Come Down
by Dr. Ken Matto
(Mat 27:40-42 KJV) And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. {41} Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, {42} He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
When the Lord Jesus Christ hung on that cross for you and I, He was reviled by those that walked by. Can you imagine seeing the Son of God on that cross and telling the person you are walking with that you have to hurry because the store will close soon. Here was God Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ paying the judicial penalty demanded by God’s holy law for the sins of those He came to save. If the Lord Jesus Christ would have succumbed to the temptation of saving Himself from a cruel death, there would be no salvation for anyone today as we would all still be under the law and subject to eternal damnation.
The Lord Jesus Christ was faithful in his fulfillment of God’s salvation plan which resulted in the salvation of countless millions down through the ages. We as Christians can be thankful for the faith of Christ in that horrible yet glorious moment when He went to Calvary.
(Gal 2:16 KJV) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
When we look at the above verse we see that the elect are justified by the faith of Christ and not faith in Christ. The faith of Christ is in the genitive or possessive case, while having faith "in" Christ is in the dative case which means the faith would be aimed at a certain object. This would mean a person would have to possess initiating faith to believe in Christ and then a person could "accept Christ." This, of course, is not taught in the Bible because it is God who is the initiator of salvation. When we speak of the faith of Christ, we must look at the word faith which gives us a key to understanding that phrase. In Galatians 2:16 we see both words "believed" and "faith." "The word "believed" is the word "pisteuo" which is always translated as a verb which means an action, it also carries the meaning of "have faith in or trust." The believer has faith or trust in Christ but it is post-salvific and not pre-salvific. Before the Christian can believe they are justified by the "faith of Christ." The word "faith" is the word "pistis" which is a noun which of course describes a person, place or thing. The word "pistis" carries the meaning of trustworthiness, reliability, or conviction." In Galatians 2:16 we read that the believer is justified by the faith or the reliability or trustworthiness of Christ. In the area of justification, where was Christ reliable? In His carrying out of God’s salvation plan. When we speak of the faith of Christ, we are speaking of the work of Christ which He did on Calvary to secure the salvation of the elect. A person can only be justified before God if they are in Christ. Therefore, the faith of Christ specifically alludes to the work of Christ on behalf of the believer. The faith of Christ is not the same as the believer’s faith because Christ’s faith is the first faith and the believer’s faith is built upon that foundational faith of Christ.
(Phil 3:9-10 KJV) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: {10} That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
In the above verse we see that the true believer does not want his own righteousness because our righteousness is fit for hell but through the faith of Christ we can have the righteousness which is of God. Notice in this verse also that the faith of Christ is linked to the work of Christ, which of course, is completed. (Acts 17:27-28 KJV) That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: {28} For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
My aim in the past few paragraphs was to point the believer to the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was totally faithful in completing God’s salvation plan on behalf of the believer. He did this by staying faithful in the darkest hour of this world’s history. He remained on that cross until it was finished. Now where does the believer fit in with all of this? When the Lord Jesus Christ willingly faced the cross, He also gave us a cross to bear. (Mat 10:38 KJV) And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
I would like us to look at some spiritual principles which we can glean from the act of physical crucifixion and how they affect our Christian walk. So then the question is, what is the Christian’s Cross?
When a person is nailed to the cross, they are passive. They are placed in that position by an outside force, namely the executioners. When you and I are placed into the Kingdom of God it is by outside persons: The Father elects us, the Lord Jesus Christ receives us, and the Holy Spirit indwells us and in this we are passive also. Basically we are executed to the glory of God.  (Mat 10:38 KJV) And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
The cross represents the total abdication of who we are in exchange of who Christ has made us.
At this time I would like to offer 7 principles to help us identify if we are taking up our cross daily.
1. It is total death to my plans - Acts 16:7-10
A crucified person has no will of their own. They are subject to the ones who are crucifying them. They position you, they drive the nails in, and then they hang you. Here is the reality of the Christian life. God has crucified us and we are subject to Him. Many times in our Christian walk we plan but God is the one who has the final say which way we walk on this earth.
2. It is death to my personal belief system - Acts 22:4-10
Here was Saul on his way to Damascus to persecute the church and to kill as many Christians as he could. However, Saul could go no further on this road to destruction because the Lord Jesus Christ was about ready to change his theology and belief system. Saul could no longer persecute the church since he met the Savior on the road to Damascus. You cannot be walking in obedience to God and doing your own thing or setting up your own personal belief system. Cross theology will simply not allow a Christian to establish their own rules for living. Our belief system is now God’s word alone and if we have established beliefs which contradict the Scriptures, then we must abandon them. We must be dead to false gospels and gospel additives such as psychology or tongues among other things.
