“The people in whom God delights are the ones who rest upon His Word without wavering. So only believe! Only believe! All things are possible-only believe!" Smith Wigglesworth
Faith is not, as many think, a doctrine or a general belief in something. Faith is an actual response to the Word of God. Jesus said “…when the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?”(Luke 18:8b) He wasn’t asking if, at His return, people would be believing in God. How silly. Even the demons believe (in one God) and tremble!” (James 2:19) What He was stating was, that, when He returns will He find followers who are walking in victory, responding in power and authority to His Word. That, my friend, is FAITH to raise the dead. That’s the Faith Smith Wigglesworth walked in. So much that he was labeled the “Apostle of Faith”.
Wigglesworth who was referred to as one of those credited with shaping the Pentecostal Movement in the early twentieth century, was born in a little village called Menston in Yorkshire, England in 1859. His parents, John and Martha Wigglesworth, were extremely poor, Smith was one of four children and it took all his father could do, as a ditch digger, to keep food on the table. Needless to say, instead of an education, Smith started working at the age of six pulling and cleaning turnips for a farmer. At seven he went to work in the local mill, six days a week from 6am to 6pm. With schooling not an option it wasn't until later in his life that he learned to read and write. His parents were not professing Christians so his grandmother, who was a Methodist, took him to a Wesleyan Methodist Revival meeting. He was born again and immediately started to win others to Jesus Christ. His mother was his first convert. He continued to go to church with his grandmother. He watched the passion of the "old timers" as they clapped their hands, danced to the Lord and sang about the "blood." In later years, when he remembered his youth, he would write, "I saw that God wants us so badly that he has made the condition as simple as He possibly could-Only Believe.'" When his father discovered the Christian experience he started taking the family to an Episcopal church. It wasn't because of the doctrine, but Mr. Wigglesworth enjoyed the parson, because they visited the same pub and drank beer together. When Smith was ten years old he was "confirmed." When the bishop's hands were waved over him, a powerful wave of God's presence filled him and lasted for several days. It didn't happen to the other boys and Smith would write:
"After the confirmation service all the other boys were still swearing and quarreling, and I wondered what had made the difference between them and me."
In the early part of his life Smith stammered in his speech and had difficulty expressing himself. At times this caused him great embarrassment. Smith's life changed dramatically after he received the Holy Ghost. The most noticeable effect was that he was immediately healed of his stammering and gained a Godly boldness to witness and preach.
Smith began to witness the Gospel to everyone he met. Even though he could not read well, he never left the house without the New Testament in his pocket. His spiritual life took on a new meaning, and he longed for the Spirit of God. When Smith was thirteen his family moved to Bradford where he learned to be a plumber, an occupation he would keep throughout his life. As Smith continued to share the Gospel with people, he could not understand why so many seemed uninterested. About this time, 1875, he heard that the Salvation Army was coming to Bradford. He knew this group of "saints" shared his desire for the lost. He joined the Salvationists and soon learned about the power and authority that came with fasting and prayer. Smith knew that the church of his day was operating well below the power and distinction it was called to. Where was the complete and unshakable faith in God and His Word that the first Church walked by. With the words," only believe" he took God at His Word and demanded everyone to do the same. His ministry was a passion to stir up an ever increasing faith in God and His Word:
The church will rise to the highest position when there is no schism in the body on the lines of unbelief. When we all, with one heart and one faith, believe in the Word as it is spoken, then signs and wonders and divers miracles will be manifested everywhere."
Smith, because of his unwavering faith and belief in God and His Word was in a class all by himself. Wigglesworth walked in a realm of God that is open to all, but few find. Enoch found it, so did Elijah and Elisha, Peter, Paul and John. Where the miraculous is a common thing. A place where the sick, lame, blind and deaf are healed, where the course of Nature is changed and the dead are raised, all by calling on the name of Jesus. Raising the dead was only one amazing facet of Smith Wigglesworth's ministry. This man of faith walked in such an astounding measure of God's anointing, that miracles in his ministry were daily occurrences. It is said that Smith raised over twenty-three people from the dead. Only about sixteen have been documented. We'll take a look at a few of those miracles later in this history. In the words of Wigglesworth:
"If you are in his love, you will be swallowed up with Holy desire. You will desire ONLY the Lord. Your mind will be filled with divine reflection. Your whole heart will be taken up with the things that pertain to the kingdom of God. You will live in the secret place of the Most High, and you will abide there."
