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What’s Dispensational Bible Study?

November 4, 2018 1 comment

Shawn Brasseaux

BEHOLD THE CONFUSION: RELIGIOUS TRADITION

Have you ever wondered why there is so much confusion and debate among and within “Christian” circles and churches? These professing Christians all quote the Bible, they all claim to believe the Bible, and yet, it is quite a surprise to learn that they all disagree regarding what the Bible actually teaches! All 38,000-plus denominations in Christendom claim to be serving and following “Jesus Christ,” and yet, they all believe mutually exclusive doctrines and practice opposing rites and rituals. How can they all be following Jesus Christ while all doing different things?! The Church the Body of Christ is supposed to be united; nevertheless, schisms, strife, and contradictions abound. Why?

Let me give you some of the most popular examples of the literally thousands of major arguments in Christendom:

Many churches believe that faith and works are necessary for salvation, quoting Matthew 19:17 and James 2:24; the remainder of churches believe that salvation is by faith alone, using Romans 3:28, Romans 4:5, and Ephesians 2:8,9.

Some groups believe that water baptism is necessary for salvation, relying on Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21; others hold that it is merely a testimony of salvation, citing Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38; still others do not water baptize at all, relying on 1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 12:13, and Ephesians 4:5.

Some churches participate in “snake handling,” “devil exorcism,” “tongue talking” and “healing services,” citing Mark 16:17,18 and James 5:15; others completely reject those practices, quoting Romans 8:18, 1 Timothy 5:23, and 2 Timothy 4:20.

Some churches argue that we must observe the Saturday Sabbath, citing Exodus 20:8-11, while others believe there is no Sabbath day to keep today, quoting Romans 6:14 and Colossians 2:16. (There are even groups that argue that we must observe Sunday, the alleged “Christian Sabbath!”)

Some groups teach that Christians can lose their salvation, following Psalm 51:11, Matthew 24:13, and Hebrews 6:4-6; other groups believe Christians are eternally secure in Christ, relying on Romans 8:35-39, Ephesians 4:30, and 2 Timothy 1:12.

Some churches teach tithing, according to Malachi 3:8-11, while other churches believe that we are not under an obligatory giving system, citing Romans 6:14 and 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Some argue that we should confess our sins to God daily, quoting Matthew 6:12,14,15 and 1 John 1:9. Other groups believe that we should confess our sins to priests, using John 20:23 and James 5:16. Still, others believe that confession of sins is unnecessary because Jesus Christ died to pay for our sins and we are already forgiven of all of our sins, citing Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 2:13.

Some groups say we are bound to keep the Mosaic Law, using Exodus 20:1-17 and 1 John 2:3,4, while others say we are under grace, not law, citing Romans 6:14 and Galatians 5:1-5.

Amazing huh? All of these groups are using Bible verses to support these opposing views!! How is this possible?! If the Bible has all of these conflicting views, then exactly what does God expect us to believe?! What is the solution to this abounding confusion and these so-called Bible “contradictions?” Firstly, understand that “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). The problem is not God’s Word; God’s Word is infallible, perfect, and completely sound. Sinful mankind and Satan, not God, are to blame for the gross theological errors and false teaching in Christendom. Never, ever blame God for the confusion that Satan and mankind generate using religious tradition and human “wisdom.”

If people would simply use the Bible God’s way, all of the doctrinal confusion in Christian circles would disappear. Alas, people prefer their religious tradition, so they do not care to submit to God’s Word. The Lord Jesus Christ rebuked the religious leaders of His day: “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition“ (Mark 7:9 KJV). These people approach God’s Word with denominational biases and reach denominational conclusions, instead of seeing what the Bible actually said and to whom it said it. What makes it all the more disturbing is that the pastors and teachers who should be dispelling confusion and doubt are only adding to the preexisting confusion by failing to use God’s Word God’s way themselves. These church leaders only teach God’s Word as their denominational system interprets it, instead of letting the Bible’s testimony speak for itself and mean what it says, where it says it, and to whom it says it.

BEHOLD THE SOLUTION: 2 TIMOTHY 2:15

If we use God’s Word, God’s way, there will be no contradictions and no confusion. The Bible will only make sense to you if you approach it the way God designed it to be studied (that is “rightly divided”). Read what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, as found in the King James Bible:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The only verse in the Bible that tells you to “study” the Bible tells you how to study it. When you “rightly divide the word of truth,” you are recognizing the distinctions/divisions that God has made in His Word. Through various dispensations (sets of directions), God gave different instructions to various groups of people. (For instance, compare the differing diets that God gave in Genesis 1:27-29, Genesis 9:1-4, Leviticus 11:2, and 1 Timothy 4:3-5.) We must be careful to never insert directions into the dispensations in which they were never given. Confusion results when we combine all of the Bible’s instructions as though they were spoken to one group of people. There are several dispensations in Scripture given to different people at various times and we must never confuse them. It is this very failure to rightly divide the word of truth that gives rise to all of the conflicting doctrines (what we discussed in our introductory remarks).

