The Latter Rain Evangel, August 1923.
Preached in Chicago, 31 October 1922.
[Sermon incorrectly dated 1923.]
“And great grace was upon them all.” Great grace is upon us when we magnify the Lord. If ever you want to see what God means when he gets a chance at his people, have a peep at the fourth chapter of Acts, and see what God did. Just because all the people shouted aloud to him, he imparted to them such blessing that every person was filled with the Holy Ghost, and I believe what God wants to do in these days is to give an inward manifestation of his divine presence within the body until the body is moved by the power of the Spirit. Beloved, we are accustomed to earthly things, but when God sends the heavenly it is beyond our understanding. Oh, to have the revelation of the mind of God! It fills my soul, the thought of it! Oh, for the kind of loosening of the body that we will never be bound again! Just filled with God!
I believe God wants us to understand something of the words of this life. What life? The manifestation of the power of Jesus in the human body, a divine life, a divine power, a quickening, thrilling energy given to you. I was baptized with the Holy Ghost in 1907. If anyone had said to me: “Now, Wigglesworth, you will see such-and-such things,” it would have been beyond my human comprehension, but the tide has risen for 15 years, and it is still rising. Thank God, there has never been a black day, nor a blank day.
When I think about the first church, how God favored her, how he burst through her, how he definitely spoke, how he transformed Christians and made them move with the power of apostles, that wherever they went they transformed lives—God did such wonderful things, and when I think of it, I think that we should have something far in advance, and say: “Look up; your redemption draweth nigh!” I want to take a perspective of what they were, and we must be. I am inwardly convinced of the power that awaits us, the installation of God’s movement right in our hearts.
I notice in the first church it wasn’t possible for a lie to live, and I want you to keep in mind that there is a time coming when nothing of uncleanness will be able to remain in his little flock. The first church was so pure God overshadowed it; he nursed it, brought it through, and he has his hand upon us at this time. How do we know? The Lord hath laid the foundation which is an immovable foundation. It is built upon the prophets; it is built upon the apostles; it is built upon the word of God, and the church will yet come into the fullness of the manifestation of the body of Christ.
God will keep his word. The church will be ready like a bride adorned for her husband; the gifts will be a ministry clothed upon; the graces will adorn the believer, and will be far beyond anything we have seen.
Now, Ananias and Sapphira were, I believe, baptized believers. I have a firm conviction in my heart that God in the first outpouring of the Spirit did his work so beautifully that those 3,000 who were pricked in their hearts met the condition of the bible pattern. Peter said unto them: “Repent, believe, be baptized and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” They obeyed and we have reason to believe they received the Holy Ghost. I cannot conceive of anything else but what the early church all received the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. And I believe today that we should press home to every soul the necessity of meeting the conditions and being filled with the Holy Ghost.
Then I notice here in this fifth chapter of Acts that God had the particular oversight of the church. I love to think of this. They gave of their substance, they gave willingly; they laid it down at the apostles’ feet, and they were so eager to give that they began selling their property, and brought the proceeds to the apostles. Now there were two people who had sold the land who began to talk over the thing at home, and this was the sense of their argument: “This thing may go down; it may leak out. If we give it all, we shall lose it all and have nothing left,” and so they reserved for themselves a portion, but they missed it. Listen: God never wants anything from you but a spontaneous heart gift, and anyone who gives spontaneously to God will always get a big cupful. God is never in any man’s debt.
I notice the moment God visited this people in showing up this sin and bringing death to Ananias and Sapphira, it instantly brought a tremendous fear over all the church, a fear that brought an answer. There is a fear that brings an answer. Were they afraid of God? No, it was something better than that. When they saw that God was there in judgment upon them they turned with a holy fear, with a reverence. It sobered things and the people began to see that God was zealous for them. There are two kinds of fear: One that is afraid of God, and another fear that loves God, and that was the fear that came over them, the fear of grieving God, which the Lord wants us to have. Oh, to fear him in such a way that you would rather be shot than to grieve him! That is it. This came over the people, and when it came, another thing happened. “No one durst join themselves to them.” That was a wonderful time. May God so sanctify His church that no one durst come near without he means business. Brother, did God have a hand in your plan? Did you join this people because you felt they were a choice people, or did you have the constraining power of God upon you?
I see more and more in this glorious life of God, that there is a pure whiteness to be achieved, there is a pure sonship without fear, and the saints of God shall rise in such confidence until they will remove what people think are mountains, till they will subdue what you call kingdoms.
I have had some wonderful times in Belfast, and in fact all over Ireland. I was in Belfast one day and a young man came to me and said: “Brother Wigglesworth, I am very much distressed,” and he told me why. They had an old lady in their assembly who used to pray heaven down upon them. She had an accident. Her thigh was broken and they took her away to the infirmary. They put her in a plaster-of-paris cast and she was in that condition for five months. Then they broke the cast and lifted her on to her feet and asked her to walk. She fell again and broke her leg in another place. And they found out that the first break had never knit together. They brought her home and laid her on the couch and the young man asked me to go and pray for her.