"I want to stir you up today. If I cannot make a diseased person that is suffering righteously indignant against that place, I cannot help him. If I can make every sufferer know that the suffering, disease and all evil are the workings of the devil, I can help him."
"The devil brings back to the minds of people those things which they did so long ago, and there they are, thinking about them day and night! There are two things certain...that you never forget them... (and) that God has forgotten them. And the question is whether we are going to believe God, or the devil, or ourselves?"
"One thing I know is that Satan does not know my thoughts; he only knows what I let out of my mouth."
Before we go any further it is important to understand the attitude that Wigglesworth walked with in the spirit. There was no maybes or might have been or could have been or any doubt, when it came to the Word of God. God spoke it so therefore judgement had been made on that subject and it was to be acted upon with total unwavering trust. Wigglesworth believed that when the Holy Spirit fell on someone, that person was in the very presence of God and able to minister His power, presence and miracles of the Spirit. He took seriously Jesus' declaration to His disciples:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:12,13,14)
Smith prayed intensely and with an attitude of faith, which was responding to the Word, he trusted God to respond immediately with signs and wonders. He was never disappointed.
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23)
While with the Salvationists, in 1882, he met and married Polly Featherstone. Polly loved God and had a gift of preaching and evangelism. She taught Smith how to read and since they both shared the same compassion for the lost, poor, and needy they opened a mission, at which Polly preached and Smith, in between plumbing business, helped with behind the scenes work. They had five children and Smith took care of them while his wife preached but he was always at the altar, when she finished, praying with the people to bring them to Christ. Smith always said, "Her work was to put out the net; mine was to land the fish. This latter is just as important as the former."
Smith knew that there was more than going to church twice a week. He decided to spend ten days in prayer and fasting to seek the Lord. Not long after, Smith was in Leeds, he attended a church service where divine healing was being ministered. He was fascinated and amazed at the marvelous healings that took place. He went home to Bradford, and began to search for the sick in the city. He would pay their expenses and took them to the healing meetings in Leeds. It wasn't long before the workers at Leeds would see Smith coming with huge groups of people and laugh among themselves because as Roberts Liardon would tell us, "he didn't seem to understand that God could heal the sick in Bradford, just as he did in Leeds." Since Smith needed some, as they said, "prodding" to get his own ministry going, the leaders of the Leeds Healing Home made a decision to "push" him into the pulpit. They were going to the Keswick Convention, so they asked Smith to fill in for them at the pulpit. In Wigglesworth's own words, here is what happened:
"I said, I couldn't conduct a healing service." They said, "We have no one else. We trust you to take care of the work while we are away." A flash came into my mind: "Well, any number of people can talk. All I have to do is take charge...the first thing I did was to look for someone who would do the speaking; but all whom I asked said, "no you have been chosen and you must do it." And so I had to begin. I do not know what I said but I do know that when I finished speaking 15 people came up for healing. One of these was a man...who hobbled on a pair of crutches. I prayed for him and he was healed. There was no one more surprised than I was. He was jumping all over the place without his crutches...all the people were healed...it was God...coming to help me in that hour of need."
Wigglesworth then held Divine Healing meetings in his home town of Bradford. The first meeting twelve people came and all were healed. Before long, hundreds would receive healing in the name of Jesus. Smith would spend his days communing with God in "prayer, prayer, and more prayer." It was said by those who would pray with him that he would "leave himself and enter a different realm" as he would lose himself in sincere communion with his Lord. One pastor asked if he could spend a day, with Smith, in his prayer chamber. While others went about their business outside the room, the door slowly creaked open a bit and the pastor, sobbing and broken, crawled out saying, "there is too much of God in that room."
Wigglesworth knew the devil and treated him for what he was...defeated. Smith shares a story of an encounter with the advisory:
"We were sleeping one night, when the manifestation of evil filled the room and the spirit of fear gripped both of us. Polly was so frightened she could not open her eyes. I suddenly sat up, in the bed, and saw the devil. I rubbed my eyes to be sure, it was him. I said, ‘Oh! It's only you.' I then turned to Polly and told her to go back to sleep, it was nothing of consequence, and I laid my head back down. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of peace and love filled the room and we had the most blessed sleep ever."
