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Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, And Evangelicals (Rev 1)

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Introduction

Christian scholarship has historically been dominated by Fundamentalists and Evangelicals leaving the burden of proof to rest on Pentecostal theologians to prove the hermeneutical legitimacy of their theological positions. A specific example of this is the Pentecostal position of initial evidence and subsequence which is rejected by both the Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals.

The scope of this work is to summarize the two main positions in this debate, explain the relevance of the debate, to state and defend my position in the debate, and discuss the role that contemporary experiences have in interpreting first-century experiences that are recorded in the Bible.

The Doctrine at the Center of the Debate

Pentecostal doctrine and teaching is well aligned with orthodox Christian theology on all points except the teaching about the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the accompanying sign of speaking in tongues (Menzies 2000, 29). The doctrine at the center of this debate is clearly defined in the Assemblies of God fundamental truths seven and eight:

Fundamental Truth 7: All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowal of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-32). This experience distinct and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 15:7-9). With the baptism in the Holy Ghost come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 4:8), a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:43; Hebrews 12:28), an intensified consecration to Him and a dedication to His work (Acts 2:42), and a more active love for Christ, for His Word, and for the lost (Mark 16:20).

Fundamental Truth 8: The baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-10, 28), but different in purpose and use (Assemblies of God 2003, 216-217).

The Two Positions

There are various opinions of theologians on this doctrine, and degrees of tolerance toward the position of the Assembly of God fundamentals seven and eight. The two main positions this work will address are that of Gordon Fee and Roger Stronstad. Both are Pentecostal Assemblies of God ministers. The disagreement between Fee and Stronstad is not regarding the reality of the baptism in the Holy Spirit or the legitimacy of this experience, but rather in the hermeneutics and application of the Scriptures in regard to this doctrine.

Gordon Fee states that "unless Scripture explicitly tells us we must do something, what is merely narrated or described can never function in a normative way" (Fee 1982, 97). Fee goes on to say, "The Word of God in Acts that may be regarded as normative for Christians is related primarily to what any given narrative was intended to teach . . . Historical precedent, to have normative value, must be related to intent" (1982, 99). Also "If it can be demonstrated that Luke's intent in Acts was to lay down a pattern for the church for all times, then that pattern surely becomes normative (Fee 1982, 89). In regard to historical precedent Fee says, "The use of historical precedent and an analogy by which to establish a norm is never valid in itself. Such a process (drawing universal norms from particular events) produces a non sequitur and is therefore irrelevant" (Fee 2006, 94). To Fee, just because something is recorded in the Bible as and actual historical event, it does not legitimately give the expectation of that event becoming a norm or a standard for future behavior.

Roger Stronstad argues that Luke was a theologian and his point for writing was to teach coming generations about what Christianity was supposed to be, therefore it is legitimate to use Luke's narrative to establish the experiences of the early church as normative for future generations. He criticizes "alleging an unbiblical dichotomy between the so-called descriptive and didactic passages of Scripture" (Stronstad 1984, 6). Stronstad claims that "there is in fact a biblical precedent for historical precedent" (Stronstad 1993, 5). He quotes the New Testament Apostle Paul: 1) "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom 15:4 NIV); 2) In regard to the experience of Israel in the wilderness Paul says "these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come" (1 Cor 10:11 NIV), the version Stronstad quoted (1984, 7) used the words " for our instruction" instead of "as warnings"; and 3) "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17). Stronstad is using Scripture to argue his point rather and a hermeneutic system. Theses passages he quoted aptly make the point he is trying to argue.

Stronstad argued compellingly that Luke's pattern of writing was that of the Old Testament writers, and that Paul used the Old Testament narratives with didactic purpose:

If for Paul the historical narratives of the Old Testament had didactic lessons for New Testament Christians, then is would be most surprising if Luke, who modeled his historiography after the Old Testament historiography, did not invest his own history of the origin and spread of Christianity with a didactic significance (Stronstad 1984, 7).

