Clearing Up Confusion

Clearing Up Confusion About the Holy Spirit and Baptism

Acts 19:1-8

September 25, 2022

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.     Background (Acts 19:1)


A.   Verse by verse through this marvellous Book of Acts in the New Testament

B.   Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus

C.   Paul Travels from Corinth in Greece on to Ephesus in Turkey


1.    Part of a quick trip through Asia Minor (Turkey) before he has to be down in Jerusalem for Passover

2.    We refer to this part of Paul’s travels as his THIRD missionary Journey

3.    He visits Ephesus many times – loves the people there

4.    Wrote the brilliant epistle (letter) to the Ephesian Christians, called the Book of Ephesians! A rich treasure of truths and practical instructions on living the Christian life!


D.   He meets some Confused Disciples (Acts 19:1) … and finding certain disciples,

E.    Luke is the author of the Book of Acts, and is impressed to record Paul meeting these men because this encounter clears up a lot of confusion about the Holy Ghost and Baptism


II.   Message


A.   Paul Found “Certain Disciples” (Acts 19:1)


1.    Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

2.    These Disciples were Confused


a.     They were Jews living in Ephesus

b.    But, different than the kind of Bible students that Paul normally met when he went from town to town and talked to the Jews – they were confused about some things


3.    They had a very LIMITED knowledge of the New Testament


a.     Just like Apollos was limited in his knowledge of Jesus and needed instruction and discipleship by Aquila and Priscilla

b.    These men knew nothing beyond what John the Baptist had preached

c.     And that was not enough!


4.    Paul is Concerned – could not just let them alone in confusion – missing some key truths


a.     It was a concern for Paul to make sure they fully understood the Gospel

b.    Just because someone calls themself a disciple, a student of the Bible, a Christian, a believer, does not mean they are


B.   Paul TESTS Their Beliefs by a Question About the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:2,3)


1.    “Have you received the gift of the Person of the Holy Ghost in your life since you believed?”


a.     Acts 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

b.    Belief that doesn't change you is only a religion

c.     An honest believer gets the priceless gift of the Holy Ghost in their life!


2.    They admit ignorance of the Holy Ghost


a.     The Holy Spirit is see throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 51:11)


1)    Genesis 1:1,2  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

2)    Psalm 51:10,11  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.


b.    But these men were ignorant of how important He was as part of saving their souls.


3.    Paul pressed further... “why were you baptized then?”


a.     What were you doing when you got baptized? (Acts 19:3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?...


b.    We were doing what John told all of us Jews to do (Acts 19:3) And they said, Unto John's baptism.


c.     We were repenting in preparation for the coming of the promised Messiah – the Saviour of the world! It’s interesting that what John preached was heard around the world!


1)    Matthew 3:1  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2)    Matthew 3:2  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3)    Matthew 3:3  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4)    Matthew 3:4  And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

5)    Matthew 3:5  Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6)    Matthew 3:6  And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.


C.   The Ignorance That Damns


1.    Repentant Baptism was a good thing to do - especially as a Jew – prepare for their Messiah

2.    But it only got them wet… the water did nothing for their souls

3.    They knew About the Messiah coming

4.    They did not know enough. They did not know:


a.     But did not know of Christ’s life, teaching, death on the cross, burial and resurrection

b.    Did not know that the promised Holy Ghost had come and stayed!

c.     Did not know the New Testament had begun at the cross – that forgiveness was paid for

d.    Sis not know He could save them right then and there!


5.    This is why we talk to everyone, and compel people to repent and believe the Gospel

6.    Because more and more people don’t know who Jesus really is

7.    And THAT Ignorance of Christ is damning!


a.     John 3:18  He that believeth on him is not condemned:

b.    but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


D.   Paul Explained the Gospel (Acts 19:4)


1.    Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

2.    John demanded repentance and baptism of the nation of Israel for a specific reason…

3.    In preparation for the coming of the Messiah


a.     Repentance is…


1)    A change of attitude about your sin – humility and brokenness, sorrow

2)    And a change of focus – from self, and sin, to Jesus Christ to save you!


b.    There is no salvation for a proud, unrepentant heart


4.    And then Paul told them that the Messiah has come! His name is Christ Jesus!

5.    And that the Messiah had lived in Israel, and died on a cross, and rose again for sin’s penalty!

6.    They must have stopped breathing!


E.   Notice Their Reactions (Acts 19:5-8)


1.    They believed Paul's explanation of the Gospel


a.     Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

b.    The Messiah had come! And had done His work, and finished it, and was back in heaven now! Waiting on whosoever to call on His name!


2.    Then were RE-baptized, in Christ's name - as followers of Jesus!

3.    And then, proved they had received the Holy Ghost


a.     Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

b.    Paul laid his hands on those men, as an apostle, and prayed for them, and the Holy Ghost came upon them like in the Old Testament

c.     They needed to prove that only NOW were they saved!

d.    And they started miraculously speaking in languages unknown to them (See Acts 2:4-6)


1)    Acts 2:4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

2)    Acts 2:5  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

3)    Acts 2:6  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

4)    Understood languages (as those spoken in Acts 2 and 10)

5)    Not “unknown” gibberish! They SPOKE-UP (were not ashamed)


e.     And they spoke about things to come – prophesied! Spoke things only the Holy Spirit of God could have revaled to them!


4.    They became a core group of energetic men in the church at Ephesus


a.     Acts 19:7 And all the men were about twelve.

b.    What a perfect number of men to start a church with!


