Smith Wigglesworth came to America from Britain in 1914. What people saw in his meetings defied all human explanation:
“Smith Wigglesworth, often referred to as ‘the Apostle of Faith,’ was one of the pioneers of the Pentecostal revival that occurred a century ago. Without human refinement and education he was able to tap into the infinite resources of God to bring divine grace to multitudes. Thousands came to Christian faith in his meetings, hundreds were healed of serious illnesses and diseases, as supernatural signs followed his ministry. A deep intimacy with his heavenly Father and an unquestioning faith in God’s Word brought spectacular results and provided an example for all true believers of the Gospel.” (Smith Wigglesworth.com).
Smith was far ahead of his time, and his faithful witness led to the next phase that was needed.
Divine healing had fallen into disrepute. Meetings were often fraught with emotionalism. Charlatans whipped audiences into frenzies. Most healing testimonies were sketchy at best.
Things were also bad outside the church. America was in the grip of the fear of impending war. Psychiatry was replacing faith. A whole generation was racing away from God. Preachers were at a loss as to what to do about it.
Then in the 1920s, Aimee Semple McPherson came to Los Angeles. Her crusades across America filled the biggest venues. At one point, around 15% of the City of Los Angeles attended the church she built, Angelus Temple.
The smoke of God’s glory appeared in Angelus Temple. Miracles flowed freely. Aimee was not just a faith healer−she was also a worthy opponent to any atheist foolish enough to debate her.
1946: Enter William Branham. The atmosphere in his meetings is low key. There is no attempt to manipulate the people. Branham tells the audience when the angel of the Lord is present—a statement that should sound preposterous, except that astounding things start happening.
Oral Roberts once told me, “There were no hard cases for Branham while he was enveloped by the anointing.” Growths vanished, lifeless limbs awakened, blind eyes opened.
American historian, David Edwin Harrell Jr. described Branham as:
“An unlikely leader….his preaching was halting and simple beyond belief. But William Branham became a prophet to a generation. A small, meek, middle-aged man with piercing eyes, he held audiences spellbound with tales of constant communication with God and angels. Night after night, before thousands of awed believers, he discerned the diseases of the sick and pronounced them healed.”
Few men have ever been endowed with the raw supernatural power of William Branham. There, for the entire world to see−and for medical science to test−were signs and wonders that were incontrovertible.
Then in 1947 a young Oral Roberts went to Kansas City to hear Branham. The experience led him to resign his church in Enid, Oklahoma and obey God’s mandate to “take My healing power to your generation.” More than any healing ministry since Jesus, Oral indeed took God’s healing power to his generation.
He dared to put the miracles of Jesus on prime time television. God used him to found Oral Roberts University which has sent amazing leaders around the world.
Kathryn Kuhlman: When she began to minister she faced an onslaught of criticism for being a divorced woman preacher…God had to do startling miracles to open doors for her ministry. America got over her past and flocked to her services. She set attendance records in the largest venues.
The miracles of healing were documented and became the most convincing body of evidence for miracles that the medical community has ever seen. Renowned surgeons, heart specialists, and medical experts sat in the front rows of her meetings.
However her greatest contribution was her revelation of the Holy Spirit. She was in Pittsburgh teaching something that was very new and real to her on the person of the Holy Spirit when a woman who was neither called out nor prayed over was instantly healed of terminal stomach cancer.
The disarming simplicity of her message on the Holy Spirit can be misleading. Sometimes there is nothing more powerful than simplicity. The church in general at that time, had fallen into a powerless funk in reaction to the “God is dead” movement and the surge of drugs in the youth culture.
The same Holy Spirit that took, as she said, “a nobody” and raised her up to alter the course of history should inspire us to follow her example.
Now we, in 2019, have come to another terrible moment for the Pentecostal and the Charismatic movements in America. Compromise has hit us from the most unlikely sources. A pandemic moral and political cowardice paralyzes our pulpits. The wholesale attack on the constitutionally protected rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion has met only token resistance from “Spirit-filled” pastors.
Today we have widespread reports of “revivals” that are hugely disappointing. In our heart of hearts we know they are total hype. Healings are claimed but not confirmed.
We have witnessed the rise of an entire “revival” industry that hawks imaginary authority. People are reveling in spiritual fantasy worlds, blending astral projection and UFOs with Christianity.
Travelling ministries today sell high-pitch ecstasies that promise towering results over the enemy, but deliver zero impact on the culture.
I have my suspicions. I wonder if the voices that scream revival the loudest are simply trying to drown out their own unbelief, or if the abuse of GRACE−that has pastors drinking hard liquor after church−is merely defeatism that says, “What’s the use in trying?”
The times are dark, so dark in fact, that they carry a strange hope. Maybe we are finally, finally willing to shed the stubborn sins that have imprisoned us in religious irrelevancy and deception.
A real hunger for truth is replacing ‘political correctness’. Donald Trump is a symptom of widespread anger with ‘tolerance’ and ‘political correctness’. We have become a ‘fed up’ culture. People agree with President Trump about America, and that is why all of the criticism the media is throwing at him does not stick.
Perhaps we are witnessing the creation of a positive vacuum in Spirit-filled believers and in society. This is our best opportunity to save America. This vacuum is causing both Pentecostals and Charismatics to replace empty religion with a real relationship with Jesus, and that is where the key to power lies.
Many believers are angry with politically correct preaching. The cry now is, “Quit feeding us junk food!” We want to experience the power of God and are no longer satisfied with just a ‘feel good’ message. Look around you… the hunger for truth is rising.
A true desperation is replacing our attitude of entitlement. Americans know that they are in danger of losing their future to our government. They no longer harbor the fantasy that tells us we’re going to pull out of this just because we are America.
Many Christians realize that they have never known true desperation until now. They don’t want church to make them feel good anymore, they want church to put them right and make them strong. They want something real so badly that they will take it straight—not sugar-coated or diluted.
A true spirit of prayer is replacing artificial prayer. Believers are waking up to the fact that their prayers have been wrong. Their prayers were filled with agendas. Pastors prayed as if prayer was a booster rocket for their pet program. Prayer is returning to the raw, unconditional surrender that it was supposed to be all along.
The real message here is not the arrival of a man, but of an era of explosive miracles. That is what I am sensing and expecting. What we have been waiting for will come in an unexpected package—as these 5 vessels did.
Today, the Spirit-filled movement finds itself in the same predicament. Once again, we are mired by division and emotionalism. Only this time it is much, much worse. Unless the church prays down the supernatural healing of God, America is on the verge of total collapse, bankruptcy, and moral anarchy. But I feel something stirring that man cannot stop. I believe we are on the verge of the explosion of divine healing miracles. Why?
Because I believe we have finally reached the place of total desperation. Maybe now we will trade the unreliable for the undeniable. Let it be, Oh, God.