Giving strength to Stronstad's argument is the often repeated claim amongst Christians that the Bible interprets itself; biblical theology studies and Scriptural surveys do work this way. This is demonstrated by the common practice of using clearer portions of the Bible to interpret more difficult passages in the Bible.

Relevance of the Debate

The relevance of this debate is foremost to the Pentecostal theologian. This debate can either prove the theology of the Pentecostals to be true, or it can render the theology of Pentecostals a heresy that is founded on poor hermeneutical practices. In fact, until the National Association of Evangelicals in 1942, Evangelicals thought Pentecostals should be classified as a cult (Menzies 2000, 29). This debate is often framed as a "somebody has to be wrong" debate. The Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals all have an interest in this debate because it affects what should be normative in all churches. All three groups believe that they are serving God in the most accurate biblical fashion.

This entire discussion rests on five portions of Scripture in the book of Acts, and they are: 1) 2:4, the Holy Spirit came to their prayer meeting and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke in tongues; 2) 8:17, in Samaria Peter and John placed their hands on some believers prayed that they would receive the Holy Spirit and they received the Holy Spirit; 3) 9:17-19, Ananias prayed for Saul and he received back his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit; 4) 10:44-46, Peter was preaching at the house of Cornelius and the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message and they spoke in tongues; 5) 19:6, Paul placed his hands on some of John the Baptist's followers and they received the baptism and the spoke in tongues and they prophesied.

The issue of "subsequence" becomes relevant also at this point. The term subsequence in regard to the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit refers to the receiving of the baptism as an event that happens after a person receives the Lord Jesus as their savior. The subsequence doctrine comes from the Assemblies of God fundamental truth number seven. According to the Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals, this baptism happens at the time of salvation; it is not a distinct and subsequent event.

There is an assumption made by the Assemblies of God in fundamental truth eight regarding speaking in tongues being the initial evidence of receiving the baptism. The assumption is that in all five passages speaking in tongues was the initial evidence, when in fact only three passages state that was the case. This is relevant to the debate because good exegetical and hermeneutical practices does not allow us to make assumptions about what Scripture does not say.

But there is difficulty with historical precedent being interpreted as teaching or establishing norms. Things can get confusing and difficult to sort out such as: 1) Acts 1:26, they prayed about who was to replace Judas and "Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles (NIV); and 2) Acts 4:32 "All the believers were of one heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own but they shared everything they had" (NIV). The relevance to the debate here is this: if historical precedent is set by things that were done, then are we prepared to roll the dice to select our leaders and share everything we with own with everyone?

To summarize, the relevance of this debate of historical precedence regarding these passages in the book of Acts is important because many churches would have to rethink their program. Fundamentalists generally believe that speaking in tongues, prophesy, healing and many other works of the Holy Spirit stopped when the apostles died out. Evangelicals believe these gifts can still continue to operate today, but that they do not always. Pentecostals expect the church to function as it did in the first century and like the book of Acts states. This debate is relevant because of the three different positions. The result is disunity among brothers.

My Position

My position in this debate is that of Roger Stronstad. I agree with Stronstad about how Paul uses Scripture as normative and for patterns to teach Christians. He mentions specifically how Paul used historical precedent arguments to make his points to his audiences. I would consider Paul to be of a higher caliber exegete and theologian than those living today.

I agree that Luke surveyed and arranged his material to teach "Theophilus". Of course the debate continues on whether Theophilus is a person or a body of people, regardless, Luke makes a statement in chapter 1:3-4 that exposes his intent:

Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke's intent seems very clear there. I point out also that Fee said if the intent of Luke could be determined to teach a normative paradigm, then he would support that interpretation (Fee 1982, 89).

The only reservations I have in regard to Stronstad's position, is the potential for abuse of the use of historical precedent. I understand that with anything comes the potential for abuse, but there is some inequity right from the start, such as the passages about women being silent in church (1 Tim 2:11), women not holding leadership positions (1 Tim 2:12), and haircut rules for men (1 Cor 11:14). I think we must tread lightly and carefully in these areas.

