The Word and the Spirit

A prophecy given by Smith Wigglesworth in 1947, just before he died.

During the next few decades there will be two distinct moves of the Holy Spirit across the church in Great Britain.  The first move will affect every church that is open to receive it and will be characterised by a restoration of the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The second move of the Holy Spirit will result in people leaving historic churches and planting new churches. In the duration of each of these moves, the people who are involved will say ‘This is the great revival’.  But the Lord says ‘No, neither is the great revival but both are steps towards it.’

When the new church phase is on the wane, there will be evidenced in the churches something that has not been seen before: a coming together of those with an emphasis on the Word and those with an emphasis on the Spirit.

When the Word and the Spirit come together, there will be the biggest movement of the Holy Spirit that the nation, and indeed the world, has ever seen.  It will mark the beginning of a revival that will eclipse anything that has been witnessed within these shores, even the Wesleyan and the Welsh revivals of former years.  The outpouring of God’s Spirit will flow over from the UK to the mainland of Europe, and from there will begin a missionary move to the ends of the earth.

This last paragraph always gives me goose-bumps: come on God, this is what we long to see – and we have been given a road-map! Smith Wigglesworth’s prophecy is a marker word for the people of God in Britian: it should be keeping us on track as we press in for the fullness of the kingdom.  Not only was he an extraordinary man of faith who saw wonderful miracles of healing and the supernatural and embodied the coming together of the Word and the Spirit, but the two distinct moves of the Holy Spirit that he foretold actually happened in the middle years of the 20th century.  The Pentecostal revival of the 50’s restored the baptism and gifts of the Spirit and the charismatic movement of the 70’s caused the planting of new churches.  With that kind of confirmation we cannot doubt the veracity of this prophet!

Much has been said and written about the coming together of the Word and the Spirit, by people far more qualified than I.  There is no doubt that the phase of ‘new churches’ – the ‘house-church’ movement – is on the wane… so what does this coming together of emphases look like? At first it was assumed it was about evangelical churches and charismatic churches finding each other, working together – it fuelled much of the push for ‘churches together’ type unity across our towns and cities around 10 years ago.  But lets be honest – the charismatic streams have not really been living in the power of the supernatural, nor the conservative groups exhibiting the cutting edge of the word for some years.  Looking back at the wording now it is interesting that he said, ‘there will be evidenced in the churches’ – not ‘between’ congregations. Certainly over the past years people of faith from many different backgrounds have begun to rise up and cross over old boundaries to start to search for something real and dynamic and develop relationships with others who are doing the same.  The challenge though, is always to hold through with those of a different persuasion: it is so much more comfortable to stay within our own group of like-minded seekers!

The emphasis on the Word and the emphasis on the Spirit… It is very scriptural to have different leanings! We are a Body with different parts, we all have different gifts. Unfortunately, we are too often like the 3 blind men who had to describe an elephant: one insisted it was a creature shaped like a snake, another like a wall of leather and the third like a tree trunk with a pig’s tail! The combination of all of these was beyond them.  To begin to see God’s bigger picture of His church requires fresh sight which only comes through dropping our own prejudices and softening our hearts: humility is always the starting point.

We think we know what ‘the Spirit’ is – what that emphasis represents: the supernatural outbreak of heaven on earth in signs and wonders, the tangible Presence of God. Perhaps ‘the Word’ is less easy to pin down: it must be about authority and truth, God’s righteousness and promises, His unchangeable and unshakeable foundation – it is the means of release of power, the word of faith that changes everything.  I have been looking out for signs of a coming together across such a ‘divide’ and wondered if the large international gatherings of prayer movements and mission organisations that have been happening in recent years – the willingness of leaders from such different persuasions to come together to strategise for world evangelisation so that Jesus can come back – was a helpful pointer for us.  Prayer is about following the Spirit’s lead, calling His purposes in: mission is about taking the powerful word of the gospel that can save souls out to all who don’t know Him. Certainly it is quite a miracle when ‘evangelists’ and ‘prophets’ agree and work together!

This morning I woke up – in more ways than one! – to this Scripture:

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than 12 legions of angels? But how then will the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

This is the Spirit and the Word at work in Gethsemene.  It is the reality of the availability of heaven’s resources and the choice Jesus makes to drink the cup of suffering because the Word is so important. In fact, Jesus IS the living Word that God spoke to the earth! What does His life tell us about the message? Submission, obedience, suffering and death are the keys to unlock the resurrection power God has put within us by His Spirit!  It is the tension of opposites – the tension in which we live.

