Willmore: Christ’s Lordship is the foundational doctrine
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS)- The principle of Christ’s Lordship is the “master key” that “unlocks every other doctrine,” Roger D. Willmore, president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, said during chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oct. 24.
“I believe that our understanding of and response to the Lordship of Jesus Christ affects the whole of our life and the whole of our ministry,” he said. A person’s confession of Jesus as Lord involves the unseen, spiritual aspects of life as well as the physical aspects of life.
“If you don’t know this yet, you will learn that the major battlefield is … in your mind, in your heart,” Willmore said, turning his attention to the students at the seminary. “The decisions made in your heart and in your mind will invariably and inevitably be displayed in your life. The battlefield is in your mind. When we settle the issues and make the decisions right in our mind, then our lives can live out the choices we made.”
Willmore added that Christ is also Lord of a person’s physical life. He recounted how Adrian Rogers, as he lay in his bed each morning, used to consecrate each part of his body to Christ’s service. He then asked his audience whether Christ was Lord of their actions, attitudes, language, relationships, entertainment and possessions. Christ is not the Lord of a person’s life unless He is Lord of everything, Willmore said.
After discussing the meaning of Christ’s Lordship, Willmore pointed out some of the implications of His Lordship. First, Christians have been bought at the price of Jesus’ blood. As such, Christ’s Lordship implies ownership. Florence Nightingale, the renowned nurse who at the age of 30 submitted her life completely to Christ’s Lordship, exemplifies this implication. Late in life, she was asked about the secret to her fruitful career. According to Willmore, she answered, “I held nothing back from God.”
Secondly, Christ’s Lordship implies obedience. Willmore turned his attention to Luke 9:57-62, in which Jesus is called “Lord” three times. He said that these three sections of the passage show three tests of obedience: the test of poverty, the test of urgency and the test of sovereignty. In the first test, a man offers to follow Jesus, but Jesus replies that He, “the Son of Man,” does not even have a home. In the test of urgency, another man offers to follow Jesus after his father’s death. Jesus, however, urges the man to follow Him immediately.
“Delayed obedience is disobedience,” Willmore said. “When God calls, He calls now. When He sends, He sends now. When He gives you an assignment, there is a ‘nowness’ about it that has an urgency about it.”
In the test of sovereignty, a man offers to follow Jesus, but desires to say farewell to his family first. Willmore said that the man had divided loyalties: The man was hesitant to give up his allegiance to his family so that he could give his allegiance fully to Christ.
Finally, Willmore said that Christ’s Lordship implies willing service. Believers should have the attitude of Isaiah, who said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Willmore, urged his audience not only to submit their lives completely to Christ’s Lordship, but also to preach and teach the Lordship of Christ.
“I submit to you that if this is the master-key doctrine, then we should be preaching the Lordship of Christ,” he said. “In a day when the preeminence of Christ is challenged and debated, we need to preach the Lordship of Jesus. In a day when Christians are malnourished and spiritually anemic … in a day when we seek to be culturally relevant rather than Christ honoring … in a day when Christians are more concerned about satisfying self and seekers than they are the Savior, we need to preach the Lordship of Jesus.”
Willmore is currently the president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the pastor of Deerfoot Baptist Church in Trussville, Ala., where he has served since Feb. 2005. He has 35 years of pastoral experience, having started his ministry career when he was 19 years old. He earned both his M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Luther Rice Seminary and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Mobile. Earlier he earned his B.A. degree from Jacksonville State University. Willmore and his wife, Sandra, have one adult son, Andrew.