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lwpray
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 Ravenhill presents Sparks



Ravenhill presenting Theodore Austin-Sparks

Ask any minister “Where’s a good place to eat around here?” and he will quickly list off a plethora of options-from his favorite steak house or Chinese buffet to the best Italian or Mexican restaurant in town.
My late father, Leonard Ravenhill, was not a connoisseur of fine cuisine. He did however have a keen nose for finding the “finest of the wheat” from which to satisfy his spiritual hunger for solid revelation and insight into God’s word. When I was a young man on the mission field, my father would send me boxes of books that included a variety of writings from T. Austin Sparks. These are now a cherished part of my own personal library.
After 35 years of ministry, I too can recommend to the next generation, that these writings are a “must” if they are going to effectively “serve the purpose of God in their generation.”

Several years ago, my wife and I gazed in awe at one of the greatest art works in history, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. This incredible fresco by Michelangelo had just been painstakingly restored by a process that had taken many years. Prior to this restoration, art historians had declared Michelangelo to be one of the greatest sculptors of all time, but said that he was an artist who “painted with a dark palette.” Following its completion in 1509, this incredible masterpiece had suffered the devastating effects of carbon soot that had ascended from the numerous candles and lamps used to light this magnificent chapel. The November 1991 issue of Life magazine carried this headline on its cover: “First pictures of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel as it hasn’t been seen in five hundred years - A CLEAR VIEW OF HEAVEN.” The restoration, finally completed, revealed for the first time in centuries the blaze of brilliant and vivid colors. Suddenly, this once drab fresco now confounded and embarrassed the experts who had concocted their own theories of its dark look.

Likewise, the writings of T. Austin Sparks strip away the centuries of misunderstanding that have caused us to accept the Church in her present condition. In these spiritual masterpieces, the writer seeks to recover God’s original intention for His Church. This, says Sparks, is the true essence of prophetic ministry. What we have in his writings is an insightful look at the true nature of the prophetic – that of “recovering the Lord’s testimony in fulness.”

How I long for this day of restoration, when once again God reveals His workmanship in all her radiant glory, as the world watches in embarrassment and awe. I pray that the eyes of your understanding will be opened afresh and you will never again be satisfied to make the excuse that God painted “with a dark palette.” Reserve for yourself a quiet corner in the “restaurant of the Spirit” and feast at this succulent table of wisdom and revelation. Allow the strength of this meat to sustain, strengthen, and enliven you as you seek to co-labor with Christ in “recovering His testimony in fulness.”
David Ravenhill



BIOGRAPHY
T. Austin Sparks, 1888-1971

THEODORE AUSTIN SPARKS was a native of south London, educated there and in Scotland. His father moved in the musical world and had little time for God, but from his mother’s side he inherited a long tradition of evangelical Christian faith handed down among Baptists of a Suffolk farming community. He himself however remained unmoved by the Spirit of God until one night, at the age of 17, he was suddenly arrested by the earnest preaching of the gospel in the cold open air of a Glasgow street. That night he went back to his room and gave his life to the Lord. It was a committal from which he never withdrew.

Started in business in Glasgow he engaged also in children’s missions and slum work, and gathered a group of friends for Bible study in his home. Soon also he felt the call of God to proclaim the good news of redemption in several small mission halls, there and in and around London. Sensing that he might have a gift from God in this field, but lacking the means to secure a formal training for the ministry, he did the next best thing; he began to read widely, and used his free time to go and hear some of the last of the great turn-of-the-century preachers and Bible expositors. Notable among these were Dr. G. Campbell Morgan of Westminster Chapel, London, and F.B. Meyer, who was to become a firm friend and counsellor.

His devotion to God had begun to be recognised and at the age of 25 he was unanimously called to serve a congregational church in Stoke Newington, north of the Thames. He accepted the pastorate at a time when the church was at a low ebb, and was to leave them nine years later, “well-instructed and firmly founded on the ever-enduring truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” While there, in 1915, he married Florence Rowland, daughter of godly parents, who from then was to prove his life- long support and spiritual companion.