Let us now discuss the basics of “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

THE TWO PROGRAMS IN GOD’S WORD

Genesis 1:1 KJV, the first verse in the Bible, reads: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” God divides the heaven from the earth. (This is true even at the end of the Bible, in Revelation 21:1.) Furthermore, God has designed one program to operate in each of these realms. There are two programs in the Bible: the “prophetic program” and the “mystery program.”

The Apostle Peter says in Acts 3:21 KJV that he is preaching that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 16:25,26a KJV that he is preaching “according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest….”

Obviously, if words mean anything, Peter and Paul are speaking of two different things. Something “spoken since the world began” cannot be the same as something “kept secret since the world began.”

The prophetic program focuses on the nation Israel and an earthly kingdom (Exodus 19:5,6; Deuteronomy 4:20), where Gentiles (non-Jews) receive salvation through that kingdom (Isaiah 60:1-3). On the other hand, the mystery program focuses on the Church the Body of Christ and a heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 2:6,7; Ephesians 1:22-23), where Gentiles receive salvation without Israel’s kingdom (Romans 11:11,12,25). Surely, if we are to avoid confusion, we must keep those two programs and their respective directions separated (“rightly divided”).

Sadly, most of Christendom combines all of these Bible verses into one program, ignoring the differences between the program that involves Israel’s kingdom and the mystery program that does not involve Israel’s kingdom. Again, this haphazard handling of the Bible is the source of the spiritual confusion and the alleged Bible “contradictions.” They are mixing opposing directions God gave in different dispensations (these directions were not given in the same dispensation).

Today, the Apostle Paul writes that the prophetic program that was operating in the “Old Testament,” the Four Gospels, and the early Acts period is temporarily suspended. We are currently living in the “Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), the mystery program, which the Lord kept secret in the Old Testament but has since revealed it to mankind through the ministry of the Apostle Paul (Romans 16:25,26; Ephesians 3:1-11). Why did God hide it prior to Paul? It was to keep the devil from knowing His entire plan, so Satan could crucify Jesus Christ, and thereby would actually defeat himself  (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)!

WHOM SHOULD WE FOLLOW TODAY?

It is often mistakenly assumed that we need to “follow Jesus” (that is, the red letters of the Four Gospels). Yet, when we consider the Scriptures, this makes no sense whatsoever. Can we sinners follow the sinless Lord Jesus Christ? OF COURSE NOT!

Romans 11:13 KJV says that Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles.” As previously stated, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ revealed to Paul alone “the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25,26), His secret (mystery) program to deal with the whole world (Jews and Gentiles) on the basis of grace and Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ ministered to Jews only in Matthew through John (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8). Jesus had no ministry to us Gentiles because He had to save Israel first! It is not until we come to Paul’s ministry when God begins to deal with Gentiles. This is one basic fact of Scripture that most church members have never been told.

Jesus Christ urged His followers to obey the Mosaic Law, and commanded them to teach others to do the same (Matthew 5:17-19). Contrariwise, God through Paul tells us, “ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14,15). Obviously, we cannot follow both of these instructions. We cannot follow Jesus’ earthly ministry because we are not Jews. Furthermore, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16). We do not know Jesus Christ after His earthly ministry (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Rather, we follow Him according to His heavenly ministry (as He is revealed in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon).

God set forth Paul to be our “pattern” as to how we receive salvation (1 Timothy 1:15,16). In addition, Paul writes, “Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). In the Christian life, we follow Paul as he follows Christ. In Paul’s epistles alone we find the doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny of the Church the Body of Christ. Paul is God’s spokesman to you, just as Moses was God’s spokesman to Israel. If you want to learn what God has to say to you today, you must go to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. To reject Paul is to reject Christ who sent Paul to you, and to reject Christ is to reject God the Father (Matthew 10:40; John 13:20). Paul wrote: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). The test for spirituality today is NOT following Jesus in His earthly ministry, but obeying what God the Holy Spirit says today through the Apostle Paul.

YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE AS A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH THE BODY OF CHRIST

We are not the nation Israel, for in our dispensation, Israel is temporarily “fallen,” “cast away,” and “spiritually blinded” (Romans 11:11,15,25). We Christians are members of the Church the Body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 1:22,23). What God has to say to us is different from what He told the nation Israel in the “Old Testament,” the Four Gospels, and the early part of Acts. It is important to understand how your Christian life operates as a non-Israelite, as a Gentile living in the Dispensation of the Grace of God and a member of the Church the Body of Christ. If you want to be spiritually “edified” (“strengthened”) and spiritually “perfected” (“matured”), you need to study and believe the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon (Ephesians 4:12).

