Wigglesworth calls thousands to “only believe.”

Smith Wigglesworth has been called an apostle of faith.

He reportedly won thousands to Jesus, saw multitudes healed, raised 14 from the dead, and planted several Pentecostal churches across five continents. He began as an illiterate plumber turned street preacher.
 
Wigglesworth was born in 1859 in a shack in Menston, a small village in Yorkshire, England. At age seven, Wigglesworth, his older brother, and his father were hired at a textile factory. Finally, food ceased to be scarce.
 
Though neither of his parents were people of faith, Wigglesworth explained to biographer Stanley Frodsham, “I can never recollect a time when I did not long for God.” At eight, Wigglesworth joined his grandmother at a revival meeting. He recalled, “As I clapped my hands and sang,…I looked to the Lamb of Calvary. I believed that He loved me and had died for me. Life came in—eternal life—and I knew that I…was born again.” Wigglesworth explained, he immediately became a “soul-winner,” first winning his own mother to Christ.
 
At nine, Wigglesworth began full-time work in a mill. He felt he was “robbed of an education.” Like his mother, Wigglesworth had great difficulty expressing himself. Until three old men, family friends, laid hands on him. He remembered, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was instantly set free from my bondage. I not only believed, but I could also speak.”
 
When Wigglesworth joined the Salvation Army at 16, he was delighted by their passion. Wigglesworth learned to fast and pray for the salvation of lost souls. He said, “Every week we saw scores of sinners yielding their hearts to Christ.”
 
 
“The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was instantly set free from my bondage. I not only believed, but I could also speak.” ~Smith Wigglesworth
 
A fellow believer at the mill taught Wigglesworth Bible doctrine and plumbing. At 18, Wigglesworth began work as a plumber, giving all his earnings to feed children that gathered to hear him preach. Wigglesworth opened his own plumbing business at age 23 and met a woman, he called “the best girl in the world!”
 
Mary Jane Featherstone, called Polly, was born again at a Salvation Army open-air meeting. Wigglesworth was in the audience and noticed her at the altar. General William Booth invited Polly to join the Salvation Army as an open-air preacher and singer. She was fearless and eloquent, and Wigglesworth was attracted.
 
When Polly and Smith were married in 1882, she began teaching her husband to read and write. Polly would preach, while Smith counseled sinners at the altar. He said of his wife, “She was a great soul-winner.” Smith continued plumbing and brought their five children to meetings. When Smith was called upon to preach, he would often break down into sobs for the lost. Another preacher would step in to finish his message.
 
During a trip for supplies from Leeds, Smith attended a divine healing meeting. He then started paying for the sick in his hometown, Bowland, to travel to Leeds. When Polly grew ill, he brought her, unsure of how she would respond. Polly received prayer and was instantly healed. Both Wigglesworths recognized this as a true movement of the Holy Spirit and founded the Bowland Street Mission. Polly and Smith began teaching about Christ’s healing power and saw several healed.
 
In 1907, Smith heard that believers in Sutherland were reportedly receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues like on Pentecost. Smith and Polly were among those who believed true Christians had already received Spirit baptism.  Because Smith desired to speak in tongues though, he traveled to Sutherland. He was so disappointed, he interrupted the meeting, saying, “I do not understand why our meetings seem to be on fire, but yours do not seem to be so.”
 
Before leaving, Smith received prayer from the vicar’s wife. He saw a vision of Christ at the Father’s right hand. He opened his mouth to praise and spoke in new tongues. Smith preached that evening like never before. Afterward, 50 were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The local paper, the Sunderland Daily Echo, headlined a story of Smith’s experience.
 
When Smith returned home, Polly greeted him, saying, “I want you to know that I am just as baptized in the Holy Spirit as you are, and I don’t speak in tongues.” That Sunday, Smith preached. Polly decided she would test the legitimacy of her husband’s experience. He spoke with new boldness. Polly reported thinking, “That’s not my Smith, Lord!” In the coming weeks, hundreds in Bedford received the baptism with the Spirit and spoke in tongues, including Polly and the Wigglesworth’s oldest son.
 
