The Problem of evil

 Defining evil

 

Evil is “a term used to describe something that brings about harmful, painful, and unpleasant effects” (https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/evil). All “harmful, painful, and unpleasant effects” are simply not good. So throughout this study, evil is defined as force or action opposed to good.

  

Human beings from the ancient time are puzzled by the existence of evil in this world. Humans will always struggle with the problem of evil. We were trying to live good, propagate good, punish evil and eradicate evil. But still evil exists and is increasing in proportion. The Religious sects, political ideologies and World Wars have unleashed the horror of evil on innocent humans. In spite of all human efforts to eliminate or at least weaken the horrors of evil, various atrocities and horrors, such as genocides, terrorist attacks, tortures and mass murders continue to happen in this world.

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

 The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed proclaimed that the Christian Church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic”. Since then, these are known as the four signs of the Church. To understand what these signs denote, we must know what the Nicene Creed is and its importance in the Church.

The early Church remained small and was persecuted to the beginning of the 4 century. In AD 312 Constantine I, the Western Roman Emperor proclaimed his conversion to Christianity. In AD 313, Constantine, jointly with Licinius of the Eastern Roman Empire made a proclamation of religious toleration for Christianity within the whole Empire. The proclamation is known as the Edict of Milan. Constantine made the declaration in February 313 and Licinius in June of the same year. But later doubting that Licinius failed purposely in executing the declaration, Constantine attacked the Eastern Empire and attached it to the Western empire. Thus the Roman Empire once again become one.

Holy Spirit on all flesh

Born again and baptism of the Spirit

 Born again and baptism of the Holy Spirit are two different experiences. We are ‘born again’ to receive salvation in Christ. It is a spiritual experience of total transformation like a rebirth by the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12: 3 says: “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” That means the born again experience and salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit that happens in a human being. That also means that all born again believers have the Spirit in a measure.

But the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a different experience. It happens to those who believe in Jesus Christ and are saved by faith. It refers primarily to the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost on the apostles and many others who were gathered in the Upper Room. The Book of Acts goes on to narrate more incidents of the baptism of the Spirit on believers. So baptism of the Holy Spirit is what happened on the day of Pentecost, the early church and to the church today.

Judaic Messiah and Jesus Christ

(All Bible verses quoted in this study are taken from New King James Version, if not otherwise mentioned)

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are considered generally as Abrahamic religions. All these three religions believe in a Messiah or 'the anointed one' who is the saviour or liberator of humans. The concept of Messiah originated in Judaism with exclusive characteristics for him.

The word "Messiah" is an English rendering of the Hebrew word Mashiach. It is translated in Greek as Khristós (Χριστός) which in English is Christ. The word means “anointed”.

The Messiah concept is a fundamental part of Judaism. In Hebrew, the Messiah is also called as Melekh Mashiach which means 'the Anointed King'. The ‘anointing’ is a ritual in which someone or something is consecrated by pouring holy oil on him or it. In the Old Testament, kings, priests and prophets were anointed by the holy oil. The altar in the Temple, vessels, unleavened bread were anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, 1 Kings 1:39, Exodus 29:2)

In Judaism, the Messiah is someone who is chosen to rule.  He is a Jewish political and spiritual leader. He must be a king and or a High Priest anointed with holy oil. The Messiah will come to Earth to bring a time of perfect peace and prosperity. His reign is called the Messianic Age. Generally Jews believe in a single person as Messiah. But there are Jewish scholars who argue for the concept of a more than one person Messiah.

High Priestly Prayer of Jesus Christ

(All Bible verses quoted are from New King James version, if not mentioned otherwise.)

 

John 17 contains the longest recorded prayer of Jesus. The prayer follows the Last Supper and the long farewell speech. It is said just before His betrayal, arrest and crucifixion. The prayer may be divided into three sections. First, Jesus prays for Himself, then He prays for His disciples, and He closes the prayer by praying for all believers. This is commonly called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.

 

Jesus was preparing for His death on the cross as the Lamb of God, for the atonement for our sins. He offered His life as the ultimate sacrifice that would completely cleanse His people from sins and save them for eternal life.

 

Jesus was praying an intercessory prayer as the only mediator between His people and God. He did not instruct His disciples to pray as He did because only He would intercede before God and He is the only mediator.

 

Jesus' High Priestly prayer is rich in theological insights. It reveals the relationship between the Father and the Son, the nature of salvation, Jesus' mission on earth and His relationship with the believers.  The Prayer reveals His heart and His concerns as He was about to finish the earthly mission.