Theodore Austin-Sparks was born
in London, England in 1888 and was educated in both England and Scotland. At the
age of 25 he was ordained as a pastor, however, a few years later his "career"
took a decidedly different direction when a spiritual crisis brought him to a place of
brokenness and he left the denomination with which he was involved and dropped
the title of "Reverend".
"From his early years he
had believed in the power and significance of the spoken Word of God, and that
all developments of its exposition and application should be vitally related
to the actual and growing needs of the spiritual life of representative bodies
of God's people. Through His Word God would meet His own, but His way of
giving to His servants was not merely through bookish, cloistered or studied
matter. Rather it was made necessary, drawn out and given meaning by the call
and answer of living conditions. Its value - if it was to be anything more
than words - lay in its being able to touch the Lord's people at the point of
experience and need which had been the occasion of its original calling forth.
Such was the special calling of T. Austin-Sparks, a man ploughing a furrow
perhaps a little apart from his contemporaries, but always true to Christ
Jesus his Saviour and Lord, and committed to a vision of spiritually fruitful
harvests throughout the whole field that is God's world."
(Written by Angus Kinnear, son-in-law of T. Austin-Sparks and author of
"Against the Tide").
Based in Honor Oak, London, TAS
(as he was affectionately known) was not lacking in opposition and rejection to
himself and his ministry in the denominational circles of the day, but he felt
he should neither defend himself nor promote himself. Something which becomes
clear when reading the writings of T. Austin-Sparks is that very little
information is given about himself or his personal life; instead the focus is
consistently upon Christ as his (and our) Life. Your attention is continually
directed away from the messenger to the One Who is the Message (2 Cor 4:5).
TAS published a bi-monthly
magazine called "A Witness and A Testimony" from 1923 until his death in 1971.
In the July 1966 issue of the magazine, he wrote the following:
It is only occasionally
that we write personally. Our desire has always been to avoid drawing
attention to persons and things in the ministry, and to occupy our readers
with the Lord and the ministry of His Word. But from time to time we have felt
it to be both wise and important to remind our readers of the purpose that
definitely governs this ministry - and has always done so...
What, then, is this
ministry? We must go back. The name of this little paper, which has been the
printed expression of the ministry for the past almost forty-four years,
embodies the meaning — "Witness and Testimony." "Witness": the instrument or
vessel used. "Testimony": the ministry in and through the vessel. The
Testimony has ever been - but growing as light has increased - to the
greatness and fullness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man. This
greatness has been centered and unfolded in:
(1) His Person
(2) The immensity of
God's eternal purpose as centered in and exclusively related to Him
(3) The greatness of His
Cross as basic and essential to the greatness of His Person and work both for
and in believers
(4) The greatness of The
Church which is His Body as essential to, and chosen for, His ultimate
self-manifestation in fullness and government in the new heavens and the
(5) The necessity that
all the people of God should know, not only of salvation, but of the immense
purpose of salvation in the eternal council of God, being brought to "full
growth" by the supply of Jesus Christ in ample measure.
We feel that the New
Testament contains a tremendous urgency in this matter; such urgency is summed
up in the words of the Apostle Paul: "Admonishing every man and teaching every
man.... that we may present every man perfect (complete) in Christ"
(Colossians 1:28). We believe that all the sovereign activities of the Holy
Spirit are directed to and dictated by this end and object.
There may be different
aspects, but the end is single and one. The great evangelizing and
missionary efforts, in so far as they are governed by the Holy Spirit, have
this end in view…
The cry which comes through his
messages again and again is for believers to grow up into the full knowledge
of Christ, to know Him as the One Thing, the All in all, the Head of all. As
believers heard and responded to his cry, TAS was requested to speak at
conferences in Europe, Asia and the USA, many of which were tape-recorded. The
tapes from these conferences are still available today, as are many of his books
and articles which have been republished. Contact information and catalogs for
some of these books and tapes can be found on the
Order page. He was insistent that his
writings and tapes should not be copyrighted and as a result they are still
freely available today and can be distributed in whatever way God leads. In
spite of not copyrighting his messages, TAS was particular about them being
reproduced word for word as originally spoken or written by him.
Some of the messages on this
website have been transcribed from tape messages, others are from his many
writings. The books were available at cost from Honor Oak and most of them were
first published chapter by chapter in his magazine "A Witness and A Testimony"
which TAS frequently called: "This little paper". There was no subscription
charge for this magazine which was sent freely to all who requested it. It was
stated in the magazine that "This ministry is maintained by the Lord through the
stewardship of those who value it."
On the first page of the
magazine was this statement:
"The object of the
ministry of this little paper, issued bi-monthly, is to contribute to the
Divine end which is presented in the words of Ephesians 4:13 - "...till we all
attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge (literally - full
knowledge) of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ: that we be no longer children..."
"It is not connected with
any 'Movement', 'Organization', 'Mission' or separate body of Christians, but
is just a ministry to "all saints". Its going forth is with the prayer and
hope that it will so result in a fuller measure of Christ, a richer and higher
level of spiritual life, that, while bringing the Church of God into a growing
approximation to His revealed will as to its 'attainment', the Church may be
better qualified to be used of Him in testimony in the nations, and to the
completing of its own number by the salvation of those yet to be added by the
TAS was the editor of this
magazine until his death in 1971. A similar style of magazine named "Toward the
Mark" was then published by a colleague, Harry Foster, from 1972 until 1989.
After T. Austin-Sparks' death in 1971 Harry Foster wrote:
"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! None of us will claim always to
have been "on centre", and he certainly made no such claim, but it was his
life's objective and the aim of all his preaching and teaching to recognize
that centrality and bow to that supremacy. At his funeral service there were
hundreds who responded wholeheartedly to the suggestion that brother Sparks
had helped them to get to know Christ in fuller and more satisfying ways. If
anyone can make men realize something more of the worth and wonder of Christ,
so that they love Him more and serve Him better, then such a one has not lived
in vain. Many worldwide can truthfully say that through the spoken or written
words of 'T. A-S.' this is what happened to them and, especially with those
who first trusted Christ as Saviour through his ministry, they will be his
rejoicing in the day of Jesus Christ. Moreover, some of the truths, which were
by no means accepted when he proclaimed them years ago, have now become widely
accepted among evangelical Christians, so it is possible that in the long run
his ministry may prove to have been more fruitful than at the time appeared to
himself or to others. It is the steward's business to be faithful, and that he
sought to be: only the Master is competent to judge of his success."
TAS deliberately made no
provision for the continuing of his ministry following his death in 1971 as he
believed that what was from God and of God would be taken care of by Him. Time
has proven that his trust was not misplaced as God has indeed preserved what is
His own. TAS left behind a treasury of messages filled with the Wisdom, Life and
Revelation of Christ. This website does not yet contain all of his messages and
has new ones added to it each week. To receive these messages by email please go
page. Having greatly appreciated his writings ourselves, we offer them here on
the web for the further establishing and strengthening of the Body, that in all
things CHRIST might have the preeminence!