Rabbi Schneider - Living in the Light of Eternity
You see, the truth is that even those of us that call ourselves believers, most of us are much more worldly than we think that we are. Some of us think that we're good Christians because we know the right language, we go to church, we're not cussing, we're not committing crimes. Some of us are tithing. We think we're Christians and we're walking the path. But beloved, I want you to know when you look at the life of the Apostle Paul, when you look at the words of Scripture, being a follower of Jesus is much more than our cultural definition of what it means to be a Christian. To truly be renewed by the Word of God means that we are living in this world as those that realize that we are not of this world.
You see, Paul was living in the light of eternity. The apostle Paul wasn't living for anything that this world could give him. He was not trying to fulfill himself by the things of the world. But let's be honest with ourselves. How many of us are outward-focused trying to fulfill ourselves with a new car, a new house, a promotion, looking for others to affirm us, trying to achieve what the world calls success, even pursuing the American dream? I'm talking about living in the light of eternity as opposed to living the American dream.
Some of you have heard me share this before. Many years ago, approximately 15 years ago, I had a dream and in this dream, I was preaching at the congregation that I used to pastor. And in the middle of the dream, as I'm preaching to the congregation, they stand up in the middle of my message, they put their hand over their heart and they start saying the Pledge of Allegiance. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America". They all did it together in unison. And it was so loud, beloved ones, it drowned out my preaching. And I felt totally ashamed as I was experiencing this in the dream, that they had drowned out the word of God as was being proclaimed by this act of standing up and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
In the dream, after they drowned out the word that I was preaching, I left the pulpit, I walked out of the sanctuary, I went into the restroom in the building that the congregation was meeting in, and I said, "Lord, I feel so embarrassed". I said, "What should I do"? And the Lord said, "Go back in there and finish". And I totally didn't want to go back in. I was totally humiliated. But in the dream, I obeyed the Lord. I went back in. As I went back into the sanctuary, got behind the pulpit, somebody yelled out, "They don't want to listen to you anymore". And then I finished the message and the dream ended. And I was really shaken by this dream. I just knew that the Lord was saying something to me.
And the first way that I interpreted what happened in the dream was, "Lord, what did I do wrong to bring this about? Where have I been weak as a leader that such a thing could happen? How did this happen? Where did I fail, Lord"? And I just was tormented. What is going on? What did I do wrong? Or what do I need to change? Several days later, I'm still praying about this dream, I'm still shaken by it, several days later, I'm in a hotel room, I was getting ready to go preach somewhere the next morning, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me. It wasn't audible, but I just knew clearly, as clear as a bell, the Holy Spirit just spoke to me. And he said this to me. He said, "It wasn't about you being a weak leader. I wasn't showing you this to point out something that you're doing wrong". He said, "What I was showing you is that my peoples allegiance isn't really to me," the Lord said to me. "It really isn't to me". The Lord said, "Their allegiance is to the American dream".
The point, beloved, here were all these people gathered in a congregation thinking they were believers, calling themselves Christians or Messianic Jews, whatever you want to say, and yet they were totally deceived because deep down inside, their allegiance wasn't really to the Lord, to living sacrificially for Him, to taking upon themselves the yoke of voluntarily suffering for the sake of the kingdom, of being willing to submit to whatever the Lord wanted to do in their life, to be willing to let the Lord deal with them and use them in whatever way He wanted to, to totally surrender everything to Him. No, they weren't doing that. They were trying to hang on to the world. And they had God is a little box on the side that they included in their life but they were not in alignment or in allegiance to the Lord, first of all. They were, first of all, beloved ones, in the dream pursuing the American dream.