Role of Contemporary Experience

If one experiences the Spirit baptism as it is described in the book of Acts, then one would find support biblically for that experience. These portions of Scripture would resonate as true and would be confirmation that the person who experienced it was living out a biblical Christianity. Fee commented on this:

It is probably fair to note-and important- to note that in general the Pentecostal' experience has preceded their hermeneutics. In a sense, the Pentecostal tends to exegete his or her experience (Fee 2006, 86).

The amusing thing is that this whole debate is about Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals all doing just that. The Fundamentalist and the Evangelical will deny the Pentecostal has any better understanding about the Scriptures that deal with Spirit baptism because of his experience, but will argue that their understanding of Scripture is superior to someone who has not received Christ because of their own born again experience. The Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals claim that the Pentecostals are exegeting their experience rather than Scripture in regard to the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit being speaking in tongues. I would also argue that those who have not experienced this subsequent baptism accompanied by speaking in tongues use that to confirm and inform their exegesis.

My position is that this debate which is relevant and important to all three groups of Christians will not be argued exegetically or hermeneutically; the experience of the person will determine which camp they fit in, and that will determine their hermeneutic.

Conclusion

The debate over initial evidence and subsequence will continue. Fee makes good points in regard to being cautious about claiming historical precedent, and with that consideration and caveat in mind, my opinion is that Stronstad makes a better case from the Scriptures for historical precedent of initial evidence and subsequence.

The relevance of this debate is clear, but to non-Pentecostals it is a non-essential doctrine. This makes the point about the role of experience, and how powerful it is. To experience this blessing results in the desire for everyone to get to experience it, and therefore clouding the lenses of objectivity, and if it was never experienced it would be deemed unnecessary.

REFERENCE LIST

Assemblies of God General Council. 2003. Where We Stand: The Official Position Papers of the Assemblies of God. 6th ed. Springfield MO: Gospel Publishing House.

Fee, Gordon D. 2006. Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. 1982. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Menzies, William W. and Robert P. 2000. Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Stronstad, Roger. 1984. The Charsimatic Theology of Luke. Peabody: Hendrickson.

Stronstad, Roger. 1993. The Biblical Precedent for Historical Precedent. In Paraclete. Volume 27, Number 3:1-10.

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I remember being brought up in Evangelical Churches. My family attended both The Assemblies of God and the Elim Evangelical churches. I remember as a child looking at the bewildering reactions of those around me. It now seem to me there was a lot of peer pressure to speak in tongues and I always wondered why God would want someone to speak in a languge (if it ever was one) that no one present could understand and no one could prove the ministers interpretation was legit either. The emotional frenzy in such churches can be what puts many off attending or even come near them. It is also this emotional frenzy that acts like a constant assertion of a group whether or not one has felt something but they joiin in anyway. It is easy to feel something a crowd is exhibiting around one as can be seen in a football crowd or the audiance at a show. When someone claps everyone claps. I look at such services in the same sort of light. Never want to return. It maybe someones idea of a happening but it aint mine.

Edited by Pete

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I remember being brought up in Evangelical Churches. My family attended both The Assemblies of God and the Elim Evangelical churches. I remember as a child looking at the bewildering reactions of those around me. It now seem to me there was a lot of peer pressure to speak in tongues and I always wondered why God would want someone to speak in a languge (if it ever was one) that no one present could understand and no one could prove the ministers interpretation was legit either. The emotional frenzy in such churches can be what puts many off attending or even come near them. It is also this emotional frenzy that acts like a constant assertion of a group whether or not one has felt something but they joiin in anyway. It is easy to feel something a crowd is exhibiting around one as can be seen in a football crowd or the audiance at a show. When someone claps everyone claps. I look at such services in the same sort of light. Never want to return. It maybe someones idea of a happening but it aint mine.

Yeah, I have had the same problems. I left Pentecostalism several times due to the pressure that some people place on the speaking in tongues and the related freak show that Pentecostalism tends to bring with it.