God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) your Christian life and inner man by using a three-fold process. God wants you to understand the life that He has given to you in Christ Jesus, so that you can better understand what He is doing today, and then you can, by faith, follow Him and do the same. This is how we discover and do God’s will for our lives. The Bible says in Romans 16:25,26 KJV:

“25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”

Notice the three-fold process of Christian edification:

“my gospel“—Paul’s Gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, is the foundation of the Christian life

“the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery“—this is Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, the sound doctrine (building materials) which we use to build on that foundation

“the scriptures of the prophets“—this is all of the Holy Scriptures, in light of the doctrine revealed to Paul.

This is why studying the Bible rightly divided is so important. We study all of the Bible, Genesis through Revelation, but we follow the design of Christian edification as laid out in Romans 16:25,26. If we refuse to follow the dispensational layout of Scripture, and most people do refuse it, then we will be going against what God is doing today, and our Christian lives will be in shambles (which is why Christendom is in such pitiful shape!).

DO WE ONLY STUDY PAUL’S EPISTLES? (NO!)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). All of the Bible is God’s Word, so we study all 66 books of the King James Bible (Genesis to Revelation). But, unlike most churches and professing Christians, we study the entire Bible according to the “revelation of the mystery,” (in light of the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon). All of the Bible is for us, but not all of the Bible is to us and not all of the Bible is about us (remember, most of the Bible is written to and is about the nation Israel, not us). We follow God’s design for Christian edification, and we seek God’s approval, not man’s approval (2 Timothy 2:15).

When studying a particular Bible passage, you first need to establish the following, in this order:

  1. who is writing/speaking,
  1. to whom are they writing, and
  1. what are they writing.

Again, keep in mind that Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon are what God has to say to you, and the rest of the Bible deals with another program, Israel’s program.
 If Paul does not instruct you to do it, then God does not expect you to practice it in your life.

WHY HAVE I NOT HEARD THIS BEFORE?

Are you shocked by what you have just read? Does the Bible make more sense now? So, why have you never heard this before? I would strongly suggest that you ask your pastor, Bible teacher, or priest why he never told you any of this. You might be surprised at his answer! [1]

[1] Copied from https://ambassadorsfortherisenchristministries.org/whats-dispensational-bible-study/

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Calvinism revealed and refuted line upon line

One of the clearest, and most concise refutations of the heresy of Calvinism I’ve ever found.

By Jim Gordon.

It opens …

Where is the love of God in Calvinism?

Let’s look at the words John Calvin himself:

God – arranges all things – He has decreed that they are so to happen – All events take place by His sovereign appointment. Would this include sin? Does God “will” man to sin? Calvin answers “yes!

Scripture clearly proves that God by His eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was His pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was His pleasure to doom to destruction. [Does this contradict the clear statement of Scripture, “The Lord…is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9)?]

Calvinism-Logo

Those, therefore, whom God passes by He reprobates, and that for no other cause but because He is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which He predestines to His children. [Are sinners really excluded from heaven and damned in hell merely because such pleases God? What about where the Bible says, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek. 33:11)?]

 

Now since the arrangement of all things is in the hand of God – He arranges – that individuals are born, are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify Him by their destruction. [Where is the love of God in this? Doesn’t this sound contrary to God’s Word?]

Right Division of the Bible PROVES PreTrib Rapture

February 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs: one for heaven, the other for earth (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for heaven was unknown. It involves the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6) “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). His program for earth, however, was well known. It involves prophecy for Israel concerning the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16), aka the Millennial Reign of Christ, prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) that has progressively unfolded “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21). The prophets exposed and explained five Jewish Covenants God made with Israel to guard her and guide her earthly pilgrimage beginning with the calling of Abraham through the inauguration of the Kingdom. Moses, who first prophesied of a coming Tribulation for Israel also linked it to renewed obedience to the Covenant (Deut. 4:30-31; see Exod. 2:24; 19:5; Lev. 26:41-46) which he warned was the key to continued blessing and possessing the Covenant Land required for the Kingdom (Lev. 26; Deut. 28). However, timing for this Covenant Kingdom was unknown until Daniel codified the final 490-years into a prophecy calendar of seventy weeks of seven years with two stipulations: it MUST be fulfilled by “thy people” (Israel), and it MUST involve “thy holy city” (Jerusalem). (Dan. 9:24-27).

When the Lord Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, it was precisely as Daniel – and the prophets – had predicted (Dan. 9:24-27; see Matt. 26:56; see Acts 3:18-26). His mission was to inaugurate the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (Luke 1), so He preached the gospel of the kingdom to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 4:17, 23; 15:24). However, Kingdom prophecy was put on hold when the King was “cut off” (Dan. 9:26) precisely at Daniel’s 70th week. This left one final seven-year period still to be fulfilled by Israel before the Kingdom can begin. Christ clarified the 70th week in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:21, 29) where He called it “great tribulation.” This same phrase was later used by John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 7:14) which describes its commencement (Rev. 6) through to its conclusion (Rev. 19) and the return of the Lord of Glory – Israel’s Messiah –  to earth to establish His Kingdom “immediately after (Israel’s) Tribulation” (Matt. 24:29; 25:31-34; Rev. 19:11).

