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QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     2 Thessalonians 2:9 mentions "counterfeit" signs. The scriptures consistently appeal to the miraculous as proof of the working of God. If Satan could also work miracles, then the evidential value of miracles would be undermined. What think ye?

This is another case where etymological considerations prove wholly inadequate. From the higher point of view, the signs and wonders Satan works are lies. That does not mean they are not supernatural. Anyone affirming that Satan never works in a manner transcendant nature has taken a position that can be quickly struct down from Scripture. Neither, indeed, does "power, signs, and lying wonders" mean they are not real, or suggest they are mere delusions of the mind. The phrase "lying signs and wonders" emphasizes their deceptive nature, not their lack of reality.

When Satan attacked Job, the robbing of his flocks, destruction of his children, and being covered with boils were certainly not a delusion--yet they were all wrought by Satan. They were also within the framework of God's will and power.

A classic example is also provided in the Egyptian magicians. I would not care to affirm their rods did not really become snakes, or that they were not really eaten by the rod of Moses (Ex 7:10-12). The Scriptures affirm they really did turn water into blood (Ex 7:21-22). They also brought real frogs upon the land (Ex 8:7). Their power, however, ran out, so to speak, at this point. They tried to "bring forth lice, but they could not" (Ex 8;7). If they really did not turn water into blood, or did not really bring frogs out of the water, it would be pointless to mention their inability to bring forth lice. The very statement assumes the reality of their former deeds.

There are, of course, other examples of things wrought by Satan and his hosts that were transcendent to nature, and could only be removed by Jesus. Jesus said Satan "bound" a woman with an infirmity that left her bowed together for eighteen years (Lk 13:10-16). The demons that possessed the man from Gadara (Mark 5:1-6) certainly caused very real affects. The father having a child possessed of a demon saw that demon cast the boy to the ground where he lay wallowing and foaming (Mark 9:20). As you know, there are numerous other cases, but these will suffice for now. My point is these things were supernatural, but not Divine. They seemed to testify to an invincible devil, however, which was a lie. Too, they could be reversed by the power of Christ, while Satan could not obviate what Jesus did.

As wrought by Satan, delusion itself is a sort of wonder. It transcends human intellect, capturing those who have no faith or relish for the truth. It makes no difference how intellectual they are, or how gifted and logical they are. When men without Christ face Satan's delusion, they face something for which they are not adquate. Such are "taken captive" by Satan, "to do his will" (2 Tim 2:26). That is beyond the realm of nature. Were this not the case, we would not require a Savior to deliver.

The text in Second Thessalonians is certainly a defining one. Rather, however, than it testifying to what Satan cannot do, it is affirming what he DOES do. The phraseology confirms he is not God, but neither is he man. He does have power, but it is subordinate power. His works draw men into the realm of delusion, not to the truth.

First, the text is not an affirmation of Satan himself, but of one of his subordinates. I do not know that we can use this text to describe the limitations of the devil, although he surely has them. The miracles are "counterfeit" because they have not come from God (which is what the worker affirms). They are "miracles" in the sense that they are above the capability of mere humanity. They are evidence of Satan's work, not that of man. However, great value must not be assigned to them, for they are neither lasting nor all powerful.

The text says this man comes according to the working of Satan "with all power, signs, and lying wonders." Men have debated over this text, because the manner in which it is stated does not fit comfortably into their theology. Thus some have assumed the word "lying" applies to "power," "signs," and "wonders." I understand the literal translation to be "In wonders of a lie." If this is the case, and the language indicates that it is, the point is not the counterfeit of the miracle, but the personification of the lie. This would be a parallel with the expression "strong delusion." It presumes the use of "all power"--not the "all power given to Jesus, but the power given to Satan.

There are several statements made in Scripture that make me uncomfortable with the thought that Satan cannot really work a miracle. John spoke of demons who "worked miracles" (Rev 16:14). Jesus said false prophets would come who would show "great signs and wonders" (Matt 24:24). They would be of such magnitude that, were it possible, they would deceive the very elect. I gather this involved more than merely clouding the mind with some form of rhetoric. I do not know that speeches in any form are ever called "great signs and wonders." This is something they would offer in substantiation of their lying message. It is their message that made their signs and wonders "lying." Anything that is not united with ultimate reality is, in fact, a lie--whether it be a sign, wonder, deed, word.

Again, John wrote of the false prophet that "wrought miracles" by which he deceived those who had aligned themselves with the Lord's enemy (Rev 19:20). He uses the same word that is used for Christ's miracles (sameia).

A "lying wonder" is a kind, or category, of wonder. It is not a description of something that is not a wonder.

