Reading the biographies of great Christians is a challenging experience. On the one hand, one is often inspired and strengthened in faith by the testimony of God’s powerful working in their lives. On the other hand, sometimes, when I read the great experiences of giants in the faith, I feel pretty small and ask why my life seems rather mundane in comparison. I certainly had both reactions to reading Smith Wigglesworth: The Secret of His Power by Albert Hibbert (Harrison House, Tulsa Okla. 1982). The story of Smith Wigglesworth’s miraculous healing ministry is breathtaking. But even more impressive to me was the record of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Wigglesworth was a powerful charismatic evangelist in the first half of the 20th century.
One cannot help but ask how Wigglesworth gained such spiritual strength, power and insight. He was a lay person with almost no formal education and an eclectic mix of spiritual training. His main qualification was that in addition to the usual experiences of salvation, baptism and sanctification, he had a definitive baptism in the Holy Spirit. Certainly, his spiritual gifts were God-given. The Bible teaches that God choses to give gifts for his own reasons which we are not privileged to. But Wigglesworth also did his part by maintaining an extraordinary spiritual life. His method of relaxation was spending time with God. He took communion daily (p. 64). His biographer says his faith was such that he was surprised, not when a miracle happened, but rather, when one did not (p. 97). He was completed dedicated to God’s Word too. “There are four principles we need to maintain,” he used to explain. “Firstly, read the Word of God. Secondly, consume the Word until it consumes you. Thirdly, believe the Word. Fourthly, act on the Word. I never consider myself fully dressed unless I have a copy of the Word of God in my pocket (p. 100).” The author says, “Wigglesworth never went more than 15 minutes without reading the Word of God…(p. 30).” The overall picture is that Smith Wigglesworth had an extraordinary daily walk with God. That was partly responsible for his power.
While I may not agree with Wigglesworth’s insistence upon speaking in tongues as the sign of the baptism of the Spirit, this does not keep me from being deeply impressed by his example of powerful ministry. This small, easy-to-read volume has been a prod to me ever since I read it to continue to believe God and to hunger and thirst for righteousness. I highly recommend it.