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A Survey of The Days of Vengeance: Historical Prologue or Laodicea (Part 8)

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Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.

Now it is time to focus on Laodicea. This final church will bring to conclusion the study of the Historical Prologue. Chilton provides some excellent stuff on this final church and I will for the most part attempt to let him speak without my commentary,

The wealthiest city in the region, Laodicea was another important center of emperor-worship. In His message to the elders of this church, Christ identifies Himself in three ways. First, Jesus says, He is the Amen. This is a familiar word to all Christians: We repeat it at the close of our creeds, hymns, and prayers. It is generally understood to mean So be it; but its actual force, in terms of the theology of the Bible, is much stronger. It is really an oath: to say Amen means to call down upon oneself the curses of the Covenant (cf. Num. 5:21-22; Deut. 27:15-26; Neh. 5:12-13). As our “Yes and Amen” Jesus Christ is the guarantee of the covenantal promises, by His perfect obedience, atoning sacrifice, and continuing intercession in the court of heaven (2 Cor. 1:20; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 7:22-28; 9:24-28; 10:10-14). Thus, our Amen in liturgical response to God’s Word is both an oath and a recognition that our salvation is wholly dependent not upon our keeping of the Covenant but upon the perfect covenant keeping of Jesus Christ, who placed Himself under the Covenant stipulations and curses in our place. (DOV, 64)

I think it is fair to say that many who practice saying "amen" will need to reconsider in what context they are saying it. Chilton has some good words about Christ being a witness against the church. You can read that in the book because I'd like to quote Chilton at length on the passage of being "lukewarm",

This has often been interpreted as if hot meant godly enthusiasm and cold meant ungodly antagonism; but there is another explanation which suits the historical and geographical context better. Laodicea was situated between two other important cities, Colossae and Hieropolis. Colossae, wedged into a narrow valley in the shadow of towering mountains, was watered by icy streams which tumbled down from the heights. In contrast, Hieropolis was famous for its hot mineral springs which flowed out of the city and across a high plain until it cascaded down a cliff which faced Laodicea. By the time the water reached the valley floor, it was lukewarm, putrid, and nauseating. At Colossae, therefore, one could be refreshed with clear, cold, invigorating drinking water; at Hieropolis, one could be healed by bathing in its hot, mineral-laden pools. But at Laodicea, the waters were neither hot (for health) nor cold (for drinking). 

In other words, the basic accusation against Laodicea is that it is ineffectual, good for nothing. The Laodicean church brings neither a cure for illness nor a drink to soothe dry lips and parched throats. The sort of Christianity represented by Laodicea is worthless... 

The Christian’s calling is not to blend in with a pagan environment but to convert it, reform it, reconstruct it in terms of the whole counsel of God as mandated in His Word. To cite but one example of a modern Laodiceanism, consider the many Bible-believing, evangelical churches – which would shudder at the suggestion that they are “worldly” or “liberal” – which continue on in their complacent lifestyle, organizing encounter groups and summer camps, completely oblivious to the murder of over 4000 unborn infants every day. Often, these churches are afraid of making “political” statements on the grounds that they might lose their tax exemptions. But whatever the excuse, such a church is disobedient to the Word of God. If a church is not transforming its society, if it is not Christianizing the culture, what good is it? “If the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matt. 5:13). (DOV, 64-65)

I think the accusation that the American church is the Laodicean church, in this respect, is rightly founded. Right now we are in total good for nothing. There are some amazingly faithful churches but as a whole we serve no purpose in our nation with a gospel impact. We refuse to affect the political world and our spiritual hypocrisy removes any question about our "spirituality". The imagery of salt was the preservation of meat. Salt kept it from becoming putrid and thrown away. It kept it from spoiling. What type of salt has the church been in America?

You say: I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing. In reality, despite the church’s wealth and undoubted social standing, it was ineffectual, accomplishing nothing for the kingdom of God. It is not a sin for a church (or an individual) to be rich – in fact, God wants us to acquire wealth (Deut. 8:18). What is sinful is the failure to use our resources for the spread of the kingdom. When a relatively poor church such as that at Smyrna (see Rev. 2:9) was having a rich effect upon its community, there was no excuse for Laodicea’s impotence. Her problem was not wealth, but disobedience: You do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (DOV, 65)

In this regard that is certainly the American church everybody. I still believe Thyatira might be a more apt description of us. But the two share a lot of common ground. But the truth still stands, converts are being won and people are being taught the Scriptures more faithfully in third world countries than here in America. God continue to bless the Smyrna's of the world.

I'm going to close with one of the most beautiful section of Revelation. It is often falsely used for "evangelism" purposes. But now that we know it speaks to the American church, it can act as reassurance and uplifting hope to us,

But Laodicea is not yet to be cast off by the Lord. Harsh as His words are, He still professes His love for His Bride. That, in fact, is the source of His anger: Because I love you, He declares, I reprove and discipline. A characteristic of those who are true sons of God, and not bastards (cf. Heb. 12:5-11) is their response to rebuke and discipline. All Christians need reproof and correction at times, and some more than others; what is important is whether or not we heed the warning, and mend our ways. As far as Laodicea has fallen, it can still be restored if it renews its obedience and becomes faithful to God’s Word: Be zealous therefore, and repent!

At this point Jesus speaks some of the most beautiful words in all the Bible, in what is perhaps the most well known New Testament verse aside from John 3:16. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me... 

We must remember that Christ is speaking here as the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all. He is not making a feeble plea, as if He did not rule history and predestine its most minute details; He is the King of Kings, who makes war on His enemies and damns them to everlasting flames. Nor is he speaking to people in general, for He is directing His message to His Church; nor, again, is he simply speaking to Christians as individuals, but to Christians as members of the Church. (DOV, 65-66)

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