He relates another story:
"One day a pet dog followed a lady out of her house and ran all around her feet. She said to the dog...'I cannot have you with me today.' The dog wagged its tail and made a big fuss. She said, ‘ go home, my dear.' But the dog did not go. At last she shouted roughly, ‘ go home,' and off it went. Some people deal with the devil like that. The devil can stand all the comfort you like to give him. Get firm, cast him out! You are not dealing with a person; you are dealing with the devil...(he) must be dislodged in the name of the Lord."
Smith was very protective of his walk in holiness. He never allowed any publications in his home, secular or Christian, except the Bible. He felt that was all he, Polly and their five children needed:
"O, to live a holy life! What a zeal! What a passion! O, to live in all the beauties of all glory and grandeur of the Holy Ghost! O, the fascination of the Christ of God makes me realize there is nothing in this world worth grasping."
In 1907, Smith's walk with God was getting deeper. The more he walked with God the more he knew something was missing. He was hearing stories of a great move of God in America. How the Holy Spirit fell on an unlikely group of misfits meeting in a horse stable in Los Angeles. A place called Azusa Street. These "saints" were baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Smith followed the popular belief of that day that sanctification was the only sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Smith went straight to the Bible...to Acts...to find a revelation. He was determined to receive this for himself. He had heard of a group of people, not far away, in Sunderland who were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues. He purposed in his heart to go but his friends and other ministers warned him to stay away because "those people were receiving devils." Smith answered that he knew all about the devil and that satan was not in the business of giving God honor and Glory as these people were. Wigglesworth was determined to know God in this realm. He spent four days in the services at Sunderland but still did not speak in other tongues. Discouraged, he decided to go back to Bradford. He went to the parsonage to say good-bye to the vicar's wife, Mrs. Boddy. He told her he did not get to speak in tongues so he was on his way home. She answered,"It is not the tongues you need, but the baptism." She laid hands on him, prayed a powerful but simple prayer and left the room. It was then that the fire fell. Smith then realized, even though he had walked and healed for years under the anointing of God, he was now baptized in the Holy Spirit as on the day of Pentecost. Filled with worship and praise, he opened his mouth and spoke in other tongues. He arrived in Bradford and a great outpouring began. Hundreds received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues including his wife Polly.
Smith closed his plumbing business and began a full-time ministry. It was then that his ministry of healing exploded. Everywhere he preached hundreds were healed. Even the newspapers carried headlines of the documented signs and wonders done in the name of Jesus. The Daily Mirror dedicated their front page to his dynamic ministry with photographs of Smith in action. "only believe", he would say and point everyone away from him to Jesus. Smith was considered quite rough in the way he ministered. Once he identified which part of the body needed healing, he would punch the patient in that area. When asked why he hit the sick he replied,"I don't hit people; I hit the devil, the people just get in the way." Amazingly, no one was ever hurt or felt the blow...except the devil and his spirits! The power of God so flowed through this man of God that people were never the same after having been in his presence. Through his ministry, throughout the world, those who were blind received sight, those who were deaf regained their hearing, new limbs were created while audiences watched in awe at the power of God, cancerous growths disappeared, demon possessed were delivered and the dead were raised!
The first person Wigglesworth prayed from the dead was a friend. Brother Mitchell was at the point of death when Smith was called by his wife to come to the Mitchell home. When he arrived he heard terrible screams. He asked Mrs. Mitchell what was wrong? She replied,"He is gone! He is gone!" Smith entered the room and saw that the man was dead. In the room was Polly, Smiths wife, and the doctor who had just verified the time of death. Smith didn't understand it but immediately he began to pray. Wigglesworth's wife grabbed his arm and said, "Don't Smith! Don't you see that he is dead." Smith continued to pray and then God took over. A heavy peace filled the room and Smith shouted, "He lives! He lives! He Lives!" Mr. Mitchell sat up and stared at all those in the room with their eyes and mouths wide open. The first words out of the doctor's mouth were, "This is God!"
Another time, Smith was in a hospital room with a friend, a doctor, and the husband of the women he was praying for in the bed. While he and his friend were praying for the women she died. The doctor confirmed her death and was pulling the sheet over her face when he said, "she was such a young thing, God's will." Indignation rose up in Smith, premature death was the work of the devil, not God, so therefore it must be destroyed. He then took the women out of the bed and stood her against the wall. Everyone was so dumb-struck they didn't know what to do. Let's let Wigglesworth tell us his version:
"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 up against the wall and held her up with my arm, as she was absolutely dead. I looked into her face and said, 'In the name of Jesus, I rebuke this death.' I repeated it again. From 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."
The women's name was Mary Pople and she relates her version of the story:
"I went to heaven and was allowed into the throne room. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne. I saw light such as I had never seen and heard music such as I had never heard. My heart was filled with rapturous joy. As I looked at the Lord, he pointed to what seemed to be a doorway by which I had entered, and I knew I had to go back even if I did not want to. When I went through the door, I heard a gruff voice. He was saying, ‘ death, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.' Then he commanded me to live, and my eyes opened, and those who had been weeping around my bed began to rejoice. I arose and got dressed totally healed of the sickness that was unto death."
Word spread throughout the community like wild fire. The next Sunday Smith, Mary and her husband went to her church to testify of the mighty work the Lord had done. When they entered the church, the pastor stood up, motioned to the ushers to escort them back out the door saying, "we will have none of that here."
To elaborate more on that story George Stormont relates this incident:"Bishop Ronald Coady and his wife were ministering in New South Wales, Australia, in 1950 where they met a Methodist deaconess from America called ‘Sister Mary'. She brought them large quantities of tracts to use in their crusades. While there they were reading Stanley Frodsham's book, Smith Wigglesworth, Apostle of Faith. The incident of his raising a young women from the dead especially had gripped them, and when Sister Mary came in, they read it to her, adding, ‘How we should love to meet that lady!' She said, ‘You know that lady.' They protested that they did not, but she persisted, ‘You've known her for some time, I am that lady!' The three of them laughed together with joy at God's goodness and coincidences." She then proceeded to tell them of that miracle back in 1922.
In 1913, while Smith was waiting for a train to leave for Scotland, he received devastating news. His wife, Polly, had collapsed with a heart attack while preaching at their mission. She was pronounced dead at the mission door. Smith hurried back to his home where they had taken the body. When he arrived:
" The house was already full of people. The doctor said, ‘she is dead, and we can do no more for her.' I went up to her lifeless corpse and commanded, in the name of Jesus, death to give her up, and she came back to me for a moment. Astonishment filled the house and everyone including Wigglesworth's grown children were speechless. As Polly opened her eyes Smith's face was streaked with tears and she said, "Smith, it is my time, the Lord wants me." Heartbroken he replied, "If the Lord wants you I will not hold you." He stepped back, she closed her eyes and was again in her Savior's arms. She had been the light and joy of all their years of marriage, and he grieved deeply over the loss. Smith, when he released Polly to God, asked Him for a double portion of the Spirit...his wife's and his own. From that moment on his ministry carried an even greater power.
A family of a young boy, who was seriously ill, sent for Smith. When he arrived the boy's mother said, "You are too late, there is nothing that can be done for him." Smith answered, "God has never sent me anywhere too late." The boy's condition was so bad that if he were moved, his heart would stop and he would die. Smith entered the room and told the boy that he was about to experience something that he never had before, "When I place my hands on you the glory of the Lord will fill this place till I shall not be able to stand. I shall be helpless on the floor." The moment Smith touched the boy, the power of God filled the room and was so strong that Smith was knocked to the floor. Suddenly the boy began to yell. Smith was still out in the Spirit when the boy jumped up and dressed himself. Opening the door he yelled, "Dad, God has healed me! I am Healed!" When the door opened such glory filled the house that the mother and father were knocked to the floor also. His sister, who had just been released from an asylum, was instantly restored in her mind! The entire village was moved and revival began throughout their city.
Early one morning in 1937 in South Africa, Smith walked into the office of the secretary of the Apostolic Faith mission. He prophesied over a man of what we now know as the Charismatic Revival. Smith said that this man, who was 31 at the time, would play a major part in it if he remained humble and faithful to the Lord. That man was David du Plessis.
Smith died on March 12, 1947, while attending the funeral of a close friend, Wilf Richardson. His amazing ministry could be summed up in his own words:
"First, read the Word of God. Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you. Third, believe the Word of God. Fourth, act on the Word of God."
As George Stormont put it, "he lived so that people would only see Jesus."
Matthew 17:20 "...if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."
JJ (Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church