Religion Magazine

No Holy Spirit Day

By Richardl @richardlittleda

A sermon for Pentecost

Just before yesterday morning’s service, somebody asked me how I felt about preaching on the great festivals. I confessed that I found it particularly challenging, as the material was all so familiar. Hence the rather unusual approach taken in the sermon below.



Last Wednesday I was speaking at the Christian resources exhibition on the subject of the preacher’s paint box. By the time I have finished today, I don’t know whether you will regard this as a

YELLOW – cowardly sermon

RED – dangerous thing to say

BLACK – altogether lacking in light

BLUE – makes you sad

However, today I want to remind you of this: LIFE WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT. In order to make my case, we will have to look at some different verses together, so have fingers ready!

1. Flat scriptures (John 14 v. 26)

If only the Holy Spirit weren’t part of the equation – the power of the words of Jesus would have died out within a generation. Even though Gospel writers wrote them down, they would have been flat and static.We could have skimmed our eyes safely across the 2-dimensional page without anything ever standing up like a child’s pop-up story book. The Holy Spirit ruins all that. He takes exactly the same scriptures and applies them in such a way that they mean something different to every single one of us on every single reading. Think how much simpler it would be if this book were just a book. Think how much quieter your life would be if this were as 2-dimensional as an airport novel …or as forgettable as a Sunday supplement. That is Holy Spirit’s fault

2. Harmless preaching – Acts 2 v. 37

If you had been picked out and trained as a Rabbi. If you had learnt the whole of Torah by heart and then learnt the books of the Old Testament  by heart and then gone on to train after all of that as a teacher. What would you have thought when an uneducated, untrained, unqualified, fisherman like Peter got up in the spiritual epicentre of your universe and spoke up like this? You might have felt ok if nobody listened, or if they did listen but could not make head or tail of it through his thick Galilee accent. Look what happens though – hundreds are cut to the quick and their lives are turned upside-down.How dare he?

This is all down to Holy Spirit. Right now people on beaches and in forest clearings, people in tiny chapels and soaring cathedrals, people in suits and shorts and mitres and cassocks will stand up to preach and have an effect entirely disproportionate to their skill. People will be inspired. People will be shaken to very depths of their souls. Lives will be changed – and all this despite the small levels of skill on the part of the preacher.How is that fair?

  1. Nudge-free worship, Acts 13 v. 2 – 23

Why couldn’t these people be left in peace to worship on a Sunday? They had done well. they had established a Christian presence. In fact it was such a presence that this was the place where they first got nickname of “Christian”. This was great place for a church – right at the financial heart of the Roman Empire – the home of the imperial mint. Having done all of that….they turn up, pray…and the Holy Spirit just won’t leave them alone! In v.2 they get one almighty nudge and their best people get plucked away. From that moment onwards hundreds of coloured maps in the backs of Bibles begin.

If only the Holy Spirit would stay out of worship, we could come to church without living in fear that “something might happen”. We would never ever need to go through that awkward feeling of the tingle on back of the neck …that sweating of the palms…that pounding of the  heart when we feel like God has arranged this service of worship just to get through to us.

Life would all be so much easier without the Holy Spirit.

  1. Belief with an off-switch John 14 v. 15 – 17

Very often the belief in the existence of God is followed by a decision to follow him.Thanks to the Holy Spirit though, we can’t readily go back on it. I know plenty of people who have gone back on that 2nd decision.Plenty of people have stopped following because feel they made decision in haste or they regret the consequences.Thanks  to the Holy Spirit…they just can’t seem to shake that first decision about existence of God. Try as they might – it seems to keep creeping up on them:

  • In snatch of music heard wafting from a church
  • In a starry sky
  • In a baby’s perfect fingers
  • In the witness of their friends

Even if they choose not to act on it, they can’t quite stop believing it. If only the Holy Spirit weren’t there they could “switch off” in peace.

  1. Fellowship unglued….. Ephesians 4 v. 3 – 5

People Paul was writing to (here and elsewhere) were a crazy combination. There were:

Orthodox Jews and former pagans.

Slave owners and slaves

Educated and uneducated

Old,young, rich and poor

If only the Holy Spirit weren’t meddling with things they could have all formed separate churches. The Jews could have had a lovely time moaning about the pagans and the other way round. The slaves could have spent every Sunday talking about the cruelty of their masters, whilst their masters spent same time moaning about the laziness of their slaves. The old could have laughed at the young and the young shaken their heads at the old.

The Holy Spirit will insist that we worship together instead of enjoying time apart. Not only that – but he messes with our heads and hearts to make it possible. Try as we might – we can’t quite bring ourselves not to see a little tiny but of Christ in that person who annoys us. We can’t quite turn away from that person whose love of Jesus makes them disagree with us so strongly.

Why can’t the Holy Spirit leave us in peace?

6.World ignorant John 16 v. 8 – 11

If only Holy Spirit didn’t get inside people’s heads and hearts – the world could be untroubled by anything to do with Jesus.Christians could share their faith and show him in their life and because they are  not ever so good at it, the world could safely shrug and turn away. However, the Holy Spirit lends his power to the feeble efforts of Christians and people end up unexpectedly convicted. People who turn up in church for some innocent reason end up sucked in, convicted, challenged and saved.

The world at large would be much safer without the Holy Spirit.


See – how much simpler it would be without him.Is that really how we want it? Remember Ezekiel’s army – vast in number, as far as the eye could see– but no more than a pile of bones. It took the breath of God to animate it and bring it to life.With no Holy spirit the church is no more than a pile of bones. I saw lots of sculptures in Venice – but this is one of the more unusual. With no Holy Spirit, a bit like the sculpture, death has the last laugh.


CLICK for full size

Today we do welcome the Holy Spirit – we welcome all that he does to bring scriptures to life and heat to preaching of the word and unpredictable power to worship and glue to our fellowship and conviction to the world.Don’t we?

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog