Meet T. Austin Sparks

If you’ve never heard of a guy named T. Austin Sparks, I’m not surprised. Christians of our day know too little about this man. Yet his ministry was one of the richest and most Christ-centered ever to grace the pages of church history. The purpose of this little post is to encourage you to get acquainted with this brother of by-gone days.

Theodore Austin Sparks was born in London, England in 1888.  His life and ministry extended well into the 20th century, based out of his home in Honor Oak.  Sparks was ordained a pastor in the Baptist denomination at the age of 25, but not long into his tenure he experienced a personal crisis of conscience, stemming from a new and altogether revolutionary apprehension of the Person of Jesus Christ and God’s eternal purpose concerning Him.  It was an encounter of such significance that it led him to abandon the title “Reverend” and withdraw his connection to the institutional church system of his day. 

Thus, a new assembly soon came into being at Honor Oak which was formed on the basis of a revelation of the “heavenly nature, vocation, and destiny of the church as the Body of Christ.” Hear Sparks explain this process in his own words:

“That which the Lord had done in us through the deeper work of the Cross had, among other things, resulted in a strange detachment in spirit from the earthly aspect of things religious. We found ourselves lifted spiritually from the forms and systems, the titles, designations, divisions, and orders of Christianity as here known amongst men; and our concern was for “all saints” without discrimination. But the Lord very definitely took us in hand to show us in a positive way the meaning of what He had done. We saw later how much this was in keeping with His Word throughout. The Altar always leads to the House; pointing on to the fact that Calvary leads to the Church. There can be no Church until there has been an Altar, but the very object of the Altar-the Cross-is the Church. And so, with steadily increasing clearness and fulness, there opened to us the reality of the Church as the Body of Christ.”

You’ve heard the expression “organic church”? Well, believe it or not, it was Sparks who coined the term. Listen to his own description, based upon his experience in those early days:

“Thus, having set aside all the former system of organised Christianity, we committed ourselves to the principle of the organic. No ‘order’ was ‘setup’, no officers or ministries were appointed. We left it with the Lord to make manifest by ‘gift’ and anointing who were chosen of Him for oversight and ministry. The one-man ministry has never emerged. The ‘overseers’ have never been chosen by vote or selection, and certainly not by the expressed desire of any leader. No committees or official bodies have ever existed in any part of the work. Things in the main have issued from prayer. We are very conscious that mistakes have been made, but the result of these has only served to re-emphasize the above principles.”

Along with some other brothers in the church at Honor Oak, Sparks published a bi-monthly magazine entitled “A Witness and a Testimony” from 1923 until his death in 1971. Articles from this magazine, along with other larger works either written or transcribed from Sparks’ spoken messages, can be found online at www.austin-sparks.net.

Personally, I’ve probably received as much if not more from the ministry of T. Austin Sparks than I have any other servant of God. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come away from one of his writings in absolute awe of the sighting it gave me of Jesus Christ.  So I encourage you to make an effort to get to know this brother. Drink deeply from the well of truth he left behind. His writings are by no means an easy read, but they are well worth the effort.

In conclusion, listen to the words of one Harry Foster, a close friend and associate of TAS in the Lord’s work, who had the following to say about his friend after Sparks’ death:

“Perhaps one of the earliest of his books can best give us a real clue to his whole life and ministry. It is called “The Centrality and Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This was where he began, and this was where he ended, for it became noticeable in his closing years that he lost interest in subjects and concentrated his attention on the person of Christ. Christ is central!”

Christ is central! Nothing better sums up the life and ministry of a man whom most Christians today know little to nothing about. Read this man, and read him well!

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About Joshua

Writer, husband, father, friend. View all posts by Joshua

23 responses to “Meet T. Austin Sparks

  • John Wilson

    what a great bio of T. Austin Sparks, very succinct and encouraging! Every believer should read “The centrality and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ”! Agree not an easy read often times, but you are right, I too always come away with something more of the measure of the gift of Christ. Still going through his volumes of works, lol. Thanks again brother!

  • Bobby

    I have come to find TAS as a giant in the things of Christ, the life of the church. Divine life. His writings are so awe inspiring and spiritually focused I would call him a seer, a modern day prophet with the gift of revealling Christ in all things because He is in all things. If it weren’t for his consistency in pointing to Christ I would judge my own love for his ministry as unhealthy but as it is, there aren’t many writer I’ve read that so thoroughly devoted to building up the body of Christ.

  • Who was T. Austin Sparks? | The Assembling of the Church

    […] Josh at “Called to Rebuild” has written an excellent short biography of T. Austin Sparks in his post “Meet T. Austin Sparks.” […]

  • lawdawg23

    I agree one hundred percent, Bobby.

  • craig

    I am currently reading “God’s Spiritual House” by Sparks. It’s my first journey into his heart and mind.

