A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

What did Smith Wigglesworth really preach?

It’s a while now since we last saw Todd Bentley warn a bewildered chap that he was just about to leg drop him so that he could earn a “revival” in his church. Another time he supposedly gave another man a two minute head start before he broke his teeth and sternum. Bentley’s erratic behavorisms were outlandish but they drew crowds. People came to see and be subjected to mesmerising antics. No one seemed to question the biblical basis of his practices.
People actually will crown any one as king if he can create an illusion or pretend to conjure up one. A couple of years before Mr Bentley graced the Evangelical scene, there was a like minded charismatic man called Smith Wigglesworth. No, he didn’t knock people around with his coat like some famous televangelists do on television or huff and puff a glory cloud to make people drowsy “in the holy ghost”. Mr. Wigglesworth is said to have punched a man so hard during one of his “revivals” that the man died. He then went on and raised him back to life, or so the legend goes. Today we will look at the teachings of Mr. Smith Wigglesworth. So, to begin with – who was Wigglesworth? Was he orthodox or a heretic? I am glad you asked….

20121215-190733.jpgSMITH WIGGLESWORTH (1859-1947) was a famous Pentecostal evangelist and faith healer. Many books have been written about his unusual life. He was converted in a Methodist church, confirmed as an Anglican, and as a young man was associated with the Salvation Army and Plymouth Brethren. In 1907 he claimed that he was “baptised in the Holy Spirit” after hands were laid on him by Mary Boddy, who alleged to have had a Pentecostal experience only a month prior to that. Mrs. Boddy believed in the doctrine of healing in the atonement, but she spent the last sixteen years of her life as an invalid. Wigglesworth, too, believed that physical healing is guaranteed in the atonement of Christ. He taught against the use of all medicine. He believed that signs and wonders should always follow the preaching of the Gospel. He taught that a Christian can be justified and sanctified but still not have everything necessary from God. “People are never safe until they are baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Wigglesworth, “The Place of Power,” June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 151). He taught that handkerchiefs which are prayed over will bring life if carried in faith to the sick (The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 231).

He taught: “Jesus came to set us free from sin, to free us from sickness, so that we should go forth in the power of the Spirit and minister to the needy, sick, and afflicted” (Wigglesworth, “Divine Life Brings Divine Health,” Pentecostal Evangel, Jan. 17, 1942). He claimed that the Christian has the power to speak things into existence: “God declares, ‘You have an anointing.’ Believe God and you will see this happen. What you say will come to pass. Speak the word and the bound shall be free, the sick shall be healed” (Wigglesworth, “Power from on High,” Pentecostal Evangel, May 27, 1944).

Like today’s Word-Faith preachers, Wigglesworth failed to make a proper distinction between the person and ministry of Jesus Christ and that of the Christian. He claimed that Jesus Christ increased in the fullness of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. “I want you to understand that after the trials, after all the temptations and everything, Jesus comes out more full of God, more clothed in the Spirit, more ready for the fight” (Wigglesworth, “The Place of Power,” June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 146). This is heresy. The Lord Jesus Christ was God the Son. He could not be “more full of God.” Further, He was given the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to be our example; He came to be our Savior (Lk. 19:10). Wigglesworth also taught that the Christian can operate in the same omnipotent power that Christ exercised. “Dare you come into the place of omnipotence? … God’s design is to bring you to the place where you will be a son clothed with the power of gifts and graces, ministries and operations, to bring you into glory, clothed with the majesty of heaven. For he shall bring many sons and daughters unto glory–unto son-likeness, son-perfection” (Wigglesworth, “The Privileges of Sonship,” August 1924, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 221). This is very similar to the false Manifest Sons of God theology of the perfectibility of certain saints, and it is the same heresy as that taught today by Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and other Word-Faith teachers. Again, it is a confusion of this present life with that which is to come. They would mock this statement, claiming that my problem is unbelief and spiritual blindness, but the fact remains that they cannot do the miracles that Christ performed. The Lord Jesus Christ never conducted a healing crusade and He never took up an offering before He performed His signs and wonders. He did not have any rock music to stir up the crowd. He did not laugh hysterically or stagger about like a drunk man. He could raise the dead and heal every sickness without fail. No Pentecostal preacher has ever been able to do this.

Wigglesworth taught a form of sinless perfection. He stated: “I am realizing very truly these days that there is a sanctification of the Spirit where the thoughts are holy, where the life is beautiful, with no blemish” (Wigglesworth, “Count It All Joy,” August 1925, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 226). Oh, that this were the truth, but it is not. The Apostle Paul described his experience in these words: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. … O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Rom. 8:18,24). There is spiritual victory through the Holy Spirit in this life, but it is not the experience described by Wigglesworth. It is not a life in which the thoughts are perfectly holy and in which there is no blemish. This is the destructive heresy of perfectionism, of complete sanctification, which has led multitudes of sincere people down the road of confusion and despair. To encourage people to seek and demand that which God has not promised is to expose them to demonic delusion and fleshly fanaticism.