I wonder if I'm talking to you. You see, we have these nice homes, we even have our little Bibles on our coffee tables, we say a prayer, some of us, before eating, but have we really been rewired by the word of God so that we're living in the light of eternity? You see, when you study the life of the Apostle Paul, Shaul, we say in Hebrew, and Paul said, "Follow me," Paul said to us in the Scriptures, "Follow me as I follow Christ, as I follow Yeshua". So Paul is one that was transformed, he knew he was transformed, and he was calling the church to follow his example. And when we look at Paul's example, he was not living to make himself satisfied and fulfilled by getting all that he could from the present world that he was living in. He completely refuted that. He completely threw that kind of a mindset off. He was living for one thing. He was living for the glory of Jesus.
In fact, he said in the book of Philippians that he had suffered the loss of all things in the world. He had lost his friends, he had lost his possessions, he lost his reputation. Instead, he traded that into be shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, mocked. He lost his fame as a religious leader, the income that he derived from it, the status he had in society. He gave all that up, everything the world had to offer him, and he said he countered it but rubbish in order that he might gain Jesus, gain Christ, and be found in Him. Not having a righteousness of his own derived from the law, but he said, "That which comes through Jesus". And he said this, "That I would know Him". He was living in the light of eternity. He had lost everything in the world. He said he considered everything that he lost as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. And he said, "And to know him," speaking of knowing Jesus, "in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His sufferings". Beloved one, he was abandoned to God. Are you? Are you?
Now, when I say this, this is not an accusation to anyone because I apply it to myself. Jesus said when He returns, it's going to be many people that will say, "Lord, Lord," and He will say to them, "I never knew you". In other words, at His return, there's going to be many people that thought they belonged to Him and Jesus is going to say, "I never knew you". Why? They thought they were Christians because they had little trinkets in their house. They were doing a few little Christian things, perhaps speaking some Christianese, Lord, bless his heart. But you know what? They had never been radically changed. They were living for the world. They were living for the present age and not for the age to come.
So the Apostle Paul that had suffered a loss of all things and was living for one thing, to know Jesus in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, the one that said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain". So this is what I'm talking about. I'm talking about so being rewired that for us, every day when we wake up in the morning, our motto, coming from our deepest disposition, is to live is Christ, to die as gain. I'm living for Yeshua. I'm living for Jesus. That's what my whole life is about. And bless the Lord, if I die, that's even better. That's what I'm talking about. Not including Jesus in our life. Not making Him a hobby. Not making Him part of one of the compartments. But He becomes everything. Jesus said, "He that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me".
Listen, we're talking about having an eternal perspective now. And so I'm asking you, and I'm looking at myself, and I'm saying, "Am I really living as one whose life and mind has been transformed so that I'm living with an eternal lens"? I'm not living for this world. I'm not putting my family first. I'm not even putting my children first. I'm not putting my occupation first. I'm not putting success first. I'm not putting my possessions first. Jesus comes first. And to live is Christ, to die is gain. And if I lose any of those things, it's not worthy to be compared with knowing Him. In the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship, yes. Also in the fellowship, Paul said, of His sufferings. There's a price to pay for following Jesus. All the desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, will suffer. Are you going to receive that yoke or not? You can't be in the world and in Jesus too. Jesus said He spits the lukewarm out of His mouth. Where are you going, my friend? And where am I going?
Paul, unlike some of us, and I'm sorry to be so strong, but it needs to be said, Paul, unlike you and I oftentimes, did not count anything in this world as having any weight for him. He had no passion for the things of the world. He said we should be crucified to the things of the world in terms of looking to fulfill ourselves by the things of the world. We should be crucified to that. We're separated from that. We're looking above where Christ is at the right hand of God. And here's how Paul viewed the present. He didn't view it as if this is all there is, this is it right now. No. Paul, again, he realized that he was living for the power of the age to come, he was living with an eternal mindset. And part of that mindset involved understanding the present moment in light of the big picture.
Let me say it again. Part of living in eternity involves understanding your present moment, understanding even this present moment in human history on the planet in light of the whole picture. What do we mean by the whole picture? I'm talking about in light of the history of the world and mankind, from its inception, which the Scripture tells us about to where it is going to and where it is bound to. So as I am experiencing reality, I'm not just living in the now as if this is all there is. No. I'm looking at what is happening right now in the light of the whole arc of human history. So I'm not defining my life by the now but rather I'm defining the now by the arc of human history.