Now herein lies the crux of our thesis: Prophecy assigns the Tribulation to Israel (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19) as purification and punishment before the Kingdom. The Body of Christ – which is positionally seated “in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3; 2:6) was unknown to the prophets and hidden from their prophesies. We have no place or purpose for being here. In fact, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly identifying the Body of Christ here for a single moment of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) without redefining words like “saints” and “elect” which refer to Israel. That said, we must reiterate that this is Israel’s Tribulation easily understood when the trilogy of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Book of Revelation are properly studied in their Jewish setting.

Books promoting right division available at: http://pmiministries.com/books.htm

When Did the Church Body of Christ Begin?

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was it Acts 2? Acts 9? Acts 13? Acts 18? Acts 28? Or later? In this Bible study, we hope to clear up the confusion surrounding this issue.

Nearly everyone in Christendom is convinced that Acts chapter 2 is “the birthday of the Church the Body of Christ” (here is a link to our study specially dedicated to refuting the “Acts 2” position, which is beyond the scope of this discussion). While there seems to be an anti-Acts-2 consensus within the so-called “grace movement,” there is often little clarity as to when the Church the Body of Christ did begin; that is, among grace believers, there is an overwhelming agreement that the Body of Christ did not begin in Acts chapter 2, but very few of these Christians can actually state with certainty when it did begin. Hence, the general term “mid-Acts dispensationalism” is applied, for some hold an “Acts 9” view, others believe in an “Acts 13” view, and still others an “Acts 18” view. There are even some who hold to “Acts 28” view, or something beyond Acts 28. It is very sad that many grace Christians seem to be guilty of being just as fragmented as the denominationalists they often deride. “When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?” is such a simple question with a simple answer, but it seems like very few are aware that God already settled the matter almost 2,000 years ago. Beloved, we grace believers must not allow denominationalism to divide us, lest we discredit ourselves and the message we so fervently claim to believe!

It is of utmost importance to our discussion to remember that the term “the Church the Body of Christ” is never found outside of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. James, Peter, and John never mentioned it in their epistles. In fact, Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry (recorded in Matthew through John) never mentioned it (the overwhelming Scriptural testimony is that Matthew 16:18 is not the Body of Christ). In his epistles, the Apostle Paul made over 20 references to “the Church the Body of Christ” by name (Romans 7:4; 1 Corinthians 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12,13,14,15,27; Ephesians 1:22,23; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4,12,16; Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 5:23,30; Colossians 1:18,24; Colossians 2:19; Colossians 3:15). Save Paul, no other Bible writer uses the term “the Church the Body of Christ.” Since only Paul uses that term, he seems to know more about it than anyone else in Scripture, so should we not allow Paul to tell us when it began? Rather than blindly agreeing with a grace preacher or a grace church’s doctrinal statement, we need to believe what the Holy Spirit through Paul taught and believed concerning the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ.

1. PAUL’S SALVATION IS OUR “PATTERN”

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “[15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Notice the four very important words in the passage quoted above:

  1. “chief” — The word “chief” means “first, primary” (such as in Acts 14:12). For any “Greekophile,” the Greek word translated “chief” in 1 Timothy 1:16 is protos, meaning “beginning or foremost.” It does not mean “worst” as commonly thought.
  2. “first” — Means just what it says; it is the “earliest.”
  3. “pattern” — A “pattern” is “an example for others to follow.”
  4. “hereafter” — “Hereafter” is an adverb meaning, “from now on.”

These four terms are four different ways of saying the same thing—something new began with Paul. Paul was the “chief,” the “first,” the “pattern to them which should hereafter [that is, after Paul] believe on him [Jesus Christ] to life everlasting.” When Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief,” he was not saying that he was the worst of all sinners. In the context (look again at the four key terms highlighted above), what he meant was that he was the first of all sinners Jesus Christ saved. Yet, how could that be? What about the 12 apostles? Were they not sinners saved by God years prior to Paul? Yes, they were, but the manner by which Paul was saved, and the purpose to which Paul was saved, were different than those before him. Jesus Christ saved Paul and those after him with a special plan in mind.

The Scriptures could not be plainer that something new began with Paul’s salvation in Acts 9. Paul was the “first.” The first of what? The only sensible answer is the first member of the Church the Body of Christ (the only other group of believers God has in His Word is the redeemed nation Israel, and Israel is fallen at this point; the Church the Body of Christ had to be created in order to save Saul of Tarsus and make him Paul the Apostle). Paul was the first individual to be saved apart from Israel’s program. There had to have been a new program in Acts 9, otherwise Paul could not be saved unto eternal life (more on this later). The Holy Spirit said that Paul’s salvation is our “pattern.” Are we members of the nation Israel? No. Do we belong to Israel’s program? No. According to the Holy Spirit, and according to Paul himself, Paul was saved the same way we are—apart from Israel (1 Corinthians 15:8; Galatians 1:15) and apart from her program (1 Timothy 1:13-16 cf. Matthew 12:31-32; Romans 11:11-13; 1 Corinthians 1:17 cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:14-15 cf. Matthew 5:17-19; et cetera).