The Scriptures do not make miracles the acid test of truth. Moses warned of one who claimed to be a prophet or dreamer. If he gave a sign or a wonder, and it came to pass--and if he then told the people to go after other gods, they were not to hearken to him. The Lord was trying them, to know whether they loved him with all of their heart (Deut 13:1-3). Of course, our Lord also warned of false prophets and false christs who would do the same thing (Matt 24:24).

The words "miracles," "signs," and "wonders" are not, therefore, confined to the glorious working of our Lord. Moses spoke of such things in an evil sense, as well as Jesus, Paul, and John. This category of works, transcendant to nature, are designed to deceive--that is what makes them "lying."

God does uphold all things by the word of His power. Amen! That is why the devil can do nothing unless it is given to him to do so. There are occasions, however, when he does receive such power. He is, in the end, a vassal of the Lord.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)      How do you know there is a GOD?
The Scriptures assume man has an innate persuasion that there is a God. The first chapter of Romans indicts the world for suppressing this knowledge, as evidenced by the creation (Romans 1:18-26). There, it affirms God's "invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (verse 20). The orderliness and precision of the universe testify to an orderly and deliberate God. Mankind, however, "refused to retain God in their knowledge," and thus He became obscure to them.

The real question is not "How do you know there is a God," but "What would lead me to believe there is not." The presence of the precise universe and the intelligence of mankind are proofs of God--just as surely as the paintings of a great artist are proof of him. Our minds should tell us that orderliness can no more come from chaos than an unabridged dictionary could fly out of an explosion in a print factory. The creation, then, proves there is a God. That is also the teaching of Psalms 19:1-4. There are more proofs, but that is the emphasis of Scripture.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     IF there is a GOD how do you know if He is the God of the Bible?
One of the ministries of the Lord Jesus is the exposition, or opening up, of God. He is the One who can convince our hearts that the God of the Bible is the true God. Here is how Jesus said it, "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matt 11:27). Unless, therefore, the Lord Jesus makes this matter clear to us, we simply will not know. Now the question arises, If the only person knowing the identity of the Father is the one Jesus chooses to reveal Him to, how can we be that person? The Lord Jesus goes on to answer that very question. He confirms that He actually WANTS confirm to truth of God to people. You probably have heard this verse. Jesus went on to say, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30).

Putting it all together, the answer to your question is, one must come to Jesus about this matter. By reading the Word of God and then going to Christ, your niece will receive the answer. He said, "Learn from me!" He will be "gentle" in His teaching if she is willing in her heart.

I know there are academic proofs presented for the existence of God, and strong theological arguments for Him being the God of the Bible. But there is no place of learning like at the feet of Jesus. Those of us who have come to Him can attest that this is the truth.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     I was baptized at the age of 10, I'm now 61 and came back to the Lord at the age of 50. I don't know if I knew the importance of baptism at the age of 10. Should I have a second baptism now (I'm talking immersion)?

There is only "one baptism" (Eph 4:5). Knowing the importance and full meaning of baptism is not necessary when one is baptized. If it was, no one one could be baptized. All of the doctrine on baptism is addressed to people who had already been baptized (Rom 6:1-8; Gal 3:27-28; Col 2:11-12; 1 Pet 3:21). In other words, far more happened when we were baptized than we thought.

When a person falls into sin, or leaves the Lord, then returns, it is not necessary to be baptized again. When God has graciously granted you repentance, and you have returned to Him, your acknowledgement of the truth is what pleases Him. It also restores you to His favor. This is taught in Second Timothy 2:24-26. Notice in that passage that those recovering themselves were not said to have been rebaptized. It is sufficient for you to have confessed your sins, knowing He is faithful and just to forgive your sin, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

This situation is pictured in Christ's words to Peter when he refused to let Jesus wash his feet. Jesus replied to him, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet" (John 13:8-10), In your baptirm, you were fully "washed" (Acts 22:16). When you returned, you did not require that washing again, but only the washing of your feet--or the part of you that had become defiled.

Other passages on believers who have left the Lord, and recover are: Gal 6:1-2; James 5:19-20; Rev 2:5. As you will see, none were counselled to be baptized again.

I am greatly pleased by your return to the Lord, and your obvious desire to please Him. God has received you with joy.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     Is it wrong for Christians to watch Star Wars? I've heard both sides of the argument. What do you think?

