Reintroducing John 3:16

February 13, 2019 at 5:02 pm | Posted in John, Salvation | 4 Comments
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For many years the Bible verse that has been generally considered the most popular, or at least most well-known, is John 3:16. The danger for some of us when studying a very familiar verse is that we become inoculated through over-exposure and make the mistake of thinking we know everything we need to know about it already. Let me encourage you not to make that mistake with John 3:16. Sit down (with your spouse if you are married) and go through it word by word, slowly, considering the import of each word, and looking at the verses before and after it to better illuminate the context.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

I didn’t really need to print it here, did I? Most faithful Christians probably have it memorized. But let’s examine it closely. The first word, “for,” refers back to:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:14-15

Lest Verse 15 lead anyone to think that God the Father needed to be changed in His dispositional impassibility by God the Son from not loving us to loving us, the Holy Spirit had John make it clear that the Father’s love was the motivating cause of the plan of salvation.

“For God SO…” If you’ve been attending a Baptist or evangelical church for very long, you’ve probably seen the pantomime of a preacher stretching his arms wide to demonstrate a child’s expression of what it means to love someone SOOOOO much, but John 3:16 does not leave the question of “how much is so much?” open-ended. The word “that” is used to introduce the concept of: “THIS is how much the Father loved us.”

He loved us so much that He “GAVE.” This word, too, is worth closer inspection. God “gave” His Son in at least two respects: (1) In the Incarnation, the Father sent the Son from His Heavenly home to live in a world of sin, the effects of sin, and sinful rebels, and to experience, in His humanity, all the difficulties, pain, rejection, scorn, betrayal, sorrow, and human shortcomings and temptations known to mankind (but in response to which, He, unlike us, never sinned); (2) During His arrest and the events leading up to His death, the Father “gave” the Son into the hands of sinful men to be tortured and crucified, and to experience death as the substitutionary sacrifice for us.

This Son who came to live and die for His people was the Father’s “only begotten Son,” the Monogenes, His special and unique Son. He was the eternal Son of God, not “begotten” in the sense of having been born as touching His divinity, nor in the sense of His having been created (for He was not), but in an echo of the Old Testament type that we see in the episode of Abraham and Isaac.

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Genesis 22:1-13 (emphasis added)

Isaac was not, strictly speaking, Abraham’s “only” son, yet He was the son of promise – the special and unique son promised to Abraham by God. Yet he was designated as a sacrifice to be offered to God, not because Isaac’s loss was something to be lightly borne by Abraham, but rather because he was so precious to Abraham. In John 3:16 we see the ultimate fulfillment of what had been played out and interrupted in Genesis 22, and we learn that God loved us wicked rebellious sinners SO much that He gave His absolute best, His most cherished, His most valuable, His eternally perfect Son for us.

Would you give up your life to save the life of a loved one? Perhaps you would. But would you give up the life of one of your beloved children to save the life of another loved one? I doubt it. What about to save a stranger? Even less likely. Now, what about sacrificing the life of your only, beloved child to save the life of your worst enemy? Unthinkable. The love of the Father for us is too great for us to fathom. It is in a whole different realm of love from anything we can comprehend.

“God so loved THE WORLD… that WHOSOEVER…”

Does this mean that Jesus’s death on the Cross – the gift of the Father – secures the salvation of every single person? A consistent universalist would answer “yes.” He would say that Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, along with everyone else who has ever lived, will one day be in Heaven holding your hands and singing “Kumbaya.” However, this is incorrect, because the “whosoever” in John 3:16 is inextricably linked to the next word: “believeth,” and likewise to “in Him,” meaning Jesus, the Savior. The “world” that is so loved by God includes both Jews and gentiles, which would have been a radically different concept for the vast majority of those who heard Jesus’s teaching for the first time. The “world” in John 3:16 also means that all people are in fact “loved” by God in a general way, but not that God loves the world’s fallen, sin-controlled “system” that the words “the world” often describe in the Epistles. Not everyone in “the world” experiences the same benefits of God’s love that those who believe on Jesus Christ unto eternal salvation experience. The bronze serpent referenced in John 3:14 was lovingly lifted up by Moses for all to see, but only those to whom God granted faith looked and lived.

As you read this you might be wondering, “Am I a John 3:16 ‘whosoever’ or not? How can I tell?” You can settle this by looking to Jesus in faith right now, believing His Gospel. LOOK and SEE. If you will not look, see, and believe, you cannot be a John 3:16 “whosoever.” And there is only one other default position. If you will not be a John 3:16 “whosoever,” you must be a Revelation 20:15 “whosoever.”

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:15

“Perish” is what it’s called in John 3:16, but do not imagine it as some peaceful extinguishment. It is not a blinking-out into oblivion. It is eternal death and destruction, never-ending, conscious, excruciating pain, darkness, and torment, as opposed to present tense eternal “have everlasting life.” Everlasting life is the opposite of perishing: light instead of darkness, joy instead of pain, peace instead of torment. I beg you to trust Jesus this very moment.

Eternity

November 19, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Posted in Eternity | 1 Comment
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The idea of eternity can be difficult for finite minds to grasp. Unlike our amazing Creator, we (His creatures) are constantly changing. Since “time” is the method devised for measuring change, we can scarcely fathom a realm (or a God) that exists “outside” of time. Christians talk of “spending” eternity with God and describe our Heavenly home as a place that will “last” forever, but we truly lack the language to adequately explain what it will be like to live “forever” with our magnificent Savior and His eternal, unending, infinite majesties, glories, and perfections.

Some of the earliest posts on this blog dealt with the theme of everlasting security, so, along with those and some other posts that examine Bible verses which talk about eternal life and God’s infinitude and immutability, I came up with the category called “Eternity.” Here are the links to its posts:

1. The Eternal Glory of God (II Timothy 2:10)
2. There Are Some Absolutes (Psalm 25)
3. Temporary Wealth Vs. Eternal Wealth (II Timothy 6:17-18)
4. Right Where You’re Supposed to Be (Ecclesiastes 3:11-12)
5. R.S.V.P. Before You R.I.P. (Ezekiel 12:27-28)
6. It’s Just Faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 4:5)
7. When Time Shall Be No More (Matthew 13:51-52)
8. The Bridegroom Cleans His Bride’s Wedding Gown (Revelation 19:7-9)
  a. Delivery and Birth (I Corinthians 5:1-5)
  b. The Deposit on Your Soul (II Corinthians 5:5)
  c. It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is (Galatians 2:16-20)
  d. All in the Past (Ephesians 4:30-32)
  e. Who “KEEPS” Me Saved? (Philippians 3:9)
  f. Perfect Unbreakable Love (Colossians 3:13-14)
  g. Learning to Like Eternal Life (I Thessalonians 4:7-8)
  h. Eternal Destruction (II Thessalonians 1:7-9, 2:16)
  i. Temporarily Saved Is Not Really Saved at All (I Timothy 2:3-4)
  j. Get Over Yourself, because You Can’t Get Over on God (II Timothy 2:13)
  k. Eternally Paid in Full (Philemon vv. 18-19)
  l. The Author of the Story that Never Ends (Hebrews 12:2, 7:5; Titus 1:2)
  m. Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date (I Peter 1:5, 2:24, 4:17)
  n. The Legend of the Unsaved Christian (II Peter 2:20-22)
  o. The Everlasting Anointing (I John 2:27)
  p. The Things that Will Last (II John v. 8)
  q. Eternal Infamy vs. Eternal Honor (III John vv. 9-10)
9. Do You Want to Live Forever? (I Timothy 2:5)
10. Discipleship Lesson 2: Everlasting Security
11. Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 1) (John 14:16-17)
12. Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 2) (Ezekiel 3:20; John 1:12-3)
13. Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 3)
14. Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 4) (Luke 8:13; Deuteronomy 30:17-20; Matthew 5:13)
15. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket (Job 39:13-17; Matthew 23:37; I John 5:13; Deuteronomy 33:27) *
16. Do Birds Sing about Eternity? (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14)
17. Partakers Overtake Undertakers (Hebrews 6:4-6)
18. The Assurance of the Blood (Hebrews 13:20-21; Jeremiah 32:40; Luke 22:20)
19. The Testator as Intercessor (Hebrews 7)
20. Hard Sayings (John 6)

* most-viewed post in category

What Lack I Yet?

May 26, 2016 at 9:18 am | Posted in Mark, Matthew | 7 Comments
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During Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, among the people with whom He spent most of His time, it would have been a noteworthy occasion to meet a man who was both young, rich, and, to some extent, sincere. In fact, Matthew 19 records such an occasion.

When the young man inquired about what He needed to do to receive eternal salvation, Jesus began to list some of the commandments of the Law. The young man professed that he had kept these commandments, and then asked this question:

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Matthew 19:20

As we study this passage in greater detail we see that Scripture does not support the application often given this verse by ministers today. Upon encountering someone who appears to “have it all” in society, modern evangelicals will say something like this: “Sir, I see that you have a beautiful family, a good marriage, a huge house, an expensive car, and a great job. You only ‘lack’ one thing: Jesus. If you will just add Jesus to your life, you will then be complete.”

This sounds spiritual and practical, but it is not what is taught in Scripture. Christ Jesus is not just an accessory or an accoutrement to be added to one’s list of possessions. The decision to follow Christ, and to receive Him as Savior, is a decision which stems from a Holy Ghost-revealed understanding that Christ is all that matters, and that if confessing Him costs everything else, then the price is not too high.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:35-36

Catechism Question 14

December 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, John | 4 Comments
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Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He gave his Son.
Prove it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

God came into this world in the Person of His Son, Who became a man while remaining fully God. He started out His earthly life by being born of a virgin, and then growing into manhood, all the while living a perfectly righteous and holy life, never sinning.

He purchased eternal life for all who would believe on Him by taking our sins upon Himself on the Cross, paying for them fully as He died, then rising from the dead.

Other verses to consider:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

Galatians 4:4

Catechism Question 13

November 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Exodus | 6 Comments
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Question 13: Why can’t you see God?
Answer: God is too holy for me to see Him and live.
Prove it.

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 33:20

God’s overwhelming holiness is too great for sinful human beings to look upon His unveiled presence without being supernaturally strengthened. This will be one of the great benefits and blessings for Christians in Heaven. We shall be able to gaze upon our Lord in our glorified state without fear.

Other verses to consider:

God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

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.

I Corinthians 13:12

Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 3)

January 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Eternity | 1 Comment
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Objection: I know that I can lose my salvation because Lucifer once was in Heaven, and was cast out. There were also MANY angels created by God that chose to follow Lucifer to the fiery pit.

Answer To Objection: Lucifer being thrown out of Heaven has nothing to do with losing your salvation. Lucifer was never saved, so he could not “lose” his salvation.

Objection: Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace and favor and lost their eternity in the Garden.

Answer To Objection: When Adam and Eve were created in the garden they had not yet been “saved.” It was only after they sinned that they needed to be saved. God put them out of the Garden, but that is not “losing their salvation.”

Objection: If a Christian decides to walk away from God and live in sin he will surely die in his sin.

Answer To Objection: Do you mean die physically, or go to hell? Do you know any Christians who do not sin at least once every day? Is that “living in sin?” Do you know any Christians who have achieved sinless perfection? How many sins does a Christian have to commit before he or she “loses his salvation?” Why is most of the New Testament after Acts written to Christians telling them how to get the victory over sin, instead of telling them to get re-saved since they must have lost their salvation? Every Christian sins. We should not, but we do. God chastens His children for sinning. He does not kick them out of His family, or go back on His Word and take away His eternal salvation.

The Bridegroom Cleans His Bride’s Wedding Gown

March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Eternity | 16 Comments
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The custom of modern weddings is for the bride to wear white. White symbolizes her purity. This is a good and fitting tradition. But it is not always completely accurate. These days few and far between are brides who have kept themselves totally pure up until their wedding day.

The bride of Christ is His church – the body of believers to whom He has granted eternal life. Christ is a pure and holy Bridegroom. He is coming to claim a pure and holy bride.

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:27

In fact, there will one day be a great feast or “marriage supper” for Christ and His bride.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Revelation 19:7

Just as there are few brides who have remained completely pure until their wedding day, there are few (maybe none) Christians who have been completely sinless since the day of their salvation. Yet, we see that Christ’s bride will indeed wear white:

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 19:8-9

It has not fully been revealed to us exactly how the impure members of Christ’s church will be transformed into His holy, unblemished bride. It may well be that our impurities will be purged away before the judgment seat of Christ. But, it is certain that the fine white linen of righteousness we will wear will be our Lord’s imputed righteousness, and not our own self-generated good works (Titus 3:5).

Eternal life is neither earned, nor kept, nor enhanced by our own power or goodness. The invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is an invitation to come receive a free gift.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17

We sometimes use the word “freely” to mean “having the quality of unlimited access.” If someone invites us to freely enjoy the buffet, we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths until we are stuffed. There is a connotation of easy access to God’s great riches in this verse, but the primary import of the Greek word dorean is something that is given without cost, something received even though it is undeserved. God will make His bride pure; that is His gift. He has not left it up to us to purify ourselves or keep ourselves pure in our own power.

In this site’s category called “Eternity” the past several postings have focused on the doctrine of eternal security. Starting with I Corinthians, I have taken at least one verse from every subsequent book of the Bible, except Jude, and shown that, when God grants you eternal life, He makes you His child. You receive a new ontological “heart.” You are a new creation. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and God will not take His salvation away. You can not “lose” it, and you can not “reject” it. No man will make God a liar by causing Him to break His promises.

This is not an excuse to presume upon God’s grace and willingly or carelessly practice sin. If you find that you love sin more than Jesus Christ, regardless of what religious experience you may have had, or what you have been told, you need to make sure you have actually trusted in Jesus Christ personally unto salvation, and not merely your own “decision” or a special unscriptural formula.