2. PAUL COULD NOT BE SAVED IN ISRAEL’S PROGRAM

In Galatians 1:15-16, Paul writes, “[15] But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:…” In 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul wrote, “And last of all he [the resurrected Jesus Christ] was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” Paul was not a part of Israel or her program. God “killed” Israel, as one would take the life of a pregnant woman, and He delivered her unborn child, in this case, Saul of Tarsus (Paul). (Look at the “stillborn” birth Job longed for in Job 3:16, “Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been….”).

The Lord Jesus said to the nation Israel in Matthew 12:31-32: “[31] Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. [32] And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

Saul/Paul encouraged the murder of Stephen, and he was guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost. After all, Jewish Saul was leading the world’s rebellion against Jesus Christ (see Acts 7:57-60; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-5; Acts 22:3-7; Acts 26:9-11; et cetera). Paul wrote that he was a “blasphemer” in 1 Timothy 1:13. Paul was saved, but he blasphemed against the Holy Spirit! So, how was Paul saved, and yet, how could it not break Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:31-32? Paul could not be saved in Israel’s program, for it would contradict Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:31-32; nevertheless, God opened our Dispensation of Grace, a program separate from Israel’s program, in Acts 9, and saved Saul/Paul. Saul/the Apostle Paul could only be saved if God interrupted Israel’s program with a new program, and if he was placed into a new group of believers. Paul was saved in our dispensation, not in Israel’s program; he was saved in the Church the Body of Christ, not in the nation Israel. Certainly, a new dispensation was in effect in Acts 9.

3. NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE IN PAUL’S MINISTRY, WHETHER DURING ACTS OR POST-ACTS

When understanding the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ, we need to determine what the Church the Body of Christ is. From Paul’s epistles, we learn that it is a spiritual, invisible body of believers in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, who have trusted exclusively in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins (Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Consider the following verses found in Paul’s epistles:

Romans 3:22: “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Written during Acts.)

1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (Written during Acts.)

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Written during Acts.)

Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Written during Acts.)

Ephesians 2:11-17: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [Jews].” (Written after Acts.)

Colossians 3:10-11: “[10] And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: [11] Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Written after Acts.)

The distinction between Jew and Gentile (“Greek” delineated the prominent Gentile nationality of that day, as in the Graeco-Roman Empire) was abolished with Paul’s ministry: “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:22). Paul was “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13)—Paul wrote Romans during the Acts period. Israel had fallen back in Acts chapter 7 and was now “diminishing” (see Romans 11:11-12), so any lost Jews were technically Gentiles. In Acts chapter 15, Paul agreed to minister to the “heathen” (Galatians 2:9)—this would be anyone who was not a member of Israel’s little flock, her believing remnant. A Jew who had not trusted Jesus as Messiah was still just as much a “heathen”—a child of the Devil, and an enemy of the God of the Bible—as a lost non-Jew (Gentile) (see John 8:44, Acts 13:10, and Ephesians 2:1-3).

Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, had been one of those Christ-rejecting Jews, a heathen just as sinful before God as a Gentile. Paul’s ministry and message were directed toward any Christ-rejecting lost people—Jews or Gentiles. This distinction of Jew and Gentile being done away could only be possible if Israel’s program were fallen; the distinction between Jew and Gentile is always indicative of “time past” (Ephesians 2:11-12). The Church the Body of Christ had to have begun at the very beginning of Paul’s ministry, otherwise those to whom he ministered could not be saved. Yea, Paul himself could not be saved if a new program (the Dispensation of Grace) and a new agency (the Church the Body of Christ) had not begun back in Acts chapter 9.

4. PAUL’S INCLUSION IN THE RAPTURE

Paul considered himself to be a member of the Church the Body of Christ because he mentioned himself in reference to the Rapture. The Rapture of the Church the Body of Christ does not involve Israel or her prophetic program; the Rapture actually prevents our mystery program from overlapping with Israel’s program. Had the Body of Christ began after Paul was saved in Acts chapter 9—such as in Acts chapter 13, Acts chapter 18, or Acts chapter 28 or beyond—it would make no sense for Paul to be including himself in the Rapture. Paul had a hope to be included with the members of the Church the Body of Christ at the Rapture. He says “we” not “you” throughout 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18—Paul included himself in the Rapture, which is exclusively Body-of-Christ doctrine (verses 15 and 17). In fact, remember what Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13)—Paul did not use the pronoun, “you,” indicating that he included himself in the Church the Body of Christ. Paul mentioned God blessing “us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)—this is the Body of Christ doctrine, and when he wrote that God “blessed us with all spiritual blessings,” he included himself. “For we are members of his body” (Ephesians 5:30)—Paul included himself in the Body of Christ. To have the Body of Christ begin after Paul’s salvation is to ignore the many verses that indicate that Paul was a member of the Body of Christ.