5.    And they grew as they learned from Paul all about the new kingdom that Jesus had started!


a.     Acts 19:8  And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

b.    Explaining, and teaching and discipling everyone there


III.         Summary - What Should We Learn from This?


A.   Acts Describes Transitions – quite a few Changes Taking Place


1.    From an emphasis on the Jewish people, to all the Gentile nations and peoples

2.    Old Testament Law to New Testament Covenant of Grace

3.    The coming of the Holy Spirit and Him STAYING – in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come and go, but now, He comes and STAYS!

4.    From miracles to mainly preaching

5.    Another baptism – believer’s baptism we will talk about that in a moment


B.   Clearing Up Confusion about the Holy Ghost


1.    These twelve men did not know anything about the Holy Ghost – only God and His Messiah

2.    The Holy Ghost, and the Holy Spirit is the same Person – part of the Trinity


a.     The Holy Ghost is His name – His title (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost)
By-the-way, His name is only found in your King James Bible

b.    The Holy Spirit is His work – as God’s Spirit


3.    During the time of Acts, the Holy Ghost was sometimes given in stages so to show anyone could get saved, and not just the Jews


a.     First, to the Jewish apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, in Acts 2

b.    Then Cornelius got the gift of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in Acts 10, proving a Gentile and his entire household were just as saved as the apostles!


4.    So, Now, we get Him, the moment we are saved (Acts 10:43-47)


a.     Acts 10:43  To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

b.    Acts 10:44  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

c.     Acts 10:45  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

d.    Acts 10:46  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

e.     Acts 10:47  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have [ALREADY] received the Holy Ghost as well as we?


C.   Clearing Up Confusion About Baptism


1.    Did you notice, these certain Jews had already been baptized by John the Baptist, and yet still needed to get baptized AS believers? Not to save them. (Acts 19:3-5)


a.     Acts 19:3,4 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

b.    These men were ready for the Messiah, but not yet saved by the Messiah

c.     So they then BELIEVED in the Good News about Jesus

d.    And THEN were baptized… AFTER their new heart-belief

e.     Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.


2.    There were several baptisms back then – four as a matter of fact


a.     Repentant baptism


1)    Was for only the Jews, to get ready for the coming of the Messiah

2)    John the Baptist’s baptism was only water – a sign of repentance

3)    It saved no one

4)    John only pointed TO the coming of the Messiah, who would be able to save

5)    He said Jesus would come and baptize believers with the Holy Ghost

6)    No one needs to be baptized first anymore


b.    Holy Spirit baptism


1)    Occurs WHEN a person gets saved

2)    It is a spiritual baptism – it happens inside our soul

3)    When the gift of the Holy Spirit comes INTO us

4)    AND… when we get placed into Christ’s everlasting life


c.     Believers baptism is for those who have gotten saved!


1)    A statement to the world you are a believer in Jesus

2)    It symbolises Christ’s DEATH, burial, and then resurrection!

3)    It does nothing for you, except gets you out of the closet, and witnessing to the world that people need Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again for their sins!


d.    A FORTH baptism was warned about by John, the baptism of fire, which is hell!


1)    Matthew 3:10-12  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

2)    THAT is not a baptism to look forward to!


3.    Baptism is not ever as part of salvation


a.     You DON’T get baptized to get forgiven by Christ

b.    You get forgiven by Christ first (SAVED), and THEN get baptized


c.     It is like thinking a ring on your finger makes you married. The ring is a statement – “I belong to someone”

d.    Or, thinking wearing a white coat makes you a doctor. The smock is actually put on AFTER you have been trained to be a doctor and you take the Hippocratic oath – THEN you get to wear the white doctor’s coat!


4.    False Baptisms:


a.     Performed by yourself  - must be by a mature Christian, considered an elder or Pastor

b.    A baptism done in secret - must be public, unashamed

c.     If baptized as a baby – you had no choice – it was only a religious ceremony & invalid

d.    If done as part of your salvation – That is heresy and is not valid – “not of works!”

e.     If you were baptized by a religion that denies the Bible in part or in whole, and denies the Gospel in part or in whole – like being baptized by the Mormons – then it is false

f.     If you were baptized wrongly, then it is right and necessary to be baptized AGAIN – do it right!


5.    People are saved by faith in the blood of Christ (HIS death), NOT in the waters of baptism!


a.     Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through BAPTISM...”

b.    Oh. Sorry. THAT is what the cults believe!

c.     For by grace are ye saved through FAITH...” “NOT of works…”

d.    Water cannnot wash away our sins… what can?

e.     Sins are paid for (redeemed) ONLY by the blood of Christ. Everything else (including baptism, circumcision, prayers, money, etc) is flawed! “…ye were not redeemed [SAVED] with corruptible things… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” 1Peter 1:18,19




A.   Have You Decided to Believe on Christ yet?

B.   You have to get saved in this life – now is the accepted time, to day is the day of salvation

C.   Have you been Scripturally Baptized? For What Purpose were you baptised?


1.    To save you?

2.    To wash away your sins?

3.    To please your parents?

4.    To impress God?

5.    Or in simple obedience to show that you now belong to Jesus?

6.    If you are not Scripturally baptized, or are confused, talk to me!


D.   Are there ANY supernatural changes in your life? Or do you only have religion?

E.    Jesus Changes Lives! I and a 1,000 other people are living proof!

F.    Don’t walk out of a perfect opportunity to settle your relationship with God today!