This is an area of conscience, in which one believer cannot dictate to another one. Each one has a personal view of the matter--but that is precisely what it is, a PERSONAL view. On matters like this, the Scriptures affirm, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom 14:5). In that particular text he was speaking of matters regarding eating meat and the observance of specific days. Both were matters of conscience, not revelation. The Lord asks you to do whatever you to before Him, always aware of His eye being upon you (Col 3:17). That is intensely personal, and we must keep it just that way. If, in the process, our minds are contrary to the mind of the Lord, and IF we maintain a good conscience, the Word says, "if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you" (Phil 3:15). All of us must be willing to depend upon that taking place.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     Why is Balaam spoken of in such a bad way in the NT ( 2Pet.2; 15) and ( Rev. 2; 14). ? When I read the story of Balaam in the OT, it seems he did everything exactly as God commanded him and even refused to waver a little bit in obeying the voice of the Lord.

Balaam is one of those mytserious prophets of Scripture--by that I mean, his real person does not stand out. The Word does tell us enough, however, to show that his heart was something less than devoted to God. He had some fear of the Lord, but it did not dominate him. He spoke for wages, not for the Lord. That is what 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 11 emphasize. Simply put, he loved money more than God. Rather than seeking to bless the people of God, he actually taught Balak that if that wicked king could seduce the Israelites into committing fornication with heathen women, the curse of God would be upon them. That is what Balak wanted--for Balaam to "curse this people for me" (Num 22:6). Balaam knew he could not simply curse the people God had blessed. Therefore, it is written, he "taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel" (Rev 2:14). Of his despicable action it is written, "but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet" (2 Pet 2:16).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     Why is Lucifer called the Day Star in the OT and the NT refers to when the 'day star ' arises in our hearts? I dont have the reference right now, but it is there.

The term "Day Star" only appears one time in Scripture, and it applies to Jesus (1 Pet 1:19). He is also called the "Morning Star," or one that shines even in the daylight (Rev 2:28; 22:16). That peculiar prophet Balaam also foretold a "Star" coming out of Jacob, which was the Lord Jesus Christ (Num 24:17).

Satan is never called a "star." In a prophecy about the fall of Satan, Isaiah affirmed the devil once said, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God" (Isa 14;12). Ezekiel referred to him as once being "the anointed cherub" (Ezek 28:14). It is also written Satan "was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness" (Ezek 28:17). That is as close as it comes to calling him a star--but he is never called one, much less the "Day Star."

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     What is "Spiritual Discernment"? Is it one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

The phrase "spiritual discernment" is not found anywhere in the Word of God--in any version. One time, the Scriptures mentions a gift placed within the church as "discerning of spirits" (1 Cor 12:10). That was the ability to detect a false spirit, even though it appeared to be a true one. Paul told us some of Satan's ministers are transformed into "ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor 11:15). That is, they look like they were really from God--and even their words seem to justify that conclusion. But they are NOT from God, but come from Satan. The "discerning of spirits" involves detecting who they really are. It also involves knowing who really came from God.

One of the classic examples of the discerning of spirits is found in the book of Acts. While Paul and his brethren were in Ephesus, they confronted a woman who had an evil spirit. It was a spirit of "divination" which granted unlawful knowledge to the possessed woman. When she saw Paul, she cried out, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation." You could not be more accurate than that! But Paul discerned it was an evil spirit speaking, and not God's Spirit. After "many days, "Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour." (Acts 16:16-18). While what the evil spirit said, speaking through the woman, was technically correct, the message actually drew attention to Satan's kingdom rather than God's.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     Elaborate on Spiritual Discernment as much as possible, and give me Bible references.

Spiritual discernment is not a special gift, but something available to all of God's people. It is understanding that comes from the Holy Spirit shedding light on what God has said. Scripture informs us the "natural man" (the man who is NOT born again) cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God--Scripture, or what God has revealed. The things God has revealed, it goes on to say, are "spiritually discerned." The text then elaborates by saying the Holy Spirit takes the things of God and opens them up to us. That is when they are "spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 14-16).

When we eat at the Lord's table, we are also to "discern the Lord's body," or understand what happened when He died, bearing our sins in His body on the tree (1 Cor 11:29; 1 Pet 2:24). That is speaking of understanding, when the truth makes sense to us.

Another phrase meaning the same thing is "spiritual understanding." Again, this is something form all of believers. In fact, Paul prayed that believers would be given this blessing. He also says it is necessary to walk pleasing before the Lord (Col 1:9-10).

The same thing is called the "eyes of our understanding being enlightened" in Ephesians 1:17-20. This occurs when the Lord helps us to see what he had actually revealed to us in the Gospel. We need His help to see it. Apart from His influence, and before we are born again, the "eyes of our understanding are darkened" (Eph 4:18).

