The purpose of charismatic gifts is primarily the edification of the whole church (1 Cor. 12:4–7; 14:12), and, secondarily, the conviction and conversion of unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:21–25; Rom. 15:18). The once popular view that the charismata were given for the founding of the church and ceased during the 4th century when it became strong enough to continue without their assistance is contrary to historical evidence.
Warfield, held the view that the charismata were given for the authentication of the apostles as messengers of God, one of the signs of an apostle being the possession of those gifts and the power to confer them on other believers. They believed that the gifts gradually ceased with the death of those on whom the apostles had conferred them. W. H. Griffith Thomas saw the charismata as a testimony to Israel of the Messiahship of Jesus, becoming inoperative after the end of Acts when Israel had refused the gospel.
Those holding these views were naturally inclined to deny the authenticity of charismatic manifestations. On the other hand, strong evidence for the permanence of charismata in the church is found in 1 Cor. 13:8–12, where Paul envisages them as continuing to be manifest until the parousia. In that case their intermittent appearance in later history may have been affected by the fluctuating faith and spirituality of the church and by the sovereign purpose of the Spirit Himself who distributes the gifts ‘as He wills’ (1 Cor. 12:11). Although some churches even today do not believe that the gifts are functional and the results are evident, because these churches are dry and legalistic.
Spiritual gifts are used for the edification of the Church and are tools that bring us into spiritual maturity: 1 Corinthians 14:12 says, So also you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek that you may abound to the building up of the assembly.
A credential is having evidence or testimony concerning one’s authority. When the gifts and fruits of the Spirit are displayed, it publicly confirms that a person is a true believer, an ambassador of God: Mark 16:17-18, 20 “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new languages; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” They went out, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed.
We are identified as believers through the gifts of the Spirit: Hebrews 2:4 says, “God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by various works of power, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will”
1 Corinthians 12:7 declares, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” The gift of the Holy Spirit can be compared to a precious stone which brings prosperity. Proverbs 17:8 says that “A gift is a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turnth, it prospereth”.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for every Christian as soon as they become born-again. When we are born physically, we possess certain natural abilities. Jesus “gave gifts unto men…for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith…” (Ephesians 4:8, 12-14).