T. Austin Sparks (1888-1971) is one of the great theologians from yesteryear that few have heard of. He has one of the best books on the prophetic ministry that I have read. It is worth checking out.
For the people saying that street evangelism does not work, T. Austin Sparks are born again listening a man on the corner. One of the best theologians out of the United Kingdom in the 20th century came from an “angry” street preacher!
One thing that is very interesting to me is that he was pushing teaching into mainland China through his friend Watchman Nee as early as the 1920’s.
T. Austin Sparks & the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom is not, in the first place, what is so commonly implied when people speak of ‘extending the Kingdom,’ meaning thereby the realm in which Christianity is propagated and converts are secured. The Kingdom in its inception at all times is the Lord Jesus present in power. “Ye shall be my witnesses” – that is the simple issue of the Kingdom. It is not a movement, it is not a teaching and it is not an institution. It is firstly Christ; then it is ‘ye’. It is Christ present by the Holy Spirit in people – and manifestly present…
I do not know how many times I have heard people saying “extend the kingdom” (meaning evangelism) and to be “kingdom minded?” (meaning think about the larger Church). Neither of them have anything to do with the Kingdom. Yet, we still these terms incorrectly to this day.
The reason this is concerning is we have people graduating from seminary and they do not understand the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven or what the gospel of the Kingdom even is. How can we preach it to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14) if we do not even know what it even is?
This coming of the Kingdom on the day of Pentecost, or Christ the Son of man coming in His kingdom, changed everything from negative to positive. Up to that point, everything was negative where the disciples were concerned. Now everything became positive. The Kingdom is very positive. Christ is very positive. The Holy Spirit is very positive. Where Christ and His kingdom by the Holy Spirit are in people, things are of a positive character. It is not a case of just being there, just going on from day to day, just waiting for something to happen; the Kingdom is there. There is a witness for Christ. It does not have to be organised. At Pentecost it was not organised at all. I recently read the statement of a modernist trying to interpret these things, and his word on this matter was that on the day of Pentecost the Apostles came to the conclusion that they had to form a society. Nothing could be farther from the mark, more utterly out of keeping with what God was doing, than such a statement. What happened was spontaneous; and that is the point about the Kingdom – it happens. Where it is a matter of lives made positive by the power of Christ in the Holy Spirit, everything else follows.
The Kingdom of God was available to all people on the Day of Pentecost. However, this is not the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is the same chapter and even the same experience but two completely reality. You do not have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence to receive the gospel of the Kingdom.
This is important because there are some churches, such as the United Pentecostal Church, that teach you have to be baptized in the Spirit in order to be saved. That is not true and goes against everything that the scriptures teach. Getting a prophetic word on a walk in the woods is probably not something worth starting a denomination over. Just saying.
The point is, the Kingdom is so positive, and it is not an organised thing. It is not something set up in an external framework. It is the Lord present in us in the power of the Holy Spirit, and that, without any appointments or institutions, constitutes us positive factors; there is nothing negative about us at all. I do feel that is a point upon which we should focus for personal exercise. Supposing we take out of our lives any given period of a few months or a year; how far can we say that our life in that period has been positive, there has been some registration, some real impact? How far do we have to say that it has just been a matter of carrying on, and we have not been positive at all; there has been no impact? It is a simple, concrete issue which we ought to take up before the Lord day by day.
The importance of historical theologians
I believe it is wise for people to hunt down and search out some of these older writers like T.Austin Sparks, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, and Oswald Smith. All the junk I see being pushed out in the bookstores today are pale in comparison to the weightiness of some of these writers from a century ago.
It is really sad how many Christians today have never even picked up some of the classics by these great thinkers of our grandparent’s generation. We simply do not know what we are missing. It is our own discredit.
I realize that many want modern writers in their libraries. There is nothing wrong with that. I have them in my library as well. I am just saying we should also have some of the older timeless classics too. Writers like T. Austin Sparks have been forgotten!