Wilhelmus Brakel: The Christian’s Reasonable Service

Reasonable Service

The supreme object of God’s servants’ desire and delight is living a life in accordance to the will of God. In order to do so, God’s servants must know God. Systematical knowledge of God and practical application of that knowledge in ordinary Christians’ lives is the heart of Wilhelmus à Brakel’s (1635-1711), one of the less known but most eloquent Reformed minister and theologian, masterwork The Christian’s Reasonable Service.

This masterwork is 17th century’s Didache. Brakel unloaded unmatched practical and systematic theology that would not only lead its readers to delight in God but also to personally apply the biblical truth acquired in their daily conducts.

Brakel is a minister first and a theologian second. He is James first and Paul (in Romans) second. He wrote this tremendously edifying work to lay churchmen and women first and scholars second. Echoing the practicality of the epistle of James, Brakel provided a biblical insight on how ordinary Christians ought to practically conduct themselves in their communities.

The Christian’s Reasonable Service’s contents and the style it was written makes it easy for an ordinary Christians, with only basic Bible knowledge, to understand the core doctrines of Christianity. Repeatedly Brakel introduces each doctrine with short definition and exposition packed with biblical passages’ support. He then raised and addressed possible misunderstanding. Last Brakel provided ways in which Christians can apply that particular doctrine in their daily walk with God and people around them.

Brakel’s masterwork is divided into four volumes. Volume one includes proper theology, anthropology, and Christology. Volume two includes ecclesiology and soteriology.  Soteriology covered the whole volume three and half of volume four.  The other half of this volume four includes eschatology and appendix, which touched some of the issues in ecclesiology that were not covered in volume two.

Logos Bible Software’s features enables you to take Brakel’s systematic and practical theology a step further.  The ability to read cited Bible passages, to view the timeline(see here), and to share notes with other readers is revolutionary.

Thank you Logos Bible Software for a review copy of Wilhelmus à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service, given to me for the purposes of review.

5 thoughts on “Wilhelmus Brakel: The Christian’s Reasonable Service

  1. Servant is a very uncomfortable word. If we are co heirs of the Son, how can we be servants? As St Paul points out, there is neither free man more slave. For me, the words servant and slave are just too close to each other.

    • I can understand how some may get confused by over analyzing scripture and trying to be a sort of literalist. It was written to be understood by children, so you must approach it with simplicity.

      Christ said to come unto him as children. Children serve their earthly Father, and thus, serve God the Father. One who serves can be called a servant, but not in the sense of a housemaid, etc. It is more comparible to “soldiers who serve their nation”.

      “But as many as received him (Jesus), TO THEM he gave the power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe in his name, which were born…. not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God”- (John 1:12)

      I consider myself to be a bond slave and Son. ….meaning I willingly submit to His authority.

      “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God; therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not”. (I John. 3:1)

      In selecting the words of Romans 12:1 as the basis for his title, à Brakel not only wished to indicate that it is an entirely reasonable matter for man to serve His Creator who has so graciously revealed Himself in His Son Jesus Christ by means of His Word, but he primarily wished to convey that God demands from man that he serve Him in spirit and in truth, doing so in an intelligent, reasonable, and godly manner.

      The four books can be bought from your affiliate link Prayson, but the price is kind of high. It is available free online in PDF format.

      In the very first sentence of Book 1, Chapter 1, he writes, in part, “Religion consists of four matters: 1) its foundation or basis, 2) its form or essence, 3) its regulative principle, and 4) its practical manifestation.

      In part…

      First, the foundation of religion is the character of God.

      Secondly, the form or essence of religion consists of man‟s knowledge, recognition, and heart-felt endorsement of this binding obligation, which is to live unto God at all times and in all things with all that he is and is capable of performing.

      Thirdly, essential to religion is the revelation of God‟s will as the regulative principle according to which man, as a servant, must engage himself. It has not been left to man to determine the manner in which he would serve God, for then he would stand above God. Anyone who engages himself in this way exalts himself above God and displeases the Lord in all his activity. “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9).

      Fourthly, the essence of religion consists in an active agreement with, and execution of the will of God. All that God wills, the servant of God also wills, because the will of God is the object of his desire and delight. He rejoices that God desires something from him and that God reveals to him what He wishes to have done. This motivates him to perform it whole-heartedly as the Lord‟s will. “Doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph 6:6).

        • I’m sort of a Bible literalist, so that I view the contents of the Bible as literally true, yet the Bible is full of imagery. It is self-proclaimed to be written in parables, riddles, symbols, similitude’s, allegories and analogies.

          Literal interpretation recognizes the differences between a historical narrative and a parable, or the difference between written laws and symbolism.

          An example is the use of the word “key” so that much biblical understanding is locked away from all but a few who have access to the key or keys. Luke 11:52; Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7; Matthew 16:19; Psalm 51

          As well as ‘the vine’ the ‘lamb’ the ‘dove’, and many other imagery to describe spiritual teaching.

          The Bible speaks of only two types of people—the saved and the lost. At other times those two types of people are described in other ways such as children of God and children of the devil. They may also be referred to as either sheep or goats and the list goes on and on. In Romans 6 there is a different choice of terms to describe us; slaves to sin and slaves to God.

          Our Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them, that unless they were converted and made like little children, they could not enter his kingdom. We can’t “literally” revert back into a child, this is symbolism. Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age; but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems of the lowly minds of true Christians. I surely need to be daily renewed in the spirit of my mind, that I may become simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the least of all.

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