SMITH WIGGLESWORTH

How God's Power Came

by Andrew Storm

SMITH WIGGLESWORTH
He was known as the Apostle of Faith, and if anyone deserved to be described as "full of faith and of the Holy Ghost", it was him. He lived and walked continually in the presence of God. And the miracles that accompanied his ministry were of the sort that have seldom been seen since the days of the apostles. People born blind and deaf, cripples - twisted and deformed by disease, others on death's door with cancer or sickness of every kind,- all were healed by the mighty power of God. Even the dead were raised.

Born in 1859 into poverty, Smith Wigglesworth was converted by the Methodists at eight years of age. Even then, he was hungry for God and hungry for souls. He was in the choir of the local Episcopal church. "When most of the boys in the choir were twelve years of age they had to be confirmed by the bishop. I was not twelve, but between nine and ten, when the bishop laid his hands on me. I can remember that as he imposed his hands I had a similar experience to the one I had forty years later when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. My whole body was filled with the consciousness of God's presence, a consciousness that remained with me for days. After the confirmation service all the other boys were swearing and quarreling, and I wondered what had made the difference between them and me."

(Stanley Frodsham, 'Smith Wigglesworth, Apostle of Faith', pg 13. -Most of the following quotes are also taken from this excellent book).

Later, Wigglesworth was fully-immersed in water by the Baptists. But please remember that all of his early years of ministry and seeking God came well before the 'Azusa Street' Revival and the early Pentecostal movement. Smith had a hunger after God, and he experienced many breakthroughs into new levels of anointing even well before he experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. He was already renowned for his healing ministry, and had seen God move in great power, even well before the new Pentecostal experience was being talked about. Unlike us today, who basically begin with Baptism in the Spirit as our first real anointing, for Smith this was the culmination of years of seeking and hungering after God, and so it was much closer to a real New Testament enduement of "power from on high".

Smith Wigglesworth: "I had the grounding in Bible teaching among the Plymouth Brethren. I marched under the blood and fire banner of the Salvation Army, learning to win souls in the open air. I received the second blessing of sanctification and a clean heart under the teaching of Reader Harris and the Pentecostal League. I claimed the gift of the Holy Spirit by faith as I waited ten days before the Lord. But in Sunder- land, in 1907, I knelt before God and had an Acts 2:4 experience..." (Pg 119). He described this experience as follows: "She [Mrs Boddy, a minister's wife] laid her hands on me and then had to go out of the room. The fire fell. It was a wonderful time as I was there with God alone. He bathed me in power. I was conscience of the cleansing of the precious blood, and I cried out: 'Clean! Clean! Clean!' I was filled with the joy of the consciousness of the cleansing. I was given a vision in which I saw the Lord Jesus Christ. I beheld the empty cross, and I saw Him exalted at the right hand of God the Father. I could speak no longer in English, but I began to praise Him in other tongues as the Spirit of God gave me utterance. I knew then, although I might have received anointings previously, that now, at last, I had received the real Baptism in the Holy Spirit as they received on the day of Pentecost." (Pg 44).

After this experience, there was no stopping Smith Wigglesworth. He was a flame for God, and the fire fell wherever he went. He said: "I believe God's ministers are to be flames of fire. Nothing less than flames. Nothing less than mighty instruments, with burning messages, with hearts full of love. They must have a DEPTH OF CONSECRATION, that God has taken full charge of the body, and it exists only that it may manifest the Glory of God. A Baptism into death in which the person is purified and energized..." He was certainly possessor of an audacity, a daring, a boldness the like of which has rarely been seen in Christendom in modern times. It was not uncommon for him to announce in his meetings: "Every sermon that Christ preached was prefaced by a model miracle. We are going to follow His example. The first person in this large audience that stands up, whatever his or her sickness, I'll pray for that one and God will deliver him or her." And the first person to stand, even if they were the most deformed cripple, would be healed!

On another typical occasion, a man came forward for prayer for stomach pain, and, commanding the pain to be gone, Wigglesworth punched the man in the stomach so hard that he was sent half-way across the room (completely healed)! This kind of thing happened more than once. Wigglesworth believed in COMMANDING the sick to be healed in Jesus' name. His was an aggressive, holy faith. He was a "violent" man, taking ground from the devil by force. And yet he was also a man of great compassion, as well as of great authority. The devil certainly felt it when Smith Wigglesworth hit town!

