A Study of "Always"
For one to affirm their belief in the inspiration of the scriptures is not always good enough. I say this in view of the various types of so called inspiration man has concocted. First, the scriptures are indeed "inspired of God" or better worded, "God breathed" (2 Thes. 3: 16, 17). Involved in biblical inspiration is word inspiration or, stated another way, plenary inspiration (cp. I Cor. 2: 13). In reality, the Holy Spirit inerrantly supplied the very words used by the various writers of the Bible. Such a truth is fascinating, one reason for the fascination being that the Spirit himself carefully selected the exact word or words to accurately convey the mind and will of God to man. Hence, philology or word study is a valuable science.
One word used by the Spirit is the word "always." In actuality, there are about four different Greek words rendered "always"(in the case of the New Testament). These words have a collective meaning of: "through all;" "ever;" "every season;" "in every way;" "perpetually"; and "incessantly" (cp. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). As one would expect, the idea and concept of time is often present in "always." The historian used the Greek expression dia pantos, literally translated "through all time" to describe the prayerfulness of Cornelius (Acts 10: 2). Jesus said he would be with his disciples pasas tas hemeras or "all the days" (Matt. 28: 20).
"Always" may describe a condition that ought to be as opposed to one that ought not be. Hence, Jesus said men ought "always" to pray and not to faint (Luke 18: 1). Notice that in this use of "always," there is understood exclusivity, you cannot have constancy in prayer and at the same time, fainting. "Always" is observed in scripture being used for conditions in a both comparative and gradational circumstance. Paul said the Philippians had "always" obeyed, not just in his presence, but much more in his absence (Phili. 2: 12). "Always" is also used to designate a circumstance as distinct from a matter that shall not always be. Jesus said there will "always" be poor on earth, but he would not remain (Matt. 26: 11).
Let us in the next phrase of our study see some "always" conditions, whether right or not right. Let us keep in mind the action of "ever," "perpetually," and "incessantly."
Christians are to be always confident. Paul is a model for all Christians to emulate (cp. I Cor. 11: 1). Paul wrote the following:
"6: Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord" (2 Cor. 5).
Paul was not a diffident sort of person, but he was rather one who knew and acted upon his firm conviction. To the Philippians Paul wrote: "20: According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death" (Phili. 1). The Christian knows whom he has believed and fully accepts the associated promises (2 Tim. 1: 12).
Zeal is a good thing and is always appropriate when maintained in the right situation. Paul had two goals in his statement recorded in Galatians 4: 18. He wrote:
"17: They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. 18: But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you."
It is too often the case that zeal and error appear to go together and truth and indifference are witnessed accompanying one another. Paul said of the Jews that they had a zeal of God, but this zeal was "…not according to knowledge" (Rom. 10: 1-3).
The giving of thanks is to always be done. When Paul was in prison for preaching Christ he wrote thus to the Ephesians:
"20: Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5: 20).
The best cure for murmuring is thanksgiving (cp. Phili. 2: 14). In fact, one cannot always be thankful and have a murmuring disposition. When one thinks about it, the Christian has many things for which to be thankful, most of all Jesus Christ.
We are to incessantly obey God. "12: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phili. 2).
The doctrine that, "While it is good, obedience to Christ is not necessary to being a faithful Christian" is a patently false doctrine. Jesus is the author of salvation to all who obey him (Heb. 5: 8, 9).
Some have a life style of resisting the Spirit. The Spirit teaches and influences through the word (cp. Eph. 5: 18, 19; Col. 3: 16). Hence, when the word is rejected or resisted, the Spirit is resisted. We see in Acts 7 how the Jews resisted Stephen’s teaching about Christ (Acts 7: 1ff.). In fact, these people resisted Stephen’s preaching to the point of murdering Stephen (v. 58-60). Stephen said of these rebellious Jews:
"51: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."
Many continue ("always") today to live lives of disobedience. In this matter, they are resisting the Spirit.
The Christian is to be an active individual, standing ready at all times to provide answers to those who ask of their faith. Notice how the apostle Peter words the responsibility to provide an answer, especially consider the frequency element of the enjoinment:
"15: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Pet. 3).
One commentator wrote regarding I Peter 3: 15: "This readiness to ‘give answer’ (literally, to make defence, apologia), is to be constant: ‘being ready always…’ It is to be given ‘to every man that asketh…a reason,’ not necessarily to every scoffer and captious person who lacks the sincerity of honest inquirers…." (Guy N. Words, A Commentary on the New Testament).
Peter’s goal was to always put in remembrance. Consider the words of Peter, a faithful preacher of the word:
"12: Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13: Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance" (2 Pet. 1).
Peter deeply was aware of the charge to preach the word and to do so "always." His goal was not presenting something new and novel, but repeating the same gospel message (cp. I Tim. 4: 6).
Paul sought to always have a conscience void of offence. There is no justification or room whatsoever to question or doubt the sincerity of the apostle Paul. One statement made by Paul indicative of his sincerity is found in Acts 24: 16:
"16: And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24).
Paul was always conscientious in all he did, even when he was wrong relative to his perceived responsibility. When Paul learned the truth about Jesus, he applied his new educated conscience to assisting him to live pleasing to God.
The Christian is to pray always. In the matter of prayer, Jesus teaches his disciples in the following way:
"36: Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21).
Constancy of life and prayerfulness go hand in hand. Those given to "fainting," do not "always" pray (cp. Luke 18: 1).
Jesus said the poor will always be present. Listen to Jesus’ acclamation regarding the poor:
"11: For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always" Matt. 26).
Many have declared their goal of freeing the world from poverty. Such will never happen. Furthermore, taking from those who have to give to those who have not (do not work) is diametrically opposed to what the scriptures teach (cp. 2 Thes. 3: 10).
The Christian is not to just abound, but "always abound" in the work of the Lord. Paul revealed to the Corinthian church many matters, both "doctrinal" and "moral," that were wrong and lacking at Corinth. It was toward the end of this rich and cogent epistle that he enjoined:
"58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15).
It is not enough, as stated, to half-heartedly render service, there must be "abounding" (Greek, "full and running over"). This replete spiritual condition, moreover, is to be "always."
It has been this writer’s goal in this simple article to accomplish paramountly two things: I wanted to illustrate the vocabulary of the Spirit and his ability to use descriptive modifiers. The main goal of this writing, though, was to present the extent and frequency of the Christian’s service to God.
"Always" is indicative of persistency of effort and is opposed to off and on service. "Always" is reflective of the spiritual quality of the service rendered by the Christian. The service is so dedicated that it is how one lives, the primary focus, and the determined goal of one’s efforts and life.