restraining forces


For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock”
(Acts 20:29)

Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders is among the most powerful and instructive of any recorded in the book of Acts. As Paul journeyed to Jerusalem, he felt compelled to call for the pastors who served at Ephesus in order to give them some important words of instruction, encouragement, and warning. Though he was uncertain of the details, he knew that bonds and afflictions awaited him wherever he went. He was almost guaranteed to encounter these trials at Jerusalem also (Acts 20:22-23). Whatever the case, Paul knew this would be his last opportunity to speak into their lives; this was the last time he and his friends and colleagues from Ephesus would see one other on this side of heaven (Acts 20:24). “Take heed therefore unto yourselves,” he wrote, “and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). The church is God’s special treasure, which He purchased at a very high price. What an awesome privilege it is to be called to provide for and protect the Lord’s redeemed. As today’s verse passage indicates, Paul himself was a restraining force against deception and wickedness in that local assembly. As long as he was alive and functioning, the deceivers were unable to infiltrate and damage the church. Knowing his restraining force was about to be removed, Paul resolved to commit the Ephesian church into God’s care and to the word of His grace. These are sufficient restraining forces of their own, if believed in and relied upon, which are also able to build up believers and to give them an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (Acts 20:32). The Scriptures also look ahead to an awful time variously identified as the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21), Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), and the seventieth “week” in Daniel’s end time prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). This last seven years of present dispensation will see a world dominated by Satan’s masterpiece, the man of sin (1 Thessalonians 2:3), the Antichrist (1 John 2:18). Today, the church of Jesus Christ functions as a living Temple of God, a holy habitation for God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22). Its presence in the world functions as a restraining force against Satan’s world domination program. Only when the church is gone, raptured into heaven, can the Antichrist rise to power speaking “great words against the most High” (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7). Let us remember that our God-given privileges and promises are ours only because God’s Beloved Son acted as a different kind of restraining force on our behalf. Our Lord’s sacrifice restrained the wrath of God from being poured out on us (Isaiah 53). For Christ “hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Hallelujah!

God bless and encourage your today,

pastor john