What is saving faith?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Dr. Walter, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. Dr. Walter

    Dr. Walter
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    Heb. 11:1 ¶ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    I know of no other scripture that directly addresses what faith "is" other than the above text. I know of several other scriptures that define certain positive and negative characteristics but none other than this that directly address what faith "is."

    1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for.


    First, what is the "substance" of things hoped for? The "substance" of hope is the basis or criteria that provides existence for hope.

    For example, a person may fall backwards hoping they will not hit the ground. What is the substance or basis for that hope? Whatever the substance or basis of that hope is will determine whether it is true or false hope.

    For example, if the substance of that hope is the idea that their body is lighter than air and will merely float when falling backwards then they will discover their hope is vain becuase the substance of that hope is false.

    On the other hand, if their best friend is standing behind them and has assured them that they are strong enough and fast enough and committed to preventing them from hitting the ground, then, it is simply a matter of trust/confidence/conviction in that person and his promise before one will fall backwards. Hence, the substance, involves everything necessary to convince them that their hope will be proven true rather than vain. Moreover the substance not only defines their hope but is also the object of faith.

    In regard to justifying faith, the substance of hope is the good news of God's provision and promise. The provision is Christ and his life and death as the legal substitute and satisfaction for the sinners. The promise is that whosoever repents and believes in this provision will obtain eternal life.


    2. The Evidence of things not seen

    This provision and promise becomes the substance for the hope of eternal life as well as the object of faith. Repenting and believing in that provision and promise is the expression of faith that provides the "evidence" of that yet unseen hope.

    Now a "vain" faith and a "vain" hope is the consequence of a vain substance. For example, if the Bible identifies the gospel as the only object of faith and substance of hope and you instead based your hope upon membership in a church as the object of your faith then that would be a "vain" faith and "vain" hope.

    Now there is a vast difference between what faith "is" versus what faith produces? There is a vast difference between what is the substance of faith versus what is the power of faith? The difference is between faith and faithfulness.



    There must be a right ORIGIN or SOURCE for something to be justifying faith. Justifying faith does not originate with men.

    Heb. 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;

    Justifying faith does not originate with creatures. Saving faith is "of grace" (Rom. 4:16) therefore not of man but it is the "gift of God" (Eph. 2:8) and not of works (Eph. 2:9). It is the "work of God" (Jn. 6:29). Christ is its "author" as well as its "finisher."

    DEAD faith originates with spiritually dead creatures such as demons and fallen mankind. Demons and fallen men can have a "mental assent to the gospel" as truth but have not the faith which is of God by gift, of grace by unmerited favor, a product of God's work not theirs.

    It is in regard to ORIGIN that justifying faith is different IN KIND as it is not something that originates from or by humans or demons. It is foreign to this world and it is something infused and empowered by God alone.

    James 2:14-26 tells us what faith is NOT but it does not define what faith is. It does tell us that justifying faith is not alone but it does not define what justifying faith is. It does however define what dead faith is - mere lip service without corresponding actions, without love and without allegience to God.

    James 2:14-26 tells us how to identify dead faith and that works provides the human court of observation the only visible evidence to verify verbal profession.

    James 2:14-26 does not deal with faith in the sight of God but in the sight of men "my brethren....if a brother...say....shew me.....I will shew you...see.." as God does not need visible verification to know when, where or if He has justified a person or if the faith is vain, dead or living.
     
    #1 Dr. Walter, Sep 4, 2011
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  2. TrevorL

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    Greetings Dr. Walter,
    Your definition of a justifying faith may not fully agree with the following:
    Acts 8:5,12 (KJV): 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
    12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

    The writer of Acts, most probably Luke, states that when Philip preached the gospel that this comprehended certain things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ. Your definition in my opinion does not define these things concerning the kingdom of God, and we would also most probably disagree with the things concerning the name of Jesus, especially as you use the phrase “the legal substitute”. I prefer to view Jesus as our representative. Peter’s address in Acts 3 contain in summary both aspects of the gospel of the name and kingdom.

    Kind regards
    Trevor
     
  3. Winman

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    The devils have no "substance" for saving faith as God has never given a promise to save them. They truly believe in Jesus and identified him in scripture several times.

    But they have no ground or foundation for faith, as God has never promised to save them.

    Saving faith is not simply acknowleding truth, it is a committment and dependence upon it. It is trust.