5. THE DANGERS OF STARTING THE BODY OF CHRIST AFTER ACTS 9 (SUCH AS ACTS 13, ACTS 18, ACTS 28, OR BEYOND)

To begin the Church the Body of Christ at some time other than Acts chapter 9 is to ignore the foregoing verses and passages. Furthermore, a non-Acts-9 view of the Body of Christ will introduce increasing confusion into your Christian life and the lives of those around you. You lose Paul’s salvation as your pattern, you make your Christian life less clear, and you make the transitional period of Acts more confusing. Without going into too much detail, we will briefly comment about the “Acts 13,” “Acts 18,” and “Acts 28” positions:

ACTS 13.

This position is taken because Paul began his apostolic journeys at the beginning of this chapter. Furthermore, Acts 13:46 is used to justify this position: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Some use this verse to contend that Paul will go unto Gentiles from this time on, so the Gentile body of Christ could not begin until Acts chapter 13. Still, we understand that Paul was considered a Gentile because he had rejected Jesus Christ and was a “heathen” (Israel had fallen in Acts 7, see Point #2, “Paul could not be saved in Israel’s program”). Moreover, the Body of Christ had already begun with Paul’s salvation in Acts 9 (see previous comments). Had the Body of Christ begun in Acts chapter 13, Paul could not have been saved unto eternal life. The clear teaching of Acts 13:46 is this—it was Paul’s announcement to unbelieving Israel in Asia (modern-day Turkey) that God had now changed His dealings with mankind, that Israel was now fallen and diminishing. Nothing more.

ACTS 18.

Acts 18:8 is used to teach that the Gentile Body of Christ began in Acts 18: “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.” Yet, by this time, Paul had already gone to Gentiles—he spoke with the pagan Greeks in Athens in Acts chapter 17. In Acts 18:8, Paul was not saying that the Body of Christ was now beginning. He was simply announcing in a new region (Europe) to unbelieving Israel that his ministry was amongst Gentiles. He was speaking to a new Jewish audience to inform them that JEHOVAH God had now changed His dealings with mankind, that Israel was now fallen and diminishing. To begin the Church the Body of Christ in Acts chapter 18 is to divorce ourselves from Paul’s earliest epistles—Thessalonians and Galatians.

ACTS 28.

Acts 28:28 is used to support the Acts 28 position: “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” This does not say that God’s salvation will go to the Gentiles; by this time, we have seen that it has already gone to the Gentiles and is going to the Gentiles (recall our earlier comments). The Body of Christ had begun long before Paul announced those words in Acts 28:28—some 30 years earlier actually. Acts 28:28 was Paul speaking in Rome, the world’s capital at this time. “Acts 28” is a particularly dangerous position to take because it divorces you from Paul’s Acts epistles (Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Romans) and makes you believe they are not to or about you—Paul never divides his epistles between one section of the Body of Christ in Acts and another section of the Body of Christ after Acts. The admonition in 2 Timothy 2:15 refers to all of the Bible, and does not teach “rightly dividing” Paul’s epistles.

Acts 13:46, Acts 18:8, and Acts 28:28 are not the beginning of the Body of Christ and, despite what some “grace” people may tell you, they are not indicative of such. These three verses should be considered one unit, for they comprise a three-fold announcement that the Apostle Paul made to unbelieving Israel in three separate regions. God was now going and had gone to the Gentiles, and Israel’s prophetic program was diminishing. By the time of Acts 28, that transition period was over. How clear, how simple!

CONCLUSION

We so-called “mid-Acts dispensationalists” agree that the Church the Body of Christ did not begin in Acts chapter 2 (as “traditional dispensationalism” teaches). Yet, there is often great confusion and doubt concerning when it did begin (hence the broad term “mid-Acts”). Some say it was Acts chapter 9, others Acts chapter 13, still others Acts chapter 18, and some even say Acts chapter 28 or later. Indeed, it sounds just as bad as denominationalism in Christendom! Mid-Acts dispensationalists often blame traditionalists (denominational people) for holding to the “traditions of men” to advance a particular church’s viewpoint regarding Scripture. Sadly, however, some so-called “mid-Acts dispensationalists” are just as guilty of this error. One glance at the “Acts 9/13/18/28” controversy demonstrates that religious tradition and preconceived notions often deceive, divide, and defeat us “mid-Acts dispensationalists” just as it does denominational Christendom.

Honestly, some years ago, when I first learned of the Acts 9/13/18/28 division within “grace circles,” I grew very discouraged. I had left my religious confusion in a denominational church behind, only to wind up with more confusion parading as “grace doctrine.” I wanted to know when the Church the Body of Christ began so that I could then determine what parts of the Bible on which to focus the most. It took me at least two or three years to finally learn the truth about the matter (during that time, many “grace people” were telling me different things, and they seemed to be just as confused as I was). When I finally studied the Scriptures on my own, I was thrilled to see how clear the Bible was regarding the issue. Acts chapter 9, the Apostle Paul’s salvation, was the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ; to say otherwise is to cause abounding confusion.