Soon, the couple began receiving calls to preach throughout England, riding trains and even bicycles to pray for the sick. Smith was known for preaching a simple gospel and would call hearers to “only believe.” In 1914, Smith began ministering overseas.
 
He called himself a man of one Book. His sermons were mainly comprised of Scripture quotations. Newspapers reported miracles, the dead raised, and healings following his preaching ministry. Though he was not present at any of the revivals that sparked Pentecostalism, Pentecostals view Smith as one of the movement’s greatest modern patriarchs.
 
In 1947, at another minister’s funeral, Smith breathed his last and painlessly bowed his head. Smith never exalted himself and never wrote a book, but his stubborn faith in the Spirit and undying love for Jesus empowered him to demonstrate the gospel to the world.
 
No matter what church stream we find ourselves in, there are lessons to be learned and principles of prayer from the Wigglesworths that can inspire us as we seek to follow Jesus today. 
 

What scenes in Smith’s life stand out most strongly to you? 

 
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Head & Heart – Soulmates

“Would you quit your whimpering?!? I’m trying to think,” Mind growled with an intellectual indifference.

“I can’t help it. This is just so moving!” His companion, Heart, emotionally retorted, sniffling and wiping away tears.
 
I promise, my head and heart don’t have audible conversations within my soul; however, I’ve learned there must be peaceful balance between them. As a follower of Christ, I’m called to think and feel as the Lord Jesus does.
 
I remember learning in a worship music class in Bible college, about the balance between head and heart. Our music professor taught that the arts diverge into two branches: classic, which is orderly and logical, and romantic, which is free and more emotional. Head and heart have arm-wrestled throughout music history. Isn’t this the balance we seek in worship ministry today too?
 
In a preaching class, our professor taught that ministering the Word is both a science, involving mental discipline, and an art, requiring the Holy Spirit’s influence on the speaker’s heart. Head and heart must cooperate under the unction of the Holy Spirit to deliver an effective message.
 
John 1:12 speaks of both receiving Jesus and believing in His Name. The Lord, through John, explains there’s an experiential and an intellectual component to becoming born again as a child of God through Jesus Christ (Jn. 3). We believe the truth of the Gospel and turn from lawbreaking to follow Christ.
 
I was baptized as an infant and grew up in a church where I learned about the Bible. My head was full of knowledge, but I hadn’t encountered the Risen Christ. My heart hadn’t yet been pricked with a godly sorrow that brings repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). When I heard the Gospel call to repent and be saved, the Holy Spirit brought conviction of sin and my need for Jesus. I received and believed.
 
I heard Apologist Josh McDowell explain on the radio once that it was not just intellectual doubt that kept him from faith. Deep emotional wounds from his earthly father hindered his heart from believing in the Heavenly Father. He was convinced an Almighty Father would only cause him more pain. The Holy Spirit used both the love and the intellectual evidence of those who witnessed to McDowell to draw him to Jesus.
 
Everything done well in this life must involve a redeemed head and heart. When we act only from the head, we cause pain. When we’re simply moved by the heart, we cause trouble.
Everything done well in this life must involve a redeemed head and heart. When we act only from the head, we cause pain. When we’re simply moved by the heart, we cause trouble. The unregenerate “heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” and the mind must be renewed (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 12:2).
 
Neither emotion nor reason is inherently evil. They are gifts of God, evidence that people are handcrafted in His Image. There’s an element of reason and emotion required for every wise decision, drawing from Scriptural principles and listening for the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice.
 
This balance between head and heart isn’t something I usually dwell on or am overly introspective about. Instead, we listen to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to convict us of any unconfessed sin. When we act unwisely or uncaringly, He graciously convicts. He wants us to be free (2 Cor. 3:17). When He puts His gentle finger on a specific sin, we turn from the sin toward Jesus and move forward in the freedom of His Spirit.
 
Will Head and Heart ever get along? Through the cleansing Blood of Jesus, they sure can. Let’s eagerly desire both Christ-like thinking and feeling. The head and the heart are, after all, soulmates.

