever built anticipation for a future visitation of Christ in what the Scriptures refer to as the parousia. From the earliest beginnings Russell’s circle of Bible Students believed the parousia had already begun. Whether 1874 or 1914, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been conditioned to accept the parousia as an historical fact and consequently, a commonplace affair.
In today’s text, however, the Watchtower cites a passage in scripture that refers to the revelation of Christ —and “when he is revealed.” What exactly is the revelation of Jesus Christ? The Greek word from which the English “revelation” is derived is apokalypsis; meaning, an unveiling of something previously hidden —a disclosure.
Surely the revelation of Jesus Christ is a big deal —something that cannot be ignored or overlooked. But over the past 67 years the Watchtower has rarely spoken of the apokalypsis. The Greek word appears in the WT a mere half dozen times; whereas, the Greek word “parousia” appears over 160 times in the magazines and more than that (184) in WT books. It is believed that the revelation is to occur at the end of the parousia. But is that true?
No. It is not true. The parousia and the apokalypsis are essentially the same thing. This truth was originally set before the Watchtower in the first edition of Jehovah Himself Has Become King (2005) in the chapter entitled Parousia.
As an example, consider the following passage from the 17th chapter of Luke: “Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of man: they were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be the same on that day when the Son of man is revealed.”
On one occasion Jesus likened the revelation of the Son of man to the judgment of Sodom and the destruction of the world during Noah’s day. However, speaking to his disciples about the conclusion of the system Jesus reiterated his warning, but instead of referring to the revealing of the Son of man Jesus twice used the word “parousia,” saying: “For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they took no note until the Flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”
Anyone who is not intent on perpetuating the Watchtower’s invisible presence delusion ought to be able to discern that Jesus Christ used the terms “revealing” (derived from a form of apokalypsis) and “presence” (parousia”) interchangeably.
The simple fact is, the Scriptures do not speak of an invisible presence of Christ. It is simply a made-up term that has circulated as official biblical currency. It is not. Did not the apostle warn us that false teachers would exploit us with “counterfeit words”? (2 Peter 2:3) Jehovah’s Witnesses have certainly been exploited in this regard.
THE HARVEST IS A CONCLUSION OF A SYSTEM
In his parting words to his disciples Jesus assured them that he would be with them all the days until the conclusion of the system of things. In other words, Christ would be invisibly present with them in spirit, watching over them, guiding and directing them in their teaching and disciple-making assignment. However, what happens during the conclusion? Is Jesus no longer with them?
According to the Watchtower’s implied teaching it is simply more of the same. And really, Bethel’s main offering of “proof” that Jesus has been invisibly present since 1914 –when the conclusion is believed to have begun –is the success of the preaching work over the past century. But such a claim belies the fact that the original Christians also accomplished a remarkable work, not because of the parousia, but because Jesus was invisibly with them, as he had promised he would be.
In truth, the conclusion of the system of things marks the sudden end of the disciple-making work. That’s why it is called the harvest. It is not a time when Christians will be preaching the good news, planting seeds and teaching others basic truth —or cultivating and watering. The harvest ends the planting, watering and growing season.
Contrary to the popular delusion, the conclusion is a relatively brief period of time when the judgment begins with the house of God and ends with the destruction of Babylon the Great and the beast. During that 42 month period Christ’s visible presence, his manifestation and revelation, will take place.
A question Jehovah’s Witnesses would do well to consider is this: Was Jesus invisible after his resurrection? The answer, of course, is yes. Jesus was raised as a spirit and spirits are invisible to human eyes. However, Jesus manifested himself on numerous occasions, revealing himself to his disciples in various guises. On one occasion Jesus suddenly appeared in the midst of his apostles when they were behind locked doors. Those various appearances were possible because Jesus cloaked himself in flesh in order to convince his disciples that he had been resurrected.
It is noteworthy, though, that after his resurrection Jesus did not appear to anyone who was not already a believer. That is in keeping with what Jesus told his disciples on the night of his arrest, when he said to them: “In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.”
The one exception to the rule, Jesus appeared to the pharisee, Saul; albeit, he quickly became a believer. In the 15th chapter of Corinthians Paul likened his seeing the manifestation of Christ in glory as to being born prematurely. What Paul meant was, all the other brothers who saw Jesus after his resurrection saw him as a man of flesh and bone. Paul, however, who was blinded for three days by his encounter with Jesus, saw Christ as the chosen ones will see him during the parousia.
Indeed, Jehovah’s Witnesses are going to need all the faith they can muster to overcome the enormous stumbling block the Watchtower has placed before them in order to endure the coming crash and subsequent revelation of Christ to the holy ones and the revealing of the sons of God before all creation.