"...There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men."
There are some today who claim that God speaks His word directly to them, just as in the days of the Apostles, and the prophets before them. Others insist they speak in tongues, giving devine guidance as moved by the Holy Spirit.
Can this be true? In order to answer this question, we need a good understanding of these gifts, and what God's intended purpose for them was.
No doubt, each true Christian has certain gifts from God. In (Romans 12: 6-8), we read:
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously, if it is leadership, let him govern diligently, if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."
A number of people would argue that because prophecy is mentioned with other, less "miraculous" gifts, it must still be possessed by others today. However, once again, we must study God's gifts in the full context of scriptural revelation to reach a true meaning.
In the first century, the Holy Bible was not available in a complete written form. The Apostles who would record much of the contents of the New Testament were still preparing to undertake their missionary duties as commanded by Christ Jesus in Matthew, chapter 28.
However, so that people would know that they were approved workmen of God's truths, they were given the powers to heal the sick, cast out demons, speak in tongues, and perform various other miracles. However, these gifts were intended for temporary use, and granted to those of Apostleship status alone(see 2Corinthians 12:12).
One of the requirements of a true Apostle was to have seen the resurrected Lord Jesus. This fact is used to verify the apostleship of Paul in the words of (1Corinthians 9:1), where we read:
"Am I not free? Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?..." Commentators in "The NIV Study Bible, copyright 1995, pg. 1746" make this statement. "Some at Corinth...questioned Paul's genuine apostleship. To certify his true apostleship Paul gives this proof: that he has seen the Lord Jesus (Acts 9: 1-9, 22:6-16, 26: 12-18), as was true of the other apostles..."
In light of this information, there can be no true apostles in today's world. All of the men who had seen "Jesus risen" died by the end of the first century. True, some today will say that "apostles" and "missionaries" are the same. While it is true that missionary is the Latin word for apostle in Greek, all similiarities end there because no missionary today has seen Christ in His ressurected state.
Further evidence of the end of these miraculous gifts can be found in (1Corinthians 13: 8-9), where we read the following:
"...But where their are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."
The "perfection" which Paul refers to here has several possible meanings. However, one of the most plausible explainations is that the word refers to the completion of the New Testament canon. Since that happened by the end of the first century, we have good reason to believe the "supernatural gifts," necessary for the Apostle's work, have also stopped.
Certainly the gifts of "faith and service" which Christians possess today are still in full force! There are many who are great teachers, ministers, good will ambassadors, and so forth. And to be certain, God will use us and our gifts as He sees fit if we allow Him to. However, the time and purpose for "apostolic gifts" has passed.
There is no more which God has chosen to reveal to us through scripture. Evidence of this is found in the words of (2Timothy 3: 16-17). Further, there are no modern day prophets with additional devine messages from the Lord. God speaks to us today through His Son, Christ Jesus, (Hebrews 1: 1-2), and no one else! Belief in any other doctrine is simply dangerous to our eternal souls...
Study the true and complete will of God to find our purposes in His work. Serve others in His name, for His glory! This is our duty as God's children in this world...