  • lawdawg23

    Bon voyage, brother! Enjoy the journey. In Sparks’ own words, “may it result in a fuller understanding, apprehension, and appreciation of Christ.” 🙂

  • Alvin

    I couldn’t agree more. He shaped a great deal of my thinking after seminary. TAS was a gift to the Body of Jesus. Alvin

  • Twum Onesimus

    i have finished reading your book THE MEASURE OF CHRIST i must confess that the book has help us in our Bible club and wish if you could help us with magazines and biblical books to help us.we are 32 members and 5 teachers of which am the organiser.This is my address.TWUM ONESIMUS,POST OFFICE BOX 497,DORMAA AHENKRO.B/A,GHANA-WEST/AFRICA.i hope my request will meet your kindest request thank you and God bless you

  • John Mark

    I consider myself a spiritual grandson of T. Austin-Sparks. I’ve been publishing quite a few of his articles for Amazon Kindle eBooks, and feature his writing on my website http://www.book-ministry.com – please visit us when you get a chance. Thanks.

  • lawdawg23

    Thanks for the link, John Mark. Have you read the biography of Sparks by Rex Beck called Shaped by Vision? I’m sure you would enjoy it.

  • John Mark

    Hadn’t heard of it … will check it out. I have read T.A.S.’s son-in-law’s book “Against The Tide” (Angus Kinnear) … really great.

  • John Mark

    “The School of Christ” is now available in Kindle eBook format from book-ministry.com at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005F0VL6W/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=tausspaaud-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B005F0VL6W – one of the best of T. Austin-Sparks. ENJOY!!!

  • lawdawg23

    Thanks, John. School of Christ was the first book I ever read of Sparks. What a tremendous impact it had on me. Blessings to you brother.

  • John Mark

    I’ve been publishing lots of Sparks at Amazon for their Kindle eBooks – also several books now available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bookministry
    I’m re-reading “The Battle For Life” – very impressive and thought provoking. It helps define and interpret a lot of what I’m going through.

  • Austin-Sparks.Net

    It’s disappointing to see these eBooks being sold when all 172 books are already available for FREE as eBooks, in both mobi and epub formats at http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/books_alpha.html

    • Josh

      Thanks for the comment and link! “Freely you have received, freely you must give.” One of the things I always admired about Sparks was his conviction to make all his ministry and writings freely available to anyone with a hunger for them.

    • John Mark

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve discovered there are many people (thousands, millions, dare I say billions?) who never heard of T. Austin-Sparks and for the first time, while searching for something worthwhile to read, stumble on Amazon or Lulu websites and discover a title that catches their eye. They make their purchase and are spiritually stimulated and edified, eager to read even more. Each of these eBooks have links to my website where they discover this material is free to download. Interested in learning more about this T. Austin-Sparks, they read an article about him that credits its source as http://www.austin-sparks.net freely supplying a link where they discover a treasure-trove of endless articles and books – all FREE. It’s amazing how many ways God can use little and insignificant websites and publishers to lead people to the rich ministry of the likes of T. Austin-Sparks. For the price of a really small meal (I have yet to find a fast-food hamburger joint that can give me a satisfying meal for anywhere near $4.99), the spiritually hungry can be fed – and discover there are places they can go where the food is free. My publications are, I believe, a service to the people who would otherwise never hear of T. Austin-Sparks, C.H. Mackintosh, Ruth Paxson, Erich Sauer, etc. (yup, we publish more than T. Austin-Sparks) – and likewise never hear of http://www.austin-sparks.net. I wonder how many people have followed the path to your site just because they spent $.99 on a little booklet at Amazon for their new Kindle Reader. To those who would judge my motives or methods, I would remind them of the Apostle Paul when it was suggested there were others stealing his thunder, “What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Whoever plants – whoever waters – it’s Christ who gets the glory! May God continue to bless your ministry and the wonderful service you render the Body of Christ.
      John Mark

  • John Mark

    …oh, I forgot … it’s interesting to look at the photocopies of the publication called “A Witness and A Testimony” – which was the original publishing outlet for Sparks’ ministry. Notice the prices connected to the material being offered… a nominal fee for the work involved in publishing the material listed. I wonder if the people getting that publication were “disappointed.”

    • Austin-Sparks.Net

      There was indeed a small charge for the books they published themselves, however, the books were first published chapter by chapter in the magazines which were always available for free. As far as we are aware, the nominal fee was not for the work involved, but simply to cover the printing cost of the books. Today it doesn’t cost very much at all (except for our time) to publish things on the Internet. Our disappointment is related to people having to pay for something that is freely available, so for those who may not have much money, we want them to know that the eBooks are available for free at http://www.austin-sparks.net.

  • John Mark

    …and to all who think I’m getting rich publishing T. Austin-Sparks: today I received my commission from Lulu.com – now hold on to your suspenders – a whopping $5.91 (less PayPal’s handling fee). Guess I won’t be eating at MacDonald’s again for awhile. Thanks, Josh. I sure wish we could meet someday – I think we’d have good fellowship.

  • Looking forward « Called to Rebuild

    […] the three most popular posts on this blog have been the T. Austin Sparks bio, my two-year old query on What it means to prophesy, and the 20 best Christian books I’ve […]

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