Here are the previous lessons on eternal security:

Delivery and Birth (I Corinthians)
The Deposit on Your Soul (II Corinthians)
It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is (Galatians)
All in the Past (Ephesians)
Who “KEEPS” Me Saved? (Philippians)
Perfect Unbreakable Love (Colossians)
Learning to Like Eternal Life (I Thessalonians)
Eternal Destruction (II Thessalonians)
Temporarily Saved Is Not Really Saved at All (I Timothy)
Get Over Yourself, because You Can’t Get Over on God (II Timothy)
Eternally Paid in Full (Philemon)

The Author of the Story that Never Ends (Titus, Hebrews)
Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date (I Peter)
The Legend of the Unsaved Christian (II Peter)
The Everlasting Anointing (I John)
The Things that Will Last (II John)
Eternal Infamy vs. Eternal Honor (III John)

The Happiest Slaves

February 8, 2010 at 9:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments
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When the Queen of Sheba came to see King Solomon, it was with no small amount of expectation. She had heard great things about his wealth and his wisdom. After traveling approximately 1500 miles, she was not disappointed.

And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

I Kings 10:6-7

After saying these things the Queen said something even more remarkable:

Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

I Kings 10:8

Conventionally, we think of the person being served as the one who is happy. The happiness of the ones doing the serving is of little concern. However, we know from the Bible that the blessings of serving are even greater than the blessings of being served (Matthew 20:27).

If it was a great blessing to be the servant of Solomon, consider how much greater it is to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only does Christ’s wisdom far exceed that of Solomon’s (Luke 11:31), but who would not want to serve a Master who wants better things for His servants than they want for themselves, and who has given His own life to purchase eternal life for those who serve Him?

The Legend of the Unsaved Christian

February 1, 2010 at 10:01 am | Posted in Eternity, John | 7 Comments
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“Urban legends” are sort of modern day fairy tales. They are stories that have been told and re-told, but can never be confirmed as actually happening. “I know someone who told me about his brother’s old roommate, and you would not believe what happened to him.” This is usually the sort of third- or fourth-hand pedigree that signals the onset of an urban legend about to be told.

There is even a sort of Christian urban legend. I hear it fairly often when I speak about the doctrine of eternal security. “I just know a Christian can lose his salvation,” someone will tell me, “because my cousin’s uncle’s great aunt’s stepfather was saved when he was nine, and he grew up to be an alcoholic and a big jerk, and he even killed a guy one time.”

This sort of experiential tale might make for an interesting story, but it carries no weight whatsoever when held up to inerrant Scripture.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

John 10:28-30

So, what do we do with the person who claims to be a Christian, but lives like a devil? I don’t know about you, but I would hope for the opportunity to give him the Gospel message. There are two possibilities. One, this person is a child of God, saved by grace through faith, and is under the chastening hand of His loving and omniscient Father, Who knows things we can never know – including whether someone is really saved or not. Two, this person is only a “professing Christian,” and has never really been saved to begin with.

The true Christian’s job is not to help other Christians figure out who’s really saved and who’s not, and it is certainly not to help God figure out who really belongs to Him, and who doesn’t.

Whether the person who claims the name of Christ but lives in egregious sin is a prodigal son or a false professor, the proverb of the pigs and the dogs is no urban legend.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

II Peter 2:20-22

Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date

January 22, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in Eternity, I Peter | 9 Comments
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We go to great lengths to make food last longer. We put preservatives, such as salt, in it. We refrigerate or even freeze it. We wrap it in foil. We seal it up tight in a Zip-Lock bag. Ultimately, however, food, unless completely consumed, is going to spoil. In common vernacular, it just won’t “keep.”

Thankfully, though, we serve a Lord Who is mightier, stronger, and more dependable than the tightest Zip-Lock bag and the coldest deep freeze. For all those who come to Christ Jesus, and are washed by His blood, His power saves us, and His power “keeps” us.

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I Peter 1:5

Jesus Christ redeemed born-again believers from the worst source of corruption of all time: sin. He did this by taking on the sins of all His people in His body, and bearing those sins on the Cross of Calvary.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Those sins included not just sins which had been committed up until that time, but sins which were committed since then, and even sins being committed today.

God’s power over sin is such that forgiven sinners may never be rejected of God. They will never be eternally “spoiled” by sin. Therefore, we must remember to take advantage of our access to this power, and to remember that we are part of God’s family, and to therefore live victoriously over sin in our own lives first.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

I Peter 4:17

It is a great privilege to be “kept” by God’s power. Let us not abuse our position by acting “spoiled.”

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