Wilhelmus à Brakel’s Use of Doctrine in Calling Sinners to Repentance and Faith -- By: Jonathan Holdt

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 03:2 (Jul 2011)
Article: Wilhelmus à Brakel’s Use of Doctrine in Calling Sinners to Repentance and Faith
Author: Jonathan Holdt


Wilhelmus à Brakel’s Use of Doctrine in
Calling Sinners to Repentance and Faith

Jonathan Holdt

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the nineteenth-century Baptist preacher, said, “Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister, indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer.”1 In 2 Timothy 4:5, the Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to not only preach the Word, but to do the work of an evangelist in order to fulfill his ministry. Evangelism and soul-winning ought to occupy the mind and heart of every minister of the gospel.

It is clear from Wilhelmus à Brakel’s works that he had a great concern for the salvation of the unconverted. Throughout his instruction in Christian doctrine and practice, there are numerous sections where he seeks to exhort and persuade sinners to come to Christ for salvation. From this it is evident that Brakel was more than just a theologian; he was a pastor with a heart for the lost. He no doubt preached as he wrote, pleading with and exhorting sinners of their need of Christ. We today can learn from Brakel in this.

In our application of doctrine as preachers, do we consider the plight of the lost sinner? Is the call for repentance and faith evident in our preaching? Are our appeals to sinners limited to specific gospel texts alone or are we able to drive home our appeals to the hearts of lost souls from a wide range of doctrine? These are some of the important questions this article will seek to answer from a study of Brakel’s use of doctrine in calling sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

To begin, this essay will focus on a general overview of Brakel’s view of ministry and the importance of evangelism. Then a close look needs to be given to his understanding of gospel invitations in the context of his Calvinistic view of the sovereignty of God in salvation.

Finally a closer examination needs to be given to his use of the doctrine of repentance and faith in his appeals to sinners from a wide range of doctrine.

Ministry and the Importance of Evangelism

Brakel took the calling to the office of a minister of the Word very seriously. Dr. W. Fieret wrote that he sharply condemned those ministers who performed their task only to gain honor and wealth.2 Brakel believed that there were five primary tasks of a minister: prayer, preaching, catechizing, visitation, and the use of church discipline. When it came to preaching, he believed that this was the means that God uses to translate souls from darkness to light, and ther...

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