This should suffice to confirm to you that discernment is something all of God's people must have. There are special measures of it given to some who are able to detect what is coming from God and what is not in unusual cases. There had better, however, be no pretending in this critical area.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     I am substituting for our Sunday school superintendant on Sunday at and am looking for a brief, appropriate devotional to use for Memorial Day weekend. Any suggestions?

I do not have such a devotional in print. It is difficult to find much in Scripture about national holidays, such as Memorial Day. I think I would approach it from two perspectives. Jesus once said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13). it is also written, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:7-8).

Some thought could be developed on the exemplary conduct of those who gave their lives for their country. That is a rare and noble sacrifice, as the above texts indicate. There is, however, an even more notable sacrifice found in Christ, who gave Himself for His "enemies" (Rom 5:10).

I am sure you will be able to weave these two threads of thought together for a profitable reminder to the people. May the Lord bless you in the effort.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     Is there a difference between a "disciple" and being "saved." Someone told me they were the same.

They are not the same. A disciple is a "learner" or student--someone who learns from someone else. Today, we would call a disciple a "pupil." Jesus spoke of a disciple not being above his teacher, or not being greater than the one teaching him (Matt 10:24-25. Jesus' enemies said they were "Moses' disciples" (John 9:28)--they were not saved. The Pharisees also had disciples (Matt 22:15-16)--they were not saved. John the Baptist had discples (Mark 2:18)--some of them were not saved. On on occasion, Paul found "certain disciples" in Ephesus who had been followers of John the Baptist, yet were not saved. After preaching to them, they believed and were saved (Acts 19:1-10). One time, after Jesus spoke to a great number of His own disciples, some of them left Him, following Him no more. It is written, "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66).

As you can see, you can be a disciple, and NOT be saved. A true disciple of Jesus is one who follows Him and learns from Him. All saved people are disciples, but all disciples are not saved. Some people are not disciples of Jesus, but of some other man. Some of Jesus' disciplies are just curious, and have not yet received Him as Savior--like the disciples that left Jesus in John 6.

A "saved" person is someone who not only learns from Jesus, but willingly and heartily serves Him also. It is someone Jesus has received (Rom 15:7), whose sins are washed away, and whose name is written in heaven.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     Do those who are not born again have no spirit, since they have not Jesus? I wonder...

We are not yet fully joined to the Lord -- only our essential being, our spirit is. It is obvious your body is not yet one with Him. It will be, however, in the resurrection. It should also be obvious the soul is not joined to the Lord either, because it is capable of gross thought and imaginations that must be cast down. Remember, whatever is born of God "cannot sin" (1 John 3:9). Whatever part of us, therefore, that is capable of sin has not yet been "born of God." That is why we have to "possess" our souls (Lk 21:19), and exhort them (Psa 42:5,11; 43:5).

The person who is not born again does have a spirit. It is alienated from God., however, and an enemy to God (Eph 4:18; Col 1:21). In that sense, the unsaved are "dead" in their spirits. That is why they are called "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1) and "dead in sins" (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). "Dead" does not mean non-existent, but separated from, and unresponsive to. The body apart from the spirit is dead (James 2:26), but it is not nonexistent. We offer "life" to such people. That is when the Lord "quickens" or makes them alive--the same thing He gracious did for us (Eph 2:1,5; Col 2:13).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     What about the "Investigative Judgment" view of the Seventh Day Adventists? I am an Adventist, yet am having trouble with this teaching. ??

You are certainly not the only one having difficulty with the "Investigative Judgment" theory. It is not taught in Scripture, nor is there the slightest allusion to the restoration of the Sabbath day, or the heresy of observing the first day of the week.
This is purely the "doctrine of men," with no other basis than human tradition. Neither John the Baptist, Jesus, nor the Apostles taught the Sabbath day was to be kept. Jesus rose again on the first day of the week, made his two appearances to the disciples on that day, and the day of Pentecost was on that day. All of those occasions were when Divine activity took place.

The Investigative Judgment fabrication traces its beginning to (in the words of William Diehl) "the birth of the Advent movement." It is said to have "eternal consequences," even though there is not a syllable of Scripture concerning it. Even though the Word of God makes no reference to a Reformation movement, those embracing the Investigative Judgment affirm it is the "final Reformation movement to finish the restoration of the sanctuary.

While boasting affiliation with the Lord Jesus, the seventh day position requires neither Jesus, an atonement, or the presence of the Holy Spirit. It has not requirement for the Apostolic writings, which make absolutely no mention of it at all.

