Smith Wigglesworth and His Role in the Pentecostal Revival
SMITH WIGGLESWORTH - THE APOSTLE OF FAITH Smith Wigglesworth’s Early Life Smith Wigglesworth was also known as God’s Apostle of Faith. Born in 1859 near Yorkshire, England to a very poor family, he began working twelve hours
SMITH WIGGLESWORTH – THE APOSTLE OF FAITH
Smith Wigglesworth’s Early Life
Smith Wigglesworth was also known as God’s Apostle of Faith. Born in 1859 near Yorkshire, England to a very poor family, he began working twelve hours a day in a wool factory to help with the family’s income. With no formal education to speak of, Smith was saved at the age of eight, even though neither of his parents were believers.
His introduction to the church actually came from his grandmother, who attended a Wesleyan church and made sure the Smith was in attendance with her. Being immediately filled with a desire to spread the gospel and see the lost saved, he first saw his mother receive salvation, after he spoke to her about God.
His experience with church was varied. He attended several different churches during his younger years, including Methodist, Anglican, Salvation Army and Brethren. As a minister, he preached in Assemblies of God as well as Elim, but stood by his belief that he was “called out” and had no affiliation with any particular denomination.
Marriage and Healing
His wife Polly became a great helper and coworker in the faith, and she was the one who taught him to both read and write. After coming into a prosperous plumbing business in Bradford, England, Smith slipped in his faith and grew cold. He had even gotten to the point that the fervency with which Polly worked in the ministry began to unnerve him. However, it was Polly who helped him return to his own fervor.
Smith often took people to Leeds, where a group was practicing divine healing, and where his own wife, Polly, was healed of a long illness. At one point, the leaders of this group left to attend a convention and left Smith to be in charge at the regular meetings. He agreed, but pressed on other people to do the actual preaching, but no one would agree.
He went on and preached this meeting, at which about fifteen people were healed after being prayed for. Even as surprised as he was, the service had made a believer out of him and he began these same types of meetings in Bradford. In fact, after being healed of a lingering issue himself, he and Polly decided that they would never again have any doctors or medicine inside their home.
However, at one point, Smith began suffering from violent pains that left him with no other choice than to be taken home. He started to believe that this was to be his “home call”. He and Polly had already agreed, long beforehand, that in any case that either of them were to receive that call from God, the other would immediately have a doctor brought in to avoid any conflict or ill words from outsiders.
A doctor confirmed that Smith had an advanced case of appendicitis, but that he was too weak for the operation, which would be his only hope. After the doctor left the house, with a promise to return later in the day, a man and woman came and prayed for Smith, who was immediately healed. He went downstairs and informed Polly of his healing, then he went on to answer a call that a woman needed a plumber badly.
Even though the doctor, who had returned in Smith’s absence, said that he would be dead by nightfall, Smith went on to preach another forty years or so after the incident.
Wigglesworth’s Style of Preaching
Smith believed that his preaching should make people happy, but if it didn’t do that, then it should make them mad. He read the Bible almost exclusively and he only preached sermons that the Spirit had given him passages for. Sometimes, he would preach short bits in tongues, followed by an immediate interpreting.
After receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Smith preached with an increased fervor than ever before. It was filled with so much power that even Polly, sitting under this preaching, could hardly recognize her husband.
Smith was of the belief that if the Spirit of God was not already moving, then he needed to be the one to make the Spirit move. Some might argue that it seems an arrogant stance, but this was not the case. Rather, it was his complete and utter confidence towards God and the work that God wanted accomplished, that made him create the very atmosphere in which the Spirit of God would not fail to show up. In fact, it was a hallmark of his preaching.
Eventually, he was doing more ministering than plumbing work and made an oath to God that he would go back to plumbing if he was ever in dire need of work. However, this was not to be the case, and he spent the rest of his life preaching and ministering.
Unable To Understand Everything
Smith believed that sickness of every kind was the devil’s doing and that no one was beyond healing. However, when his wife came to the end of her life in 1913, after suffering a heart attack, it was almost more than he was willing to accept. In fact, he demanded that death give up its hold on her, at which time life came back into her body.
However, she assured him that it was her time to go to God, and after that, he released his hold on her. It was still hard on him and he missed her badly. Still, even after hear death, his dedication to the ministry and the spiritual power with which he preached seemed to multiply after her home going. The effects of his ministry proved to continue to build.
After Polly’s passing, their daughter Alice would often accompany him in his travels, along with her husband. She was deaf, having never been healed from the ailment. George, his youngest, passed away in 1915, which was another thing that was hard to either grasp or understand.
Wigglesworth’s Role in the Pentecostal Revival
While Smith had not led revivals such as the ones in Wales in 1904, or Azusa Street in 1906, his faith and dedication to the Word and to prayer helped usher in the Pentecostal Revival. At a time when Pentecostal preachers were appearing and disappearing quickly, Smith faithfully traveled and preached from the time he lost his wife until his own death, in 1947.
Smith’s faith and the miracles that came from his ministry helped usher in the Charismatic Renewal for the churches of the modern world. The cloak of the “Apostle of Faith” was not one that Smith personally accepted as his own. Still, because of the power, intensity and signs that became hallmarks of his ministry, he was not only one of the most sought-after preachers in the Pentecostal faith, he is still, to this day, revered as one of the movement’s greatest patriarchs.
Books by Smith Wigglesworth
There’s no better way to learn more about the man, Smith Wigglesworth, than to delve into his books. Following is a list of some of the most popular titles.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!
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