What does this balancing act between intellect and emotion look like in your life and work?

Did God really say…?

“Did God really say…?” hissed the slimy serpent with fork tongue tickling the ears of the unsuspecting beauty. Tantalized, Eve smiled and was deceived. Adam stood nearby, watching wide-eyed. Knowing the consequences, he willfully believed the lie and ate the forbidden fruit.


That snake is still whispering sugarcoated lies. Satan, the deceiver, loves to take a little bite of truth and coat it with venomous deception.

Eve should have responded, “No! I will not stand in judgment over God’s Word. You’re twisting and perverting what He said! His Word is my final authority.”

Instead Eve took the devil’s bait and deemed herself the authority to decide between God’s Word and the devil’s word. She was unconcerned with the specifics of God’s Word and their application to her practice. The serpent had gotten the general gist of what the LORD had spoken. Eve chose to believe an outside source above the direct revelation of God. She decided she knew better than the LORD.

Professing Christians fall into the same trap by claiming to love and honor the Bible and then disobeying it. When you allow the lens of your human experience to define your interpretation of His Word, you allow external sources to trump God’s utterances. 

This fleshes out all over Christian belief and practice. Concerning spiritual gifts, “normal” is what we experience in America and not what the Bible describes. Some explain away the Biblical doctrine of a literal, physical Hell, because it’s unpleasant to think and preach about. And the Biblical mandate to pursue holiness is forgotten by those, who claim, “Well, we’ll always fall into sin, right?” For the sake of the golden calf, pragmatism, many deny the authority of the Word. The question “Does it work?” is asked more often than “Does it please Jesus?”

I’ll zero in on a specific example. Learn the principle, and apply it to all areas of your life.

“Did God really say, ‘Share your faith with the woman sitting next to you’?” hissed the serpent to the Christian on the El train. After all, you haven’t established a relationship. She hasn’t observed your lifestyle. She might be offended.

True, the Bible urges believers to genuinely relate to others as human beings. People are treasures—created in the Image of God—not projects. In the context of a witnessing conversation, the Bible models asking questions and listening (Acts 8:30-35). Genuinely care. Don’t prepare your rebuttal while others speak. Listen.

Evangelism isn’t true to its definition unless it includes using words to directly share the good news of the Gospel. Evangel means, “good news.” Our excuse that we’re sharing through our lifestyle doesn’t hold a thimbleful of water. We’ve allowed a deception to climb into bed with us.

“You’ve got to wait at least two months before you share the Gospel,” hissed the serpent. That’s absurd! Christ is my life. I can’t go two minutes without mentioning the Name of Jesus!

Remember Paul? He became all things to all people that by all possible means he might save some (1 Cor. 9:22-23). It’s because of Paul’s active, verbal witness to the Gentiles that most of us non-Jews have access to the Gospel today. Paul preached in the open-air at the Areopagus meeting, he had Gospel conversations on public transport, he shared Jesus at family gatherings, he wrote and distributed Gospel literature.

Most people recognize genuine concern. Sometimes it’s surprising to receive it, but most often, people love to be loved. Showing concern for someone’s eternal salvation in a Gospel conversation is an expression of the most excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31; 13).

You’re not loving, if you let someone go to Hell unwarned. You don’t really have your eyes fixed on Jesus, if you don’t see people as valuable and in need of Christ. Charles Spurgeon said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.”

There’s a small nugget of truth in relational evangelism. But according to Mark Cahill, 88% of witnessing conversations in the New Testament were with strangers (www.markcahill.org). You may not know how to share your faith. If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit in you will drive you to learn how. He’ll teach you about Jesus and guide you into all truth (Jn. 16:13-14).

Believe the truth of the Bible—God’s literal, inerrant, authoritative Word—above all methods, ideas, and doctrines of men or devils no matter how “pleasing to the eye and good for food” they may appear (Gen. 2:9).

(Visit www.WayoftheMaster.com — an evangelism ministry that the Lord Jesus has used to better equip me in Christ-like, Biblical witnessing.)