We are going to begin this sermon in Psalm 50, right where we left off last time. I want to go though a number of things we went through in Part 2 of the Outcome-Based religion. We covered five areas on the Emerging Church, and they are as follows:
1: The principles of Outcome-Based education are at the foundation of the New Paradigm churches. Those principles form a philosophy derived from human speculation, not God's absolutes.
2: The New Paradigm churches are similar in principle to that described by Paul in Colossians 2. They have a show of wisdom, but they do not hold to the Head—Christ. Thus the religions are ineffective in restraining human nature, because the solutions to human spiritual problems lie in the relationship with Christ.
3: The New Paradigm church leaders avoid biblical doctrines they believe will destroy their unity, and their drive toward membership and financial growth.
4: Their worship services are designed to appeal to people's feelings rather than a love for God's truth. Spiritual instruction is largely drawn from psychology and philosophy, with some biblical truth added. From that mix they want people to experience God.
5: Their sin is idolatry. They feel comfortable and justified replacing God's standards with their own. Thus they have placed themselves as God's equal. This explains why they cannot hold to the Head of Colossians 2.
Psalm 50:21-23 These things have you done, and I kept silence; you thought that I was altogether such an one as yourself: but I will reprove you, and set them in order before your eyes. Now consider this, you that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offers praise glorifies me: and to him that orders his conduct aright will I show the salvation of God.
In the June 3 sermon, near the sermon end, I was using Psalm 50 in which God is ripping the Israelites up one side and down the other for what turned out to be a very serious sin. In verse 14 is given the first clear indication of the problem dealt with in this Psalm. It appears in the mention of "thanksgiving" and "pay all your vows."
The lack of thanksgiving toward God is an indication of a major flaw in their attitude toward God. In short, they are proud. Sincere, heart-felt thanksgiving is strong evidence of dependence, indebtedness, and obligation toward Him, and thus humility before Him. Therefore they went through the ritual of making the sacrifices, but there was no heart-felt understanding of what they were doing. Attitude-wise, they were hypocritically playing church.
Now "pay all your vows" is a reference to the obligation that they imposed upon themselves when they agreed to the Old Covenant with God. This means they were not only very proud, but that they also were not keeping the moral law they obligated themselves to when they entered the covenant. Thus, Psalm 50:16-20 provides a menu of sins they seem to have been especially guilty of at the time of the writing of this Psalm.
The overall sin involved here is serious indeed, and it is most clearly revealed in verse 21 when He charges them with thinking and acting as though they and God were all on the same level, that they were equal. "You thought that I was one such as you." They were not openly proclaiming themselves as God with their mouth, but their conduct revealed their heart. Their cup of pride was not merely full—it was running over. This is an example of an extremely serious charge the Israelites have been guilty of on a mass scale at least once before as recorded in the scripture. The sin provides an understanding for why this particular Psalm reveals that God is so angry. God was angry because the sin was so devastating to them.
We are going to go back to Exodus 32. At the mention of this chapter it ought to put things into your mind. Notice the first sentence and see if you can see that in some ways we are in a condition or a position similar to what the Israelites were in at Mount Sinai.
Exodus 32:1-4 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount ["Is Christ delaying His return?"], the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made a molten calf: and they said, These be your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
The sin exposed here is in principle the same as the one spoken of in Psalm 50. The people reconfigured God into something He very much was not. The people in this incident were influenced to return to Egypt spiritually by redefining the concept of the godly truth that Moses had given them. Moses was serving as God's messenger to them. Go to the early chapters of Exodus and you will see that Moses was preaching to those people. Sure enough, when he started preaching, things got worse, but he was laying the truth about God. He was revealing God, and God's purpose to them.
Even Aaron failed to recognize the temptation that was before these people at the foot of Mount Sinai. I think this is a good time to remind us of important points which we need to be reminded of occasionally—a person's conduct reveals who or what his god is. He does not have to tell us. If we are discerning enough, we can tell by what he does, by his conduct.
Exodus 32:25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked [they disrobed themselves while they were "playing"]; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies).
That could be taken two ways. It can be taken physically or spiritually. I think in the "Ten Commandment" movie they went as far as they could physically to show they did not have very much clothing on. Their spiritual nakedness was clearly exposed by what they were doing, because it was showing what was in their heart. They were having an entertaining blast "experiencing god." It was not the God who was on Mount Sinai, but it was the god of their own conception.
Let us add another biblical proof to this.
We are tying this to Exodus 32 and to Psalm 50. What we see in this verse is Satan's game, his modus operandi. It is deception. He makes evil appear to be good, and he makes good appear to be evil. If Satan approached men in a macabre, frightening way, very few people would accept the lies he has to sell. No. He puts a subtle twist on truth to make deception appear logical and right to human nature. Now is it evil to have fun? Absolutely not, but the guidance of truth must also be present.
