This year our university’s theme is From This Place: Proclaiming Good News in a Changing World. We are called to go from this “sacred space” into the world around us, in line with the mission statement of Biola to “impact the world for our Lord Jesus Christ”. We find this idea from Lyman Stewart, oil tycoon and founder of Biola. He placed Biola strategically in the heart of LA, a central hub for world trade both then and now. The original building was meant to look like a fortress from which we engaged the world around it and defended the fundamental faith of Christianity. Over the years, Biola has served its purpose well, impacting the world for Jesus Christ in ways we have long forgotten.
Recently, Biola has become interested in remembering one of these old forms of impact that was used by Lyman Stewart. Stewart was interested in using the newest methods and technologies in sharing the gospel. He was interested in the new technology of neon signs. He invested in two neon signs that say “Jesus Saves”, placing them atop Biola. From there they dominated the Los Angeles skyline atop the highest building, declaring the good news in a changing world from this place.
Recently, Dr. Corey went on a helicopter ride with LAPD across the LA skyline. As he was up there, he saw the old Jesus Saves sign, still lit up, on a building in Los Angeles. While Biola has moved out of Los Angeles as a campus, its impact has not. LAPD uses the sign as a guiding point in the foggiest of nights, to navigate the skylines of LA. Jesus still saves.
The whole purpose of the Jesus Saves signs has been to proclaim the good news of Jesus to everyone. There were originally erected in LA to reach out to all people. Today, the original sign still stands in LA, though a replica has been made on campus. The new sign on the La Mirada campus shines inward towards the campus, not outward towards the world. Some have questioned the purpose of this sign, that it is denying its original intent. I believe the new sign is actually one of the most important installations on campus for three reasons.
First, I believe the by shining inwardly it reminds us as students that Jesus Saves. He saves the lost, which we all once were, and he still saves us and will save us from our sins and ultimately God’s final judgment. The sign reminds us of the good news of Jesus.
Second, it leaves the old sign in its original place. The original sign still proclaims the good news in the heart of LA, illuminating the sign at night. I’ve seen it before during the day, the first time freshman year as I was going into the Orphium Theater to see the finale of Lost. I may never have seen it lit up, but I know that it is still there, shining God’s good news to all people. By remaining in the heart of LA, it keeps the heart of Biola in the heart of the city. It is the physical manifestation of the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles.
Third, it reminds us as students that we are to go from this place to the world around us. Los Angeles is part of the world around us. We are to go from this place and tell them that Jesus Saves. By looking at that sign lit up, we are reminded of our 100 plus year heritage, that we were meant to be in LA. It reminds us of our heritage and what we are to do today. We are part of the city of LA. We are called to not just be part of La Mirada, but to reach back into LA, telling them that Jesus Saves. He saves us, He saves the city, He saves Biola, He saves the world. Let us proclaim this good news to the world around us as we go from this place.
Donate today to the Jesus Saves sign. Those who donate will have their name on a plaque placed in the SUB. Help us remember and be a part of Biola history.