Category Archives: baptism

Two Major Concepts Concerning the Apostles’ Doctrine

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Two Major Concepts Concerning the Apostles’ Doctrine

The apostles’ doctrine builds a sure spiritual foundation in a Christian’s heart. These teachings are the “milk of the word” and are the perfect food to help us grow spiritually. In fact, we grow up as “calves of the stall,” fed with the milk of the word of God (Mal. 4: 2). This ensures that we will be ready to receive the more difficult truths to contemplate and believe. The seven general teachings that make up the apostles’ doctrine are absolutely necessary for followers of the King to grow and be strong in God.

For these teachings are the “principles of the doctrine of Christ,” the “first principles of the oracles of God” (Heb. 5: 12; 6: 1-2). And they are the only way to soldier on to full maturity in spiritual growth, which is perfection, the seventh doctrine.

The scriptures of truth are the place where we find His teachings: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment, and on to perfection/maturity. The very first purpose of the Holy Scriptures is for doctrine. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect [mature], thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3: 16).

Intertwined and Multi-Leveled

This doctrine that the apostles continued in are the teachings that Christ taught. In a rush to get to the “meat of the word,” people have taken them for granted because they are just milk, just so much food for children. They have ignored them in their desperate search for quick enlightenment. Yet God says that everything must be done decently and in order. Skipping to the meat of His word, without having the depth of the milk’s sustenance, leaves seekers unstable and weak, unable to “discern both good and evil.” They will inevitably fall prey to false teachings. They will fall because their foundation is not secured by a deep study of Christ’s teachings.

So as we go on deeper into His teachings, we must remember two concepts concerning them. First, the seven doctrines are intertwined. Like gold is found with silver in a vein of whitish quartz, even so teachings go side by side. Two, three, and four of them can be found in one passage of scripture. Rarely do we find them alone. As we mine the truth from the scriptures, we will see them surface in groups. For instance, you can’t have repentance from sin without faith toward God. Nor can you comprehend and apply baptism without repentance.

Second, Christ’s doctrine is multi-levelled. Each teaching has many spiritual depths. We should know this, for we are contemplating “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3: 8; Rom. 11: 33). The principle of the multi-level harvest in Matthew 13’s Parable of the Sower holds true here. For example, there is a repentance from sin and a repentance from faults. There is also repentance from old leaven false concepts about God learned before our deeper walk began. All of them are applied on a personal, national, international, and universal level. Such is the power and scope of the Kingdom of God and its King. But no matter what level we are walking in, the humility of the cross empowers our way.

We are talking about Christ’s very teachings and how they will dramatically affect lives. “And they were astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with power.” Christ’s teachings are inexhaustible, past finding out, even though we continue steadfastly in studying them. They are a deep well of the everlasting water of life. And He wants us to go after it and drink with great gusto.      Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Faith He Rose Not Enough–With Him We Rose, Too

It is not enough to believe that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. We must believe that our old Adamic nature died with Him, was buried with Him, and by believing in His resurrection, we too are “raised to walk in a newness of life.”[Romans 6: 4].

This is what He requires us to do. It is not difficult to believe that Christ existed and went through what the scriptures said He went through. “Even the devils believe in one God and tremble” [James 2:19]. But He is requiring His followers to go all in, to lay it all on the line, to get skin in the game. And we do that by giving up our old lives, ambitions, haunts, addictions, habits–you get the idea. He tells us to “count the cost” to see if we have the right stuff to complete the spiritual growth process He wants us to go through in order to become like Him. I’ll repeat that: to become just like Him.

We must first realize that the moment Christ expired on the cross, your sin nature and mine died along with Him. That was us dying there. He took our sins upon Him and through death eradicated them out of existence. All the sins of every human being, along with the old nature that gave rise to the sin, died when He died [Romans 6: 1-15]. This is precious knowledge that is seldom heard on Sundays around the world.

And then Christ was buried, and with Him was buried all the sins of mankind. Your sins and my sins, along with our old sinful nature that generated the evilness in the first place–they died and were buried.

And then we believe that Christ rose from the dead. But it wasn’t just Him that rose, but we rose too! He is so merciful to provide a way for us to have a new life–before our physical body goes back to dust. He rose, we rose, by believing it so. He said it; He wrote it; we are now  just to believe it.

So it is not just believing that only Christ rose from the dead. We rose with Him. But all we have are His words promising this new life if we believe the above. We must believe words that express this truth, written down by Christ’s followers almost 2,000 years ago. And that takes faith, which is believing having not seen the evidence beforehand.