Wigglesworth preached constantly on the power of faith, but he failed to balance his teaching with the absolute necessity of submitting one’s faith to the sovereign will of God. He failed to distinguish properly between this present life and the resurrection life which is to come (Romans 8:18- 25). Instead he taught: “Jesus would have us come forth in divine likeness, in resurrection force, in the power of the Spirit, to walk in faith and understand his Word, what he meant when he said he would give us power over all the power of the enemy. Christ will subdue all things till everything comes into perfect harmony with his will” (Wigglesworth, “The Substance of Things Hoped For,” Pentecostal Evangel, Oct. 25, 1924). This is a destructive doctrinal error which causes people to be confused about what they can and cannot expect from God in this present time. Such false teaching produces great confusion and results in the overthrowing of the faith of great numbers of people who, having tried to exercise the faith spoken of by the Pentecostal preacher and having failed to achieve the desired miracle, give up in great despair. Faith is trusting God and His Word NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES, whether He does miracles or whether He does not do miracles. Faith is waiting on God to bring His promises to pass, regardless of what I am experiencing in this present life. Hebrews 11 reminds us that there are two kinds of faith: that which overcomes difficulties (Heb. 11:32- 35a) and that which endures difficulties (Heb. 11:35b-40).

It is important when some one comes to you and says “God has told me….” Check and see if what he says next aligns with scripture. Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. For the Bible is the standard. It is God’s revealed will and word to us.

If you digress from Scripture and start listening to new voices and revelations, do not be surprised when you get kicked in the guts by hirelings, snakes oil sales men and heretics.

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11 responses to “What did Smith Wigglesworth really preach?

  1. Abraham K V December 16, 2012 at 16:17

    Jesus came to deliver us from the POWER of SIN while we are here. We should be increasingly freed from the power of sin from our life day after day..If that is not happening in your life you are believing another gospel. The first promise in the new testament is-Jesus Christ will save people from their sins. Not only forgiveness from sins, but also from the power of sins as well.

    • Acidri December 17, 2012 at 12:14

      Hi Abraham, there is no question as to the effectual work of Christ on the cross. No one can add to it or subtract from it. It was finished! How about the process of sanctification? ‘Sinless perfection’ as taught by many adherents has no biblical basis either in the Pauline letters or in Christ’s teachings. Instead we see the scriptures talking of the Christian walk as pilgrim’s journey thru trials and tribulations to bring him to the measure and stature of Christ. In the fullness of time the Christian will be glorified after death and the mortal will put on the immortal….the imperfect will put on the perfect. Yes, we have been saved but not yet. Yes we have reached His ‘rest’ but not yet. We all look forward to that blessed hope…when we are finally with Him and lack nothing. Then He will wipe away the tears from our eyes and we will sin no more.

      And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:3-4

      • Abraham K V December 17, 2012 at 19:42

        Dear friend Acidri, we are commanded to press on to perfection. We can live a life perfect in our conscience. We can have victory over all KNOWN SINS in our conscious life. But even then there will be unconscious sins in our life for which we are not guilty of. When we walk in the light, more and more of the unconscious sins we will discover and we will come into light in that area. Thus we will grow in the likeness of Christ right now day by day. One of these days we will see the Lord face to face and instantly we will be like Him. Then there will be NO SIN in us. Until then there will be unconscious sin in us. We can be more than conquerors right now. One who is living in sin (in the thought life) is living an old covenant life. (See the rich young ruler who could not obey the 10th commandment-‘thou shall not lust’). In the new covenant life, sin will have no dominion over us since we are living in grace. Grace is the power of God available to overcome sin. And every Christian should overcome sin. If we are not overcoming sin, then we are living an old covenant life. That is not the will of God for any one of us..

      • Acidri December 17, 2012 at 23:00

        Thanks, Abraham.

  2. Pingback: Does God always heal? « A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

  3. Pingback: Smith Wigglesworth | Christianity 201

  4. Bro. John Musilla May 21, 2014 at 22:49

    Bro. Smith Wigglesworth -One Of The Mightiest Servants Of GOD who Ever Lived-I Am Tremendously Blessed By The Way The Mighty Holy Spirit Used Him & Continues To Use Him Through The written Word!!! His Was A Powerful Ministry!!!!!!!!

    • Acidri May 22, 2014 at 08:02

      Hi John, it’s good to know that you have been ‘blessed’ in many ways by some one. Did this blessing expound on your knowledge of God as revealed through the the scripture? Or did his ministry make you feel good and excited about something? Many people are excited about sports and hobbies and talk shows but when we say a man has been ‘used of God’ that calls for a higher measure and standard. Paul was used of God to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He chose to know nothing else but Christ crucified. I hope it is the same with Smithwigglesworth and me plus you…that people not get drawn to signs and wonders that surround us but are drawn to Jesus Christ and his death for our sins to purchase our redemption.
      This post in particular highlights subtle false teachings that crept into Wigglesworths teachings. Some of them are rank false and heretical. Others are purely not held as orthodox christian beliefs. It’s upto you to consider this for your self and see if they align with what the bible says.

  5. joachim September 9, 2014 at 17:10

    Smith was usesd by God and that is true, if Jesus spit on the ground and mixed it with the soil to heal the blind, then any mearsures to be taken to heal the sick is accepted by God. I thank God for using Smith Wigglesworth to bless his people.

  6. Keith A. September 10, 2014 at 13:37

    Pentecostals have a tendency to be excellent apologists… for Pentecostalism and their Pentecostal protagonists. The origins and history of the Pentecostal – Charismatic movement, when examined in the light of Scripture, SHOULD raise red flags for any serious student of the Bible. Humbly, I submit.

  7. Mark A Perkins December 14, 2014 at 02:30

    Todd Bentley is a joke. Benny Hinn is a joke. Ken Copeland is a joke. Whatever happened to preaching the gospel? Jonathan Edwards and Spurgeon, Luther, Whitfield, Phinney and Calvin wouldn’t even recognize Christianity today. Woe to the wolves!

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