From Stoke Newington he moved on in 1921 to the charge of Honor Oak Baptist Church in an undistinguished south-east London suburb. It “ was while here that he began to be more widely known as a gifted and original minister of the Word. His health was never good, but backed by a faithful praying group in his own church he began to travel more widely in Britain.
In 1925 he paid a first visit to the United States as speaker at a Victorious Life Conference in Keswick Grove, New Jersey. He had begun to see, perhaps more clearly than many of his contemporaries, that the cross of Christ is central, not only to world history but also to human experience. To “lose his life” is the disciple’s safe but costly way of entry to a service that is marked by eternal gain, and the discovery of this fact explains and gives meaning to so much in life that the Christian otherwise finds difficult. One day in his study, while waiting on God for the t needs of His flock, the truth that “it is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me” dawned freshly upon him with compelling power. Afterwards he often spoke of the “open heaven” beneath which, from that day on, he ministered.

The Baptist congregation grew, but, with his emphasis on the Christian’s walk of faith, so too did dissatisfaction with what his deacons began to see as materialist methods of fund-raising favoured at that time by the British Baptist Union who held the church property. Thus it came about that in 1926 they, together with almost the whole congregation, supported a move to a vacant rented property – a school hall and residence – in the same general locality of Honor Oak. His lately redesigned church magazine A Witness and a Testimony continued from the new address to be issued bi-monthly, free of subscription, with a modest but increasingly worldwide circulation through until his death in 1971.

The New Christian Fellowship Centre, with its thriving local church and regular week-end conferences and its occasional longer training sessions for young men, became a place of pilgrimage for many. In 1931 this was supplemented by a Scottish summer Conference Centre on the Firth of Clyde at the well-situated house of Heathfield, Kilcreggan.
Meanwhile others of like vision had joined him in the ministry. He had dropped the title “The Reverend,” and they shared an ideal of ministers and elders working “together in unity”; though always his unquestioned gift of preaching set him a little apart. A small press was started for publication of the magazine and of collections of his largely unedited spoken messages.

Down the years there were developments in emphasis in the ministry of the Word, “as”, in his words, “there should ever be where there is life and growth, provided that the essential foundation remains true and unchanging.” So the gospel was faithfully preached, but with it there was a strong emphasis for believers on the life in the Spirit, the eternal purpose of God in His Son, the Christian’s spiritual warfare, and the heavenly nature, vocation and destiny of the Church, the Body of Christ.
This last emphasis on a Church-based witness worldwide meant effectually that the missionary vision of the local church at Honor Oak found strong encouragement from, and sympathy with, the rising indigenous movements of the Spirit of God overseas that, for a while during the thirties and forties, seemed a problem to leaders of the old-established missionary societies.
As a consequence church prayer meetings, always a mainspring of the local testimony at Honor Oak, now ranged in vision over a wide area of the work of God in the earth. Missionaries went forth to work in fellowship alongside such movements, and Mr. Austin-Sparks himself was privileged to travel widely in ministry, not only in Europe and North America but also further afield in India and the Far East. Such opportunities for fellowship with those in whom the Spirit of God was doing His own original work were to afford him lifelong joy.

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.

(As submitted by David Ravenhill, from the library of his late father, Leonard Ravenhill)


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/9/25 4:39Profile
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 Re: Ravenhill presents Sparks



David Wilkerson’s introduction to
The Scool of Christ
By T. Austin-Sparks

It was during a time of intense spiritual hunger that the ministry and writings of Austin Sparks came to my attention. My dear friend Leonard Ravenhill asked me to read one of his most prized books. It was an out-of-print copy of SCHOOL OF CHRIST.

I was deeply moved by its liberating, refreshing, and spiritual message. I was so blessed I wanted to share it with all my minister friends. After discovering the book was no longer being published, I located Mrs. Austin Sparks, in London, England. This dear 91-year-old saint of God gave me her permission and blessing to publish it once again.

I believe the message and spirit of this book will profoundly affect any God-hungry servant of the Lord. Though Austin Sparks is now with the heavenly Father, his dynamic messages are still changing the hearts of those who seek the deeper truths of the Spirit.

I agree with Brother Sparks that no man is of any use to God, in eternal values, if he has no settled assurance that he is accepted in the Beloved. Also, the true man of God must fully accept the fundamental principle that –
OF HIMSELF HE CAN DO NOTHING, AND ALL THINGS ARE OF AND OUT OF GOD.

This is a book you will want to read many times. It was during my third reading that its truth fully dawned on me. It has affected my preaching, my outlook on life, and intensified my hunger for the glorious liberty of the Cross.
We believe this book is destined by God to bless and edify numerous spiritually hungry ministers and laymen.

David Wilkerson


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/1 3:17Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
After 35 years of ministry, I too can recommend to the next generation, that these writings are a “must” if they are going to effectively “serve the purpose of God in their generation.”


