Category Archives: Bo Giertz

Bo Knows the Diversity of Gifts and Service in the Church

In the kingdom of Christ we speak of service, not rights. None of us have any other right to live and serve other than the right Christ have us by dying in our place. We are all equally unworthy here because we are sinners, yet at the same time equally worthy because we are created by God and are members in Christ’s body. The thing that makes us valuable, however, is also what makes us different. We are “the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27), each of us where God has placed us. An eye cannot be an ear. The merit it has is because it is an eye and nothing else.

– Bo Giertz, “To Live with Christ“, page 516.

Bo Doesn’t Know Legalism

Something in God’s nature is reflected in all true fatherhood. Even if man and woman are created differently, both of them are still created by God. They’re created for each other and supplement each other. They do that even in church. Paul talks quite a bit about the woman’s contribution to work in the Church in his letters, In [First Corinthians chapter ten] he mentions that they could pray and prophesy. When people prayed in the home, the woman could lead the prayer. Also, if she had the gift of prophesy, she could speak with the Spirit’s insight.

We see a difference here between the ancient church and Judaism. The Jewish nation was patriarchal, which they reasoned by referring to Genesis. Paul also refers to creation. Of course there are differences between man and woman. We have to see these differences, however, in the light of what happened through Christ. “In the Lord,” in other words in Christ’s kingdom, Christians must not think like the Jews did. Man and woman exist for each other. Each of them serves according to the gifts they’ve received, and we all are one in Christ. We are organs in the same body, serving one another. Therefore, there is no patriarchy in the New Testament. The fact that a woman could be gainfully employed and have a vocation went without saying.

Paul also brings up the question of outward appearances. How long should a man’s hair be? What should be on your head during church services? There’s a general rule in the New Testament for questions like these: one should act according to what’s considered common decency. Given that rule, there will be different answers to the same question over time. What’s considered offensive in one situation can be considered completely respectable in another. If Paul only recommends a certain kind of appearance in regard to this rule, then a Christian can react differently when outer appearances change. If, however, there’s something deeper to what Paul says, his words are binding for all time. Since, in this case, he appeals to a feeling of decency (what’s “proper”) we mean, as Lutherans, that people today can act as custom allows. However, we might see women in other countries put a veil or handkerchief over their hair when they enter the church. There, Paul’s words are regarded applicable through all time. If they are, we should certainly live after them. We Lutherans, however, see these as recommendations of the kind that can change over time, depending on custom and the good of man.

– Bo Giertz, “To Live with Christ“, pages 511-512

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Mo’ Bo on Galatians

The common understanding – both among Jews and among modern people – is that we’re at peace with God when we keep His Commandments. That’s right, Paul answers – if there really was a law that could impart life. He means a law that could unite us with God so His life would flow in us. But now it’s just the opposite: The law is death. It ruthlessly exposes us as lawbreakers, helplessly separated from God. The law finds something wrong with everything we try to do because it lacks the most important thing: the love of God and the love of our neighbor. “The whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Galatians 3:22). No distinction is made. None of us is justified – none of us is righteous enough – when judged by the standards of the Law (which is the correct standard!). We can never honestly say: Lord I have done all that You commanded.

Therefore the Law forces us to Christ. We come to Him not in righteousness, but as exposed sinners, unsuccessful disciples, poor in the Spirit. And He meets us with the incomprehensible message that because of Christ we are blessed and that the heavenly kingdom belongs to us and we may be God’s children.

– Bo Giertz, To Live With Christ, pages 363-364

Bo Knows Galatians

Religion exists without the Spirit. That religion seems to be natural and correct to everyone. Before God opens our eyes with His Spirit, we have our conscience. The Law is written in our hearts. We conclude that we are God’s children and that He loves us if we obey His Commandments. We believe that we are justified by works.

But this is completely wrong. “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10). We can never put the Law behind us. We are all guilty according to the righteous Law of God. If God’s Law is to be applied, then it will be applied without compromise – and that’s not good for us.

Therefore, God has opened another door, through faith in Jesus Christ, our Atoner, who died for us. This doesn’t mean that we can and may live however we want. To believe means that Christ has come to us with His Spirit. This Spirit is a powerful force who struggles constantly with the evil inside us, perpetually driving us to love and serve Christ. This is the right way – and it’s the only possible way – to live as God’s children.

– Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, pages 362-363