"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


By James Fire

We have been taught that when examining Scripture, in order to seek out its truth and correct interpretation, we must always look at any given verse in the context of the passage. Sometime later we learned that not only is the context of the passage important, but the entire chapter, and not just the chapter, but the book. And of course, we must interpret any verse not merely in the context of the book in which it appears, but in the entirety of God’s counsel as recorded for us in the Holy Bible.

In other words, a balanced and proper view of any verse of Scripture is ultimately provided when one examines it in the light of all the other Scriptures. When we do this, apparent contradictions disappear; verses that we thought were contrary suddenly align themselves in harmony; Scripture that would have baffled us, informs us instead when we heed the entirety of God’s Word. It should be noted that wrong interpretations, false teachings, heresies and cults are established when there is overemphasis on certain verses, to the exclusion of others.

This is why as Disciples of Christ, our reading of Scripture should never be sporadic, but systematic; that is, reading through the Word, from Genesis to Revelation, and once done, start over. This same practice is recommended for the study of Scripture; one of the important hallmarks of a healthy church fellowship is one that is committed to expositional studies.

At the beginning of MATTHEW Chapter 7 we have such a verse that is often misinterpreted and used out of context . . .

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again

If a particular pastor or teacher is brought to question regarding their public teaching or is even attributed with bringing a wrong or false teaching, this verse is quoted; as if to say, we shouldn’t judge this teacher or the teaching. 

We cannot judge the heart of any because this falls in the domain of God, Who alone knows all the hearts of humanity (JER. 17:10). However we are most certainly permitted, commended, even commanded to judge doctrine, teachings and actions (EZEK. 44:23; MAL. 3:18; JHN 7:24; ACTS 17:10-11; 1 COR. 14:29; HEB. 5:14). 

Even in the chapter we are addressing now in Matthew’s Gospel, the issue of fruit both good and corrupt as well as false prophets is brought up; it would be impossible to tell good fruit from corrupt or a true teacher from a false without judging (or discernment).

One of the detrimental conditions of the current church is the terrible lack of discernment; 

Because of this lack, apostasy has grown exponentially and unchecked in the ranks of the professing churches.
If it were true, that the LORD’s admonition was that we should not judge at all, then some of us (the ones obedient to this supposed admonition) would never be judged, but that is certainly not the case! There isn’t a single soul that ever lived who isn’t going to be judged, either at one judgment or another (Two primary places of judgment are the Great White Throne Judgment of unrepentant sinners who have rejected Christ: REV. 20:11 and the Bema Judgment of Rewards for the Saints: ROM.
14:10; 2 COR. 5:10). 

On the side, there are those who presume that God is not going to judge anyone, but readily receive everyone into heaven (This is Universalism and is a false doctrine, which we covered on TTUF in a 3-part series.

What is the correct interpretation of this verse then?

I believe this admonition from the LORD is addressed to those who judge harshly and hypocritically; take note of the proceeding verses:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

If we are in a spiritually worse condition than another that we presume to judge, then the same (harsh) judgment we render to them will be rendered to us by the LORD – and if we are spiritually worse off, it will be harder on us than on the ones we judge (ROM. 2:1-6)!

Yet the LORD isn’t telling us not to judge at all, because in verse 5 He states that we are to take care of our own condition first and remove the beam so that we can “see clearly” and discern (That is judge) the mote in our brother’s eye, so that we can safely and successfully remove it; note that this judgment is not to condemn, but to remedy. To “see clearly” is to “judge righteous judgment” and involves spiritual discernment, which in itself is something imparted by God as both a spiritual gift and spiritual growth in maturity (HEB.
4:12; 5:14; 1 COR. 12:10).
Such ministry will never be accomplished in a manner pleasing to the LORD if not accomplished in a spirit of love and humility:
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Back to Matthews Gospel . . .

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Again, how can we distinguish who is a dog or a swine from those who are not, if we are ‘not to judge’? But enough on that point; who is being spoken of here in this passage?

The people of Israel are referred to as God’s sheep (PSALM 23:1 and PSALM 100:3) and the church as well, that is those born again believers in Christ (JOHN 10:16). In the Jewish mind in particular, the Gentiles are seen differently – not as sheep of the LORD, but as dogs (which is not necessarily a derogatory appellation). Even the LORD spoke in such terms to a woman of Canaan (MATT. 15:22-28).
Yet the Gentiles were given over to the worship of idols and pagan gods; they generally knew nothing of the revelation of God, or the holy oracles that were granted to Israel (ROM. 3:1-2). In such a condition of spiritual ignorance many would disparage the God of Israel and the Holy Scriptures. The precious pearls of God’s Holy truth were given to the prophets of old, recorded and kept by the Jewish people; in sharing these truths with others, we ought to be discerning as to who are truly seeking and desiring truth, from those who are willingly ignorant (ACTS 17:30; 2 PET. 3:5) and derogatory towards anything involving God.