    You might take classes for skydiving, and finally the day for your first jump comes. You believe the parachute is able to get you down safely. This is acknowledging truth, but it is not trust. You must jump out of the plane and actually depend upon the parachute to get you down safely. This is what saving faith is, it is casting yourself upon Jesus and depending on him solely to save you. If you believe you must also perform works or sacraments, then you are not depending on Jesus alone to save you. It is like tying a rope to yourself before you jump out of the plane because you are not really sure the parachute will work.
     
    #3 Winman, Sep 5, 2011
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  4. Dr. Walter

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    Trevor,

    I beleive the preaching of the gospel "of the kingdom" is simply preaching submission to the "rule" of God through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. The idea of "legal substitute" simply refers to "justification" by faith. Justification is a legal term. Christ acts as our representative by life and death in our place and when we beleive in Christ it is our faith in Christ that "justifies" us and thus legally satisfies the Law of God in our behalf.
     
  5. Dr. Walter

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    I agree there is no salvation provision for demons. They do truly believe that Jesus is who He claims to be but they do not believe "in" Him for anything.


    I certainly agree with you here. The "substance" of justifying faith is the provision and promise found in the gospel. Thus the substance is also the object of faith and believing in it is when the person in my illustration trusted in his friend by actually falling backwards into his arms. Thus actually committment of his whole person to his friend based upon what he knew concerning the ability and promise of His friend.

    I think we are substantially in agreement.
     
  6. TCGreek

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    Personally, I don't think Heb 11:1 is teaching saving faith.
     
  7. Dr. Walter

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    Please take note of verses 3-4 where the substance of Biblical faith is the "word of God" (v. 3) and the provision of salvation represented in the sacrificial offering by Abel in contrast to that of Cain's(v. 4).

    2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
    3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
    4 ¶ By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
     
  8. TCGreek

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    Your argument is artificial at best, not apparent from the text.
     
  9. Dr. Walter

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    My argument is based on the immediate context. My argument is based on the remaining context as all those who acted by faith, the substance of that faith was the word of God revealed to them. The only "hope" that the following context emphasizes is eternal as Abraham looked for a city whose maker is God. The context is all about Biblical faith in its relationship to God's word of command as its substance and heaven as its hope.

    The immediate context deals with the subtance and hope of faith as well as the product of faith or faithfulness.
     
    #9 Dr. Walter, Sep 5, 2011
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  10. TrevorL

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    Being part of the kingdom now and in the future does require submission. But the scriptures also speak of a future kingdom to be established upon the earth at the return of Jesus from heaven. The following indicates some of the changes that will occur when Jesus returns:
    Acts 3:19-21 (KJV): 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
    Peter speaks of times of refreshing and times of restitution or restoration of all things at the return of Christ, and that these are the subject spoken about by all the prophets. Perhaps two examples of what the prophets speak concerning this future kingdom are:
    Isaiah 2:1-4 (KJV): 1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
    Daniel 2:44 (KJV): And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

    Two examples of the concept of representation instead of substitution are:
    Romans 6:1-12 (KJV): 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
    Galatians 2:20 (KJV): I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.


    Kind regards
    Trevor
     
  11. Dr. Walter

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    God does rule over all His creation, but there is now a spiritual kingdom consisting of citizens on earth in whom He now rules. There is the professing kingdom of God on earth now that is a mixture of true and false professors. The Lord's congregations are a visible expression of His kingdom on earth with authority to administer his ordinances (Mt. 18:17-18).

    In addition, there is coming a time when Christ will manifest Himself visibly on earth and rule over the kingdom of this world as King of kings and Lord of lords and that is the kingdom yet to come.



    Paul's argument in this passage is very simple. Those who have been legally justified by faith due to the substitutionary work of Christ in their place will not continue in sin because there is no true justification where there is no true regeneration.

    Baptism identifies us not only with the death of Christ but with the resurrected life of Christ. It is his death as our SUBSTITUTE that provides the basis for our justification. It is his resurrected life that provides the POWER behind our regeneration.

    Baptism identifies us visibly and publicly with the substitutionary death and with resurrection life of Jesus Christ. Hence, baptism is a visible symbol/representation that true professors in Christ have not only been justified by faith in the cross but regenerated by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. We do not continue in sin after being justified by faith because of the INDWELLING RESURRECTION POWER, power that gave Christ victory over death, hell and the grave resides in us to give us victory over indwelling sin


    The above text has reference to the power provided by Christ to have victory over the flesh. Note the present tense rather than the past tense "I AM" and "I LIVE" and "LIVETH" and "LIVE". He is not talking about anything in the past but something now in the present. In order to have victory over our flesh there must be a DAILY CRUCIFIXION with Christ - putting to death the power of indwelling sin in our fleshly nature. Note he says "I live". This daily crucifixion requires daily submission to Christ which results in "but Christ LIVETH in me." Therefore, when dying to self and submitting to the Spirit of Christ to express Himself through your mind, heart, will, words and actions the result is "the life which I NOW LIVE IN THE FLESH" is a life that is lived "by the faith" which has the Son of God as its object.