My opinion is that the encounter with God and dwelling in presence of God should be the focus; not fulfilling some sort of check off list.

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I know other Christian churches look on such events as a crowd whipped up in to a high. I remember one minister described it as High on Sunday, Depressed by Monday, Forgotten by Wednesday. I am sure some get a lot from it but at the same time others stay clear because of it.

Edited by Pete

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I know other Christian churches look on such events as a crowd whipped up in to a high. I remember one minister described it as High on Sunday, Depressed by Monday, Forgotten by Wednesday. I am sure some get a lot from it but at the same time others stay clear because of it.

Yeah, I'm afraid that is pretty accurate in a lot of the cases. I think I have become a bit disillusioned about the whole church thing in my current stage of life. I mean I am still committed to ministry, but have found that it is a hard and thankless road to travel. Most people in church want to act like they are Bible scholars yet they really don't want to learn the Bible. And I dig the Bible, but the Bible is secondary at best. People seem to want to have a church to fellowship in, but don't seem to be serious about supporting the ministry. I have come to the point in my ministry that I am done trying to be the Bible teacher, and the counselor, and all the other things expect a pastor to be. I am glad that I remained bi-vocational and have never taken a salary from a church. I'm really interested in people seriously seeking God, regardless of denomination or faith; I feel like that is the main point, aside from all the theatrics and hype, I want that to be the main point in my ministry anyway.

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I find all this rather confusing. When I think of speaking in tongues, it is as in 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. The gift of tongues allowed the apostles to speak to everyone without any need for interpretation. The idea of speaking incomprehensibly seems to run completely counter to that.

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I find all this rather confusing. When I think of speaking in tongues, it is as in 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. The gift of tongues allowed the apostles to speak to everyone without any need for interpretation. The idea of speaking incomprehensibly seems to run completely counter to that.

The speaking of tongues also became a sort of problem in the early churches as no one knew any better about if someone was truly filled with the spirit or just putting up a show. Which is why in one of letters in the New Testament specified that there should be at least one attendee of a service that could interpret whatever a person speaking in tongues is actually saying.

Alas, I've heard someone in recent years describe speaking in tongues as using our own language that only the Holy Spirit could understand, as long as the speaking person has a strong purposeful intent or prayer.

However, I understand the gift as you stated.

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It would be easy to test. Just get someone fluent in an uncommon langauge and see how it is interpreted. One maybe unpopular but it sure would shine a light on things.

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It would be easy to test. Just get someone fluent in an uncommon langauge and see how it is interpreted. One maybe unpopular but it sure would shine a light on things.

Actually, not so easy. We never know which uncommon language may be spoken out of hundreds used around the world. It may work, but the odds in favor aren't that great.

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I have been at several different services where there was a massage given in tongues and then people heard the message in their native language, such as: Native American, Islander, and African dialects.

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I am still not convinced Cool. What people claim in a frenzy is not conclusive to me.

Believe it or not, I completely agree with Pete :).. The apostle Paul said that tongues would cease, So if anyone speaks in unknown languages today, they need an interpreter or no one will understand a word. These first century gifts were meant for a sign authenticating the apostles as divinely commissioned by Jesus. Then they stopped.

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:8).

"If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?" (1 Corinthians 14:23)

"If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret" ( 1 Corinthians 14:27)

Speaking in tongues (unknown languages) today is just charismatic chaos, its the misapplication of a long past miraculous gift that only creates confusion, doubt, mockery, and just plain silliness. jmo

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Believe it or not, I completely agree with Pete :).. The apostle Paul said that tongues would cease, So if anyone speaks in unknown languages today, they need an interpreter or no one will understand a word. These first century gifts were meant for a sign authenticating the apostles as divinely commissioned by Jesus. Then they stopped.

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:8).