Dear friends, the fragmentation of grace believers regarding the beginning of the Body of Christ, often aids the Adversary’s cause in keeping God’s truth hidden. Having struggled with this issue myself, I can personally testify to that. Furthermore, this Acts 9/13/18/28 conflict affords our denominational critics another reason to undermine our stand on Paul’s special apostleship/ministry to us Gentiles and our stand in the Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ committed first to his trust. Thus, the question, “When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?,” is one of the most important questions the Bible student will face. He or she must answer it using Bible verses, not religious tradition (even if that church tradition parades under the guise of “grace doctrine!”).

If we are to be a pure church, we too must discard traditions, even if “grace” brethren believe and teach them! No question about it, the Apostle Paul was the first member of the Church the Body of Christ. It is not that difficult to understand unless we refuse to see it for sake of keeping our own traditions.

Source: https://ambassadorsfortherisenchristministries.org/2014/07/29/when-did-the-church-the-body-of-christ-begin/ 

Books promoting right division available at: http://pmiministries.com/books.htm

Tithes and Offerings in the Bible

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

The English word tithe comes from the Hebrew “asar” and “ma’aser” and literally means (one) tenth. If you consider yourself a tither, you faithfully give God ten percent of all your gross income.

Now, as simple as it sounds, over the past 4 decades of Christian ministry I’ve found certain men arguing that tithing [1] is NOT applicable in this dispensation so we shouldn’t do it. Believe me when I tell you the spirit I’ve witnessed manifesting itself against tithing is both vigorous and vitriolic. Several years ago I was victimized by the wrath of a Jezebel spirited woman who didn’t tithe and became enraged at my teaching it. Under cover of darkness, she orchestrated a smear campaign involving phone calls and visits to successfully seduce half the members of our small soul winning church into not only believing her lies, but who willingly left with her. [2]

So where does this disagreement over tithing originate?

The main allegation against tithing is a half-truth masked in Biblical legitimacy. It argues that the tithe was included in the OT Mosaic Law, which disqualifies it under grace. While this sounds good to tightfisted brethren, it’s disingenuous at the core.

To begin with, our opponents don’t mention that tithing existed some 400 years BEFORE the Law. Nor do they acknowledge that both tithing and offerings existed under the Law so if you exclude one, you must exclude the other (Deut. 12:6; Mal. 3:8).

First Mention of Tithing

“And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20). The First Mention Principle of hermeneutics, teaches us that the initial appearance of a subject in Scripture tells us how it stands connected in God’s mind throughout the remainder of the Bible. The first mention of tithing occurs when Abraham returned from battle enriched with goods captured from God’s enemies (Gen. 14:1-16) and was met by Melchizedek – a type of Christ.

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20).

Keep in mind Abraham was a man of faith, which God imputed to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). He didn’t respond like so many do today by asking, “Do I HAVE to tithe?” He instinctively knew God blessed him and he couldn’t wait to give ten percent to God’s man to use for God’s ministry.

Make no mistake friend, Abraham’s faith set priorities for his finances and provided a great example for all of his family as witnessed by his grandson Jacob (aka Israel) who continued the practice of giving ten percent (Gen 28:22).

The Tithe is Holy and it belongs to the Lord

“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD” (Leviticus 27:30).

The Mosaic Law incorporated 613 commandments, judgments, and ordinances regulating every aspect of Israel’s existence. Tithes were paid on all income which included the produce of the land (Lev. 27:30), and all cattle in the fields (Lev. 27:32). Tithes paid the salaries of the Levitical priesthood (Num. 18:21; Num. 18:24; Neh. 10:37) who represented Israel before God.

Hear this inconvenient truth before you oppose tithing.

Moses taught that the tithe belonged to the Lord, and thus it was holy (Leviticus 27:30). If both of these are true – that the tithe is holy and belongs to the Lord – then by keeping that which is supposed to be set apart for Him because it belongs to Him – what does that make you?

It makes you a THIEF!

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).

May I remind you that the dispensation of grace does not provide us with an enticement to sin nor does it remove accountability from believers in Christ for our actions. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We are stewards of God’s gifts. Tithing provides faithful stewards a prescribed accountability and accommodation for returning to God a portion of His so great blessing. Therefore, since Abraham demonstrated 400 years before the Law that tithing is the revealed will of God regarding giving, the question is not, “should we tithe?” but rather are we going to obey the will of God as revealed in the Word of God regarding it? Under Moses God’s people were mandated by Law to tithe; under grace we are motivated by Love to tithe. Woe unto those in any dispensation promoting disobedience regarding the holiness and ownership of the tithe.

“Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:9-10).

In closing, God’s Word is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89). That means that when Abraham gave his tithes, Malachi’s warning to those who weren’t tithing already existed in the eternal chambers of God’s mind. Read it again carefully because tithing isn’t under scrutiny here friend, obedience is.

[1] Most of the enemies of tithing I’ve known- and there have been a few- are stoic, stubborn and stingy; they generally don’t give anything to the Lord’s work except headaches and a hard time which they are lavish in bestowing.

[2] I give this as a warning to you. Be careful around people. It is uncanny how slick Satan is when plotting subversive activities. Unbeknownst to me, a sinister team was assembled and phone calls along with personal visits were made to our members trying to convince them I was a crook for teaching tithing. NO ONE receiving calls or visits ever warned me!

Prophecy and Mystery: Right Division Instruction Videos

September 7, 2016 Leave a comment

God’s primary division for studying His Word is hidden in plain sight in the opening verse of Scripture: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Although Bible scholars like Darby, Scofield, Torrey and many others have recognized a number of dispensations two dominant programs God has used since the world began:

1. The Prophecy program for Israel predicting a coming earthly kingdom:

“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21)).

2. The Mystery program for the Body of Christ promising a heavenly inheritance:

“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).

Both of these programs – or dispensations – have separate participants, purposes and ordinances (Jer. 33:25); existing “since the world began” (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25), which more detail will be given later.

Now here’s the essence of right division: God’s plan is to rule earth for one thousand years. In the Providential panorama, all non-Pauline Scripture exists to explain or enhance the prophetic program for Israel leading to the coming King and earthly kingdom.

The Body of Christ is a temporary mystery God set in place at Israel’s rejection of the Messiah which produced Israel’s blindness, to remain here “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). At that point, the Body that appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) will likewise disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).

In short, the plan is underway and the Kingdom is still on!

RIGHT DIVISION INSTRUCTION VIDEOS

Simple right division: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6V73aTObIY

How to Understand the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwOtKMO1h6s

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0OEsGFOMBU&nohtml5=False

Rightly Dividing and Following Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0abp15uLFT8

God’s Three Programs- Time past, but now, ages to come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUhd5kMeHoQ

Complete Bible Overview in one hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVmCChH0MJE

001 Introduction to Right Division: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk0ie_Bzl1g

Hyper Dispensationalism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpgxaj8sXnI

Knowing God’s Timeline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2pq8FRYKI8

Rightly Dividing the Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4GQB4UOpMk

Rightly Dividing of the Dispensations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAy0G9x8EYI

Matthew 24 Explained Rightly Divided Proving PreTribulation Rapture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxIUpkLi7Ck

The Grace Message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH8qy5NCwXw

Standing for the Truth of the Mystery is no easy task: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UMauSZj-Vw

Thy Kingdom Come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii0y0BVpEUQ

Mystery Body of Christ – the Gospel of Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRwStPIDPNs

Only Paul’s Gospel Saves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcTI-T-SJAE

How to Read and Understand your Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAxBpRzhTko&nohtml5=False

What is Satan Thinking About Right Now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWdrQ3yVHa4&nohtml5=False

Peter vs. Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQhaOCKswnk

Video Teaching: Right Division – Prophecy and Mystery

Rightly Dividing Between God’s Two Overarching Programs:
Prophecy and Mystery (scroll down for videos)

Dr. Mike Johnston, Editor

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

God has two overarching programs discussed fully in the videos below: One from prophecy for Israel and earth, and the other from mystery for the Body of Christ and heaven. Both of these programs have separate participants, purposes and ordinances (Jer. 33:25); existing “since the world began” (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25).

In the Providential panorama, all Scripture exists to either explain or enhance the propheticprogram for Israel concerning earth, or the mystery program for the Body of Christ concerning heaven.

The Prophecy program:

“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70). “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” (Acts 3:21).

The Mystery program:

“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).

Videos

How to Understand the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwOtKMO1h6s

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0OEsGFOMBU&nohtml5=False

Rightly Dividing and Following Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0abp15uLFT8

God’s Three Programs- Time past, but now, ages to come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUhd5kMeHoQ

Complete Bible Overview in one hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVmCChH0MJE

Hyper Dispensationalism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpgxaj8sXnI

Knowing God’s Timeline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2pq8FRYKI8

Rightly Dividing the Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4GQB4UOpMk

Rightly Dividing of the Dispensations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAy0G9x8EYI

Matthew 24 Explained Rightly Divided Proving PreTribulation Rapture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxIUpkLi7Ck

The Grace Message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH8qy5NCwXw

Standing for the Truth of the Mystery is no easy task: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UMauSZj-Vw

Thy Kingdom Come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii0y0BVpEUQ

Mystery Body of Christ – the Gospel of Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRwStPIDPNs

Only Paul’s Gospel Saves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcTI-T-SJAE

How to Read and Understand your Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAxBpRzhTko&nohtml5=False

What is Satan Thinking About Right Now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWdrQ3yVHa4&nohtml5=False

Peter vs. Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQhaOCKswnk

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