A number of people were also raised literally from the dead under Smith's ministry. Here is his own account of one occasion: "My friend said, 'She is dead.' He was scared. I have never seen a man so frightened in my life. 'What shall I do?' he asked. You may think that what I did was absurd, but I reached over into the bed and pulled her out. I carried her across the room, stood her against the wall and held her up, as she was absolutely dead. I looked into her face and said, 'In the name of Jesus I rebuke this death.' From the crown of her head to the soles of her feet her whole body began to tremble. 'In the name of Jesus, I command you to walk,' I said. I repeated, 'In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, walk!' and she walked." (Pg 59). Not only was this woman raised from the dead, but she was instantly healed from a terrible illness also. She began to testify to people of her death experience and restoration. It has been recorded that Smith Wigglesworth raised 23 people from the dead in total, over the years of his ministry.

One time when Smith was waiting at a bus-stop, a woman was having trouble getting her small dog, which had followed her, to go home. First she tried sweet-talking it, and asking it to please go home. But after awhile of trying this to no avail, the woman suddenly stamped her foot and said severely: 'Go home at once!' The dog immediately took off home, with its tail between its legs. 'That's how you have to treat the devil', said Wigglesworth, loudly enough for all those waiting at the bus-stop to hear. And this was his attitude toward the devil, every moment of every waking day. He literally traveled the world in the 1920's and 1930's, and thousands were saved and healed everywhere he went. Often he would arrive in a place almost unknown and unheralded, but within days there would be thousands thronging to hear, the power of God demonstrated in his meetings was so great. God was truly glorified everywhere he went.

He was a man who walked and lived in the very presence of God. And yet, in many ways he was a very natural, down-to-earth man. And neither was he afraid of issuing the odd stern rebuke. His object was to be in constant, unbroken communion with the Father. He had spent hours and days fervently seeking God in his early years, but later, "Although his life was a combination of incessant prayer and praise, and every word and work was an act of worship, he was not given to protracted periods of fasting and prayer." (Pg 122). Instead, he had learned the secret of being in continuous, intimate communion with God (sometimes withdrawing quietly into himself for this purpose), even when he was in a crowd of people. He walked by faith, and he was "in the Spirit" at all times. This was one vital secret to his success. He said, "There are two sides to this Baptism: The first is, you possess the Spirit; The second is that the Spirit possesses you." (See 'The Life of Smith Wigglesworth' by Jack Hywel-Davies). He had counted the cost, and everything was God's. He was a man who truly understood GODLY AUTHORITY, and he WALKED in it by faith. He said, "'Be filled with the Spirit,' so filled that there will be no room left for anything else." That was the way he lived. Full of audacity, full of daring, "full of faith and of the Holy Ghost."

On one occasion, he recalled, "I was traveling to Cardiff in South Wales. I had been much in prayer on the journey. The carriage was full of people whom I knew to be unsaved, but as there was so much talking and joking I could not get in a word for my Master. As the train was nearing the station, I thought I would wash my hands... and as I returned to the carriage, a man jumped up and said, 'Sir, you convince me of sin,' and fell on his knees there and then. Soon the whole carriage of people was crying out the same way. They said, 'Who are you? What are you? You convince us all of sin'..." (Stanley Frodsham, 'Smith Wiggles- worth, Apostle of Faith', pg 80).

This episode reminds me very much of another bold, forthright and anointed evangelist - Charles G. Finney, who had found after a mighty Baptism of the Holy Spirit some years before, that even passing comments that he made pierced people to the heart with conviction of sin. He had gone on to become one of the greatest Revivalists of all time. (He died in 1875).

Smith Wigglesworth placed great emphasis on purity and holiness, like all true Revivalists. He said, "You must every day make higher ground. You must deny yourself to make progress with God. You must refuse everything that is not pure and holy. God wants you pure in heart. He wants you to have an intense desire after holiness... Two things will get you to leap out of yourselves into the promises of God today. One is purity, and the other is FAITH, which is kindled more and more BY PURITY." (Pg 125). This one statement contains what is probably the key secret to Smith Wigglesworth's outstanding success in God. And it is obviously a key that is well worth remembering for us also. Another point to remember is that Smith was very aware of the dangers of money, and guarded himself carefully against the possibility of covetousness entering in. He was truly beyond reproach in this area also.

It is my belief that Smith Wigglesworth was a kind of direct "forerunner" of the kind of ministries that are about to arise in our day. I believe that the coming apostolic ministries, who will be bearers of true Revival in these last days, will combine the daring, miracle-working faith of a Smith Wigglesworth with the deeply convicting 'repentance' preaching of a Charles Finney. And they will move under a mighty anointing that combines the best of both of these types of ministries. What glorious days these will be! Smith Wigglesworth himself died in 1946 at the ripe old age of 87, a flame of God to the very end. May he be an example to us all.

 

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