"If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?" (1 Corinthians 14:23)

"If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret" ( 1 Corinthians 14:27)

Speaking in tongues (unknown languages) today is just charismatic chaos, its the misapplication of a long past miraculous gift that only creates confusion, doubt, mockery, and just plain silliness. jmo

See, I knew I read that. LOL

Thanks, Dan. I agree with this, too.

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I am still not convinced Cool. What people claim in a frenzy is not conclusive to me.

I'm not saying that it all of it is legit by any means. Like I said before, I've always had a problem with the freak show some people turn these things into. I have witnessed legit operations of this, and fake emotional and theatrical attempts to impress people; more fake than legit. So, I would say that I am not always convinced either Pete.

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In the little research into talking in tongues it use the same brain centres as language and creativity. Sounds right by me.

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"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:8).

That is an exegetical fallacy to use that Scripture to say what you are using it to say, unless you are saying also that knowledge has ceased also.

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Very well written, informative piece... (Among other things, I learned that I need to work on my vocabulary! Had to look up a couple of those $20 words!) The inclusion of the source material was appreciated, but I did not see the author credited. Is it your work, Cool?

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Relevance of the Debate Polemic

I didn't leave Methodism because I thought it was wrong, I joined the Franciscans because I saw the middle path and the argument no longer mattered. Just do it.

[Luke] Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning

Everything, you say? ;)

The debate over initial evidence and subsequence will continue.

The what now?

Just kidding, I concur. Monkeys gonna monk.

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Dan, brother, I love you as a fellow Christian. I have to disagree with you here.

These first century gifts were meant for a sign authenticating the apostles as divinely commissioned by Jesus. Then they stopped.

So then, are you saying that the gifts of the spirit stopped when the last of the original 12 died? What about Paul? He wasn't one of the original 12. How about Matthias he wasn't one of the original 12 either but he was chosen to replace Judas. Acts 1:26 (KJV) 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

And if these gifts were only for the apostles then all of the gifts of the spirit must have stopped. So the , what are these gifts of the spirit that ended in the first century with the death of the last apostle? We find one list in Ephesians 4:7-12 (KJV) 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

In the very next verse we are told when these gifts are to pass away; Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: When we all come into the unity of faith ....unto a perfect man .... the fulness of Christ. I don't think that when the last apostle died we reached these goals nor have we yet met them.

We find another list in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (KJV)

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

But lets go with the assumption that the gifts ended in the first century. In that case we must believe that there are no more apostles, no more prophets, no more evangelists, no more pastors, no more teachers, no more words of wisdom, no more words of knowledge,no more faith, no more gifts of healing, no more working miracles, no more prophecy, no more discerning of spirits, no more tongues and no more interpretation of tongues. If even one of these gifts are still in operation the they must all still be operating.

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Have you ever used the adage "when you take the text out of context all you're left with is a con"? I think that is what I see here. If we look a little further in we see something a little more telling. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (KJV) 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Again I have to say I don't believe "that which is perfect" has come.

Edited by Pastor Dave

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Dan, brother, I love you as a fellow Christian. I have to disagree with you here.

So then, are you saying that the gifts of the spirit stopped when the last of the original 12 died?

No, I don't think these gifts were limited to the original 12 apostles, but to all who were given apostolic authority in the first century, probably 70 or more, and to some whom the apostles commissioned. I'm speaking about miraculous gifts such as healing, it is those gifts that Jesus promises that his disciples would do even greater works than he did. And they did. (John 14:12-14). I do still believe there are gifts of the spirit, just not in the form of miracles."How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" (Hebrews 2:3-4).

Healing's, tongues, and prophets are miracles, while teachers, evangelist, and interpreters are natural gifts. There are no more apostles and no more prophets, the gift of miracles ceased with them. If I'm wrong, show me a prophet, an apostle, or a real miracle healer, and I'll reconsider my interpretation and conclusion. But I'm convinced that apostolic succession ended, and the miracles ended with them. "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds" (2 Corinthians 12:12). What the apostles had, which we don't have today, is authority. They could command a healing or a miracle, while we can only ask. jmo

Edited by Dan56

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