The Theology of
Brian E. Trenhaile
God’s Generals (Graduate Level)
Pacific Christian University
February 8, 2008
Table of Contents
I. His Primary Relationship 3
Smith Depended Wholly Upon God 4
Scripture Meditation Helps Build a Relationship with God 4
Prayer and Praise were His Lifestyle 5
Holiness Crucial for Communion with God 5
II. His Attitudes towards Faith 6
The Audacity of His Faith 6
Deep Love Combined with Faith 6
His Definition of Faith 6
Faith Requires Action 7
Feeling Not Required 7
III. Dogged Determination 7
Biblical Examples 7
Contemporary Examples 8
The Theology of Smith Wigglesworth
Smith Wigglesworth obtained his theology from the Bible and by walking in the Spirit (cf. Wigglesworth, 82). The Bible is the only book he read (cf. Liardon, God’s Generals, back cover). Lester Sumrall says Smith even banned newspapers from entering his home. He also said that Smith devoted himself to reading the Word and praying (also cf. Wigglesworth, 102). Smith did this over and over again throughout the day (cf. Sumrall).
As Smith meditated on Bible passages the Holy Spirit gave him revelation after revelation. These revelations were simple while, at the same time, deep and profound.
His close relationship with God, along with an intimate knowledge of His ways, helped to powerfully equip Smith for dynamic worldwide ministry.
I. his primary Relationship
The close relationship that Smith Wigglesworth had with God was the source of his motivation and the phenomenal power that was demonstrated in his life (cf. Wigglesworth, 13). Smith’s relationship was very similar that to what “John the Beloved” had with Jesus. Both were not formally educated and came from lay backgrounds (cf. Wigglesworth, 33, 103). John was a fisherman and Smith was a plumber. Both received religious training while young, but they did not receive any formal college education. So these men naturally had a tendency to depend on their relationship with the Lord rather than their background or education. Paul the apostle, who had the very best in education, confirmed idealness of the path that John and Smith walked.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Philipians 3:7-10, NASB).
Paul did not say education was bad, he said that cultivating a close relationship with God is exceedingly more important. Smith believed that God required character from his servants and that formal education was not necessarily required.1
Smith Depended Wholly Upon God
Signs and wonders followed Smith’s ministry (cf. Liardon, God’s Generals, 195-226). Smith attributes this to His relationship with God. He was totally dependent upon God.
A baby takes all that comes to it. A prudent man lets his reason cheat him out of God’s best. But a baby takes all that its mother brings and tries to swallow the bottle and all. The baby can’t walk, but the mother carries it; the baby can’t dress itself, but the mother dresses it. The baby can’t even talk. So in the life of the Spirit, God undertakes to do what we cannot do. We are carried along by Him, He clothes us, and He gives us utterance. Would that we all had the simplicity of the babes (Wigglesworth, 100-101).
Scripture Meditation Helps Build a Relationship with God
Smith wisely allowed the Holy Spirit to bring revelation to him as he meditated on the scriptures (cf. Wigglesworth, 106). With meditation we can come to the place where Smith said, “The purpose of all scripture is to move us on to this wonderful and blessed elevation of faith where our constant experience is the manifestation of God’s life and power through us” (Wigglesworth, 76). The following comments stem from his meditating on Christ’s resurrection:
Our Christ is risen. He is a living Christ who indwells us. We must not have this truth merely as theory; Christ must be risen in us by the power of the Spirit. The power that raised Him from the dead must animate us; and as this glorious resurrection power surges through your being, you will be freed from all weaknesses and you will become strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. There is a resurrection power that God wants you to have and to have it today. Why not? Receive your portion here and now” (Wigglesworth, 70).
Prayer and Praise were His Lifestyle
Smith loved to pray. Many of his sermons clearly reflected his deep love and appreciation for prayer.2 Smith said, “It is only when men have learned the secret of prayer, of power, and of praise, that God comes forth” (Wigglesworth, 68).
Smith viewed holiness as an essential and central part of the Christian life. As a result, his ministry never fell into disrepute like some of God’s other generals.
Smith said, “When we are in the presence of God, when God is working mightily in our midst, there comes a great fear, a reverence, a holiness of life, a purity that fears to displease God” (Wigglesworth, 87). He also said, “The Holy Spirit begins in the heart, right in the depths of our human affections. He brings into the heart the riches of the revelation of Christ, implanting purity and holiness there, so that, out of its depths, praises may well up continually” (Wigglesworth, 94-95). Other aspects of his theology on holiness are reflected as follows:
First our faith comes through the righteousness of God. Note that righteousness comes first and knowledge afterwards. It cannot be otherwise. If you expect any revelation from God apart from holiness, you will only have a mixture. Holiness opens the door to all the treasures of God. He must first bring us to a place where we, like our Lord, love righteousness and hate iniquity before He opens us to these good treasures. When we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us; and it is only as we are made righteous and pure and holy through the precious blood of God’s Son that we can enter into the of holiness and righteousness in the Son” (Wigglesworth, 79).
II. His Attitudes towards Faith
Smith is often and rightly called the “Apostle of Faith.” Much can be learned from his interesting attitudes regarding this subject.
The Audacity of His Faith
In one of his sermons, Smith said the following: “I am not moved by what I see. I am moved only by what I believe. No man looks at appearances if he believes. No man considers how he feels if he believes. The man who believes God has it” (Wigglesworth, 30).
He also said, “If you will dare to believe God’s Word, you will see performance of His Word that will be truly wonderful. Here we have with the centurion an audacity of faith, a faith that did not limit God. Failures come when we limit the Holy One of Israel” (Wigglesworth, 65).