With seeming authority, the proponents of this view say God made no issue of the Sabbath day until the Advent movement surfaced. Then, they say, "God winked at the error of the Sunday Sabbath of past generations." Now, however, after over 1800 years of "winking," God is calling upon all to "repent and accept the new light of Christ, a division in the sense of judgment." Mind you, we have absolutely no record of Jesus ever saying anything like what these people affirm. With pretended authority they say, "God will no longer wink at the error of past generations."

The whole position is complicated by the fact the church is built upon the foundation of the "Apostles and prophets" (Eph 2:20), neither of which said anything about "Investigative judgment." Mind you, during the very formation of the church, when multitudes were being garnered from the Gentile world, which knew nothing about the Sabbath day, the holy Apostles did not say one word about the Sabbath day requirement. They did not give the slightest hint that those failing to observe it were in error.

So, my dear brother, you do well to question the doctrine. It is a lie, having nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus, God, the Spirit, the Scriptures, or salvation. We are "complete in Him" (Col 2:10), not in Sabbath keeping.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     What is friendship...esp. Biblical Friendship

One who supports and is close to another. It is paralleled with being a brother (Psa 35:14). In Christ, a friend with whom we can share our deepest and most personal thoughts. that, of course, is what Jesus does with His people, as affirmed in John 15:15.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)     Appeasing the wrath of God sounds primitive.

There are two things that tend to elude humanity. First, the depth to which man fell when he sinned. Second, the extent to which God has gone to bring reconciliation. Both of these perspectives are recurring themes in Scripture. Theological views, and other human opinions, must be sifted through the Word of God.

While I mean no disrespect, it appears you are filtering key Scriptural terms like "atonement," "the wrath of God," "sacrifice," etc., through human philosophies and perceptions. This is not an innocent gesture. Such an approach clouds the nature of God and the nature of sin--both of which must be comprehended to acquire any measurable degree of atonement.

Throughout the Levitical system, the Living God developed the concept of atonement, or reconciliation. The concept was vividly depicted in overt actions that involved sacrifice and the shedding of blood. The word "atonement" is mentioned 105 times in the NIV, 88 times in the NASB, 87 times in the NRSV, and 99 times in the NKJV. The word itself means to cover, placate, atone, and reconcile. It simply is not possible to read Moses and the Prophets without an acute awareness of both the word and concept of atonement, both of which were developed by God Almighty. To brush aside these remarkably abundant inspired references as though they were "primitive" is certainly not characteristic of faith.

When the Holy Spirit expounded the atonement wrought by Christ, He referred back to the sacrifices ordained under the Law. There are at least 152 references to the death of Christ within the context of atonement developed under the Law. They include the expressions "a ransom for many," "the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world," "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," "God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood," "Who was delivered up because of our transgressions," "reconciled to God through the death of His Son," and countless others (Matt 20:28; John 1:29; Rom 3:24,25; 4:25; 5:10). No amount of human reasoning, however astute, can remove these Divine affirmations. Such reasoning can, however, deprive the soul of the benefits of Christ's reconciling death.

The atonement, as presented in God's word, is not a matter for discussion, however treasured such exchanges may be. The atonement, or reconciliation, is to be received, not bantered about in powerless discussion. That is why it is written, "And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Rom 5:11).

I do not know if I speak for others or not, and really do not care. I would, however, like to hear more exulting in God through the Lord Jesus, through Whom we have received the reconciliation. Unless that can be done, I am afraid extended discussion will only throw a shroud over our Lord's great salvation.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)      "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female." - Genesis 7:2.    I could not find anything on the subject of clean and unclean animals prior to this verse. I wonder if God would have given prior directives that we do not find recorded.

There is nothing in God's Word prior to this concerning clean and unclean animals. It must be remembered that Genesis was written by Moses nearly 800 years after the flood. While it was no doubt written with some of the distinctions revealed under the Law, the actual existence of "clean" and "unclean" categories among animals did apparently exist from the beginning. I do not know that a special revelation was given to Noah on this. I am of the opinion the nature of each animal was reflected in the names given to them by Adam. At the time he named them, Adam was in an unfallen state, characterized by keen wisdom. In fact, this was the very first task assigned to Adam (Gen 2:19-20). The names given by him were appropriate. Thus it is written, "whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof" (Gen 2:19).

    Throughout the Scriptures, both people and things were named in accordance with their nature and character. I assume, therefore, the very names of the animals reflected their clean and unclean status.

    Secondly, throughout the world, even where God is not known, there is a general awareness of the difference between clean and unclean; i.e., between a dove and a vulture, or a sheep and a hyena, etc.

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