We at Austin Graduate School of Theology (Austin Grad) are excited to inaugurate the Living Stones Award. This award will honor individuals who are actively building up the church by passing on the faith and being Christ to the world through merciful service. We want to recognize Christians who are modeling how to live out the Christian faith in their church and community. Through the Living Stones Award we will tell the stories of those who are doing this with grace and humility.
The name of the award is drawn from imagery used in the New Testament epistle of First Peter. Recipients of the letter were first-century Christians living marginalized lives because they bore the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:14). Although they were treated as exiles and strangers by their peers, those early Christians were at the same time assured that they were chosen by God (1 Peter 1:1; 2:4).
Peter wrote to encourage discouraged Christians. Drawing on Isaiah 28:16, Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14, he portrayed Jesus as the Living Stone chosen by God (1 Peter 2:4-10). Jesus is the cornerstone and the capstone of God’s building project. Regrettably, he was rejected by some builders and thus became a stumbling stone for them. Peter motivated his churches to be faithful and bold saying, “…you also, like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). From that passage we can draw the following inferences and applications.
- Christians are like Christ and continue his ministry.
- As God through Christ builds his kingdom, Christ is the cornerstone and Christians are living stones.
- Christians and the church should not be surprised if the world reacts against them, rejects their message, and attempts to marginalize their work.
- As living stones, Christians are dynamic and active, not inert and passive. This dynamic and active service is done in, with, and through the church as it worships God, proclaims the gospel, and offers merciful service to the world.
- Thus, God chooses to use Christians as living stones in the ongoing building up of his kingdom
Austin Grad, with its Living Stones Award, is honored to uphold the stories of some of those living stones in order to encourage the church in its mission.
Recipients of the Living Stones Award will include those who have some affiliation with Austin Graduate School of Theology as students, alumni, donors, participants at Sermon Seminar, or other friends of our school.
Our purpose is not only to honor those deserving honor, but to also let their stories be sources of encouragement to all of us as we seek to live faithful Christian lives in a world that seems more and more bent on discouraging this.
Austin Grad is a seminary associated with the Churches of Christ and in conversation with all who confess Jesus as Lord. Our mission is to promote the knowledge, understanding, and practice of the Christian faith by equipping Christians and churches for service in the Kingdom of God. The Living Stones Award is an apt way to recognize those who partner with us in this noble mission. Our goal is for our kingdom work to be done in the name of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to the glory of God. With the Living Stones Award, we have the opportunity to recognize a few of those whom we see doing this.
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Austin Graduate School of Theology is an Austin seminary offering B.A. and M.A. ministry degrees, and Austin Grad is accredited by the same agency that accredits Abilene Christian University, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, The University of Texas, and others. Austin Grad -- one of the top Christian colleges in Texas and among the top seminaries in Texas -- is affiliated with the Church of Christ and is in conversation with all who confess Jesus as Lord. Austin Grad promotes faith seeking understanding and is committed to providing a high quality education for those who desire to be equipped to expand the Kingdom of God.