Deep Love Combined With Faith
Paul said, “The only thing that matters is faith working through love” (cf. Galatians 5:6). Smith had compassion for the multitudes and he combined this compassion with his faith. Smith’s commentary on I John 5:3, 4 follows, “He that believes Jesus is the Christ overcomes the world. It is a faith that works by love” (Wigglesworth, 13). Smith recommended praying to get a revelation about God’s love and the benefits that this loves brings.3
Smith had a very interesting take on faith. In the Spirit, Smith wonderfully combined several Bible verses (Romans 10:17, John 16:13, James 1:21, I Peter 2:24, Matthew 8:17, Colossians 3:4 and perhaps some other verses) to make the following definition for faith:
You ask, “What is faith?” Faith is the principle of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the Word, is called the Spirit of Truth. As we receive with meekness the engrafted Word, faith springs in our heart – faith in the sacrifice of Calvary, faith in the shed blood of Jesus, faith in the fact that He took our weakness upon himself, has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains, and that He is our life today” (Wigglesworth, 53-54).
Faith Requires Action
Faith must act to receive an impartation of power. Regarding Matthew 5:29-31 and Luke 8:45-47, Smith made the following comment about the woman with the issue of blood: “The impartation of this power produces everything you need; but it comes only as our faith moves out for its impartation. Faith is the victory. If you can believe it is yours” (Wigglesworth, 80).
Feelings Not Required
Smith said feelings should not be the source of faith.4 His comments are similar to Campus Crusade’s train analogy. The analogy is the “locomotive” represents “fact” (i.e. the Word of God), the “coal car” represents “faith,” and the ”caboose” represents “feelings.” The train can run with just the locomotive and coal car, the caboose is not required.
III. Dogged determination
Smith often talked about perseverance. Perseverance was deeply imbedded in his theology. He preached about Biblical examples, and he also illustrated the concept with people who lived during his lifetime.
Trials require perseverance. Smith had the following to say regarding trials we face:
Dare you believe God? Dare you stand on the record of His Word? What is the record? If thou shalt believe thou shalt see the glory of God. You will be sifted as wheat. You will be tried as though some strange thing tried you. You will be put in places where you will have to put your whole trust in God. There is no such thing as anyone being tried beyond what God will allow. Temptation will come but God will be with you right in the temptation to deliver you; and when you have been tried, He will bring you forth as gold. Every trial is to bring you into a greater position in God. The trial that tries your faith will take you on to the place where you will know that the faith of God will be forthcoming in the next test … If you are of sure ground, if you are counting on the presence of the living Christ within, you can laugh when you see things getting worse. God would have you settled and ground in Christ, and it is only as you are filled with the Holy Spirit that you become steadfast and unmovable in Him” (Wigglesworth, 73-74).
Smith loved the story of the Syrophoenician woman. She asked Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter, and Jesus insulted her by calling her a dog. But she would not back off and said, “Lord even the puppies get to eat the crumbs that fall off the table.” Jesus replied, “For this your daughter is well,” and it was so (cf. Matthew 15:25-27, Mark 7:26-28).
He told the story of a young lady with a goiter on her neck. She went up for prayer at one of his meetings. This woman thanked God for her healing. A year later she came to another meeting, stood and gave testimony thanking God for her wonderful healing, but the goiter was still there. Two years later she came to another meeting and said “It is grand to be healed by the power of God,” but it appeared that the goiter had gotten worse. Someone remonstrated her about her beliefs. So she went home and prayed to God, “Lord you so wonderfully healed me two years ago. Won’t you show all the people that you healed me.” Then she went to sleep. When she woke up in the morning there was no trace of the goiter (cf. Wigglesworth, 77-78).
Here is a vivid example of Smith’s own perseverance: He was brought to a man who was already dead. Smith propped a dead man up against a wall and told him to rise in the name of Jesus. When he released the man, he collapsed to the floor, because he was dead. So Smith propped him up against the wall again and told him again to rise in the name of Jesus. The man again collapsed to the floor dead. So Smith picked him up for the third time, propped him against the wall and told him to rise in the name of Jesus. For the third time, this man fell to the floor. But this time, after a while, his eyes started to move and he eventually got up and he lived (Liardon, God’s Generals DVD).
Smith Wigglesworth lived a supernatural life that was accompanied by many powerful manifestations. His key to success was his close relationship with the Holy Spirit similar to what Jesus had with the Father. Faith developed as a result of this deep relationship God. With this faith came signs and wonders, also similar to Jesus.
Smith prophesied that there would be a huge end time harvest. He said that this harvest would be characterized by an explosion of knowledge in God’s word in addition to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders (Sumrall). Today’s Christians need impeccable character like Smith. This can only be accomplished by being strong in the Word and continuously walking in the Spirit. Smith was strong in the Word and walked in the Spirit: He remains a timeless example of unwavering faith and perserverance.
Wigglesworth, Smith. Ever Increasing Faith, Revised Edition. Springfield, Missouri: Radiant Books, Gospel Publishing House, 1971.
Liardon, Roberts. God’s Generals: Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed, Reprint Edition. New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1996.
Liardon, Roberts. God’s Generals: DVD Teachings. Laguna Hills, California: Roberts Liardon Ministries, circa. 2000.
Sumrall, Lester. Message about Being Personally Mentored by Smith Wigglesworth, from God’s Generals: DVD Teachings. South Bend, Indiana: LeSEA Broadcasting, circa. 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Scripture references marked NKJV are taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION, Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, by The Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org).
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