3. It is death to my comfort zone - Acts 8:1
As we look at this verse we see that God sent a persecution against the church to get them to move outside their comfort zone. Christianity is not a cloistered religion where everyone sits around in a big camp and sings campfire songs. Our command from God is to go into the world and preach the gospel to all nations. Even to work on the local level requires a commitment of time and resource which may take us out of our comfort zone. Basically what is a comfort zone? It is the routine in life which we set up and when it is disturbed or upset somehow we go nuts. Can you imagine doing laundry on Tuesday instead of Monday? I for one can’t!
4. It is not turning back - Luke 9:50-51
The Lord Jesus knew what His mission was when He came to earth. The above verses teach us that He set his face toward Jerusalem and He did not shirk nor try to escape His mission. The Lord Jesus knew what His responsibility in this life was and what awaited Him in Jerusalem. You see the Christian life is not a lease plan where I can take it back to the dealer if I don’t like it after 4 years. (Luke 9:62 KJV) And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. One thing we Christians tend to do is to look back on the easy life we had before becoming Christians. All we had to do was go with the flow, a lie here to get out of trouble or a lie there to get what we want. Ancient Israel suffered from the same problem which was the "good ole’ days" syndrome. If you notice the acronym of the three words you will see g-o-d, only with a small g. Israel wanted to go back to serving the queen of heaven (Ishtar/Astarte/Venus) and thus serving Satan.
They claimed they had it better when they worshipped this false god. They claimed they had all the food they wanted and there was no war and all the husbands were home. How foolish to think that just because there is peace on earth there is cessation of spiritual warfare. Yet they did not take into consideration the fact of spiritual blindness and death. As Christians any time we look back and say that we had it better in the old days, we should think what our spiritual condition was in the old days and how we served our own "g-o-d." God commands us to go forward in our Christian walk which does not mean there will not be setbacks or failure but through these we learn. (Phil 3:14 KJV) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The verse says toward and not away.
5. It is Persistence in Witness - Acts 4:17-21, 29-31; 5:28-33; 2 Cor. 11
This is a hard one. Whenever we take up the cross of Christ, we take with it a witness that never fades. The true witness of Christ in the believer has resulted in the deaths, tortures, humiliation, railings, false accusations, denials, hatred, and countless other things the true believer has endured for the gospel’s sake. Yet when they were burned at the stake they sang psalms and they committed their executioners into the hands of God. When Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake in 1555 under the reign of bloody Mary, Latimer said, "Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God' grace shall never be put out." Their witness stood the test of time and is still being quoted by Christians today. We must always be ready to give a witness and be a witness wherever we are called. If we are rejected that is their problem not yours. I remember once a few years ago I really looked at sermon preaching very hard and I asked a minister friend of mine, "what is the use of preaching when the people in the pews don’t even care what they are hearing?" He said to me, "That is not your concern, God just wants you to be faithful." Where are you lighting a fire today?
6. It is the receiving of unrequited reviling for Christ’s sake - 1 Pet. 2:23
Here is another tough one in that when we receive injuring remarks that we are not to hurl back. This does not mean that you are to accept a false accusation but it means that we don’t fight back in the same way that we are receiving the attacks. God knows every insult you receive for the gospel’s sake and there will come a time on judgment day when those who made them will have to give account for them. If someone levels a false accusation against you, then all you need to do is just tell the truth about the situation and leave the results to God. It is very tempting to fire back a salvo of insults but we must be careful. (John 7:24 KJV) Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
7. It is the utter denial of self for the sake of Christ and the gospel
(Mat 16:24 KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
The word deny in this verse carries with it the absolute denial of ourselves in favor of the gospel. When a person is crucified, what do they take to the cross with them? The answer is simple, nothing. They are crucified naked to increase their humiliation before death. This is the way we must think that everything I have must be made available for the purpose of sending forth the gospel. When a person is crucified, they face in one direction only and this is the way the believer is to stand. We are to keep our face stayed upon the Lord and thus turning our back on the world and all its pleasures. We use the things of the world for the sake of the gospel. (Mat 19:21 KJV) Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. The apostle Paul knew what the utter denial of self meant, we read in Romans 8:36, "(Rom 8:36 KJV) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. If a Christian is akin to being a sheep which is led to the slaughter, they have begun to understand what being crucified for Christ is all about.
As Christians, we have been crucified with Christ and with crucifixion comes the death to self. Crucifixion carries no other meaning but death except to the Christian where it means a victorious Christian life. If we come down from our cross, then we are subject to the ways and whims of the world and we will the defeated Christian walk. Crucifixion was the way God chose to bring about His church and it is the spiritual principle which maintains the church. A Christian who is dead to the world and alive unto Christ is one who has understood the benefits of the crucified life. May we be like the Lord Jesus when He was crucified. (Heb 12:2 KJV) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The word "despising" means He set aside or didn’t even care about the moment of shame but He looked beyond it to the glory which was His and to the imputed glory to His church. Are you looking beyond today?  (2/18/01)