When I got into the house I asked: “Do you believe that God can heal you?” She said “Yes. When I heard you had come to the city I thought, ‘This is my chance to be healed.’” An old man, her husband, was sitting in a chair, had been sitting there for four years helpless. And he said: “I do not believe. I will not believe. She was the only help I had. She has been taken away with a broken leg, and they have brought her back with her leg broken twice. How can I believe God?”
I turned to her and said: “Now is it all right?” “Yes,” she said, “it is all right.” The right leg was broken in two parts. Physicians can join up bones beautifully, and make them fit together, but if God doesn’t come in with his healing power, there is no physician [who] can heal them. As soon as the oil was placed upon her head and hands laid on, instantly down the right limb there was a stream of life, and she knew it. She said: “I am healed.” I said: “If you are healed, you do not need anybody to help you.” I went out. She took hold of the mantle shelf above her head and pulled herself up and walked all around the room. She was perfectly healed.
The old man said: “Make me walk.” I said: “You old sinner, repent.” Then he began: “You know, Lord, I didn’t mean it.” I really believe he was in earnest, and to show you the mercy and compassion of God, the moment I laid hands upon him, the power of God went through him and he rose up after four years being stiff and walked around the room. That day both he and his wife were made whole.
Do you not believe now that God has a plan in all these things? I want you to realize that what God wants to do in us and through us in these days is to blend us together, give us one heart and one mind. They were all of one heart and one mind, and they had such faith that the shadow of Peter worked a transformation in their bodies. Of course, it was God that did the healing. But as Peter came along I can see the people moved by his presence. Beloved, we have one in the meeting tonight who is a million times mightier than Peter. His touch will set you free. It is the living virtue! “Go speak to the people the words of this life,” the life of the Son of God, the quickener by the word.
The first outpouring was of the Spirit, and the latter is to be the fullness of the Spirit. When God’s mighty power shakes the foundation and purifies, there is a transformation. The Lord is the life, and where the life of the Spirit and the word are together they bring forth an issue of transforming and quickening until the man is made like Jesus. Jesus is the firstfruits. It is lovely to think that God sent him in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh. Then we are here tonight with a clear conception of this thing, that the life of Jesus has come into our flesh and delivered us from the power of darkness and disease, from bitterness and covetousness, idolatry and lust; from the corruption of the present evil world, by the same Spirit, the same life.
I believe the Lord would have me take you to a moment in my life. I was having some meetings in Belfast, and this is the rising tide of what I believe was the move of the Spirit in a certain direction, to show the greatness of that which was to follow. Night after night the Lord had led me on certain lines of truth. There was so much in it that one felt they could not give up, and every night until 10 o’clock we were opening up the word of God. They came to me and said: “Brother, we have been feasting and are so full we are ready for a burst of some kind. Don’t you think it is time to call an altar service?” I said I knew that God was working and the time would come when the altar service would be called, but we would have to get the mind of the Lord upon it. There was nothing more said. They began early in the afternoon to bring the sick people. We never had a thing said about it. The meeting came and every seat was taken up, the windowsills were filled, and every nook and corner. The glory of God filled the place. It was the easiest thing in the world to preach; it came forth like a river, and the power of God rested mightily. There were a lot of people who had been seeking the baptism for years. Sinners were in the meeting, and a number of sick people. What happened? God hears me say this: There was a certain moment in that meeting when every sick person was healed, every lame person was healed, and every sinner saved, and it all took place in five minutes. There comes into a meeting sometimes something we cannot understand, and it is amazing how things happen.
When I was on the ship there was a man who had trained all his life, as it were, to be a physician. He got to be eminent and was looked up to as one of the leading physicians, an Indian. He had been over to England to lecture, and was going back on the ship on which I was traveling. When the Christian Science lady got healed she saw the captain and told him what God had done. The Captain arranged a meeting and I had a fine chance to preach to all on the ship. The Indian doctor was there and he was struck with what happened. At the close of the meeting people decided for Christ; some people followed me into my stateroom, where God healed them. This Indian doctor came to me. “I am done,” he said. “I have no spirit left. You must talk to me.” For two hours we talked and God dealt with him. He stood before me. “I will never have any more medicine,” he said. “God has saved me.” That physician saw the power of God and recognized it. You ask, “What is that?” That is where God plans a life in a moment, through one act. God wants the way into our lives. He wants to transform you by his grace. He wants to make you know that you are only here to be filled with his power and his presence for his glory. The “seed of the woman” must “bruise the serpent’s head.”
Now, beloved, the Acts of the Apostles were written to prove to us that the power and manifestation of God were to be continuous. Have you read about the scattering of these people at Jerusalem, how God was with them? Do not be afraid of persecution. I am never at my best until I am in a conflict, and until I have a fight with the enemy. They think I am rather unmerciful in my dealing with the sick, but I have no mercy for the devil and get him out at any cost. I resist him with all the power that is within me. God wrought mightily thru the persecution which came upon the church, and he could do the same today under similar circumstances.