Erik Thoennes: Everything We Need [Talbot Chapel]

Erik Thoennes: Everything We Need [Talbot Chapel]


[upbeat music]>>2 Peter has deep desires
and so do I for you, for your good and especially God does. Listen to what Peter wants the people, to whom he’s writing
here in 2 Peter, to have. And also notice how they get it. 2 Peter chapter one, verse three. His divine power has
granted to us all things, notice that, all things, nothing lacking, from His divine power, that’s
the source of all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Do you wanna life? I do. Do you want Godliness? I do. How do I get it? Through the knowledge of
Him, Christ, the solid rock who called us to His own
glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises. So that through them
you may become partakers of the divine nature. We become partakers of the divine nature. God’s nature and our natures by faith and, therefore, union
with Christ become one and we are partakers
of that divine nature. That almost sounds blasphemous. That is so incredibly
awesome, that we are partakers of the divine nature. How does that happen? Having escaped from the
corruption that is in world, because of sinful desire. You can’t be a partakers
of the divine nature, if you haven’t escaped
the corrupting influences of sinful desire that
come in a fallen world. For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue and virtue with knowledge and
knowledge with self-control and self-control with steadfastness and steadfastness with Godliness and Godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are
yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge
of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m tempted to keep reading
till the end of the letter, but I’ll stop there. So good, did you hear
these things that are ours through knowledge of Christ that comes by God’s divine provision,
that’s grounded in knowledge? Oh, I so want these
things that He offers here but I want you to notice, in particular, that this comes through
knowledge of Him, verse three, who called us to His own
glory and excellence. He granted us precious
and very great promises and that’s how we become
partakers of the divine nature. And all of these amazing traits
of who you are become yours through God’s provision,
through the knowledge of Him. We are starting, this morning,
a series, that will be in this semester, on apologetics. I’m kicking it off. And as I was thinking
about what is important for us to get on the
table as we begin a series on apologetics, which, if you’re not sure, here’s a definition of it. That’s not what I wanted. Oh no, oh this is not what I wanted. This is trouble, I’ve got my laptop. How did that happen? Well, here we go. You know what apologetics is? Apologetics is taking
Biblical and theological truth and it is giving a defense of it in light of accusations against
it, having to defend what questions people have,
what charges people have against the Christian faith, it’s
really where all the stuff we do at Biola, hits the streets. It’s the place where we
are grounded enough so that we can give a reasonable defense for the hope that’s within us. And so, apologetics is
this wonderful place where we’re able to live,
but only if we attend to the knowledge that God has given us and that we then have that
partaking of the divine nature. That’s what we desperately
need, is God to do this for us. And then we can get into conversations and discussions and debates
and even healthy arguments with people who don’t
believe the Christian faith. I just got back from Hume Lake last night, where I was preaching at
a young adult retreat, and right after the first
message, I was preaching on the will of God all week,
a young man came up to me, really sharp guy, wonderful spirit and he came up and he said, “I’m not a Christian, but I’m exploring “and some of the things you
said really resonated with me.” He was very successful, very
accomplished, very talented. And he was building his
life on these things and he said, “I think I
deserve all the credit “for everything I’ve accomplished.” Yeah, that’s what he said. And I said, “Well great, let’s talk.” And throughout the weekend we talked and he had all kinds of good questions. And we need to be able to answer people who are asking these questions. And defend the faith that’s
been entrusted to us. In the streets, with our neighbors, with our colleagues, we’ve
got to be able to do this. And we’ve gotta be able to do it well. But we’ll only do it well,
if we know what we believe. Here’s the big disconnect
I’m very concerned about, the only way we can defend our faith, is if we know and understand our faith and I want us to be honest and realistic about how well we know what we believe. So, listen to this quotation here. I’m not gonna name him. But he’s a very
well-known, popular leader, artist, author and listen
to these words, just listen. “I think a healthier way,”
he says he’s a Christian, “I think a healthier way
of thinking about belief “is to think about the
kind of lives we choose “to live with the words “and beliefs that have
