After water baptism, there is no subject that has caused as much debate and division in the church today as the subject of spiritual and/or miraculous gifts. I, myself, have often wrestled with this subject. Which of the gifts of the Spirit are actively given by God or have passed away? How are they given? To whom are they given, and when? How do they function?
As we observe the behavior of people who are doing strange things in the name of Spiritual gifts, confusion has been created. Many people who claim to have some gift are actually bringing reproach to the name of Christ, by the use of whatever it is they claim to have. There must be a final expert that we can go to that will have our answers in this time of confusion, opinions, and traditions of men.
In this present dispensation of the Grace of God, that spokesman with the authority and power of God would be Paul, the Apostle of and to the Gentiles.
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
We should then listen closely to the words he wrote down whereby we can understand the truth about these gifts.
One of the churches I use to pastor had a doctrinal statement which read:
The gifts necessary for the ministry of the Body of Christ are those enumerated in Ephesians 4:7-16. Of these, only the gifts of evangelists and pastors - teachers are in operation today. All the sign gifts of the Acts period, such as tongues, prophecy and healing (1 Corinthians 12:1-31), (being temporary in character), have ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8-11).
When a person reads the above doctrinal position on gifts, it seems that there are two unrelated issues tied together: First, the sign gifts of the Acts period, and the other being the offices of responsibility within the Body of Christ. We ask that you, the reader, endure with us through these issues as we attempt to give them expanded coverage within the confines of this article.
In Romans 1:11-12, Paul expresses his hearts desire to see the believers at Rome:
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;  That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
These verses express to us why Paul desired to see the saints at Rome. He wanted to impart to them some spiritual gift. We must ask ourselves, what sort of gift is it that he wants to impart to them?
It will be very important for us to remember that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans during his Acts ministry. It was written during the diminishing of Israel. Furthermore, it was written during a time when the Word of God had not yet been completely given; that is, all 66 books of the Bible had not yet been written.
The context of these two verses tells us that the gift Paul wanted to give would result in these Roman believers being established. It would also result in Paul being comforted together with them. Hence, the means of that comfort was going to be the mutual faith both of Paul and these dear saints.
We can therefore sum up this spiritual gift he wanted to impart as follows:
1.) It would establish the saints
2.) It would comfort Paul and the Roman saints together
3.) It would result in Paul and the believers in Rome resting in the mutual faith
4.) It would be given to the whole assembly at Rome, without partiality.
Many answers have been offered, by many different scholars to this question, but let us be workmen of the Word rightly dividing the Scriptures.
Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement answer that it was Pauls desire that the saints at Rome receive one of the many diversities of gifts that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. The diversities of gifts given by the One Spirit (1 Corinthians 12-14) were still in effect during this time period when Romans was written. However, we need to notice what Paul records for us:
1 Cor. 12:11
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
These gifts are not given to the assembly at large, but to individuals by the Spirit, Dividing to every man severally as he will.
It is evident from 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 that God did set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, etc., but not all in the church are these.
It is true that these spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 were given for the purpose of edifying the whole assembly (1 Cor.12-14), They were none- the-less given to individual members in particular (1 Cor.12:27). Furthermore, these particular spiritual gifts were given directly by the Spirit and not imparted by agency of other believers (i.e. Paul did not impart these spiritual gifts).
The gift of tongues that Paul identifies in 1 Corinthians 12-14 was given for a sign.
1 Cor. 14:22
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
Hence, this is where we get the term sign gift. Within the Body of Christ, this gift witnessed of God changing dispensations; from that of law (and the postponing of the Kingdom, for a season) to that of grace. The dispensation of the Grace of God became Gods purpose and standard operating procedure today. (Ephesians 3:1-4)
This witness was to the nation of Israel, the unbeliever as Paul writes this Epistle.
1 Cor. 1:22
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
The gift of tongues was given, at that time, by the Spirit to particular individuals in the One Body ... for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not... (1 Corinthians 14:22) An in-depth reading of 1 Corinthians 14 will reveal to the open minded reader that the gift of tongues was not devised to establish or edify, but to serve as evidence that Gods judgment/wrath had fallen upon unbelieving Israel to the uttermost.
1 Thes. 2:16
Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
The sign gift of tongues which was given by the Holy Spirit to the saints of the One Body and was a sign that judgment had fallen on Israel. It was a sign to the unbelieving nation that God had taken her signs away from her and given them to the Gentiles apart from Israel and her covenants of promise.
1 Cor. 13:8
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.
In this passage we see the sign gift of tongues listed with two other gifts; the gift of prophecy, and the gift of knowledge. It is not my intent to write on these other gifts, but verses 8-10 also reveal that Paul the Apostle was aware that these spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit were to fail, cease, and vanish. Hence, they were to be done away, because they were only in part, and not the full, complete perfect spiritual gift.
