the weblog of Alan Knox

Who was T. Austin Sparks?

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in blog links, church history | 38 comments

Who was T. Austin Sparks?

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

If you are interested in more simple / more organic expressions of the church, then you definitely want to read Josh’s post. And, you will probably want to read more about and by Sparks who lived from 1888-1971 and who moved away from more institutional forms of church when he was in his thirties (1926).

Here’s the first paragraph of Josh’s biography:

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.

It seems that Sparks was dealing with some of the same issues that we’re facing today – around 100 years ago.

Have you read anything by Sparks? Do you know anything about him? What can you share with my readers?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-1-2011

    I love, love, love reading TAS! His writing is more Christ focused and Christ exalting than any I have ever read. Some of my faves of his that I have read: The Stewardship of the Mystery, The Gospel According To Paul (not what you’re thinking), and Prophetic Ministry. Right now I am reading God’s Spiritual House. All of these writings and many, many more are available for free @ Audio too! They also just put much of it into Kindle format as well. Dowloadable for free! TAS firmly believed freely it has been given, freely give.

  2. 3-2-2011


    Thanks for the information on Sparks. I know that he quit is vocational pastor position and he didn’t charge for his books. Do you know how he supported himself and his family?


  3. 3-2-2011

    After leaving Honor Oak Baptist Church, where he pastored he opened a christian training and conference center by the same name. It’s just a guess but he may have been paid through that ministry, especially since he was the founder and with all the activities that went on there, I’m sure it had a staff team. Also, he was a highly sought after conference speaker (the transcripts of which are where most of his “books” come from) and he may have acquired fees through that.

  4. 3-2-2011


    I’m asking this question honestly because I’m struggling with the same issues: Is it consistent to say that you don’t want to be paid as a pastor and your don’t want to accept money for your writings (because freely it has been given so freely give), but then to charge for the conference center and for speaking?


  5. 3-2-2011

    I understand your concern. I also question whether we can apply some sort of distinction between those who preach and teach as a conference speaker in a christian training center and those who preach and teach as a pastor of a church. I suppose the structure and purpose comes into play. Like Sparks, I believe when the church gathers the structure (if you could call it that) would be such that allows for organic interaction through participation. Therefore a salaried pastor is unnecessary and may even hinder participation from the unpaid members. On the other hand, a training center is set up with a different structure and purpose. When one goes to a conference they expect to be taught, to sit and listen.

    Of course there is also the possibility that someone would agree to speak without charging a fee (or suggesting a donation as is popular with “free gifts” from ministries today) but receive gifts from those who desire to support them. Without knowing for certain how Spark supported his family, I can’t say for sure if he was supported by gifts or a salary.

    What do you think? Can we distinguish between a pastor and a conference speaker due to the structure and purpose of the gathering?

  6. 3-2-2011


    I don’t know. I can understand the difference between an elder and a professor. Perhaps Sparks saw his work at the center as more of a professorial role – which is probably what you’re describing.


  7. 3-2-2011

    maybe…I seem to remember Frank Viola answering a similar question about being paid for his conference speaking. Of course, his books aren’t free but then again neither is his publisher.

    so was this question merely theoretical or have you been thinking about starting a training facility or conference speaking?

  8. 3-2-2011


    I’m afraid to answer that question. I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I’m trying to understand a few opportunities that have been offered to me. I’d love your feedback.


  9. 3-2-2011

    what kinds of opportunities?

  10. 3-2-2011


    I’ve been asked to speak at different places before. I’ve never done it (except locally) because I can’t afford to travel there. I didn’t feel comfortable asking for money. So, when Sparks’ example came up, I thought it was an interesting parallel that could hep me think through some of these issues.


  11. 3-2-2011

    in a similar situation (in some wacky parallel universe) if I were asked to speak and couldn’t afford the travel, I would decline and I would be sure to tell them why. That way I could make the need known without asking for money. Then if they offered to take care of the expenses as a gift, I’d take that as providence from our Daddy to minister as requested.

  12. 3-2-2011


    Thanks. I think that’s a good suggestion.


  13. 3-2-2011

    Did you know T. Austin Sparks and Watchman Nee had connections and consulted with each other.

