Friday, December 7, 2018

Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947)

Smith Wigglesworth was born into a poor non-Christian family in northern England. He worked full-time outside the house from the age of six just to bring in a little money. Yet he spent the last 40 years of his life traveling the world to serve Jesus Christ by preaching, healing, exorcising, and even raising the dead.

What follows is a summary of his reflections on that ministry found in Smith Wigglesworth on Healing (Whitaker House, 1999). Numbers at the end of sentences refer to the relevant pages and paragraphs in that book. My hope is that, by reflecting on the ministry of Wigglesworth, we too—as Christians and churches—might witness with greater clarity to Jesus Christ in this vital way.

Don’t focus on appearances, whether of sickness or demonic possession; rather, let us keep our eyes on Jesus (14b).

Don’t focus on feelings, such as doubt, discouragement or bitterness, or the worldly opinions of others, either; rather, focus on God’s word (16d). Repent and believe God’s word to you now. It never fails.

There are times when the Holy Spirit seems to fill us and surround us (15a).

We must always be ready to discern and affirm the surprising words of Jesus (15e).

Through his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus Christ set us free from all powers of evil and penalties of sin. He freed us from sin, disease, addictions, and possession (21c-22a). Each day he invites us to seek and affirm the fullness of life—physical, emotional, mental, volitional, spiritual—for which he freed us (26c). He also calls us to examine ourselves in the light of his truth and grow to hate all the sinful ways still clinging to us (64c). In this way, our lives in every way will glorify God (80c). They will grow distinctly Christian in saving contrast to remaining worldly (131c).

As our lives glorify Jesus, our simple presence with others will spontaneously convict them of their sinful devotion to the world's false gods (83a). People will want to leave our presence or have us leave theirs (83b). The same goes for diseases and demons. It will be fight or flight (131b). Freedom for God and persecution by others, even other Christians, always go together (165b).

Great challenges lead to even greater victories (44b). Jesus calls and enables us to triumph over these challenges to bring glory to God (77b). He uses even persecution to draw us closer to him and clarify our witness to him (see Romans 8:28, all things for good).

The power to heal comes from the Holy Spirit burning brightly inside our hearts (66b). God wants to see more of us using more of this power today (66e).

God gives us his children all the bread (Word of God, freedom from sin and disease) we need each day (Matthew 15:26) (177c). As Jesus asked a man who had been sick for 38 years, “‘Do you wish to get well?’” (John 5:6). If we do, he will heal us (178c).

Spontaneously invite persons to kneel, confess the lordship of Christ, and be saved (22c). Heal difficult cases in front of others (71c). Salvation and health go together. Be bold (65e).

Jesus never did a miracle to prove who he was to unbelievers (see Matthew 16:1-4, sign of Jonah). We shouldn’t either (52b). Nor should we witness for any worldly advantage such as powerful positions or money (63a).

Remembering God’s past victories strengthens our confidence in him today (53d).

We have discerned and affirmed that Jesus is our savior only because that truth was revealed to us by the Father (Matthew 16:17). Seek the Father until his revelation to you of Jesus as savior enables you to have full confidence in his healing acts today (56c-57a).

Our Father did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). Rather than having us minister in a spirit of condemnation, Jesus promises us the Helper who is the Spirit of truth (John 14:16-17).

Love, joy, and peace are fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). As we grow in Christ, we enjoy these fruits more fully and share them more generously. We end up rejoicing in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) (110b).

We suffer from some disease. It worsens. We need either to be healed by God directly or through a surgeon indirectly. As with Gideon (Judges 6:36-40), we may ask God for a sign indicating his will. If he heals us directly by a certain date, good. If not, we may affirm as his will his healing of us indirectly through surgery (128).

We wear glasses. We pray, we believe, but our eyesight remains the same. We may keep wearing them. God seeks always to strengthen our faith in all aspects of our lives. When we believe rightly about our eyes, we won’t need our glasses anymore (128).

Jesus never limits himself to partial healings. His healings are always objectively complete. It is our subjective unbelief that limits them. “They [believers] will lay hands on the sick, and they [the sick] will recover” (Mark 16:18) (172c). If we are not there yet, let us join another in his cry to Jesus, “‘I do believe; help my unbelief’” (Mark 9:24) (180c).

The whole Holy Spirit burns brightly in our Christian heart. When our Christian personality is filled by that same Spirit, we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). We glorify God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31) (130a). Our worship on the Lord’s Day is full of vitality, we spontaneously proclaim to others on all days their salvation in Jesus, and Jesus heals them of their diseases through us (130b).

With our Father for us, Jesus with us, and the Spirit in us, we are more than conquerors over all powers of evil and penalties of sin (Romans 8:37). By God’s grace, we may witness to this victory in Christ by overcoming the world, the flesh, and the Devil as they confront us and our churches (137b).

Diseases are the physical forms taken by evil spirits. Various cancers are especially bad. Cast them out resolutely in the name of Jesus (143e).

Jesus gives us the power to bind and loose (Matthew 16:19); that is, he frees us to bind all powers of evil and to free all humans from them (144b).

Do we believe that our sickness is sent to us by God as a “thorn in the flesh” to keep us from getting arrogant about the exalted revelations we have received (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9)? Do we at the same time consult doctors and take medicines to cure it or at least lessen its symptoms? Better to repent of our sins and embrace the forgiveness and healing God seeks to share with us (179b).

Shortly after Pentecost, Ananias and his Sapphira sold some land, donated some of the profits to the church, but lied about keeping the rest for themselves. Peter asked them why they had chosen to lie to the Holy Spirit. When he confronted them with their sin, they both spontaneously died (Acts 5:1-11). Wigglesworth points out that, in this early church so full of the Holy Spirit, it was not possible for a lying spirit to co-exist with it (190d).