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Anyone who has seen the news lately has been informed of the many disasters and famines that have come upon certain places in our world. Recently there was a huge earthquake in Pakistan that supposedly killed 20,000 + people, the New Orleans disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, and not to forget last Decembers Sunami's that killed many and left thousands homeless. All these are warnings that the Lord is about to return and the Parousia is about to happen. No man knows exactly when (Mt 24:36), but we can expect the Parousia to be like a thief in the night (1 Thes 5:2). Many in the past have tried to predict the return of Christ and failed. I remember studying the life of Montanus in College and how he brought thousands to a mountain nearing the yr 1000. All these people were deceived by this man who failed to read his bible with a proper hermeneutic (for more on Montaneus and Montanism see the footnote at the end). Many others have come after him and will continue to try and predict the return of Christ until he comes back.
In Matthew Chapter 4 Jesus spoke of the end times and in verses 7-8 says.
[Mt 24:7] "For nation G1484 will rise G1453 against G1909 nation G1484, and kingdom G932 against G1909 kingdom G932, and in various G2596 places G5117 there will be famines G3042 and earthquakes G4578.
It was predicted long ago that nation would rise up against each other as you all can see that this fulfillment of prophecy is already happening in the world today.
Mt 24:7 is cross-referenced to this passage in the OT.
[Isa 19:2] "I will stir up Egyptian
brother will fight against brother,
neighbor against neighbor,
city against city,
kingdom against kingdom.
 "But all G3956 these G3778 things G3778 are merely the beginning G746 of birth G5604 pangs G5604.
Jesus also predicted that in the last days great earthquakes and famines will hit places around the world. Many think that Hurricane Katrina and the other disasters our world has faced lately will be the end of the natural disasters for sometime, but biblically speaking these are the beginning of what lies next. I do not know if perhaps the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" will become a reality" but its always a possibility. Perhaps only then will people be thankful for the weak by comparison Hurricane Katrina.
So what does "birth pangs" mean as mentioned in Mt 24:8?
For note this same Greek word is used to translate "birth" and "pangs."
5604. w)di/n ōdin; akin to 3601; a birth pang:-agony(1), birth pangs(2), labor pains(1).
The Greek word "odin" is used in the following scriptures.
g5604 in Mat-Rev
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Looking at the context of the above passages it clearly shows that birth pangs means as it sounds and in one verse is translated into the English word "agony." So no matter how you look at it "birth pangs" is by no means a positive word but rather the contrary.
In many places in the bible does Jesus speak of his return. Those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God, and of coarse third person in the Holy Trinity of God will disagree with these passages and argue that they do not refer to the return of Christ since Jesus is never explicitly mentioned in the OT.
Their argument is the same for the word "trinity", "eschatology", "General Revelation" and many other theological words that are never mentioned directly in the bible but can be easily accessed with the purchase of a dictionary of theology or dictionary of biblical theology. The word Trinity, eschatology, Special Revelation, General Revelation, Natural Evil, Moral Evil, and the many others found in my theological dictionaries are simply there because their words are making a concept simpler to understand. In my formal Bible Education I ran into many, many theological words in biblical and historical theology courses that are never mentioned in the bible, but whose concept is very much in the bible. For Bible Bob and the other cult members that post in these newsgroups I wonder if they know the difference between General Revelation and Special Revelation because both concepts are expressed as clear as day in the bible. I wonder if even they would admit that because a bible does not explicitly say a word does not mean that the concept does not exist.
More passages that refer to the Return of Christ (the Parousia).
[Eze 14:21] For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?
[Joe 2:30] And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
[Zec 14:4] And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
I think that the bible very CLEARLY speaks that Christ will return soon. I am aware that there are some that believe that Christ has already returned, and did so in 1914. If this is true please explain the verses above and the following verse from Acts which in the CONTEXT refers to Christ.
[Ac 3:21] He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
So if He really did come back in 1914, can you please explain?
Today we await the return of Christ or Parousia
There are many more passages that speak of Christ's return that I could go into in this brief message but cannot for the sake of time and space. However I suggest you check out Christianity 101 by Gilbert Bilezekian or any other of the half dozen books that speak on the subject.
But be careful not to read the works of the preterists who claim that Christ returned in the 1st century. For them I leave with this passage.
[2Pe 3:3] First, be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, following their own lusts,  saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation."  They willfully ignore this: long ago the heavens and the earth existed out of water and through water by the word of God.
New Dictionary of Theology (historical)
Montanism was a prophetic movement originating c. 170 in Phrygia, where a Christian named Montanus began to utter prophecies in a state of convulsive frenzy. He and his supporters claimed that his ecstatic condition was a sign that he was totally possessed by the Holy Spirit, who was inaugurating a new dispensation of divine revelation. They demanded unhesitating recognition for the new prophecy. Others demurred at this because the ecstatic mode of prophecy was contrary, they said, to recognized church tradition. Some, believing Montanus to be demon-possessed, even tried to have him exorcized, but they were frustrated by his supporters. Several local church councils did condemn the Montanist prophecies, but were powerless to prevent the Montanist movement running its course and creating a split within the churches. The Montanists looked exclusively to Montanus and two women, Prisca and Maximilia, as their prophets, and saw to the widespread circulation of their oracles. They did not suggest that every believer should claim the prophetic gift. Indeed, when the last of these prophets, Maximilla, died c. 189, she left a prophecy that there were to be no further prophets before the end of the age. Thereafter in Phrygia the movement turned into a cult in memory of the three prophets and their writings. Elsewhere the movement gained some acceptance in a diluted form. It was taken as one piece of evidence that God had new revelation to give to his people. In this form the new prophecy, as it was termed, gained its most outstanding convert in the African writer, Tertullian. Tertullian was attracted to the movement by its strict discipline. For example, the prophecies proscribed remarriage after being widowed as unlawful, and added both to the length and frequency of those fasts which had become statutory within the church. Tertullian believed that this development was directly in line with the teaching in Jn 16:12-13 that the Holy Spirit had further truth to bestow. The church by Tertullian's time had reached such maturity that it could tolerate standards previously beyond its capacity. But opponents of Montanism contended that these developments were innovations contrary to Scripture. The influence of Montanism on the church lasted about a generation. At first it provoked an inconclusive debate on the validity of ecstatic prophecy, but attention later turned to the more important issue of whether the church was to expect further revelation after the apostolic era. Montanism failed in the end to convince the church that it was a valid addition to recognized Scripture. For one thing, the movement lost the phenomenon of prophecy in its directly inspired form, while its position on second marriage was considered contrary to Scripture. The mainstream church was left with a heightened appreciation of the apostolic teaching, and prophecy in all forms virtually disappeared from the church. Bibliography H. von Campenhausen, Ecclesiastical Authority and Spiritual Power in the Church of the First Three Centuries (London, 1969); idem, The Formation of the Christian Bible (Philadelphia, 1972). G.A.K.
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