  14. 3-3-2011


    I didn’t know that. That’s very interesting. I’ve read and appreciated several of Watchman Nee’s books too.


  15. 6-17-2011

    T.Austin Sparks!It has taken the grace and mercy of God for the writings not to replace my Bible. This man was a blessed and anointed man of God.May God bless this generation with more men like AUSTIN SPARKS. Amen

  16. 8-14-2011

    Hi brothers! Hope you don’t mind if I join the discussion.

    I wrote a compilaton of insights from Nee’s materials (Secrets to Spiritual Power).

    Nee considered T. Austin Sparks to be his elder brother in the Lord. He looked up to him with great respect. They developed a strong bond that lasted until Nee was imprisoned by the communists.

  17. 11-21-2011

    In all honesty, having read tons by each of these men, I don’t think there is any question that Sparks had a far more mature and clear apprehension of Jesus Christ and the full Truth of Christianity. Nee had many wonderful things that he wrote, but there is a strain of legalism in his writings, as well as a misunderstanding of how the Body of Christ ought to function. If you look at the devotees of Watchman Nee today you can often see evidence of these shortcomings.

  18. 11-24-2011

    I’m just now starting to listen to T. Austin Sparks.. I had always listened to David Wilkerson. If he’s anything like Wilkerson then I’ll listen as long as I can… At that point, I’ll explain as long as I can part… my husband has left me for someone else and has tricked my family member into signing a notary for papers on retirement and otherwise. The point is that in days, at 41, and for the first time in my life I’m looking at being homeless. I have phone records of him saying that he did forge my name but I cant press charges against this family member because he is a decent family man and this would ruin his life. Please pray soooo hard for me? Plus, as if all this wasnt enough, this new woman is into witchcraft and has gotten my daughter into this, as well. I have experienced demonic attacks that have almost caused me to lose my sanity. I didnt know such things happened to people… they do. I’m asking that you or any who read this to pray hard for me and my family because we are in serious trouble. I plan on moving to Florida ( God willing) because its at least warm there…

  19. 11-27-2011

    Poul Madsen of Denmark’s writings are also revealing. Poul Madsen was a friend of TAS and Wachman Nee. Find a part of what Madsen wrote here: # Madsen

  20. 12-11-2011

    I am from Russia. We are believers who meet at home, recently left denominational institutional church. This is our site My mail:

  21. 2-24-2012

    Reply to Alan Knox (met an Alan Knox on beach missions in UK) Re the Lord providing funds; my wife and I have been serviong the Lord full-time for about thirty-six years without soliciting or ‘partnership developement. George Mueller’s God is still alive. George Mueller is now with the Lord; now it’s our turn to trust the Lord.

  22. 2-24-2012 was Kieth Knox , from Harrogate:)

  23. 3-27-2012

    I haven’t really got anything to add … but I do know T. Austin Sparks’ grandson; who is a pastor in Gloucester UK who does still hold the title Rev.

  24. 4-9-2012

    T. Austin-Sparks has had a great impact on my life over the years. I am presently reading through his biography, “Shaped by Vision”, by Rex G. Beck, which can be purchased here: It is very insightful to get the background to his life and ministry.

    As an introduction to his ministry I would also recommend a small compilation of excerpts from his writings called, “Words of Wisdom and Revelation”, which can be ordered from SeedSowers as well, or from here for free: Sometimes Brother Sparks’ writings can be a bit “dense”, but these excerpts Ive found to be very accessible, and are filled with much light and life. It is a great book to have extras copies of on hand to share with others too.

    I personally know of no other man who had such a heavenly revelation of Christ and of His church than Brother Sparks. I believe his ministry will be very key in these last days as God brings all things to a culmination in His Son.

    Thanks for this post.