The Seed Germinates

When we really believe in our own death, burial and resurrection, which happened simultaneously with His, then the light of truth ignites within our hearts. It is like when a seed is planted in the garden. The warmth of the sun combines with the moisture in the earth and then–a miracle happens.

The old seed ceases to exist in its original state. It dies, losing its old identity. Its old outward shell goes back to dust as its new inner life springs out to the light and warmth of the sun. We as God’s offspring are given birth like those garden seeds. It is a miracle.

The original spiritual Seed is the Word of God. Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith. An author writes the script. And this Author wrote the play of Life having Himself come in flesh and give Himself as a ransom for all of us. And He would be the Word of God enacted on the earth. And that Word became the Seed. And when that Word is believed by us–about Him and us as outlined above–then we become “new creatures in Christ.” We become part of the enactment of the Play. We are in it! Or rather, He is in us, enacting the love one to another, which is His nature and is an integral part of the Script.

““Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12: 24). That wheat seed that Christ was talking about was Himself. If He does not go to the cross, then He would remain alone. But if He dies, then many more grains–just like Himself–will be produced. He would have reproduced Himself through the self-sacrifice.

The same thing is true for man. If a person chooses to not die with Christ, then he will face the  lonely, dusty tomb of death.

But if we choose His way of life, then our old sinful heart dies and we are freed from its clutches. We were slaves to sin and sinning, but we now are liberated from the slavemaster sin.

And like that seed in the garden, through belief in the word of promise that the Son/Word/Seed proclaimed, we newly sprout up with the very power of the Creator surging with life through our new being.

Sprouted Wheat Grows into Grain

We like freshly sprouted wheat are together become potential grain that the Master mills into flour which He uses to make the spiritual “bread of life.” But we must grow to full maturity till we “come to seed” and can become flour for baking that bread.

For all this to happen, we must grow from that little sprouted blade of wheat. Christ explains that the kingdom of God is like the earth that brings forth fruit of itself. A man sows the seed, and it comes up–“first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head” (Mark 4: 28).

Brothers and sisters, we are His seed; we are God’s children. And we are meant to grow. That is our destiny: to become just like Him and to be used to make the bread of life. If we are not growing into maturity, something is wrong!

To mature like this, we must “purge out the old leaven” and the false teachings that well meaning people have passed down to us. We must be ready to “dig deep” and study His word diligently and do it in the face of the opposition that will come–mostly from those of our own family and circle of friends and acquaintances.  Kenneth Wayne Hancock

 

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The Difference Between 1st and 21st Century Christianity

The difference between 1st and 21st Century Christianity is vast. The God worshiped is the same, of course. But it is a question of focus.

The central point of the early church teachings was to introduce to both the followers of Judaism and to the pagan masses the Savior and His Passion. Neither of the two audiences believed the story of the Savior and His death, burial, and resurrection upon first hearing.

In the early disciples’ writings preserved for us in the New Testament, we find the “apostles’ doctrine,” which is the teachings of Christ concerning His kingdom and our place in it. To the Jews they taught that Christ was the Messiah prophesied of old and that He is the Son of Yahweh of the Old Testament writings. To the Gentiles they taught that Christ is the true God and Savior of the whole world. They were powerful advocates with His Spirit confirming with many signs and wonders.

The Difference

The early church was starting at ground zero. Most Jews rejected the Messiah, and the pagan masses clung to their false gods. So they told them about Jesus Christ of Nazareth and His love for them. This was a message that they had not heard before.

But today it is different. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of professing Christians reside all over this planet. It’s like that commercial: Q: Did you know that Christ is the Savior of the world?  A: Yes. Everyone knows that.

Today billions of Christians don’t need to be introduced to Christ and Him dying for us. What we need to know are the spiritual intricacies of what His death, burial, and resurrection mean in our own lives and how that ties into the greater plan and purpose of God reproducing Himself–in us! We need to know how His plan and purpose will come to pass since we as Christians are smack dab in it; we are, after all “the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). Oh, we do need to know how to get from being puny and powerless little babes in Christ to being the “fulness of Him.” In other words, to be like Christ.

And the early apostles planted the seeds on how to get there in our spiritual growth. But man’s religious Christian leaders have been stuck in the First Century, continually teaching their flocks today about Christ, seldom mentioning how to ignite the power of the Spirit in a believer’s heart and how to grow to become part of the “manifested sons of the living God.”

Why are the pastors and priests today still preaching sermons about Christ and not about how to become like Christ? Most don’t know, for they were never taught by their mentors. And if they do find out, they become afraid of their jobs, for most are hirelings, and they did not “count the cost” to fully follow Him. They are purveyors of weak pablum, for they have not “purged out the old leaven” of hypocrisy and falseness.

And yet, the early apostles sowed seeds for our growth as Christians in the 21st Century. They told us what would thwart our attempts to grow spiritually. Yes, they gave us the timeless truths of His salvation, but they also warned us of the treacherous times to come. They warned us of the blasphemy of some in the last days who would be selfish, ungrateful, unholy, hateful, and be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” They warned of evil seducers and how it would get worse and worse in their deceiving of Christians (II Tim. 3: 1-13). They called them “false prophets” and “false teachers” that will definitely “bring in damnable heresies” into the church congregations (2 Pet. 2; Jude 3-12).

And this is the tough one to swallow; they warned us that these deceivers would come to us as Christian pastors and teachers. Even in Paul’s day, the heresy had already begun. “False apostles and deceitful workers” were already “transforming themselves into the apostles of light. And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11: 13-15). I believe that many pastors today are sincere and have been deceived through the false teachings that started way back in the day.

And so these old leaven teachings are passed on down from generation to generation. That is why the deeper things are not taught. Our adversary does not want them taught; he does not desire God’s plan for His body to come to fruition. Satan does not want us to grow. He does not want us to dig deep and grow up into Him.

Some Deeper Things

We all know that through His great love for us, Christ offered up Himself on the cross unto death. However, it is not enough to believe that He died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. We must believe that our old sinful nature died with Christ on the cross. When He died, all the sins of every human being died, also. When He gave up the ghost, our old heart, old spirit, and old nature died along with Him. Then we are buried with Him, and then we are “raised to walk in a newness of life.” It is all right there in Romans 6.

“He that is dead is freed from sin.” When we truly believe in His resurrection, we are believing in our own resurrection. For at the moment of Christ’s death, He took on Himself the sin of us all. He died as a sinner. He was our scapegoat offering for sin. That was us up there on the cross. That’s why the apostle Paul tells us, “You are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3: 3).

But this message is not preached very often. Not many anymore want to be told that they have to “reckon themselves dead” on the cross and let their old sinful selves die, and then by faith in Christ’s resurrection, be risen with Him (Col. 2: 12). Not a popular message. Most would rather hear about Christ dying, not them dying.

Now when we really believe this, astounding things happen. The hand that stole, steals no more. The eye that lusted and coveted no longer yearns for things it cannot have. Cursing vanishes. Joy replaces bitterness and despair. We become new creatures in Christ.

This transformation, of course, is provided by our Savior through His great love and mercy. This is wonderful, but it is only the first step in “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” But this puts us on the right track, on the way to growing up and maturing into the full grown sons and daughters of God.   Kenneth Wayne Hancock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beware of Man’s Traditions

The early apostles constantly warned of false doctrines being taught to the new Christians. Since past is prologue and since there is nothing new under the sun, their warnings are valid for us in these last days.

A great deception was already sweeping through the little congregations scattered over the Mediterranean world. Paul is warning the Colossians. Walk in Christ the way you have been taught by His true teachers. And don’t be spoiled by men “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2: 6-8).

What were they teaching? What were these “traditions of men” that were obviously false and spiritually injurious to young Christians? What was this worldly thinking that is so deceiving?

In other words, those who believe man’s traditions about Christ will try to deceive you concerning the Savior. Beware of them, Paul is saying. All these seemingly innocuous platitudes about Christ will have “grand” intentions, but they will hurt the hearers. Beware.

Then in the next verse,  Paul counters the deceptive traditions that they were teaching. “For in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (v. 9). Huh? At first glance, this does not seem to go with the previous three verses, but it has everything to do with them. For man’s philosophy and traditions are the opposite of the truth found in this verse.

First, the man Christ Jesus (Yahshua) had dwelling in Him the fullness of the Godhead. That means that the Father Yahweh dwelt fully in Christ. The Spirit dwelt fully in Christ. But man’s tradition teaches that Christ was only one person out of the three of the Tri-une God. They do not teach that Yahweh dwelt and walked around in the man Christ, even though He constantly told bystanders that it was the Father within Him that was doing the miracles.

“And you are complete in Christ, which is the head of all principality and power” (v. 10). Man’s tradition teaches that we need a priest to intercede for us and saints to pray to, that we need a church house and elders and a pastor and ceremonies and candles and tithes and offerings, et al.

And man’s traditions don’t teach that baptism is more than an outward show that you are joining the church. They don’t teach you that he that is “baptized into Christ is baptized into His death. “We are buried with Christ by baptism” so that our old sinful heart and spirit “might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Col. 2: 11-12; Rom. 6: 1-12).

The churches say you have to be baptized to show obedience to Christ. But they don’t have the spiritual depth to explain that the old sinful self is cut out without man’s hands by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The old sin guilt and desire to sin is cut out of our spirit and is replaced by a portion of His Spirit, resulting in a miracle heart transplant!

Sadly, in fact, man’s traditions teach just the opposite. They teach, You are a sinner saved by grace, and you will always be a sinner. And they say this with pride. But the apostles taught that you can in Him be free from sin (I John 3: 9).
Man’s teachings say that you cannot grow spiritually to eventually be like Christ. Their teachings, in a word, stunt a Christian’s growth like a seedling in the garden wilts under a sunless sky and brackish water.

These are some of the traditions of men that Paul warns us of. We must beware in order to grow up unto Him. For they will deceive and beguile and spoil the wonderful future that God has for those who believe His promises to us.     Kenneth Wayne Hancock

 

 

 

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Is Christ Divided?

Obviously  not.  And neither are the true members of His spiritual body, the church.  Yet, in Christendom divisions abound, as they did in Paul’s day.

“We are the true church,” say the Roman Catholics.  “No, we are,” say the Baptists.  “We are the Church of Christ!”  “No, we are following Luther.”  “We are following Wesley.”

Please.  2,600 different denominations, each with a different take on Christ.  Divisions abound.  And they all claim to be following the words of the Bible, yet many do not obey its words: “I beseech you…that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you…that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1: 10).

The same mind.  Whose mind?  The mind of Christ.  Since Christ is not divided, then those who really have His Spirit will not be divided either.  “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom 8: 9).  If we are His, then we will have His Spirit.  And if we have His Spirit, we will have His mind, and we will not be divided.

Because of the divisions, Paul said that he would have to teach them the basics: the preaching of the cross.  This is what is lacking in Christianity today.  They have not been taught that they must surrender their own egos to the death of the cross.  They must identify their sin with the dying Christ who took upon Him the sin of the world that day at Calvary.

“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.  For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom 6: 6-7).   The old heart dies with Christ, and then He gives us a new heart by faith in His resurrection.  If we can believe that Christ was raised from the dead, can we not also believe that His Spirit is now raised up in us, thus freeing us from sin and sinning?

If all Christians had this experience of deliverance from sin and sinning, then the divisions would evaporate.  We would all join hands in grateful fellowship, sharing His Spirit among us.  For “there is one body, and one Spirit” (Eph. 4: 4).  That one body is Christ’s one body of believers, which have His Spirit.

And that Spirit only comes into us after we believe that our old self  has died on the cross, and then believe that He has been raised up again in us!  That will get rid of all the divisions.   Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Everyone Wants to Be Loved

Everyone wants to be loved–to be cared for, thought of kindly, smiled upon, approved of, praised as worthy.

Everyone wants to be loved. It is the universal spiritual need that stares us all in the face. When our eyes meet, we witness simultaneously the same longing ache that we see when we peer into a looking glass and see the loneliness reflected in our own two wells of tears.

Everyone wants to be loved. We spend much of our lives searching for “the one”–the one who can fill that longing. A cosmic vacuum exists in the human heart, and no one is there to fill its aching need for love.

And there is only one earthly organism on the planet that is specifically designed to channel the kind of love that we all need. Only one being on earth that is capable of loving another the exact way that they want to be loved. And that is the human being.

We are all human. So then, why can’t we simply meet the need and fill the vacuum and just love everyone?

Someone will say, Well, I love people. Yet, Christ tells us, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Whoa. You mean we are to love everyone? He continues, “But love your enemies, and do good…and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest” [1].

Everyone wants to be loved. But natural man has an irrational fear of rejection. It is irrational because  even a two year old teaches us its folly as they unconditionally embrace us and drown us with wet kisses. They have no fear of rejection, for innately they know that everyone wants to be loved.

So what happens to us? After our brief taste of the victory of fearless love as toddlers, what prevents us from giving what everyone wants?

If we can agree that the Creator made us this way–both with the need for love and the capacity to selflessly channel it–then we must realize that He has made a way for us to do it–to be the riverbeds of the living waters of the love from above that will fill the vacuum.

God is this love–this agape love. He through His Spirit will flow this selfless love and help us fulfill our destiny as His conduits, channeling His love to those who need it. For everyone wants to be loved.

The Price

But to be one of the “children of the Highest” who will love everyone like their Father does, there is a price to be paid. It costs something. And we should “count the cost,” as He admonished us to do [2].

It costs us our old life and all of our allegiances to the people and things we deemed important. And to pay the cost, we must bear our own cross and follow Him.

How do we do that? We must let our old spiritual heart die with the Son of God on His cross. We must die with Him, be buried with Him, and be resurrected with Him. This happens when we believe that God raised up Christ from the grave. We, too, now are resurrected “to walk in a newness of life” [3].

It all starts at the cross–now our cross. We, like Christ, show the greatest love when we lay down our lives for another [4]. There is no greater love. He did it, and now as the “children of the Highest,” we do it. And then God’s love will flow through us. Then we will be used by our Creator to be His fountain of fearless love, His essence, agape love. For “God is love” [5].

Then we will conquer the fear of being rejected. For “perfect love casts out fear” [6]. With our old selves dead and gone, we will be able to channel Christ’s Spirit of love back to God by loving others.

And then great joy will be ours, for we will have the capacity to fulfill everyone’s desire. For everyone wants to be loved.   Kenneth Wayne Hancock

[For more:  https://immortalityroad.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/what-the-world-needs-now-is-agape-love/ ]

 

  1.  Luke 6: 27-35     2.  Luke 14: 27-33     3.  Col. 2: 11-12; Rom. 6: 1-12               4.  John 15: 13     5.  I John 4: 8             6.  I John 4: 18

 

 

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The Law and the Testimony of Love That Fulfills It–How to Prevent Backsliding

“Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Which law? The Ten Commandments, the breaking of which constitutes the definition of sin (I John 3: 4; Rom. 13: 8-10).

Which “love” is it then? It is the love from above–agape love. It is only through agape love that the law can be kept. Natural man without this love cannot keep the law, no matter how hard he works to keep it. It is spiritual, and it takes a new spirit from a brand new heart to keep it.

This divine law is the standard that man can and must attain unto, but it will be only through God’s Spirit helping him. In fact, that is precisely the point. The only way that a man stops breaking the Ten Commandments–stops sinning, in other words– is by receiving a new spirit from God.

The Greatest Love

In order for this to happen, one must visit the source of agape love. The source is God Himself and what He did for us. He gave us His Son. Yahweh was in Christ, “reconciling the world unto Himself” (II Cor. 5: 19). It is the laying down of His life on the cross that is the greatest love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 13).

When we believe this love that Christ showed, when we are grateful and appreciative for this selfless act, and when we do what Christ did, then this great agape love that He exhibited in dying for us is transferred into and through us to others. We then become a channel of God’s love, which is His essence, for “God is love” (I John 4: 16).

This agape love is the essence of His Spirit, which He gives to us. And this love inside our new hearts in the form of His Spirit, now courses through us.

We must see that Christ “was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5: 21). And we must identify our old sinful law-breaking selfish nature with Christ on the cross. We must believe that when He died, our old sinful nature died with Him. Same goes with His burial. And–HalleluYah!–when we believe that He rose from the dead, we rise, also, to walk in a newness of life! He is not our substitute; He is our example.

It is all lined out in Romans 6. Our old sinful Adamic nature must die with Christ on the cross. And be buried with Him. And through belief that He arose from the dead, God will raise us up with a new heart! For which is easier for God to perform–raising Christ from a three day death or giving us a new heart that is free from sin and sinning?

This is the crux of the matter. This is the rock solid foundation that will never be shaken. Just feeling guilty about the sin in one’s life and walking down to the front of a church building will not sustain a young convert to Christ. How many have we seen “back slide” into the slop and vomit of their old lives?

The crux? Do we believe that Christ was raised from the dead? Not just the historical resurrection some 2,000 years ago. It is believing that Christ, when He arose then, now arises IN US. Do we believe that? For that is the crux of the matter. Even the devils believe in one God and tremble (James 2: 19). So believing that Christ’s historical resurrection is not enough. It is believing that His Spirit is resurrected in us–that is the important thing. That is the solid Rock in us that cannot be moved. That is what prevents backsliding into the old life of sin.

When this Spirit of agape love, now in us, begins to flow through us to others, then the law is fulfilled in us. Love fulfills the law in us. This is the testimony of God’s Spirit incarnate once again in us.

And now the old scripture passage becomes clear. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8: 20). Those that speak of this law and the testimony that keeps the law through divine love, have the light of God. If they don’t speak in agreement with the law and this testimony of what fulfills it, then beware of them, for there is no light in them.     [For much more on this visit here: https://immortalityroad.wordpress.com/category/light/ ]

Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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