Summary: This is a sermon for Pentecost Sunday. It asks the question.. "Are we afraid of the Spirit?"
Acts 2:1-21 NIV
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
Fear of the Fire
Pyrophobia, also known as the fear of fire, is the abnormal and irrational fear of fire. But it doesn’t take a phobia to avoid fire… how many of us would stick around inside of a burning building. What if you were in our scripture text today… hidden inside that little room somewhere in Jerusalem? Filled with fear ever since Jesus left you… filled with fear because you do not know what to do. Filled with fear because Jesus told you to sit and wait… someone was coming for you. As you sit… huddled together with the other disciples in that little room… the room is suddenly filled with a terrible rushing noise and fire surrounds you. How many of you stick around to see what happens? How many of you, when that flames starts falling donw, heading right for your head… sit there and think, “Well I can’t wait to find out how this is going to turn out?” Common sense says run. Common sense says protect yourself. Common sense says… it’s not worth the risk.
Perhaps, however… you are one who wants to say… “But pastor… that was the Holy Spirit! The disciples KNEW it was the Holy Spirit. They didn’t have anything to be afraid of.” But I could make a very strong argument that there are more people with pneumaphobia, the fear of the Holy Spirit, than there are people with pyrophobia! We know what happened to the disciples after that first Pentecost. They went from sitting in their safe little hideaway to running to the streets to preach and proclaim the Good news. They went from following… to leading. They went from living for Christ… to DYING for Christ. All because of the Holy Spirit.
So… if you were offered a big helping of the Holy Spirit today KNOWING it meant preaching and proclaiming… knowing it meant leading instead of following, knowing it would mean dying for Christ and not merely living for Christ. How many of us would gladly take it. Common sense says run. Common sense says protect yourself. Common sense says… it’s not worth the risk.
Brothers and sisters, we worship a Trinitarian God, (Father, Son, AND Holy Spirit) however… far too often Christians run away from the fires of Pentecost… run away from the Holy Spirit… and act like there is only a Father and Son. The average Christian has a lot in common with the Ephesians believers when the Apostle Paul came to them in Acts 19:2 and said to them - Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They replied “We do not know this Holy Spirit.”