Thank you brother Lars for sharing these pieces! T. Austin Sparks must be read by any serious minded Christian who is really seeking to sense how God is working and bring the church out of declension and restoring her back to true apostolic ministry. Sparks writings are an epoch in church history what a wonderful blessing that the man is very little known but the message is promenent.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2004/10/1 8:16Profile
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 Re:

This may not be news to some, but there is an online copy here:

[url=http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/the_school_of_christ.html]http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/the_school_of_christ.html[/url]

Thanks Lars, seem to recall a mention of this awhile back...Can't think of a better school to be enrolled in.


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Mike Balog

 2004/10/1 8:49Profile
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 Re:

On further investigation...

This has come up a number of times here, in various forms...[url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?viewmode=flat&order=0&topic_id=2843&forum=31&post_id=&refresh=Go]THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST[/url]
by T. Austin-Sparks

Question.
From the preface on the T.A. Sparks site it states the following:

"[i]Firstly, try to remember all through that the spoken form is retained. The messages were given in conference, and the reader must try to get into the spirit and mind of listening, and not only reading.[/i]"

Did some research but is anyone aware of which messages this was derived from, or if they are even available?
My guess is that they may be listed under different titles perhaps?

Would love to be able to pull these togther somehow in audio format, this is a remarkable teaching.


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Mike Balog

 2004/10/2 11:20Profile
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 Re:



The School of Christ does not seem to be listed as audio files anywhere.
There is much research to be done if one wants to map Mr. Sparks appearances throughout the globe through the many years of conference speaking.
A valuable work if anyone wants to take on even a small part.
Lars W.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/2 11:39Profile
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 Re:

Thanks Lars,

Have begun to attempt to try and see if I could unravel this. Being that the scriptures are listed in the written version, hoping to try and sync them up with the audio extant and see what develops.

Regardless, this is highly recommended reading and am taking the advice of digesting it in small portions, why I passed on it before is beyond me...


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Mike Balog

 2004/10/2 11:52Profile
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 Re:



Dear Mike,
It is as if the Lord leads a ready heart into pondering in what He considers to be appropriate time.
I found a copy of The School some ten or fifteen years ago – I was not able to read it…
Two years, or so, later a second reading made me curious.
Nowadays I cannot but read a small part every day in a Sparks piece – there are quite a few items.
It is quite clear to us that many pass by what Mr. Sparks has to offer simply because it takes a mind and a heart prepared and opened by the Lord to follow what is given in those texts – it is a very perplexing and humbling experience to work with his legacy.
Lars


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/2 12:05Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
It is quite clear to us that many pass by what Mr. Sparks has to offer simply because it takes a mind and a heart prepared and opened by the Lord to follow what is given in those texts – it is a very perplexing and humbling experience to work with his legacy.


Yes perhaps the reason why many stumble over this site and the materials is that they don't dig and search through them to find truth. Christ has always given the picture of continuance and struggle to enter into the kingdom of God and the truths layed up therein. Mr Sparks materials will be of the same value and require much meditative thought and comtemplation. Things will weigh heavy such acquiring of knoweldge might be a more diffucult experience then what most would expect. Be forewarned but also encouraged that the revelation aquired will have its weight much more valuable then gold.


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 2004/10/2 19:54Profile
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 Re:

Dear Lars,

Thanks for your candor.

Quote:
It is as if the Lord leads a ready heart into pondering in what He considers to be appropriate time.



Time and time again have found that to be true. Am slowly learning to learn slowly ...

Quote:
Nowadays I cannot but read a small part every day in a Sparks piece – there are quite a few items.



Indeed.
A small part:

"[i]Oh, God is very jealous for His Son. His Son has gone right through the fires over this matter, having accepted manform and a life of dependence, having voluntarily emptied Himself of that which meant that at any moment He could of Himself work by Deity for His own deliverance, salvation, provision, preservation; having emptied Himself of that right and said, I let go all My rights and prerogatives and powers of Deity for the time being and I accept man's position of utter dependence upon God as My Father; I meet all that man ever has to meet on man's level! * He met it in every realm in its concentrated form and force and went through without a flaw as man for man, and went back to the throne on the merit of a complete triumph over every force that ever man has to encounter in satisfying God.

* FOOTNOTE: This does not mean that He emptied Himself of Deity, but of its rights for the time being.[/i]"

T.A. Sparks


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Mike Balog

 2004/10/3 11:33Profile





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