It is very interesting to see the difference between what Mr. Sparks wrote on The Ministry in 1926 and what he wrote in 1953, after a gap of 27 years. For a comparison, I would like to refer to his article in A Witness and a Testimony reproduced in the article titled, The Nature and Purpose of this Ministry: (http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/004211.html)
As I see it, the essential difference between his ministry at the very beginning and its subsequent enlargement after a period of 27 years, lay in his vision of the things of Christ. When Mr. Sparks began his ministry there was a need to emphasize our identification with the death, resurrection, ascension and enthronement of Christ, as was then prevalent in most evangelical churches. In the words of Mr. G. Beck, who wrote his biography, Mr. Austin-Sparks realized the deep need to be more fully incorporated into the representation of the death of Christ. His view was that the death, resurrection, and ascension are closely related to us as we are being incorporated into Christ.
A quarter of a century later I am able to see that there was a bending away from that which was acceptable Christian doctrine and mere teaching at that time, to something that had greater subjective reality based on the revelation of Jesus Christ that he had obtained. This is so significant because it had a tremendous impact upon his ministry. Mr. Sparks writes in The Nature and Purpose of this Ministry:
"This is where we ourselves were. Our position was that of the generally accepted evangelical Christian world. All the fundamentals of the evangelical faith were most surely believed and preached. The system of denominations as 'regiments of the one army' (as it is commonly put) was accepted, or more or less taken for granted. We were in one of these regiments because we believed that it was as good as or perhaps a bit better than the others. We had our Bible Schools and lectures, in which we gave the substance, content, and as we believed the meaning of the various parts of that sacred book. We were tremendously in earnest, and not a bit lacking in evangelical zeal and passion. Much more could be said about our enterprises and activities in work for God.
How the crisis came about and what led to it we should need to take all our available space to tell; suffice it to say that the main factor was a deep and growing spiritual dissatisfaction and a strengthening sense that there was something so much greater in the heart of God than we had discovered. This led to a strong quest for all that He would have us know. At length the crisis came, and that was done which answered the cry of need and revolutionised everything. As we have already said, it undercut Christianity as we had known it. That which happened was an opening of our eyes, and the immediate result was that we saw that we had hitherto never really seen. We had the doctrines, the statements, the truths, the Scriptures, and we earnestly taught them. Then the thing happened in us, and while the subject-matter of the Faith remained the same, we were brought into a new world of life, light, liberty and fulness, so that the power of the truth made all that world of difference. We date a revolutionary divide from then, as to traditional Christianity with earnest belief on the one hand, and a living experience of Christ in so much greater meaning, with an open heaven, on the other hand."
The revelation of Jesus Christ, our Lord, that Mr. Sparks received by the Spirit became the fulcrum of his ministry and the main thrust of his own teaching. We are able to see this reality in many of the books he wrote. Here are two examples:
Chapter 3 of The Lord's Testimony and the World Need
by T. Austin-Sparks. http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001461.html
Chapter 4 of The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another
Finally, I would like to add that there is so much that we can learn from the ministry of T. Austin Sparks. His endeavor was always to highlight the magnificence of the Lord, Jesus Christ. His ministry emanated from the vision he received by the Spirit of Christ regarding His body and the purpose of God for His church. It was not something that was brewed in the understanding of contemporary teaching.
Dear Friend, have you cried out to God to receive a vision of God's purpose? That will transform each one of us even as it transformed Mr. Sparks.
Your Friend in the mercies of the Lord,