This is my reality, living with Sam’s life-threatening cancer, knowing there is a God who is so near and so powerful, with all of heaven’s resources: nothing is too hard for Him.  Yet there is suffering, the reality of this fallen world, the fragility of walking through it uncertain of what will happen, in pain – which I choose to see as intercession, sharing in the sufferings of others.  Where is my faith? What a pathetic response; I should be rising up and declaring the kingdom, calling for healing!  Yet Jesus didn’t take that path in Gethsemene… and that gives me hope that I am not just wimping out here: I am bearing something of the depth of sorrow and the dying.  Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?

It seems to me that the Word is about being rooted in the story of this world.  As Jesus came as God’s message and put his feet on our soil, let His blood run down onto the land, identified with human weakness, rejection, poverty, agony and let His light shine in our darkness, the whole story of redemption reached down to hell itself… so that He can ‘fill everything in every way’ (Ephesians 1v23). To hold together those walking in the deep places with those rising with angels, to keep both earth and heaven in tension and harmony, what is and what is to come – surely this is part of what it means to see Word and Spirit come together and complement each other.   This kind of mutuality will facilitate the great revival we long for that can touch every place of pain and need.  Love, compassion, mutual respect and the willingness to see what we have not seen will release the grace of God to the nation and nations. It was the way Jesus took.

My son said last night he wants to join the movement of those who are discovering supernatural Christianity.  He wants to go to Bethel, meet up with Jason Westerfield, see the dead raised. This is not just because he wants his own healing, but because he has a longing in his heart for heaven’s realities – the true gospel.  He wants to do that stuff! Meanwhile my daughter, in all integrity, has followed the path of the Word, studying among others Simone Weil an extraordinary Christian philosopher with a challenging approach to suffering. I am so proud of the journey she has taken, with her heart full of compassion for the poor and broken and an uncompromising passion for justice.  She faces the reality of Sam’s diagnosis head on, though it hurts her terribly.  Martin and I stand somewhere in the middle, holding onto hope and living daily with the reality of death – as he has so often to remind his patients… Word and Spirit fuse together in us. No wonder we have been called a revival family!

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About Sally Ann

True-story teller - words and pictures
This entry was posted in Prophetic language, Quotable quotes, Something to say. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Word and the Spirit

  1. stevelowton says:

    Had not seen this perspective on word and spirit. Thanks as ever Sally Ann for rising above your own journey to see way beyond. I need to ponder these matters further and am grateful for the provocation to do so.

  2. Lloyd Cooke says:

    Thanks for your perceptive & astute insight, Sally Ann….mission movements + intercessory movements flowing together…”YES!”. Every Blessing Lloyd

  3. Hywel Rhys says:

    Thank you Sally Ann for this costly word. I’ve been pondering along these lines for years and noticed here: ‘to keep both earth and heaven in tension and harmony,’ that you use the word ‘tension’. I wonder what we understand by that word and what you intended in using it.
    The journey of Word and Spirit that I have observed has been one of ‘finding the balance’ between them. The result is a spectrum of opinion regarding how much weight we are to give to this that and the other, with clusters or factions of like minded believers gathering with their assent to the weight given at each point.
    A while ago I was personally shocked to realise how upside-down this is. Think about this example for only a moment and it becomes clear: Two aspects of God’s character have been wrestled over for generations, Justice and Mercy. How much weight I give to each determines what I believe about heaven and hell, salvation and a host of other issues. The end is an independence of thought and belief, because I am the one “dividing soul from spirit, joints from marrow; (judging) the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
    However, if I am held in tension by his Justice and Mercy then it throws me into dependence upon him – a far less comfortable position but of greatest comfort. It isn’t intellectual laziness, as we still must wrestle, but the end is that I must strive to enter his rest and not mine.

    • Sally Ann says:

      Wow – thanks, Hywel. That means a lot coming from you 🙂 Yes, it was a costly word to write… I think by using the word ‘tension’ I intended to convey the discomfort. I feel that discomfort a lot at the moment. It certainly does mean I cannot lean on my own understanding at any point… I simply have to trust and lean on Him.

  4. Nigel Stock says:

    Thank you for another insight into a prophetic word that has been much quoted in recent years.

    I daresay that living without tension is beyond reasonable expectation in this life and for there to be movement there must be imbalance but I long for there to be a widespread recognition in the body of the full spectrum of word and spirit influences as we follow the one who has everything in perfect harmony.

    The testimonies of each of you in your family are an inspiration!

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