been handed to us, right?” So, okay, all right, so it’s gotta show up in lives that demonstrate
what we believe, okay, but, and listen where he goes. “Perhaps a more important question “than whether God is a guy in the sky “or the ground of being or the future, “infinite Trinitarian
relationality is what you do “with your assumptions about God, “who He is and who He is not. “Will you love God? “Will you love your neighbor? “Maybe these questions
are far more important “than what you believe
about God or your neighbor. “Maybe, whether or not you do “what Jesus said is more important “than the language we
use to describe Jesus. “I’m not saying language is unimportant, “it is important, just not
important enough to divide over. “People are more important than ideas. “Love is more important
than the concept of love.” Now I want to be very careful here, because I know most of you are young. And for many of you that’s,
you’ve heard people talk that way your whole life
and that sounds deep and it sounds true, but I want
you to know it’s incoherent, it doesn’t make any sense. One of my biggest challenges,
as a 55 year old man, is how to not sound like
a cranky, grumpy old man when I’m saying, “You’ve lost your mind.” [congregation laughing] You know, it didn’t use to be this way. Back in my day, right? I don’t wanna sound like that, but I can’t help it sometimes. Because when you say things like, “Maybe love is more important
than the concept of love,” we’re tempted to go, “Oh
yeah man, that’s so true.” It makes no sense, right? Because when he’s saying the word love, built into it is a concept of love. Any time you start to use
words to explain yourself, you’re assuming there’s
something objectively true about these words you’re using. Now, if he just wants
to sit and do nothing, I suppose, every time
I’ve gone to a conference, very smart people write
very smart sounding things that are completely
self-contradictory and incoherent and somebody’s gotta tell
the emperor he has no clothes without sounding like a
grumpy old man, though, right? Will you love God, will
you love your neighbor? That’s more important
than how you define God or your neighbor. As if your definition
of God has nothing to do with how you live and as if
how you define your neighbor has nothing to do with
how you define your, treat your neighbor. When I, I wanna argue
that the way you love God and the way you love your
neighbor is completely dependent on how you define not just
love but God and your neighbor because if your neighbor
is just the result of a blob of protoplasm that crawled out of the ocean billions of
years ago by some random, chaotic chance, and it’s
about survival of the fittest, well how I treat that thing
is going to be very different than how I treat something
that’s a unique creation of God, made in His image, for His glory and the good of others. That’s totally different. If you don’t see that believing,
people are just things with a random, misunderstood,
un-understood cause. If you don’t see the connection between that and social Darwinism, and treating people like things, maybe we treat them as
good as animals sometimes. If you don’t see the connection
between dehumanizing people and how you define people, or if you don’t see the connection between loving people, based on the fact that you define them in such a way that you are commanded,
demanded to love them, you don’t understand
how belief and behavior are fundamentally connected. And let’s call the whole
apologetics quest off if we don’t even believe
truth and knowledge exist and are objective and outside of me and I don’t get to create it. See, we head down a very strange road when we start to accept coherence as deep. Look, most of you can’t
even remember a time that people didn’t
constantly talk incoherently. You’ve gotten used to it. Jane’s over there nodding,
she remembers too, we’re the same age, yeah. Yeah, but now people get on television and they say, “God is
energy, prayer is a thought, “God is a rhythm to the universe.” And everybody goes yeah. And I just wanna say what
you mean by all of that? Can we please have some
definitions of terms? Can we please have some meaning, filling up all these words? I have a friend who was on a plane and he was on staff
with Athletes in Action. And he’s a very intentional evangelist. He sat down and about two
minute into the flight, he says the guy, “Hey, what
do you believe about God?” And the guy went on for 20 minutes about, “Oh, I think God
is a force and an energy “and there’s a coherent,”
and he’s just saying all this stuff and Ed said,
“You know, I wouldn’t recommend “this apologetic strategy.” But when he was done, I just looked at him and I said, “Come on. [congregation laughing] “You know that’s all a
load of bull, right?” And the guy goes, “Yeah.” [congregation laughing] I guess so. It was unbelievable. He just had a sense the guy
was going blah, blah, blah. Saying all this stuff. Oh, we Christians cannot
be be blah, blah, blah. Even of our true words, right? We can’t be just half a question
deep on what we believe. We can’t just say words
we don’t stop and define. We’ve gotta be the people