An honest, and careful reading of these verses, in particular verse 10, will persuade anyone who believes the Word of God that when the complete, full, perfect knowledge of Gods revelation was come (i.e. - the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the Revelation of the Mystery -- Rom.16:25; Eph.1:9:3:3-4;4:13; Phil.1:9-11; Col.1:9,25-26), the sign gifts were to fail, cease, and vanish.
1 Cor. 13:10
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Hence, the sign gifts would be done away by God Himself when the full revelation of the Mystery was given to Paul the Apostle. Furthermore, we see this in Pauls prison Epistles. It is Paul who wrote of his knowledge of this Mystery.
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,  If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward:  How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Pauls comprehension that the perfect (full, complete) would come became a reality during his 2 year imprisonment. During this time, he pens Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians which contains the full, complete, perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ according to this Mystery. We also need to note that this is after the Acts period, being penned after Acts 28.
These spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12-14 were already on their way out and would soon pass from the Body of Christ when Paul penned Corinthians. Therefore, Pauls desire to impart to the saints at Rome some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; would not include these miraculous Spirit given sign gifts. One cannot be established in that which is temporal and which is scheduled by God to be done away when the perfect is come.
We must now expand our discussion about Rom. 1:11-12 by now listing the four categories of gifts that one finds in the Epistles which Paul was the human author.
Ministry and Service Gifts Romans 12:6-8
w Teaching, Exhortation
w Showing Mercy
Sign Gifts 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
w Word of Wisdom
w Word of Knowledge
w Working of Miracles
w Discerning of Spirits
w Diverse Kinds of Tongues
w Interpretation of Tongues
w Gifts of Healing
Ministry Gifts Ephesians 4:11
The Abiding Gifts 1 Corinthians 13:14
w Charity (which is the greatest of these)
Thus far we have looked at the Charismatic contention that Paul desired to impart one or more of the sign gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12. We can therefore make the following conclusions:
I. The gifts of 1 Cor. 12 were imparted to individuals in particular for the edifying of the whole assembly (1 Cor.12:27). In Romans 1:11, the gift would be given to the entire assembly at large.
II. In Romans 1:11, the gift given would be imparted by the Apostle Paul, while the gifts of 1 Corinthians were directly imparted by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12:11)
III. The sign gifts of Corinthians were given for the purpose of providing a sign to the unbelievers. The unbelievers in the context of 1 Cor.14 are the unbelieving members of the nation of Israel. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not... and For the Jews require a sign (1 Cor.14:22; 1:22)[i]
IV. The revelation of the mystery was given by Jesus Christ through the Apostle Paul, through a series of visions, and revelations. We call this progressive revelation. (2 Cor.12:1,7; Act 26:16; etc.) Until it was all given (i.e. until it was perfect, complete, and fully made known to Paul the Apostle to the Body of Christ), Paul spoke of knowledge and prophecy being in part because the full revelation of the mystery was only in part/not fully given (1 Cor.13:9).[ii]
V. These gifts were momentary and on their way out when Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans. Hence, we can conclude that these gifts were not on the list of possibilities for the gift that would establish the believers, and thus not what Paul had in mind when he desired to impart some spiritual gifts, to the end ye may be established.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
We must now turn our attention to the gifts listed in the above text. All five of these gifts were altogether in effect at the time that Paul wrote to the Roman believers. These ministry gifts were given for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the Body of Christ. Hence, only perfected saints can do the work of the ministry and correctly effect, within the Body of Christ, godly edifying (Eph.4:12,16). Moreover, it is clear that these gifts were imparted by the laying on of hands by an apostle. Paul had given such a gift to Timothy as he said by the putting on of my hands (2 Tim.1:6). It is also very clear that the conferring of these gifts was done with prophecy and also with agreement by the elders.
1 Tim. 4:14
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. [iii]
If Timothy had only one gift, it was the gift of apostle. We see this by comparing 1 Thess. 1:1,6,9 with 1 Thess.2:4-6.[iv]
Timothy and the other Body of Christ apostles (see footnote at bottom of page), had apostleships in a subordinate sense. They were CO-laboring in conjunction with Paul who was uniquely the one apostle of/to the Gentiles with the visions and revelations of Jesus Christ according to the Mystery (Rom.11:13, Gal.1:11-12; 1 Tim.2:5-7; 2 Tim.1:9-11). All others timely received Pauls knowledge of the Mystery by revelation of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with Pauls writings (Eph.3:3-5).
In order to impart these ministry gifts a series of steps were followed:
1. The Holy Spirit testified through the New Testament prophets (take note that Acts 13:1 indicates that Paul was a prophet himself) who was to receive a particular ministry gift.