And what do I mean by that? Human history begins in the book of Genesis with God creating Adam and Eve in His own image. Male and female, He created He them. That's where it begins. And then what happens? We have the fall. Satan enters in and brings deception. Eve and Adam fall for that deception. And once they fell for the deception, everything got messed up. Everything got rewired. Man became separated from God and suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and has been living in deception and self-deception all this time. Then what happens? The Lord sends forth the Redeemer, Yeshua. Whoever receives Yeshua also receive, according to the Word of God, the Spirit of Truth-the Holy Spirit. We've been redeemed, those that have received Him, and we are presently, listen now, we are presently, those of us that have been redeemed, contending, listen now, contending for the eternal life to which we've been called.
I want to go to the book of Timothy for a second. I want you to hear Paul's words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12. Paul says this to Timothy, "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses". Let me read it again. "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses". What does this mean? We're looking at understanding the present moment in the light of the whole arc of human history. So we see Adam and Eve created. We see the fall. We see redemption coming to the world through Yeshua. The spirit of eternity given to those that would receive Him. Those that receive Jesus receive eternal life. "These things have been written," John said, "to you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that you might know that you have eternal life".
Again, eternal life is not just a life that goes on forever. It's a quality of life. It is a reality that is outside of time and outside of space. Jesus is eternal. To know God is to experience eternal life. We're living in the age to come. We're living in the powers of the age to come. And so when something happens right now, again, interpreting the now in light of the arc of eternity, I recognize that what is happening now is oftentimes a result of a fallen world, a fallen world that is deceived, that even when something happens to me in this world in which I become a victim like Paul was imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, I don't interpret my reality as simply being the victim of what happened to me. No. If I'm living for Jesus, hanging on to Him, trusting Him, I interpret the present reality that I'm dealing with as one that is being faithful to Jesus in the midst of this wicked generation. And because I'm being faithful to Him in this present wicked generation, the evil that I suffer is working within me an eternal weight of glory that is not worthy to be compared with having to go through the momentary light afflictions.
And I also realize that I'm expanding my energy in this world, not to be rewarded in this world, but to be rewarded when Jesus comes again and fully brings to bear the powers of the age to come. You see, in the last chapter of the Word of God, Jesus said, "Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to what he's done". Which is the opposite of what the New Age teaches. You see, the New Age teaches that everything is now. The power of the now. That there is no past, there is no future. All there is, is the now. And there is some truth to being in the present moment and experiencing life in the present moment. I'm all for that. But there's much more than just the now.
Beloved, we are looking for a city whose builder and architect is God. And we are living this life not expecting that we're going to be fully rewarded in this life. We're living in this life expecting our reward to come to us in the age to come. Jesus said, "When you do good things, if you let men know what you have done, you'll already have had your reward". He said, "No, do them in private; your heavenly Father is going to reward you". Jesus said even a cup of cold water given in My name is going to be rewarded when He reveals Himself and we're revealed in glory with Him. You see, living in eternity involves two things. Number one, living in the power of eternity involves number one, looking forward to heaven.
Now, we should be motivated in this world to continue doing good, to continue to discipline ourselves, to continue to submit to the working of God in our life and that transformational process because we're looking forward to heaven. But secondly, living in eternity involves, beloved, bringing the power of the age to come, bringing the revelation of eternity into our present life, our present thoughts, so that it affects the way that we think, the way we feel, it affects our consciousness, it affects the way we're living now.
So my challenge to us today is this. We are not of this world. This world is not our home. This world can never and will never satisfy you and I. So let's quit trying to indulge ourselves in the visible things that this world has to offer. Instead, let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, because He's coming quickly and will award to each man according to what he's done. Beloved, let's live in the light of eternity.