The same may be said of swine, which of course were not kosher to the Jewish people and represented those who were brutish, undiscerning and foolish; we read of such attitudes in the Scriptures:
He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. (See also PROV. 16:22; 23:9; 26:4)
MATTHEW 7:7-11
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Here again we have encouragement from the LORD on faithful and consistent prayer; the admonition that He gave elsewhere regarding the widow and the unjust judge is applicable at this point (LK. 18:1-8). In the above text He refers to human parents, what for all of their sinful ways (vs. 11) still have a nature to do good for their own children. How much more then shall our heavenly and holy Father be willing to bestow good things on those of His that ask Him? What entails those “good things” however may differ between the petitioner and our Parent.

A child may accuse their parent of being ‘mean’ because they deny them a piece of candy an hour before dinner.

We must trust our Father that He really does know best, even if we think that a certain “good thing” would really be good for us (a winning lottery ticket worth millions for example). 

Many have given up on prayer because they never receive an answer or if an answer is given not to their liking. We don’t always have the answers to the “whys” of God and in some cases, we never will, this side of eternity. Some have grown bitter and walked away from the LORD because He didn’t answer their prayer in the way that they believe He should have.

Faith for the believer is required to sustain us through such times of bewilderment and uncertainty. While we may not find rest in certain answers from our Father, we can find rest in Him; for if we know that He loves us, then we can accept such answers in the light of this. The question the LORD posed in LUKE 18:8 is something for all of us to ponder. Let us therefore be determined that no matter how long we may have to wait for answers from God, we will persist in prayer.

Looking to the patriarchs of
Israel, and noting all of the promises that were given to them by God, we must concede that those promises were not fulfilled, for the most part, immediately. In many if not most instances, these fathers of the faith had to wait decades or even the extent of their entire lives. Abraham never saw the fulfillment of God’s promises during his lifetime, but that doesn’t mean he won’t! Once the LORD returns and establishes His kingdom, those promises that have been delayed for millennia will finally be fulfilled.
Here is a lesson that I have learned: God’s delays in answered prayer mean God’s greater blessing further down the road! We must persevere!
No greater example comes to mind of a real prayer warrior than George Mueller who kept a prayer journal divided into two columns. On the left side was the prayer need written down, on the right side the prayer as it was answered . . .
The story is told . . . regarding two friends who were unbelievers. Mueller prayed for the salvation of these two men for over twenty-five years.
Finally, just shortly before George Mueller’s death one of the men came to Christ. About six months after Mueller died, the other man became a Christian. The power of persistent prayer for the salvation of others is a message all can learn from this story.

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Rather than attempting to keep the over 600 laws of the Old Testament as well as all of the precepts of the prophets, the LORD streamlines this formidable (actually impossible for humanity) endeavor down to one simple expression. A similar expression was declared by the Word Incarnate elsewhere that the Jews readily understood, known to them as the Shema: (DEUT. 6:4-5):
MATTHEW 22:35-40
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
“A rather high demand God has placed upon us”, humanists and atheists have claimed; “ALL. . . (?!) our hearts and minds and strength?! How unreasonable”, they would say. 

Yet when we consider how much God loves us, and how God the Son demonstrated His love for us, with ALL of His heart and soul and mind and strength, ALL of which were utilized in that Supreme Demonstration of Sublime Love – when He willingly hung on the Cross, taking upon Himself ALL of our sins as well as ALL the Holy Judgment and subsequent wrath of our Holy Father, such a ‘demand’ on God’s part turns into a blessed opportunity for us to love Someone like this, Who proved beyond any doubt His love for us! As the Scripture declares:
1 JOHN 4:19
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
And so with such an exhortation to love God, we must apply the same ministration of the Holy Spirit in our lives to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love others by the power of God’s grace - - even the unloveable. If we claim to love God but don’t love our brother, we are simply lying about any love for God (1 JOHN 4:20).

MATTHEW 7:13-14
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

We mentioned Universalism earlier and here we have from the LORD’s own words that “few” will find that “straight gate” and “narrow way” which leads to life; and “many” (MANY!) will go that way “that leads to destruction”. Salvation comes from only One source, or rather and more accurately, One Person – Jesus Christ Himself (JHN. 3:16; 6:68; 8:24; 10:9; 14:6; ACTS 4:12; 1 COR. 2:2; 3:11). In this sense, the way of salvation is narrow, because there is no other means for salvation possible other than that which God Himself provided for us.

Every other way is a false way and a contrivance of religion; religion, which is what I refer to as an artificial (man-made) form of righteousness which is presumed to be acceptable by a Holy God, but due to the incurable and sinful condition of the heart of humanity (JER. 17:9) offers no merit whatsoever on behalf of the practitioner of said religion.

Yet in another sense, salvation is an expansive highway in that anyone who calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved (ACTS
2:21; ROM. 10:13)!
For those who are truly repentant and surrendered, giving leave to the LORD of LIFE to do with them as He pleases, these find the parameters of our High Priest an open expanse of grace and peace, of love and life and relishes the beauty of the LORD in sweet communion and fellowship. For these blessed saints, this strait and narrow way is room enough and to spare in which to declare “…to live is Christ.”

Yet for those converts who profess faith, and are willing to receive salvation, but never repent of their sinful lives and surrender to the LORD of glory – such a place is strait indeed!

The word for strait in the Greek is stenos and it means, "to groan,", "groaning" (Eng., "stenography," lit., "narrow writing"), is used figuratively in MATT. 7:13,14; of the gate which provides the entrance to eternal life, "narrow" because it runs counter to natural inclinations, and "the way" is similarly characterized; so in LUKE 13:24 (where the more intensive word agonizomai, "strive," is used); "narrow" in each place (From Vine’s Expository Dictionary).

For such as these who pull against the restraints of ‘Bible rules’ and often ask the question, “Can I do ‘such and such’ and still be saved?” and seek to save and live their own lives for themselves along with their plans and their desires, their genuine spiritual life may certainly be questioned. Such carnal professors of the faith have no guarantee of eternal life or hope in finding acceptance with God, but they may find themselves one day, face to Face with God the Son who will proclaim, “…I never knew you.” (MATT. 7:23).
Yet even we who know the LORD in truth, may often find times in life in which the struggle to die to self is a very real battle – the flesh does not die easily or quickly, and thus the idea of taking up one’s cross and following Him is an apt description of what it is to die to self. No one died easily or quickly on the cross in all of history’s accounts. It was a slow, agonizing, heinous ordeal that ravaged the flesh with impossible pain which often drove the victim insane.
Spiritually speaking, the truth in Scripture regarding our mortification (to die to self, the sinful nature) is found everywhere:
MATTHEW 16:24-25
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

ROMANS 8:12-14
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 
(A careful review of Romans Chapters 6 through 8 on your own, is most conducive for a comprehensive understanding of “the flesh” and “the Spirit” with the contrasting elements of “sin”, “the law”, and “righteousness”. For a review of these chapters, you may read the following TTUF studies in Romans; Chapter 6Chapter 7; and Chapter 8 (Part One).)
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (See also MATT. 5:29; ROM. 6:6; 13:14; GAL. 5:16; COL. 1:23-25; 1 PET. 2:11; 4:2).
 MATTHEW 7:15-20
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

We have recently finished a five part series on such wolves that present themselves as “ministers of righteousness” (2 COR. 11:13-15) but are actually “ravening wolves”; the three people surveyed are Leonard Sweet, Wayne Dyer and Ken Blanchard. For the first in the series, click on this link. 

Interesting that “prophets” are mentioned here because we have stated before that once the Scripture was completed in its entire canonicity such offices as apostle and prophet were likewise completed. The structure of the church’s leadership then represented pastor/teachers (shepherds over God’s flock, comprised of elders), evangelists, deacons, and such who have “the gift of helps” and others. We see nothing of genuine prophets after the book of Acts, and we don’t see any more of the apostles (those who have been with and seen Christ after His resurrection) after the apostle Paul.

And yet here the LORD speaks of false prophets that would appear afterwards; those who purport to bring ‘a word from ‘God’. Certainly there are those who would be considered prophets in this sense in the New Age Movement as well as the New Apostolic Reformation movement, and alongside these (and closely related to the NAM) are those found in the esoteric and, or secret societies – who through meditative practices channel what’s been known as ‘the Ancient Wisdom’ by spirits referred to as the Ascended Masters.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
There is actually a book called The Secret Doctrine by Madame Helena Blavatsky, an occultist and leader of  The Theosophical Societya quite prodigious work that most hard-core New Agers know and love. Another of this Society wrote two dozen books; one of the more prominent ones being The Externalization of the Hierarchy by Alice Bailey; both women received these messages from the ‘Ascended Masters’ a.k.a. demonic spirits and their doctrines in book form; truly satanic ‘bibles’ that are being followed by increasing numbers.

Others are ‘hearing from God’ like Helen Schucman, Marianne Williamson, Neale Donald Walsh and Barbara Marx Hubbard to name a few; and they are recording their messages in books, DVDs, CD-ROMs, and other formats. We have covered this in another TTUF series 
based on Warren Smith’s book False Christ Coming – Does Anybody Care?

Once again, to reiterate, one is required by the LORD Jesus to actively judge (discern) in order to distinguish good trees and their fruit from corrupt; we cannot judge hearts, but we are commanded to judge fruit (of the lips, that is teaching and stated beliefs; and of life, what sort of production does a person create in their lives and how do they affect other lives).

MATTHEW 7:21-23
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

It was by the will of God and His Divine Inspiration that prophets, apostles and godly saints were moved to write the Holy Scriptures (2 PET 1:20-21); if we desire to know and do our Father’s will, we only have to consult the Scriptures and obey them.

There are many that profess that Jesus is LORD or at least “a Lord” or “Master” even in the New Age movement and in Hinduism, but in this passage it’s clear that the ones who genuinely believe in Jesus as LORD by genuine faith are those that “do the will of [the] Father which is in heaven” and will recognize true doctrine from false (that is, possess discernment; see JOHN 7:17)

It’s remarkable that such people as these will be able to prophesy, cast out demonic spirits (supposedly) and perform other “wonderful works”; one should note that the word for ‘wonderful’ here is dunamis, the Greek word that implies spiritual power, typically in the working of miracles and miraculous signs. These are not marvelous works that are merely wonderful, grand or beautiful in nature, but those which are generated supernaturally. Since the LORD rejects these “work[ers of] iniquity” we must conclude that they are doing such by demonic power. Yet these are so deceived, that all the while they are working by these satanic agencies, they claim to follow the LORD!

The horrific proclamation by the LORD, “…depart from Me…” will haunt such souls as these for all eternity as they suffer the agony of gehenna, fully aware that they needn’t have gone there, if they had only genuinely received Christ and His salvation

MATTHEW 7:24-27
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

How solid and sturdy, resolute and stable is this ROCK, the hearing and obeying of the Word of God? 

Later in the Gospel of Matthew, the LORD declared:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. See also PS. 119:89; IS. 40:8; MT. 5:18; 1 PET. 1:25
And for those that stand upon this ROCK by hearing, understanding, and obeying Him will become as immoveable and resolute as the ROCK. We become essentially ‘storm proof’. We do all sorts of things in climates that are prone to storms to prepare for an oncoming deluge. We board up windows, reinforce weak parts of roof tops, bring sand bags to surround the house inside and out and bring stores of food and water into it, all in preparation for the storms.

The fact that we shall endure storms in life that assault our spiritual man and seek to bring it down is as obvious as it is unavoidable; what preparations are we making in light of this truth? Knowing that the storms are coming, should we not take those steps and action that will keep us safe and sound in Christ?

Hearing, understanding and obeying the Word of the LORD demonstrate the kind of wisdom and a power that is not earthly or human, but brought to us by God. If we lack such wisdom, we only have to ask the LORD for it and He shall provide such abundantly (JAMES 1:5). If we lack such strength and power, we must wait (expectantly) upon the LORD (for such provision; IS. 40:31).
Those that reject the Word of the LORD, who do not seek to understand and obey the Scriptures, are foolish indeed and will end up in absolute ruin:
PSALM 50:16-17
16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
We are in the midst of a study on “Foundations” that has much to do with all of this; you may access the first part at the following link..

MATTHEW 7:28-29
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

And so from the beginning of this “sermon on the mount” starting from MATTHEW Ch. 5 and completing here at the end of Ch. 7 we have witnessed the Kingdom principles that Christians by the Spirit of God Himself may live by and conduct themselves, but will also be the governing Law of the KING when once He returns and inaugurates His Kingdom on this Earth.

These teachings by the LORD did indeed astonish the people, for He taught them by addressing spiritual truth from His own authority, not quoting various rabbis and Jewish religious authorities as the scribes did.
This indicates that the LORD referred to Himself as God, for only God has the right and authority to make such claims as the LORD Jesus made:

JOHN 11:25-26
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Elsewhere it states:

PSALM 119:89-90
89 For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. 90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.

ISAIAH 40:8-9
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
And to complete this exposition on this sermon, I present to you another sermon on a different mount.

This concludes chapter 7 and we shall now proceed to chapter 8 in the next TTUF study of The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW: The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE!

Until then, remember that JESUS REIGNS and Satan merely feigns! JESUS RULES and Satan fools!
JESUS SAVES and Satan enslaves! 

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