2. The elders gave their approval with the laying on of hands (1 Tim.4:14).
3. The gift was given by the laying on of hands of an apostle.
4. The Holy Spirit then worked through these gifted men to accomplish the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry (Eph.4:12).
When we read 1 Cor.12:28-31; and Eph.4:11, it is clear that God set some and gave some of these gifts. However, Pauls desire or purpose of writing to Rome in Rom.1:11 applies to all the saints in Rome. Paul wanted to impart some spiritual gift to all of them not some of them! Hence, one or another of the ministry gifts would not be the gift Paul was wanting to impart to them, because the whole assembly did not receive each one of these gifts. However, let us give some careful consideration to the passage in Eph.4.
Our King James Bible in verse 11 uses the English verb gave which is past tense (Greek-aorist). It is not the present tense (English-giving) as if it were action that is going on now. In the Greek, it is not the perfect tense as action that took place in the past with continuing results. Hence, it simply means that God at some point in the past from when Paul wrote Ephesians gave the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers.
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:
This verse tells us how long He gave the ministry gifts (i.e. their duration). They were given till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (i.e. complete-the same word used in 1 Cor.13:10) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
At this point, we must ask ourselves what is the unity of the faith? The unity of the faith spoken of here are the seven unities listed just a few verses earlier in Eph.4:4-6
The significance of coming to the unity of the faith is clearly understood by comparing Pauls actions in baptizing several believers in water during his pre-prison Epistles (Acts 16:33; 1 Cor.1:17) and at the same time preaching another baptism- the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit into One Body (1 Cor.12:12-13). At the point in time when the full revelation was given on the subject, Paul stated there is one Baptism; that obviously being the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit which places, and unites the believer eternally to the Savior.[v]
We now come to a very urgent issue that needs to be present in every saints thinking when he reads and studies the Word of God. This issue is the element of timing. The Word of God loses its full impact unless the believer heeds the words on the page which reveal this component of timing. We shall now look upon this issue of Timing, and we shall call it Progressive Revelation.
Earlier in this study, we showed the fact that our Lord taught Paul a body of truth (the Mystery) which had never been given to angel or man before that revelation (Gal.1:11-12; Eph. 3:1-4) and that he did it, not all at once, but in a series of disclosures (2 Cor.12:1,7; Acts 26:16).
In the Acts period Epistles, Paul spoke of the knowledge (Greek-gnosis) of Christ that he received by personal revelation. In his post-Acts ministry with Paul having received the full revelation of Jesus Christ according to the Mystery, he uses the Greek word epignosis meaning full (i.e. complete) knowledge (Eph.1:17; 4:13; Phil.1:9; Col.1:9-10; 3:10). This is also true in the pastorial epistles (1 Tim.2:4; 2 Tim.3:7)
Congruent with this progression of revelation, we also see the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit giving way to the working of faith in the full knowledge of the Word of God. Hence, we cannot help but see a step-by-step shift in the Apostle Pauls ministry during the period covered by the Book of Acts. In Acts we will see that Paul did some very Jewish things: he circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3), he kept a Jewish vow (Acts 21:26), even performed signs, special miracles, and wonders among the Gentiles (Acts 13:11; 15:12; 19:11-12; 28:6). In Pauls post-Acts ministry, we see he could not/would not do these things. The loss of his powerful gift of healing is picturesque of the fact that things were changing/had changed. (Acts 19:12; 28:8-9; cf.. Phil.2:25-27; 2 Tim. 4:20).
During the Acts period Paul pens the following:
1 Cor. 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Members of the Body of Christ only saw through a glass, darkly as far as the revelation of Gods program for today was concerned. Hence, they were seeing the overall program of God as if it were a wavy reflection as in a poor mirror (their mirrors were just polished brass). Therefore, it was not all clear yet, for the perfect, complete, full knowledge of Christ according to the mystery was not all yet given to Paul.
Consequently, Pauls desire was that when he came to Rome, he would have a clear picture (i.e. as if looking face to face) of Gods program for the Body of Christ given to him through revelations of Jesus Christ conforming to the Mystery. Hence, this is the spiritual blessing he wanted to impart to the Roman believers when he came to Rome. Moreover, this is what would establish all these saints (Rom.1:11; 16:25; Col.2:6-7 cf.. 2 Tim.2:7).
In fundamentalism, as well as Grace circles, it is conventional, as sound doctrine that the sign gifts of 1 Cor.12 have passed away. That list of gifts is consequently easy to deal with. It is also a well established fact of Scripture that the gifts of apostles and prophets have passed away. Nevertheless, we find prophecy on every one of the rosters. Do we then have any rationalization in rejecting one or more of the gifts on the list as operative today, while keeping the rest? Picking and choosing gifts cannot be justified by the text of any of the passages dealing with the gifts.