who actually believe in truth and commit ourselves to it. Now you’re all sitting there going, “Well Thoennes, you’re kind of preaching “to the choir, aren’t you? “We are the Bible
Institute of Los Angeles. “We are the people who
are getting after truth, “investing large amounts of time and money “and effort to know truth
and understand knowledge. “So Thoennes, I think you can
go preach this somewhere else, “like Azusa or something,
but not here, right?” We don’t need, well they
have a different philosophy of ministry there, you know? We’re believers here. We can make some assumptions
about what this is all about, but before you, I’ll just use my laptop, that’s what I’ll do. Give me this, this is my daughter Paige. She’s delightful. Stand up and wave, Paige. [congregation laughing] Stand up and wave, Paige. Did you not stand up? Stand up and wave, look
how beautiful she is. Yes, yes, that’s Paige girl. Here’s [mumbles], okay. Here we go, yes. Lemme read some statistics to you. I did a survey in my
Theology one classes at Biola of basic Bible knowledge and practice. Listen to these statistics. What percentage of Biola’s
students do you think could name all 10 commandments in order? 25, that’s pessimistic,
is that pessimistic? Jane’s pessimistic about it. What percentage of Biola
students do you think can name all 10 commandments in order? 3%. What percent could precisely
define the term justification? These are usually sophomores. And my students are amazing,
please, hear me here. I asked them to precisely
define justification, 16% could do it. I asked them to give a clear,
complete Gospel message and in my opinion only 14% could do that. Have you read the whole Bible? 47%, not even half of Biola students, have read the whole Bible. 19% were able to give a
thoughtful and complete summary of the main message of the Bible. Do you know the basic message
of the Book of Galatians? 12%. Practice, have you ever
clearly explained the Gospel and invited someone to trust Christ? 23% of Biola students
have never done that. 37% of Biola students have
clearly explained the Gospel and invited someone to trust
Christ in the last year, 37%. I asked them are you involved in serving and known in a local church? About half of Biola students are. So, lest we think the
message I’m preaching should be preached somewhere
else, we’ve got to realize that we have bought into
this idea from the media that we’re a bunch of Bible thumpers. When the fact is, we’re not
even really Bible readers, most of us. And we know far more about what’s going on in The Bachelor, than in
Matthew, Mark and Luke. I’m not saying this to discourage
you but to motivate you and stop believing the
hype about who we are. Same thing, the media tell us that we’re a bunch of
overzealous evangelists, and we know that’s not true, right? We know for most of us
timidity is the problem. Not being overzealous. And so let’s stop buying
into a media perception of us and reacting against that
till we talk like this guy, sayings, “It’s just about
love, it’s just about love. “However you may define that. “It’s about God, however
you may define that.” Look, if I can’t define a
person, how in the world can I begin to start loving them? How can I even begin to start defining when my life is matching up
to what it’s intended to be if I can’t define myself, or God, or anything objectively outside of myself? It gives us a sense of power
and significance and meaning when we think we can create reality. But that’s the mentality
that goes right to hell. And so we’ve got to back up
and stop believing these ideas about us that just aren’t true. And I would argue that
among Biola students, we’ve sorta got the leading edge of the most committed and equipped. How about the rest of the
church, that you’ll be charged with leading in just a few years? And so we’ve gotta change the way we think about these things. And we’ve got to shape
our thinking differently. How did we get here? How did we get to this place? Well, you know, when I was your age, I would say naturalistic
modernism ruled the day. Which is this idea that truth is found in the audacity to think for yourself. There’s this absolutely faith in modern, in rational ability, scientific method, anti-supernaturalism. A rejection of authority and an optimism that given enough time, and education, will solve all the world’s problems. And then we realize, at
least knowledge is objective and certain and accessible. But in my lifetime I’ve seen the shift from a naturalistic modernism, to a post-modern way of thinking that is now just the air we breathe. And post-modernism says
no, there is no big story, an incredulity toward meta narratives. There is no big story,
which by the way, again, that statement, there is no
big story, is a big story. You can’t make objective statements, is an objective statement. Do you hear the incoherence? I want you to start
realizing it sounds deep but it’s nonsense. So there’s no big story. So that means historical
cultural subjective conditions make truth relative. Not only reason, but
emotions and intuition and experience provide knowledge,
