Covenant & Kingdom: Paul, 12 October 2014

Big Idea: Covenant is the ability to become ONE with the person with whom we are in Covenant. The Father has expressed that he is ONE with his Son. Jesus expresses that he is ONE with his disciples—us!

Key Scripture: Acts 9:1-6


We’ve come to the end of our series Covenant & Kingdom: The DNA of the Bible. As we’ve looked at the big picture of the 66-book library we call the Bible, we’ve seen how Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a double helix is woven in DNA.

Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

Covenant is about relationship. Being. Invitation.

Kingdom reflects the rule and reign of a king with a people. People of the covenant are to serve under King Jesus.

Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing. Challenge.

In a word, covenant is about come. Jesus invites His disciples to come with Him.
In a word, kingdom is about go. He challenged His followers to go and make disciples.

It’s great to read about the roles of covenant and kingdom in the lives of Abram, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus, but the story continued beyond Jesus. Specifically, a man named Saul who may have been public enemy number one of early disciples of Jesus experienced covenant and kingdom and we’re going to look at his life today.

Acts 9:1-6

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:1-4)

This is crazy! A light and a voice!

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5-6)

This may be the most radical conversion in history! It’s not enough that a threat to Christians became arguably the most important figure in the early church. He receives a personal invitation from Jesus to join His team…while he is on his way to murder Christians! Perhaps not unlike Abram’s call from God, Saul receives a personal message from God that forever changed his life.

Was Saul hurting Jesus? No. He was persecuting followers of Jesus. He is saying, “If you hurt one of My followers, you are hurting Me.” That’s covenant! Jesus’ disciples are one with Him.

Perhaps you recall Jesus teaching explicitly about this.

“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell.
And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.” (Matthew 25:31-46,
The Message)

Listen to these words again, this time from the
New International Version:

‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt. 25:40b)

‘Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Mt. 25:45b)

At Jesus’ baptism, the Father clearly said He was one with Jesus, the Son. Covenant.
At Jesus’ death and throughout His life He lived out the mission. Kingdom.

Heaven touches earth in Jesus. He becomes the portal of the future we long for. The future touches the present in the person of Jesus. He becomes the conduit of the blessings of heaven.
Jesus and His disciples are one. That’s covenant.
Jesus and His disciples are sent on mission. That’s kingdom.

Back to Saul. Saul is dramatically converted. His name is even changed, to Paul. The scales fall from his eyes, he is baptized by Ananias in Damascus on the road called Straight. He preaches in the local synagogue, rests a bit, and is in Jerusalem with Peter for a while. For the next 13 years or so he persecuted. 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 tells us Paul is whipped by 39 lashes on five different occasions, is beaten by rods three times, on the open sea for a day and shipwrecked…most of these before Barnabus finds him and brings him to Antioch. So between Paul encountering Jesus and Barnabus he is persecuted. He’s probably been excommunicated at least five times (hence the 39 lashes) and is alone. Some sources suggest Paul was hiding for his life, living in a cave, abandoned by fiends and family, beaten near death, at the end of his rope…and now God will use him to do the most amazing work in the history of the church! It’s during Paul’s trials and suffering that he grows, that he understands the church as the body of Christ. When Jesus’ disciples are persecuted, Jesus feels it. It’s like they share the same body. They are one. The Christian church is the body of Christ!

The people in our community who are longing for a touch of heaven―if they met Jesus, they would find heaven. They would hear words of forgiveness. They would experience a touch of healing. They would know restoration and deliverance. We know that if they met Jesus, that is what they would experience.

So how will they do that?

Through the body.

Through Jesus, presented to the world, through his Covenant people. And if the people of the community donʼt experience Jesus through us, then we have to look in the mirror and say:
Why is that?

If people donʼt experience Jesus through us, why arenʼt they? It really is about Covenant and Kingdom all the way through.
Covenant is about Relationship. Kingdom is about representing the King.

It is an invitation to Relationship, to the life of discipleship and ONEness with Jesus. It is the challenge to live into the responsibility of representing the King, to live into what we were created for.

It is about BEING one with God and DOING things for him. But Covenant and Kingdom isnʼt just about you as an is about us as the body. It is about being a Covenant community doing the work of the King.

And what is the work of the King? To save all that was lost in the beginning through the people who lost it in the first place. It is a rescue mission that God has been on since the Fall in Genesis 3.

We are a Covenant community with the mission of extending the Kingdom of our Father.

Itʼs Covenant and Kingdom. Itʼs BEING and DOING. Itʼs Relationship and Responsibility Itʼs Invitation and Challenge. Itʼs being a Community on Mission.

This community exists to be on mission together.

Itʼs right there. Itʼs why we exist. Together, as the body, covenanted together with Jesus, we represent the King and extend his rule, bringing forgiveness, healing, restoration, and deliverance wherever we go. People will experience the future that is heaven in us today.

That is what it means to be the church. It is know Jesus and make Him known. It is to be the hands and feet of Christ, Jesus with skin on!

We are on a mission from God. It begins with knowing our Father and continues with marching orders as the body of Christ, the kingdom of God. The kingdom is a people. It’s us! There is no Plan B.

One More Thing

Have you ever wondered why Jesus left? Why did He only spend 33 years or so on our planet and then pass the baton to us? He didn’t leave us alone. He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us. When you receive and follow Jesus, you get the Holy Spirit, too. Unlike Jesus, the Holy Spirit is omni-present, able to be in many places at once, living inside of you and me. I believe this is what is behind Jesus’ promise to His disciples:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

Notice Jesus didn’t just say this, He began with that emphasized phrase “I tell you the truth.” We are the body. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to re-present Jesus—the Head of the body—to the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them and baptizing them.

So what?

What has God been saying to you through this message? This series? What are you going to do about it?

For some of you, this is a season where you need to lean into relationship with God, embrace the reality that you are precious to your Creator, loved and cherished by your heavenly Daddy.

For others, it’s time to stop talking and start moving into kingdom activity. The king is giving you marching orders to love your neighbor, to serve the poor and weak, to give generously of your resources, to advance the kingdom on your knees in prayer, or even to get a passport and expand the kingdom beyond known territory.

But it’s not just about you. It’s about us. Together. The body. The church. The kingdom is a people and we are that people.

Scio Community Church

By the end of 2015 we hope to travel together to the
Dominican Republic and make disciples. We will have numerous opportunities to serve together in Life Groups. Each week we can read God’s Word together via our Facebook Scio Journal and pray using our weekly FirstWork prayer tool. We can help one another, encourage one another, and love one another. That’s the greatest indicator of our effectiveness. Jesus said it plainly:

This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:35)

Are you ready?


Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.