Baptist historian and former missionary to the Philippines, Dr. Leslie Hill, argues that the Lordship of Christ is a Baptist distinctive. I do believe that this doctrine is essential; however, it is not distinctive solely of the Baptists but of Christianity as a whole.
John Frame noted that the name “Lord” is found over 7000 times in the Bible, usually referring to Jesus Christ. Further, to know God is to know how he revealed himself as the Lord. This ultimate revelation is embodied in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:5-11; John 1:1, 14).
Significantly, the salvation of humanity is only through Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12). A person ought to declare that Jesus is Lord to be saved (Rom. 10:9-13); which states in verse 9, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Of course, these are all by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8). But you will realize here, that this is not a mere profession, but also a genitive case submission to Jesus Christ as Lord.
Hence, the Lordship of Christ compels us to respond and treat Jesus as the very master of our lives. In a servant-master relationship, a servant’s life is dependent on the master. The Christian life is a life soaked in obedience to the master’s call. No wonder Apostle Paul repeatedly introduced himself as bondservant [doulos] (Romans 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1).
Truly, our salvation is by grace and not by works. However, dead faith is no faith at all (James 2:14-26).* The Lordship of Christ calls us to live out a life that is fully surrendered to Him. Joyfully, we rest assured that our master is not a selfish, demanding, mad person. Rather, Jesus as Lord, our master, is a loving gracious person who treats his servants as friends (John 15:15). How marvelous!
Moreover, our Lord invites us to be co-heirs of the riches of God both in heaven and on earth (Rom. 8:17). All these realities motivate Christians to obey their Lord Jesus, love Him more, and serve Him to the fullest. Think about these things. Truly declare that Jesus is Lord.
Romans 14:8-9, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”
D. Leslie Hill, Faithful and Free: Baptist Beliefs through the Years, Illustrated and Expanded Edition (Parañaque, Metro Manila: Church Strengthening Ministry, 2013).
John Frame, The Theology of Lordship Series of Systematic Theology Four Volumes (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002-2010)
* Take note that dead faith is different from little faith (see “Struggling With Faith” A Reflection on Richard Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed and the Smoking Flax).