    It is not until the last phrase that Paul switches to the PAST tense which refers to Christ's substitutionary atonement - note the word "FOR me" thus defining the past tense basis for the present tense victory.
     
    #11 Dr. Walter, Sep 6, 2011
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  12. WestminsterMan

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    Hmmm.... Taking this position to it's logical conclusion - since everyone sins and continues to do so, then there can be no true justification and thus, no true regeneration. Therefore, everyone is going to hell. :eek:


    WM
     
  13. Dr. Walter

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    Sorry! I should have been more precise. Paul is not denying that Christians sin as he makes that abundantly clear in Romans 7:14-25. His argument is simply that there has been a radical change wrought by regeneration in regard to the disposition toward and practice of sin. Justification by faith is a completed past tense act that continues in a completed state (perfect tense - Rm. 5:1-2) as it refers to a legal position based upon the verdict of not guilty due to Christ's completed payment charged to the believer's account.

    Justification has to do with our legal position but regeneration has to do with our person and condition. The person who has been justified has been regenerated and thus his disposition toward sin has been altered by regeneration. His practice of sin is now confronted with a new inward disposition toward righteousness (new man) as well as the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The inward man gives the disposition against sin but has no power to overcome indwelling sin and that is the story related in Romans 7:14-25. However, the indwelling Spirit of God supplies the power by which the inward man can overcome the practice of sin and that is the story related in Romans 8:1-24.

    As long as a child of God is walking in the Spirit he will not practice sin. However, no child of God walks in the Spirit at all times. Spiritual growth is the progression toward walking in the Spirit MORE than walking after the flesh. No child of God ever reaches the point they never walk after the flesh but that is the goal and that is the story of Phillippians 3:12-14.

    When a child of God digresses instead of progresses in his struggle between his inward man and indwelling sin then that is the story of Hebrews 12:5-10 which could ultimately lead to an untimely physical death which is the story of 1 John 5:16.

    Hence, sanctification vacilates throughout the life of a child of God until his death. Sanctification never reaches completion until glorification and only then is indwelling sin completely eradicated and we are PERSONALLY sinless.

    On the other hand, Justification before God is instanteous SINLESS PERFECTION in regard to our POSITION before God and cannot be improved upon because it is the imputed righteousness of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is justification that obtains heaven while vascilating santification obtains positively temporal blessings for obedience and eternal rewards and negatively obtains chastisment, loss of joy, loss of fellowship, loss of usefulness, loss of peace, loss of rewards, etc., but never loss of salvation and that is the story of 1 Cor. 3:11-15. Hence, sanctification is not about heaven or entrance into heaven.
     
  14. TrevorL

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    Greetings again Dr. Walter,
    I agree with what you say here, but would suggest that many do not believe that “Christ will manifest Himself visibly on earth and rule over the kingdom of this world”. Many do not understand or believe in the promises made to Abraham and David and the clear testimony of the prophets, and Jesus and the Apostles concerning the future Kingdom of God on earth. As such they do not have the same saving faith as the Samaritans who believed Philip preaching Christ concerning the things of the kingdom in Acts 8:5,12 and the Jews who accepted Peter’s preaching in Acts 3:19-21.
    I do not accept the terms “the substitutionary work of Christ in their place” and “his death as our SUBSTITUTE” and “the substitutionary death … of Jesus Christ”. Perhaps I should allow you to explain what you believe concerning this, as there is a wide range of views, and in the extreme of a wrathful God seeking satisfaction in wrath against His Son. Perhaps you would hold a milder view, regarding the death of Jesus as a kind of commercial transaction in which Christ took upon himself the penalty of death due to us, so that we might be free.

    The theory of substitution is deeply flawed. How could a righteous God make an innocent man die instead of someone to whom death was due? God would then have been unrighteous. We still suffer and die. Rather Jesus as a member of the human race voluntarily subjected himself to suffering and death in order to open the way out of death by his own resurrection. All that believe in him participate in the same process, and thus Jesus is their representative.

    The death of Christ is clearly set forth as reflecting the righteousness, the love and the grace of God, and these terms do not fully fit a substitutionary theory.
    Isaiah 59:16 (KJV): And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
    Romans 1:16-17 (KJV): 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
    John 10:17 (KJV): Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
    Hebrews 2:9 (KJV): But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.


    When commenting on the following verse:
    Galatians 2:20 (KJV): I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
    It is evident that you interpret the phrase “gave himself for me” as a “substitutionary atonement”, or in other words gave himself instead of me. I believe rather that this teaches the representative nature of Christ’s sacrifice, on our behalf. Paul clearly shows the pattern of the necessity of our involvement in the death and resurrection of Christ and this is also the teaching of Romans 6.

    Kind regards
    Trevor
     
  15. Dr. Walter

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    The Substitutionary view is completely supported by Scriptures. It is vividly supported in all the sacrifical laws in the Old Testament. Justice demands sin must be paid for and either the sinner pays for it or Christ did.

    The term "imputed" and the prepositions "huper" support the substitutionary view.

    A Substitute is a representative of the persons they stand in the place of. Imputed righteousness demands substitutionary atonement.

    I am not taking the time to get down to the nitty gritty and defend the doctrine but if necessary I can and I will as not doctrine is supported more clearly in the scriptures than substitutionary atonement. I don't have the time this evening to provide the evidence.

    I have heard and examined the so-called objections and they will not stand up.
     
  16. percho

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    Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    Gal 3:16,19 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
    Wherefore then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

    Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of the faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Being this Jesus is Christ, the seed of Abraham to which the promise was made that brings the inheritance, is the author and finisher of the faith, could the promise have been something he hoped for and had not yet seen
    as the seed of Abraham, that is a man?
     
  17. Dr. Walter

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    Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
     
  18. percho

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    Yeah I know.

    Phil 1:29 because to you it was granted, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also on behalf of him to suffer;

    To the sheep.

    But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
     
  19. Dr. Walter

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    Yes, that is true. Romans 10:17 uses the Greek term "rhema" translated "Word" and means a command. Faith comes by the command of God. 2 Corinthians 4:6 attributes the internal ability to believe the gospel as a direct COMMAND of God as in Genesis 1:3.

    That is precisely why only thos "ordained to eternal life believed" - Acts 14:38 and that is precisely why those in John 10:26 did not believe.
     
  20. TrevorL

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    Greetings again Dr. Walter,
    The Passover and the sacrifices under the Law of Moses, the Sin Offering, Trespass Offering, Burnt Offering and Peace Offering all pointed forward to Christ and his redeeming work. I do not see how any of these sacrifices and offerings were substitutionary, as each person had to identify with the offering, and hence look forward in faith to Jesus. This teaches me that the offering and sacrifice of Christ is representative.
    To punish the innocent and let the offender go free is not justice or righteousness. The sentence upon Adam was that he would die and return to dust:
    Genesis 3:17-19 (KJV): 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
    As a result of Adam’s sin all his descendants also die, on the principle that like begets like, and God is vindicated in this because mankind sins.

    Jesus, as a member of the human race, voluntarily submitted to suffering and death in acknowledgement of the sentence upon Adam that flowed through to his descendants. But Jesus did no sin, and therefore God raised him from the dead.
    Acts 2:24,27 (KJV): 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
    God through Jesus established a new basis, whereby all those that believe in Christ, who voluntarily identify with him as our representative in his death and resurrection, will have their sins forgiven, and wait for the gift of etenal life in the kingdom soon to be established.
    Romans 6:23 (KJV): For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    The KJV of Romans 4 translates the same word S#3049 as counted, reckoned and imputeth, while the RV uses reckon. It speaks that when Abraham had faith in God concerning the promise concerning his seed, that God counted, reckoned or imputed that faith for righteousness. This does not teach a substitutionary view, but that God was willing to forgive Abraham his past sins, and justify him on the basis of that quality of faith which Abraham now held. His faith was as the acorn to the oak, in that true faith when fully developed as it was only fully in Jesus brings forth righteousness. Jesus was God’s righteous servant. God was willing to identify Abraham with the seed to come, Abraham and his faith was the same stamp or character as Jesus with his faith and trust in the Father. This is representation, not substitution. Jesus’ faith and trust established righteousness and judgment in the earth, and brought life and immortality to light. Salvation is by faith, not a legal transaction that undermines the righteousness of God.

    Kind regards
    Trevor
     

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