Jokes are often made about the church. One of these, a few years ago, dealt with a church which was busily engaged in defending the truth. One scoffer called that church the “little round church.” When asked why he called it that, his answer was that it was a church where the devil could not get one in the corner. The Rev. J. Heys, in the July 1, 1957 issue of the Standard Bearer, wrote about that church in an article entitled: “The Little Round Church.”
“The Little Round Church”
Rev. J. A. Heys
Recently we came across the expression which appears above.
It really is a beautiful thought.
You may have your massive, huge churches of square or rectangular shape, but give us “The Little Round Church.” For that Church is the Church of Jesus Christ.
No question about that!
Oh, you will not find it called by that name in the Scriptures. But you do not need to look far to find God’s Church pictured that way in Holy Writ.
What is more, after hearing the expression, “The Little Round Church,” we recalled a passage of Scripture which teaches us that to bring up our children In His Fear, we must exactly teach them that God’s Church, the only true Church, the Church for which Christ gave His life is the little round church.
That the Church of Christ is little we will be able to maintain without a great deal of adverse criticism. “Many are called but few are chosen,” Matthew 22:16, are the words of Christ Himself. “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” Luke 12:32, are also His words. And He ought to know whether this is true or not. “Once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water,” I Peter 3:20. Although the Church of God as it will stand upon the new creation will be an innumerable host, yet it is, in comparison with the number of those that are outside of her, a little Church.
But what we like, especially, about the expression is that it very correctly denotes it as a round church.
That is, indeed, a beautiful thought and expresses what the Word of God repeatedly declares concerning the Church of Jesus Christ.
The idea is that a round church is one wherein the devil can never get you in a comer. A round church has no comers. A round church is one where you are safe from all the attacks of the Wicked One.
How beautiful, really!
Who could ever desire to have a church that did not afford that safety? To many, the church is a society for the saving of souls. Revivals are urged and conducted that “many precious souls may be saved.” But if the church has corners, and in that church the devil can still get you in a corner, what has the church to “offer” and “promise” to all men who hear the preaching, that is not also true outside the church? If the church has corners where the devil may get hold of you, why cannot a man be saved outside the church as well as in it? O, maybe it is a little safer in the church than in the world. There are not so many comers. And if there is one place in that church where the devil may get a hold on one of its members, in that place that member loses his salvation. And the church is a failure.
If there is anything one wants to find in the church it is safety. Why should a man ever want it otherwise?
The Philippian Jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” He did not want to be told that there is no sure way to be saved because even the Church has comers and the devil can catch you in one sometime.
Paul knew nothing but a “round church” when he wrote to the church at Rome, “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1. No corners there where the devil may catch you. We are justified by faith; and justification is either whole, complete and sure or it is not justification. One sin whose guilt has not been taken away by Christ means hell with all its horrors as surely as a million sins whose guilt is not removed. Either all the corners where the devil might be able to demand our everlasting destruction are removed, or else we can have no peace with God. My peace of mind is gone, my fear is there even when there is only one thing left that Satan can claim as the basis for my everlasting damnation. No, I need to belong to a “round church” in order to have peace and comfort. I need to know that the Church of Jesus Christ to which I belong is “round.”
You just tell your children that, too.
Listen once to the testimony of one who knew the joy of belonging to a “round” Church: “Walk about Zion, and go round about her: Tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, Consider her palaces; That ye may tell it to, the generations following.” (Psalm 48:12-13)
What a safe place of refuge that is!
No comers there where the Evil One may get hold of you.
And by all means “tell it to the generations following.” Do not deceive your children.
In this day and age when all the military might of our nation is on display before their eyes, when the democratic way of life is lauded as being so superior to the socialistic, communistic forms of government, when the freedoms of the free nations are presented as such an advancement over what the nations of the world enjoyed in the past, by all means tell yourchildren about the towers of Zion. Instruct them in the security of her bulwarks. They must not form the opinion that the devil is able to hide in those towers and break through those bulwarks so that the children of Zion are never sure of safety.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1. Of Satan? Afraid that as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ he will get me in a corner where I cannot crawl out?
And James did not know what he was talking about when he said, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James 4:7? Even when a child of God is cornered by the devil, there is a way of escape. But remember that when the devil gets you in a corner, it is because you are in the world and not in the Church of Christ. Christ has removed all the corners for His people and made a safe retreat and reinforced the bulwarks of Zion so that no enemy can ever get in and hurt His people. That safe retreat is His Church.
Oh, God’s people have doubts and fears. There are times when “Our sins rise up against us prevailing day by day.” There are times when a child of God may lose all consciousness of his salvation. It is not a rare thing to find children of God who cannot with confidence testify that they are children of God. At best, they will simply tell you, “I hope so; but I do not see how I can be.”
People of God have also had Asaph’s experience. They look at the world. They see the eyes of the wicked that they “stand out with fatness.” They see that these wicked “have more than heart could wish,” Psalm 73:7. They are, then, inclined to cry out that “Clean hands are worthless and pure hearts are vain.” There are times when it seems that to be in the Church of Christ does not compare favourably at all with being in the world.
However, do not forget that this is due to the fact that they are at that moment outside of that “round” Church! No, once engrafted into Christ by a true and living faith, we can never be cut off. For it is a “round” Church where the devil can never get you in a corner. Once regenerated by the Spirit of Christ, we can never, never lose that life and die spiritually. John declares, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God,” I John 3 :9. That is the word of God. The new man in Christ can never be gotten into a corner by Satan. And if we do sin — and how often is it not that we do? — it is by the old man of sin in us who is in the world and part of that godless world. Or again, Peter declares, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever,” I Peter 1:23. Or again, the words of Paul in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” No possibility, then, that once being made a living member of the Church, the body of Christ, one can possibly be cast out, cut off to perish outside that Church.
But that does not mean that with our hearts and our minds we cannot get outside of that Church. Being in that Church from eternity by sovereign election, being in that Church by the spiritual bond of faith, we can look out and look away from Christ, the Comer Stone of that Church, and then lose our confidence of the safety and blessedness of that Church. We can get beyond those bulwarks and outside of those towers of Zion in our thoughts and then be filled with fear. Then we have all kinds of worries, cares, and perplexities. That is what Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:6-7. Notice that these cares and worries are presented as matters of the heart and mind. When our hearts and minds are kept in Christ the peace of God which passeth all understandinn keeps us from all cares and anxieties. Actually whit Paul writes is that our hearts and minds are garrisoned in Christ.
There you have again those towers and bulwarks of Zion. There again you have the Scriptural idea that the Church of Jesus Christ is “round.” No corners there at all. We never get peace of heart and mind, we never have rest and quietness for our souls till they find themselves in that round, cornerless place of safety, the Church of Jesus Christ.
Outside of that Church there is fear. Outside a terrible monster lurks and waits to devour; and you stand in the dread danger of being cornered by him at any moment.
In the Church is also fear, but it is the fear of the Lord, the fear of amazement and awe before Him, which is the result of beholding His greatness and grace in preparing a place so secure and safe for His people. It is the fear of faith.
The “church” that teaches directly or indirectly that the Church of Christ has corners deceives God’s people. What is worse, such a “church” ridicules and insults the King of that Church. It accuses Him of having made an imperfect Church. It limits the power of His blood and denies that it was able to make a perfectly safe and secure retreat for God’s people. It denies the victory of the seed of the woman over the seed of the serpent. It takes away the believer’s comfort and peace of mind.
Indeed, give us membership in the “little round church” and we will have peace and joy and Actually whit Paul writes is that our hearts and everlasting comfort and consolation