  25. 1-26-2013

    Austin-Sparks was part of a team at the Honor Oak conference Center. There was Patterson,Sparks,Foster,Harrison and Taylor and,more occasionally,others such as Patterson(son),Balaam and Champion(my father).In the earlier days(until around 1953) both Patterson and Sparks led. Patterson,I believe, was a retired senior civil servant and his son a Professor of Geography at St. Andrews University.When Patterson died, Sparks emerged as the clear leader.I dont want to give the impression that there was any kind of power struggle. There wasnt. These are the simple facts.Foster was a very down-to-earth ex-missionary(Brasil). Both Sparks and Harrison were both very learned men.Sunday services(11.00am and 6.30pm) would both draw over 200 people and people would come from both the surrounding area and from other parts of the UK
    and the world.Harrison left around 1960 to join a church in the Los Angeles area.Sparks and Foster continued until the late 60s.
    As far as the finances were concerned,it was difficult to tell who contributed what.There were a number of wealthy “parishioners”.The feeling was that a Lady Ogilvie contributed a great deal as did Taylor who owned(or had owned) a construction company. I would hasten to add that there was never a whiff of financial scandal around the place. It was a truly Christian sanctuary.
    As far as the finances are concerned,the thought was that the Center was financed by a parishioner

  26. 1-27-2013


    Thanks for the background information on T. Austin Sparks.


  27. 2-4-2013

    I would just like to know if there are any meeting places where ministry of Austin Sparks is valued in Australia.

  28. 2-4-2013

    Mrs. Bekins,

    I don’t know. Perhaps a reader in Australia will see your comment and reply.


  29. 3-1-2013


    I just moved to the US a few months back and began wavering (inwardly) in my convictions of Christ. One morning after praying and asking the LORD for help, I slept off while trying to meditate on the scriptures. I woke up and found I had to rush off into the day. But before leaving, I opened my email and found an Austin Sparks devotion sent from a friend. After reading it, my eyes were set on the LORD again. I was truly blessed, but more amazed with how quickly the LORD responded to me and how the devotion met my need so accurately. Dead but still speaking…

  30. 3-2-2013


    Thanks for sharing that with us.


  31. 3-3-2013

    Amem irmãos ,Boa noite .Peço licença para fazer um comentario .Aqui no brasil o irmão spark e bem lido e respeitado por varias tipos de igrejas , ate mesmo por irmãos das igrejas locais ,que leem watchman nee , e witnes lee . A paz seja com todos vós .Em cristo .

  32. 3-5-2013


    I’m glad to hear that T. Austin Sparks is known in Brazil as well.


  33. 4-24-2013

    For another great book on walking with God moment by moment in self-denial, check out “A Voice in the Wilderness” by Rev. Loran W. Helm (Evangel Voice Missions Publisher).

  34. 4-24-2013


    Thank you for the recommendation.


  35. 5-4-2013

    I have not seen any mention of T.Austin Spark’s “Separation of the Soul and Spirit”. That book changed my whole spiritual life back in 1979 or thereabouts. It is based on Hebrews 4:12 from what I remember or at least I have always related his teaching in that book to that scripture. Do you know what book I am referring to? Perhaps that’s not the title, however the subject is correct.

  36. 5-5-2013


    I’m not familiar with that book.


  37. 5-6-2013

    I am the FB page manager for James A. Fowler page and I believe this will be of interest; 1. Excerpts from the writings of T. Austin-Sparks
    Excerpts from the writings of T. Austin-Sparks Excerpts from the writings of T. Austin-Sparks These excerpts are from … from the writings of T. Austin-Sparks are available on this

    2. A Bibliography of Resources
    Christ in You.”) Austin-Sparks, T., In Christ. Bethesda … resurrection, ascension and glory.) Austin-Sparks, T., Union with Christ. (Considers … 3.2. Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark. 1962. (In

    Christ in You.”) Austin-Sparks, T., In Christ. … resurrection, ascension and glory.) Austin-Sparks, T., Union with Christ. (Considers … 3.2. Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark. 1962. (In

    4. Articles, excerpts and quotes pertaining to “Christ in you”
    The number of excerpts from each author is noted after their name. T. Austin Sparks (5) Robert D. Brinsmead (2) James M. Campbell (25) Maxie Dunnam (3) Gene Edwards (1) Jacques
    I believe also that a Yahoo search for T. Austin-Sparks, Jesse Penne-Lewis, Watchman Nee will provide you will the many peculiarities concerning these three.

  38. 9-19-2013

    T.Austin-Sparks is also known in Rwanda .We highlight his writings b’se
    of light flowing from them .We blessed our Lord for help received from him especially from the book “The centrality and the universality of the Cross”(1stversion).It is true that he don’t have his equal when we come to the revelation of Christ and the Church.Even dead he speak again!