Let us first examine the context within which Exodus 32 occurred. This was less than two months after being released from their slavery to Egypt—just a few days short of two months. If we are getting near Pentecost, Pentecost is fifty days after the Days of Unleavened Bread, so we are right at the 60-day marker there.
The release from Egypt in turn followed months of preaching by Moses, who was used of God to reveal Him and His way to the Israelite slaves. The Israelites may have forgotten things while they were going through their captivity in Egypt. Not everybody forgot everything. Some remembered, but others did do a great deal of forgetting. To top things off, this rebellion occurred just a few days following their hearing God Himself announce the Ten Commandments, and then they entered into a solemn covenant with Him.
This mass of people had been as close to God as any group of people in the history of mankind. They had no justification for their wild debauchery. But where did they get this golden-calf concept? They got it from the culture they had just left. Who was that culture's originator and designer? It was Satan, of course. Despite what Moses taught the Israelites, Satan managed to sell them on the idea of having a blast while Moses was delayed from returning. Who was holding Moses up? God was. "Moses, I have a few things to say to you." Moses was up there on Mount Sinai for a long time.
Let us add something to this.
Romans 1:21-24 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.
There is a powerful resistance within man against God to think of God as less than He is, and to transfer those thoughts into license to go man's own way in disobedience to God's standards given for his good. In Exodus, they reconfigured God into a beast. In Psalm 50, He was reconfigured into nothing more than a greater man. Well, indeed, that is an improvement over being a beast, but brethren, He is neither a man nor a beast. Regardless, the result is going to be the same. It will lead to conduct shown in Exodus 32, and the remainder of Psalm 50, beginning in verse 16.
This principle of degeneration is why Paul said what he did in Colossians 2. I want us to go back there again. It is so meaningful. Remember, this is where Paul, at the beginning of the chapter, addresses a philosophy. We see philosophies are derived from the speculations of men, and Paul compares it to Christ and His way. In Christ is all the fullness of God's nature.
Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you [trick you, defraud you] of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels [demons], intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.
Colossians 2:23 Which things [the elements of this religion, the philosophies Paul is downgrading here] have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
This in Colossians 2 is important for us to understand in light of the Purpose-Driven Church movement, because that final phrase can be understood in either of two ways. Paul is saying that this philosophy addressed in this chapter is, first, the product of the pride of men. He says that they will not hold to the Head, even as the Israelites did not in Exodus 32. They will not, because they are vainly puffed up. In verse 23 he summarizes and concludes that this religion he is talking about is of no value, that it will be of no help in checking the indulgence of the flesh.
That last phrase—"not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh"—is particularly hard to translate into English. I did some research trying to understand the verse a bit better, and then I made a discovery of sorts. I discovered that modern commentators feel that the King James Version wrongly translates what Paul said here by turning what he wrote into an adversative by using the word "not."
The modern commentators say that rather than saying it is no help in restraining the flesh, they say that Paul said this false religion actually promotes the indulging of the flesh. That is an interesting twist. You might ask why. It is because the practicing of this religion—this philosophy he is talking about—will induce people to feel freer to indulge the flesh because it has a show of wisdom; thus, they become convinced that what they are doing has God's approval, and so they go into it with great zeal.
Were the people in Exodus 32 doing what they were doing with great zeal? Yes they were! I want you to understand that this does not mean the King James Version is really truly wrong, but what the modern commentators are saying is that it actually makes it worse than what the King James is saying.
At this point it is good to remember that when Paul uses the word "flesh" in such a context as this, he is not referring to any particular bodily appetite, whether sex, eating, drinking, or whatever. He is using the term "flesh" for what we today would call "carnality" or "human nature." Thus, he says in another place, "You [Christians] are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if the spirit of God dwells in you." You are still a fleshly human being, but if the spirit of God is in you, you are no longer fleshly in God's eyes, but rather spiritually."
In all of this lies one of the major dangers of these Outcome-Based religious groups, because the religion makes people feel good about themselves. It makes them feel as though they are experiencing God, and thus have God's approval as they are. They will accomplish nothing toward actually holding human nature in check. What a snare Satan has put together! Almost all of the things people lure people into feel good, at first. They are attractive, at first, but the end is pain, and ultimately death. That principle is fitting right into the Outcome-Based religion. They make people feel good and that they have God's approval. They are walking into a velvet-lined trap, which is exactly what Adam and Eve did.
