Have you heard the expression, “This is not your grandparents’ church,” a saying which was quite popular with the cool and hip churches? If so, did you ever ask yourself or someone else where this mysterious “grandparents’ church” is?
Well, you can stop searching now, because, finally, you have found it! You have been knocking on the door, and now it has been opened! Welcome, to Reformert.no! This is the favorite church website of every senior parent; grand, great-grand, and beyond! They all love to read Reformert while listening to classical hymns like A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Afterward, they like to go out to play bingo. Won’t you join us?
My name is Tom-Roger Mittag, and I am the author here at Reformert, which simply means Reformed in Norwegian, the language of Norway where I am spreading the gospel. As you may have deduced from the name, yes, this blog is thoroughly Reformed. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry: I’ll explain shortly.
First and foremost, I want to dedicate this blog to the Lord Jesus Christ and his marvelous work on the Cross of Calvary, where he accomplished what no mere man could ever do by saving a fallen and evil mankind from their own sins. Therefore, I have, to paraphrase Paul, “decided to know nothing else on this blog except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). This message is the power of God onto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Oh, and what a glorious message it is, the most glorious one in all of creation. It is so grand and magnificent that it should be heralded in every town from all the rooftop, where all of the people stand on their beautiful feet and tip-toes, their lungs almost bursting apart with the Good News as they speak forth and proclaim the Word that gives life and light to the fallen world.
Yet, this ultimate message is often neglected in the western church today, in favor of insignificant, trifle messages like “Your best life now,” which is astonishing when you think about it. Even though the Lord has purchased and redeemed us from our sins to give us an eternal weight of glory, although God himself has prepared a seat for each of us at his holy table in the kingdom of heaven, a table that is filled with the fruit of everlasting life, nevertheless, these people have decided that they want their best life to be “now” (2 Cor. 4:17). Considering all of the rewards and the indescribable glory waiting for the Christian in heaven, if a man actually has his “best life now,” it means that his next life will be in hell.
This worldly focus which is permeating modern evangelicalism is the exact opposite of the heavenly focus that Paul promotes:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.Colossians 3:1–2 ESV
That should be our aim and goal in this short and transient life: to lead a life of faith and hope with our hearts and minds set on Christ, looking forward to our holy union with him in heaven, living each day in the light of that blessed day, when will finally depart from here and go to be with him forever, at long last able to truly worship and enjoy him, and do so forevermore.
Now, in order to live with our eyes set on the Lord, we have to know where he is sitting, don’t we? And to worship God, we have to know who he is, don’t we?
Every parent, including our Heavenly Father, wants their children to love them for who they really are, rather than who their children want them to be. Imagine that your son came up to you to praise you for how excellent you are at blacksmithing and thank you for the beautiful bronze sword. Does that make any sense to you? You’ve never done blacksmithing or crafted a bronze sword, have you?
So, you tell him that he’s mistaking, that you’re not a blacksmith, and that you’ve certainly never crafted a sword. Yet, your son is insistent. He keeps extolling your superb blacksmithing skills and craftsmanship, saying that you are so superior to all of your competitors that you should double your prices. Finally, he even goes out to tell his friends about how glorious you are at your craft. Then the next day, everyone shows up to watch you work.
Now, how would you feel?
It doesn’t feel like he is really praising you, does it? Instead, it’s almost like he admiring an imaginary version of you — an idol of you, perhaps?
If you praise a man for something he hasn’t done or compliment him for something he isn’t, you are not respecting and loving him. It seems more like you don’t care enough about him to listen to him and learn about him. It might even be taken as a direct insult. Think about it: If you draw a horse, you don’t want people to compliment you for designing a car. That is, essentially, what the false prophets do to God (Ezek. 13:6–7; Jer. 14:13–15; 23:30–32).
As the children of our Heavenly Father, we have to love God for who he truly is, not who we want him to be. We must praise the Lord for all the heavenly things he does, not the earthly things we wish he would do. Thus, our worship must be in both spirit and truth, as Jesus said:
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.John 4:23–24 ESV
That’s why proper theology is so important. Theology simply means “the study of God” or “knowledge of God.” This is the holy knowledge that we have to seek after, so that we can know and understand him better, like how a boy gets to know and learn from his father, as the boy grows up to become a man himself. This study is absolutely essential and fundamental to the faith, as God tells us to conform ourselves to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 12:1–2). Naturally, you cannot conform yourself to the image of someone you have misconstrued. If you try to, you will become a walking misconstructed Image of God.
To avoid that miserable fate, we must yearn to know and understand God better by continually pleading that his great Spirit of Wisdom will be poured into our soul (Acts 6:3; 1 Pet. 2:2; James 1:5).
The Sufficiency of Scripture
Naturally, the next question becomes, “How can we know who God is and how to worship him?” Fortunately, the Lord, through his Holy Prophets and Apostles, has answered this question for us, once and for all:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV
Yes, the Holy Scriptures tell the man of God how to lead a complete and holy Christian life. As Christians have proclaimed time and time again, the Bible is “the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”
Thus, God hasn’t forsaken his creation. The Lord hasn’t abandoned us in this world like some deadbeat father who told his son that he was “just going to store to buy smokes,” and then never returned. No, he is a little more paternal than that. Contrary to what certain groups will tell you today, you don’t have to seek God inside of yourself in order to figure out who he is, desperately trying to imagine him, like how that depressed fatherless son tries to imagine his father, as he weeps into his pillow all night. No, since God is a real, loving Father, he is speaking to you today, and he is doing so now through his Holy Word, so that you can know who he is, personally and certainly (Matt. 22:31; John 5:39; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
Because of the revelation and illumination of God the Holy Spirit, Christians can proclaim who God is to the world, which I will do at this blog. Here I will clearly define who God is; I will not present some vague shape of God that is so dim and indistinct in contrast to the dark world that you can barely separate him from the darkness. No, I will tell you who he is, based on his inspired Holy Word, alone. It all has to come from his infallible Scriptures, not from my or your fallen imagination, because our hearts and feelings are deceptive, and therefore they cannot be trusted (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 28:26).
