Just a Businessman?
Most people have never heard of him. The son of a simple tanner, who failed miserably in the oil business in Northwest Pennsylvania before enlisting in Lincoln’s northern army during the Civil War. He then moved to California and became the self-made entrepreneur who built Union Oil into a $50 million company by 1908.
But it wasn’t the rich oil fields that preoccupied Lyman Stewart’s heart; it was the fields rich for the harvest of souls. His vision of and passion for a relevant Gospel witness in Los Angeles catalyzed the founding of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles in 1913 and Church of the Open Door in 1915. That storied partnership that began almost 100 years ago at 6th and Hope Streets in downtown Los Angeles is the heritage we celebrated yesterday as we dedicated our new worship center on our hillside campus in Glendora.
As we laid the same cornerstone on our campus plaza that he and R. A. Torrey laid downtown in 1913, I read some of his words to our congregation. Lyman Stewart was so much more than an entrepreneur and a philanthropist; he was a passionate follower of Christ who boldly believed God. And, as we discovered from his original typed pages, he was eloquent in his expressions of that devotion:
Like the great apostle to the Gentiles, the Institute in its propaganda will have but one theme—Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Its teaching, therefore, from the standpoint of this world’s wisdom, will be narrow. The inscription upon this corner-stone, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” will ever tell the casual passer-by the sweet, life-giving message of the blood, and remind every believer in Christ of God’s great salvation which His infinite wisdom and love devised and provided, as set forth in the wonderful doctrine of the blood—that “the life**is in the blood,” and that “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul,” “the precious blood” of our Divinely appointed Substitute, upon Whom the Lord hath laid…the iniquity of us all;” that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” of sins, and that “God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the foundation on which we are building for “other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Therefore our watchword is and ever will be, “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…to Him be glory and dominion forever.”
What would have happened if Lyman Stewart would have decided that he was “just a businessman” who should leave the work of the ministry to the “professionals”?
If you’re a Christian, you have everything you need—new life, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and the church—to become your personal version of Lyman Stewart!
Don’t let the so-called professionals tell you that you’re just a businessman or business woman, just a teacher, just a waitress, just a truck driver, just a doctor, just a nurse, just…anything!
The only just before your name should be, just a believer, who received Christ, Who transformed you into a world-changer for Him!
“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).