What is going to happen is that those religions will actually promote greater absorption into the world because they are receiving nothing truly corrective from the word of God and a personal relationship with Him. Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." The emphasis is on who is speaking the words, and which words are true. He is the Word of God. The Bible is Jesus displayed in writing. That is where approval from God comes from. The Bible contains the words that Jesus spoke, and the words that Jesus inspired to be written. Brethren, sometimes those words hurt because we are disciplined and challenged by them to make sacrifices.
Whenever you read John 6:63, put the emphasis in the right place. Jesus' words are spirit and life. Satan's words will be spirit, but they will be death. The combination has to be together, and it is the source that determines the right combination.
The Outcome-Based religion's leaders reject God's word whenever they find it will disturb the unity they are seeking. They most certainly do not want to be corrected by it if it will cost them the outcome they have set as their goal. No, brethren, the baseline foundation of all of this, going all the way back to Psalm 50 where God began to upbraid the Israelites for thinking they were doing God a favor by worshiping Him, is that in our relationship with Him, the true God needs absolutely nothing from us. He is so far above us He is out of sight! It is we who need everything from Him.
The purpose of everything He instructs in His word is for our good within the purpose He is working out. The sacrifices that He requires are not to appease Him or provide food for Him, or to make Him feel good because He has us under His thumb. We are before Him to learn and to be corrected so that we can be like Him. They are required to produce qualities of character and understanding in us, thus preparing us to be like Him and for living in His kingdom. However, mankind's pride exalts him into thinking that he is a pretty good person who only needs at best a few nudges here and there, because he is already in pretty good shape spiritually.
I did not come up with that on my own. George Barna's survey of the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of the American religion scene shows that this is how most Americans evaluate themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. God's purpose is serious business, requiring serious changes. Sometimes it is serious, painful discipline by us in order to enhance our relationship with God, and to glorify Him with our lives and to produce changes in us.
By nature, we think so much of ourselves. Our attention is focused so much on the wrong things to satisfy the self that unless we are painfully brought up short, nothing ever changes. Unless we are able to catch an increasingly sharper understanding of God's holiness from His word—and from that relationship expose our filthy spiritual condition in comparison to Him, making us see our guilt—no changes in attitude and character will be produced because no repentance will be produced. Repentance almost invariably begins with guilt.
I do not know whether I ever told you, but before the Feast of Tabernacles in either 1987 or 1989, I was in Palm Springs and I was going to be giving one of the sermons. In a meeting, all the speakers were being addressed by the ranking minister who said, "This is the Feast of Tabernacles. It is time to have fun and enjoy the fellowship." He went on for a few more minutes, and then said, "Do not make the people feel guilty."
I really did not understand fully—as fully as I do now—what he said. It did not sit well with me. I think it struck me the right way. I cannot say that I tried my hardest to make people feel guilty when I gave that sermon, but at the same time I knew that my subject was probably going to step on some people's toes as I was going through it. There is a little addendum to this.
That very evening that Evelyn and I and another couple had dinner with a well-known personality from headquarters whose name you would recognize immediately. In a conversation during the meal, this man said to me, "Where is the persecution going to come from?" He meant the persecution of the church. I have to admit that I backed away from answering him directly, because I knew the answer. I knew the answer from the Bible. I should have said to him, "It is going to come from within. That is Satan's pattern." But I did not. I just kind of mumbled something. That was my sin.
There was a respect-of-persons issue here. I should have respected God more and told him more of the truth. I did not tell him a lie, but it was less of the truth—not as full of an exposure as I should have given him. My subject for the sermon led him to that question. I think if I were put into that situation again I would answer differently.
Now with the Outcome-Based religion folks, instead of the church being an assembly of the fellowship of people of like faith, convicted of sin, reproved, nurtured and built up in the elements necessary for the Kingdom of God, its members are urged to experience God. You have to study into this religion a little bit to understand what they mean.
Experiencing God focuses on people's feelings, not the hard black and white facts of God's spiritual truth. This is one of the major reasons why there is so much music, so many slide programs, people standing with their arms uplifted in prayer, and even dramatic acted-out stage productions associated with their services.
Brethren, do we understand that godly faith has virtually nothing to do with feelings? It has everything to do with facing up to, humbly submitting to, sacrificing for, and living within God's truth. The effect of this is doing the right thing because it is right, not merely because we feel like doing it.
I think you understand that sometimes doing the right thing goes against what we feel we would like to do. It may be emotionally painful, scary, and humbling to do the right thing because it is right, rather than just going along with the crowd to not be embarrassed. That was what was driving me at that meal that night. It was not the best that my feelings drove me at that time, and so I qualified my answer from what it really should have been. It is very likely if I had told this man straight up, he would have taken it. He would have taken it, and maybe he would have said something to somebody later on, "Oh, Ritenbaugh feels that the trouble is going to come from within," and that probably would have been the end of it. I was driven by my feelings rather than doing what was right because it was right.