provide us with knowledge and objective truth is used
as a tool of oppression. That’s how we got here
and so post-modernism puts an emphasis on community in
the past, the celebration of diversity, deamphasizes
logic and systematic thinking and in that is annoying pessimism. Now I hope you see that both of these ways of thinking have things we can agree with and things we disagree with. But we’ve gotta be distinctively Christian in the way we think. And realize that this is not
the talk of ivory towers. This is not academics
talking about post-modernism and the actualistic modernism
gabada, gabada, gabada. And that doesn’t matter in the streets. It does and it matters in Stater Brothers. You know, I will never forget years ago when I was walking
through the cereal aisle and I noticed that they
put cereal at the eye level of the person they’re trying
to target with that cereal. Did you know that? All the kid’s sugary
cereals are down right here. Mommy, I want the Cocoa Puffs, yeah. They’re brilliant,
marketers are brilliant. Let’s get plenty of marketers out there with brilliance for truth. Listen, I couldn’t believe
this, I was standing in the supermarket and I came
across two boxes of cereal, one that I think perfectly
represents post-modernism and one that perfectly
represents modernism. And the one that I think
represents post-modernism in the way we buy something,
look, they got what? Ten seconds with the consumer to get them to buy what they want, them to buy. So this is the pitch, here’s the pitch on the back of Blueberry Morning Cereal. You ready? Blue is the only color you can feel. [congregation laughing] Now think about the consumer,
how do I make decisions about the cereal I’m buying? Well who are they targeting here? You can see red, look green, have a tan, but blue is inside, blue is a part of you. The deep blue of the sea stirs your soul, a bright blue sky lifts your spirits, the inky blue of midnight
rouses passions deep within you. It’s cereal, people. It’s cereal. [congregation laughing] So there’s no only one truly blue food, one with a taste that’s deep, ambrosial, the food of the gods. A taste you experience, a taste you feel. The taste of Blueberry’s. It goes on, but I’ll leave it there. You get the point? Who are they targeting? And how is that person thinking
about what cereal they buy? But lest you think they’re
not thinking about old people, they also have 7 Reasons cereal. Lest you wonder, 7 Reasons, look, I want reasons to buy my cereal. Made with organically grown grains, three grams of dietary fiber and each serving all natural sugars, so it’s no calories from fat, no preservatives added, blue is that feeling deep within you. I don’t need that, right? Yeah, you see how
different the mentality is, depending on who they’re targeting? It’s amazing. This is right in the popular culture, right on the Stater Brothers shelves. This is not some esoteric,
philosophical stuff that doesn’t really get in the streets. It gets in the supermarket. And you need to be able to recognize it and not be sucked into either of it and realize that the Biblical worldview is one that doesn’t buy
into anything but this idea that God, as we saw in
2 Peter, is the source of knowledge and He gives
us in His mercy revelation, both special revelation in His Word and ultimately in Christ and general revelation
everywhere you turn. That’s why when you go to biology, go with a worshipful heart. And when you study the
cell, I expect to walk by Jason Tresser’s classes and see you all on your faces worshiping God because you just studied
the cell for 10 minutes and saw that there’s
a little city in there and that didn’t just happen, and you know the God who did that. And so that’s why the Christian
worldview is the best one in the world to study the liberal arts. ‘Cause most of you will never make a dime because you took biology. Or a dime because you took art or history, but you’re learning about
the world of your Creator and that’s worshipful and
that encourages intimacy with you and your Creator. And so we understand
that the Christian view is God gives us revelation,
both special and general and then He illumines our minds. Not just to understand
but to be transformed and become benefiters of
this amazing promise we see in 2 Peter. And then we apply ourselves to this study, this work and we get to truth,
we get to objective truth. That’s why the Bible says
don’t boast about wisdom, or power, boast about
this, let him who boast, boast in this. You know what’s next? That he understands and knows me, that I’m the Lord and the Lord
who exercises loving kindness and righteousness on earth and justice. For I delight in these
things, says the Lord. So when we available
ourselves to God’s revelation of Himself, we know who He is and we start to delight in the things He delights in. And God’s the God of truth. If you don’t love truth,
if you don’t pursue truth, if you don’t see
transformation in your life through the truth of
God, you can’t know God. You can’t love God. He doesn’t come through merely a personal, subjective,
internal, spiritual experience, He comes through the renewal of our minds from a fallen blindedness
to sight to see Him and hearts transformed to worship Him. That’s who He is for us
and He is the God of truth. He calls Himself the God of truth twice in one verse in Isaiah. He who blesses himself in
the land shall be blessed, shall bless himself by the God of truth. And He who takes an oath
in the land shall swear by the God of truth, because
of the former troubles. Jesus, of course, calls
Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Holy Spirit is called in
John 15 the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father and He will testify about me. So if you want to love
God, you’ve got to love and pursue truth and enjoy
it because it is impossible to know and love and enjoy
God apart from the quest to know and love truth. How about loving your neighbor? The second half of the great
commandment, same thing. We’ve got this idea
that you love primarily in acts of kindness. And I’m all for people
baking cookies for me. But if I had to choose, I’d
pick them speaking truth to me. And I hear phrases that
bifurcate between truth and love or compassion. It almost seems like they’re
two very different things. People say, you know, you
can’t tell people what’s true until you love them. As if telling them what’s
true isn’t a fundamental way of loving them. If you’re nice to me, compassionate to me, and give me gifts and
don’t tell me the truth, especially about eternal realities, you’re not loving me well at all. We’ve got this idea that
love is just acts of kindness and compassion and things the
world recognizes is loving, but that’s not the whole story, is it? We’ve got to see a
difference between loving in truth and loving in a worldly way. People are perishing apart from the truth, that’s what the Bible says Romans one, they suppress the truth and wickedness and exchange the truth of God for a lie. They refuse to love the
truth and so be saved. And we are saved through the truth. And we’re made holy
through the truth, John 17. Sanctify them by the
truth, Your Word is truth. That’s what Jesus prays
to the Father for us. And He says, if you hold to my teaching, you’re really my disciples. Teaching is an understanding of the truth of God in the words of Christ. And the whole Scriptures as well. We come to faith and salvation
through belief in the truth. So a primary responsibility of the church is to be the ones who uphold the truth. Listen to this description of the church, it’s just beautiful. Paul says to Timothy, “If I delay, “you may know how one ought to behave “in the household of
God, which is the church “of the living God, a pillar
and buttress of truth.” Google buttress and look at
the amazing images of buttress. Do you know what a buttress is? It, pillars are on the
inside of a building that hold up these heavy structures. But if you go to a cathedral,
there’ll be buttresses and the best ones are flying buttresses. Sounds like a move in
professional wrestling. But no, it’s an amazing
thing in architecture that supports the
building from the outside. We’re a pillar and a buttress of truth. The job of the church
is to know the truth, love the truth, be
transformed by the truth and uphold the truth like a pillar and buttress, saying to
the world here’s the truth, fundamentally found in Christ. Here is the truth and we’re
banking everything on it. Just like the verse Kenny
read from John six, right? Where else will you go? You alone have the words of eternal life. You’re the one who’s led us to the truth. You’re the source of all the truth. And so as we pursue truth, we find Christ. And as we find Christ, we have a deeper and deeper understanding of the truth. Oh, I got a picture of a
flying buttress right there, look at that, that’s great. Listen, my precious daughter,
Paige, is sitting here. I’m her father, but I must tell you, especially [mumbles],
when I started teaching, I felt like the big brother. I’m clearly out of the
that phase right now. Careening toward grandfather. But still probably in the father phase and I have such a desire that
you understand the truth, it’ll save your life, it’ll save the lives of people you know and love. Truth really matters. Some lives’ lies come with body bags. And truth leads to life. It leads to abundant life,
nothing breaks my heart more than when I hear about
a Biola grad 10 years down the road, who’s
just left it all behind. Knows so much, but for
some reason, somehow, was able to walk away. And I think what’s missing? Oh and I just love
meeting a former student, just like I did this past weekend who’s loving Jesus and
raising her children to know Christ and serving
in her churches faithfully. It’s just an amazing thing to see. You know, we’ve heard about some young Christian
leaders walking away from the faith. One of them said, “There are
all these para-contradictions “in the Bible and no one talks about them. “There’s this terrible doctrine of hell “is in the Bible and
nobody talks about it. “And there’s all this evil in the world “and nobody talks about it.” And I wanna sit down and
have lunch with this guy and say, “Who do you hang out with?” ‘Cause I talk about
that stuff all the time. And so do the people in my life. We talk about these things all the time, because that’s what we’re doing here. We’re not just simplistically going through the things we believe, we’re seeking to understand them deeply. So we can be deep people who
understand the deep things of God and then are able
to explain them to people, with the beautiful
simplicity that even a child in your Sunday school
class can understand. And that’s why I love these words of John which are not written to his biological or children in his home. He says, I have no
greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. He’s not talking about
his children in his home, he’s talking about those
that he led into the truth. As a spiritual father. That’s what we’re trying to, and I see Joane Jung back there. She’s a spiritual mother to so many here and I’m looking at all the
faculty and staff sitting there, knowing that it’s about discipleship, it’s not just about
paperwork and curricula. It’s about leading as mothers
and fathers in the faith into truth that’ll save your life. It’s amazing how disengaged,
detached, apathetic, cynical attitude is seen as cool today. That’s what’s cool. And it makes sense. Look, if there’s no truth outside of us, what is there to get all charged up about? Just chill. No, you know what Spurgeon said? He said we need to preach
as dying men to dying men. This stuff matters as much as it can. And I know some of you
have been here three years, maybe four years, maybe five years. And I don’t know, maybe some
of you are grad students and have been here, but
please don’t get jaded. Don’t get cynical, ask God to renew, to revive your heart about the truth that leads to life, abundant living now and eternal life one day. We’ve gotta be people of depth, we’ve gotta be people
who understand the truth so deeply and so well. Listen to Dostoyevsky as he
writes about this young man in “Brothers K”. “I’ve started “Brothers K” eight times, “haven’t gotten all
the way through it yet, “just seems to me like 400
pages of character development “is a bit much, however,
that’s my deficiency, “not the book’s.” But listen to what he says about Alyosha. Oh, there’s so many Alyosha’s at Biola. Listen to what he says,
Alyosha left everything he had, his money, his status,
everything and he went into a monastery and look what he says, “I should be told, perhaps,
that Alyosha was stupid, “undeveloped, not finished
in his studies, and so on “that he did not finish
his studies is true, “but to say that he was stupid or dull, “would be a great injustice. “I’ll simply repeat what I’ve said above, “he entered upon this
path to the monastery, “only because at the time
it struck his imagination “and presented itself to him
as offering an ideal means “of escape for his soul
from darkness to light. “And that he was, to some extent,
a youth of our last epoch, “that is honest in nature.” Oh this is so many of my dear students. “Honest in nature, desiring the truth, “seeking for it and believing in it. “And seeking to serve at
once with all the strength “of his soul, seeking for immediate action “and ready to sacrifice everything. “Life itself for it. “Though these young men
unhappily fail to understand “that the sacrifice of life
is in many cases the easiest “of all sacrifices.” And listen, “And that to
sacrifice, for instance, “five or six years of
their seething youth, “to hard and tedious study,
if only to multiply ten-fold “their powers of serving
the truth and the cause “they’ve set before them, as their goal. “Such a sacrifice is utterly
beyond the strength of many.” Now do you believe that
sacrificing years to hard and tedious study, to
multiply your efforts at serving the King ten-fold is worth it? It requires patience. Oh, I know you love action,
I love you know mission trips because a picture of you holding an orphan is a way better Instagram picture than you sitting in the library. But sitting in the library is investing and understanding truth, understanding more deeply the God of truth and everything He’s made. It’s worth it. It’s an investment to understand the truth with hard and tedious study. Do you have the patient
endurance for that? Do you have the perspective
that will give you an ability to devote
your efforts to knowing as well as you possibly can? And yes, you will be
unleashed in the world, to have an impact beyond
your wildest imagination. I don’t think any of you
has a clue how much God can and wants to really use you. But only if you have the patient endurance that leads to a deeper
understanding of God. According to the Scriptures, availing yourself to His revelation and in a general sense as well. And then knowing Him deeply. And being able to help people understand the deep things of God. [upbeat music]>>Narrator: Discover
who you’re called to be at Biola University, a leading
Christ-centered university in Los Angeles. With programs on campus and online. Subscribe for more of our videos and learn more at biola.edu. [upbeat music]

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