The Whole Counsel of God
One of the most challenging truths to accept when studying Scripture is that you do not have the right to decide what to say. If you’re going to follow Christ, you have to teach the people all of the Lord’s commandments and proclaim the Whole Counsel of God. Only then will you fulfill all of your responsibilities (Matt. 5:19; Acts 20:25–27).
While it is true that certain doctrines are more central than others, like who God is and what the Gospel means (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 15:3), nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that the other doctrines are superfluous and disposable. The Lord warns us repeatedly against such selective preaching and teaching (Rev. 22:18–19; Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Josh. 1:7; Prov. 30:6).
When the Lord writes his Word, he always has his own perfect plan and purposes for it (Is. 55:11). Oh, how profound the riches of his wisdom is! How unsearchable are his judgments, and how inscrutable are his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? (Rom. 11:33–34)
Is it you, oh man?
Do you know what God should and shouldn’t say to his creation? Can you improve upon the Bible by emphasizing certain passages and omitting others? Would you like to edit his Holy Word by underlining some verses and erasing others? Are you God’s editor?
The Word of the Cross
As my conscience is held captive by the Word of God, I must proclaim the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I will not butter you up with smooth words and baste you with flattery so that you will turn around to thank and flatter me in return, like a perpetual Thanksgiving turkey.
No, I will tell you what God says. Particularly, I will proclaim a certain cross, that old rugged Cross whose wood doesn’t contain a single drop of sap that could nourish and please that fallen ego of yours. The Cross of Golgotha is as dry a bone and a skull. Each of its nails is precisely and perfectly poised to pierce that pretty little self-image of yours and nail it to the shriveled, old tree, where it will be left to hang, starve, suffocate, and finally die the death that it deserves. When you truly read your Bible, your fallen flesh cries out for nourishment, but within its pages, there isn’t a single drop of rain that can satisfy it or even a sponge of vine mixed with gall. It only sees, and only tastes, death (2 Cor. 2:15–16; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14)
Then, after your old self is has been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20), the people ask, “Can these bones live?”
“Yes,” says the Lord when he says, “I will put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord,” (Ezek. 37:6).
As the Words of the prophecy go out, behold, a new birth takes place, a spiritual birth from above. The old passes away, and behold, the new comes. In a sovereign act of pure grace, God breathes his Holy Spirit into your dead bones, giving you a new life and renewed mind. Finally, you are free! Free to boast only in Christ, and never in yourself (Ezek. 36:25–27; Eph. 2:8–9; 1 Cor. 1:31).
Now, for the new creature in Christ, there is an infinite supply of the water of life, an endless river flowing out from the temple of God in heaven, pouring down onto the earth in delightful waterfalls that give life to nations and light to the world, in the shape of Noah’s rainbows. For you, God’s precious child, there is never a drought of love and wisdom. Each and every day, heaven itself opens up above you as angels are sent out to minister to you, coming down Jacob’s ladder to give you another glass of the water of life and another cup of the pure spiritual milk of the Word, while the Lord makes his face shine upon you, giving you grace and peace, everything you need in an abundant supply, always and forever.
The Smell of Reformert
That is how differently people will receive the gospel. It will either feel like life or like death, as Paul wrote:
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.2 Corinthians 2:14–17 ESV
With that verse in mind, I want to spread the “the fragrance of the knowledge of him” by giving Reformert that peculiar “aroma of Christ,” which means that it should smell like the putrid stench of death to those who are perishing, and the delightful scent of life to those who are being saved. Therefore, I will “speak in Christ” by writing articles about the truth in love, seasoning the offering with the salt of grace, and sprinkling the altar with the blood of peace, like a good Levite (Eph. 4:15; Col. 4:6; Lev. 2:13; 7:14). Next, I will sacrifice the article on the altar, through Jesus Christ, in the hope that it will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord (Phil. 4:18; Acts 10:4).
Hopefully, I will be successful, and this blog will be a pleasing aroma to you also. If not, and instead, you think that it smells like a rancid ham that has been left out for too long, let’s hope that there is something wrong with my writing and not with your soul.
So, which is it? Does there seem to be some new life and vitality here, or is there only death and decay? Do you see the “Temple of the Living God” in these words? Or do you only see the old-fashioned “grandparent church”?
Finally, as you may have noticed, I gave you a complete article rather than a short and spiffy About page. Why is that? Well, I thought it would be a little more interesting to give you a sample of the writing to let you know what to expect here. In this article, I mentioned some of the key topics which are near and dear to my heart, including:
- The centrality of the Cross.
- The importance of faith and hope in Christ.
- Proper worship.
- The Primacy and Sufficiency of Scripture.
- The Whole Counsel of God.
- The Depravity of Man.
- The Sovereignty of God over creation and in salvation.
Those are some of the tenets of Reformed Theology, which is, in short, the biblical truth about the spotless Lamb of God and his redemptive work on the cross, without the blemishes of manmade tradition and carnal charisma. That is the glorious sacrifice that I will strive to show you here.
By the mercies of God, I will be able to do my little part of spreading “the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14).
Soli Deo Gloria.
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