Scrutinizing the gift of prophecy is particularly intriguing in the matter of progressive revelation. In Rom.12:6, we find that the person in the Body of Christ who had this gift was to prophesy according to the proportion of faith. The believer was to prophecy according to the proportion of the mystery (the terms the faith and the mystery are synonymous in Pauls epistles) that had thus far been disclosed.
Body of Christ prophets conspicuously could speak no more than that which was revealed at the time when they prophesied.[vi] In the same manner, they were to speak no less than what was revealed. Hence, the ministry of the prophets was closely coupled with the revelation of the mystery and with the creation of what we today call the canon of scripture wherein we find the One Faith of the present Dispensation of Grace. Their role and function was to mark what was scripture and what was not.
In Acts 15 ( at the conference in Jerusalem), two men who were prophets were sent to witness that the decision was the authoritative voice of the council and the Holy Ghost concerning the matter at hand (Acts 15:25-32). Likewise, when Pauls Apostolic authority was called into question, he appealed to these prophets to witness to the fact that what he wrote were indeed the commandments of the Lord (i.e. that his writings are the Word of God).
1 Cor. 14:37
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
In Rom.16:25-26, Paul states the truth that the revelation of the mystery which is revealed through his writings are the scriptures of the prophets (the prophets whose job it was to identify what was scripture and what was not; had marked his writing as Scripture). Furthermore, Pauls ministry was to complete the Word of God (Col.1:25) with the mystery (Col.1:26). The function and the office of the Body prophets ceased when Pauls ministry was finished and the Word of God was complete and our Bible, (all 66 books) was collected, collated, and copied. That point in time was shortly after the writing of 2 Timothy.[vii]
Therefore, while the revelation of the mystery was in development and until it was complete, the work of the ministry had to depend upon some supernatural gifts that we call ministry and service gifts. These gifts were given for the perfecting of the saints (ministry) so that the saints could do the work of the ministry and also do the edifying of the Body of Christ (service gifts, i.e. Rom.12:6-8).
Hence, when the revelation was complete, it is noticeable that not only the sign gifts, but all the other gifts mentioned, concluded. The functions of the service gifts and some of the ministry gifts are still every bit as important as they were during the apostolic period. However, today these needs are served by the working of God in vessels fit for the Masters use who are prepared unto every good work by Scriptures rightly divided, rather than through a special spiritual gift. (2 Tim.2:18-21; 3:16-17; 4:5).
At this point, let us ask the evident question: What was the gift that Paul was hoping to impart to the Romans? Pauls statement in Rom.15:29 gives us a lot of help in understanding the answer:
And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
Paul was looking forward and anticipating the time when the partial, the incomplete, and the childish things of the Acts period would give way to the full, complete, mature (perfect), things of the completed Word of God.
2 Tim. 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God (the one new man of Eph.2:15) may be perfect, (cf.. Eph.4:13 & 1 Cor.13:10) throughly furnished unto all good works.
Pauls desire was satisfied in his lifetime. He did live until the time when that which is perfect came and that which is in part was done away, We today have that perfect gift in the Written Word of God. Though supernatural manifestations of the Spirit have ceased, the Word of God can and will produce in the yielded believer that which abides: faith (Rom.10:17), hope (Rom.5:2-5; 8:24; 15:4), and charity (1 Tim.1:15).
Because we are so gifted by God, every member of the Body of Christ can stand against doctrinal and personal compromise, and the traditions of men which make void the Word of God, and apostasy in these perilous times because the Bible is the completed revelation of the will of God for us today (rightly divided, of course).
In the Dispensation of the Grace of God, any spiritual need that could ever be met by means of the supernatural gifts can now be met by the Holy Spirit of God working in the believer to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil.2:13)
We do not look for men with supernatural endowments to minister the Word of God to the Church which is His Body. Rather, we look to the complete and infallible Word of God and for elders who meet the qualifications of 1 Tim. 3 to labor in the word and doctrine.
Gods full revealed will is to have faithful men, who in spirit of meekness and humility, battle to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God (Eph.3:9).
How do we know a faithful man in the heart of all the denominational folklore and religious hype? The completed Word of God tells us that a man is to take heed how he builds (labors in the ministry) upon that foundation which Paul laid. A faithful man in ministry will neither add to or subtract from the sound doctrinal things which Paul spoke among many witnesses making sure he ministers the same sound doctrine as Paul.
(2 Tim.2:2; 1Tim.10-11; Titus 1:2-3)[viii] To accomplish this Divine obligation, that man in ministry will have to labor in word and doctrine, not expecting some spiritual endowment or gift to carry him in and through ministry. (1 Tim.4:6,13,15-16; 5:17 cf. Matt.10:19-20).
It is Pauls gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the Mystery that establishes believers (Rom.16:25). This involves the written Word of God doing the work, giving doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.
The gift that includes all gifts is the complete written revelation of the Word and the will of God.