The Outcome-Based religious leaders go to great lengths to insure that their services are a positive-feeling experience. The feeling principle is not entirely wrong in itself, but what is wrong is that they go to great lengths to make sure there is nothing but positive experience and no feelings of guilt. This eventually creates an atmosphere of Christian political correctness. No instruction is given against any individual or group, warning the members of heresy that is out there or is to come.
In a future sermon, we are going to see that they want everybody to be happy and tolerant, always to protect their unity. And so as the congregation grows, it will become staffed with what they call "Christian counselors," schooled in what they call "Christian psychology" to meet the needs of people frustrated and searching for answers to today's complex questions. They will make little effort to turn people to the simple instruction and answers in that ancient document we call "the Word of God."
They do not urge people to find truth and strength to overcome within a one-on-one relationship with their Creator and Savior through study, prayer, and meditation, but within themselves, and largely through psychology. The developers of this brand of religion do not really consider the Word of God as a valid source to develop a viable relationship with God and each other.
The quote I am now going to give you appeared in the Charlotte Observer newspaper. The author was from South Carolina. This was in a letter to the editor. He said,
If the Bible is the guideline for doctrine and practice, shouldn't all denominations take the same position? But then there would not be different denominations, would there? Do you suppose taking what you want and discarding the rest is really an option that God recognizes?
He hit the nail right on the head! God does not recognize that. This is what the Outcome-Based religion's folk have done. They turn to man's behavioral sciences, and things like management by objectives, and general systems theory. The leaders have borrowed a system from the government's education system and the business world that works to produce optimal church membership growth, and what they call "community." This thing about "community" will become part of the next sermon. That is their word for unity, but it has interesting uses in other areas going on in other organizations elsewhere. They have salted their system with religious terminology and subordinated all else to THEIR desired outcome.
II Peter 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you who privately [or secretly] shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation [judgment] slumbers not.
These are very interesting statements that we could apply to this time, but I just want you to see the overall principle that Peter is talking about. Let us go back to I Timothy 4:1-2 and connect these two passages together.
I Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons; [Remember the principle of Colossians 2.] Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
Satan's pattern to destroy the people of God, whether Israel under the Old Covenant or the church under the New, has ever been the same. It always involves a measure of infiltration from the inside, combined with a very attractive but distracting sensuous culture impacting externally from worldly culture.
In this day and age of mass communication, by means of a wide variety of media such as radio, television, and printed material, Satan no longer has to actually place a person within a congregation to weaken and possibly destroy it. He infiltrates the people through the media in combination with the cultural enticement. That is how he gets people on the inside, and so we need to be very careful, especially in religious areas and in cultural philosophy.
In I Timothy 4:1, the word "depart" is taken from the Greek word that is the root of our English word "apostasy." My Study Bible defines "apostasy" as "the deliberate departure from the Christian way following a previous profession of faith in it." In other words, the world really is not apostatizing, not according to this definition, because they have never really been in the truth. They can apostatize from one Christian group to another, but I think you know what I mean by the word "Christian." I mean those calling themselves Christian.
The Bible specifically applies this word "apostasy" as "a departure from the true faith." This is what the leaders of the New Paradigm churches have done. They have apostatized, thus branding themselves hypocrites as well. They did not apostatize from the true church, they just apostatized from the Christian religion or group that they were part of before in order to form a Christian group of a new pattern. I will give you an example.
Do you know that the Saddleback Community Church in Anaheim, California is really part and parcel of the Southern Baptist Convention? That is what they used to be, and technically they are still a part of it. However, theologically, they are no longer anywhere close to the Southern Baptist Convention. They have apostatized from it in forming these New Paradigm churches' Outcome- Based religion.
Very interesting things have taken place. Since they went from the Southern Baptist Convention to the New Paradigm church Outcome-Based religion, that congregation has grown and mushroomed in growth in numbers. It works, if that is the outcome that you desire. But you see, they accomplished it by apostatizing from the Christian group they had all before given their commitment to.
Now since part of the outcome they desire, along with church membership growth, is increased financial growth, it gives evidence that they have made merchandise of the brethren as well. Therefore, through the exploitation of the people, they are selling them "down the river," as we might say today. I want to show you there is an example in God's Word even of this sort of thing.
Numbers 31:15-16 And Moses said unto them, Have you saved all the women alive? [He gave an order. The people did not follow it.] Behold, these [the women] caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
Moses is referring to an event recorded a few chapters earlier when Israel was led into a mass participation of sin instigated by the counsel of the false prophet Balaam. