If you’re reading this post today you might be wondering, “What’s a Wigglesworth?” Smith Wigglesworth was a 20th century revivalist from Britain – an individual the Lord used in extraordinary ways including personal soul-winning, countless healings, and documented resurrections from the dead. What’s interesting about Wigglesworth, illiterate until his wife Polly taught him to read using the Bible, is that he was a master plumber who loved the Lord, but his wife was the preacher in the family ministering through the flourishing Salvation Army movement. It is reported that he could barely get through two to three minutes in a sermon before he would break down in tears and ask someone else to complete the message.
But all that changed when Smith received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Polly challenged Wigglesworth on his new doctrine and experience saying that she too was filled with the Spirit but without tongues. “I have been preaching for 20 years,” she asserted, “and you have sat beside me on the platform. But on Sunday you will preach yourself, and I’ll see what there is in it.” She thought given his track record with public speaking that this was the perfect test of his claim. The late Gary McGee (former professor of church history at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) described Polly’s reaction to Smith’s transformation: “The next Sunday he entered the pulpit and, prompted by the Spirit, preached from Isaiah 61:1-3: ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings….’ The bold and fluent preaching that came forth startled his wife as she sat in the back of the mission. Speaking in a voice loud enough that everyone around her heard, Polly sputtered, ‘That’s not my Smith, Lord; that’s not my Smith!’ “
The prophet Samuel explained to a young Saul that an amazing transformation would happen to him. He told Saul that he would be changed into a different person when the Spirit came upon him (1 Samuel 10:6). Like Saul and Wigglesworth, the Lord desires to first transform us by the Holy Spirit and then use us as a vessel and tool for transforming the lives of others by our Spirit empowered witness and the signs that follow such a bold, faith-filled witness for Jesus Christ. What an amazing testimony that day: “Lord, that’s not my Smith.” God desires that every believer would also stun their wives, husbands, relatives, children, friends, and coworkers with a similar transformation.
Even though Smith did not write any books (the books about him and his ministry were recorded and compiled by others) and we do not have the benefit of his powerful messages in bulk on tape, he did leave a legacy of how to walk in a similar anointing before the Lord. He was asked once the secret of the power that operated and flowed in and through his life. He shared three vital principles or keys and I want to share them with you today in this blog because I believe that if we will do what he did, we can see similar results. Wigglesworth also believed this to be true. So, here’s how you act like a Wigglesworth:
First, in addition to being born again, Smith taught and modeled that the believer needs to be literally saturated and immersed in the Word of God. In fact, he would not allow the newspaper in his house opting instead to spend his time in the good news. It was the exception for Wigglesworth to go very long without either reading, quoting, preaching, or thinking about the Word of God. His nose was always stuck in the Bible. Today with so many believers, the exception is to get into the Word. The norm is to fill the time with anything other than reading and studying the Word of God. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). If we want to become faith giants like Wigglesworth we must act like him and become fanatical about our Word intake.
Second, Wigglesworth was transformed by the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the corresponding ability to speak in tongues. Wigglesworth was an advocate of spending vast amounts of time praying in the Spirit. He often equated “praying without ceasing” with the use of his heavenly language. Some Spirit-filled believers never learned the value of prolonged and protracted tongues speech thinking that this ability was simply a physical marker for the baptism in the Holy Spirit to be used occasionally if moved to do so. Wigglesworth understood that we are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith, praying in the Spirit (Jude 20). He knew from experience that the more he prayed in tongues the more sensitive he became to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the more fluid he was in preaching, and the more results he saw as a result of his ministry. If we want to act like a Wigglesworth we need to begin to speak in tongues more than ever before. Let’s desire to be like the Apostle Paul who declared that he spoke in tongues more than anyone. No wonder Paul and Wigglesworth has so many similarities in their respective ministries.
Third, Wigglesworth taught that the believer that desires to flow mightily in the things of the Spirit must pay careful attention to personal holiness. He believed that the continued separation from the world and separation unto God positioned the believer to be a vessel unto honor that the Lord could use. The holy man or woman could be trusted with the precious anointing of the Holy Spirit. Paul told Timothy, contrary to some religious and traditional teaching, that the individual believers, not God, determined whether they would be wood pots, clay pots, silver pots, or gold pots. The choice to be used in a powerful way – to be a vessel unto honor – is the decision of he believer and not the Lord. Paul wrote, “If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). We too can be used like a Wigglesworth if we will act like a Wigglesworth and make personal holiness and the diligent maintaining of a sensitive conscience the highest priority in our lives.
I want to encourage you to spend more time in the Word, to actually use your prayer language all the time, and pay attention to the things you allow in your lives. The Lord knows we need more Smith Wigglesworths in the world today. Any volunteers?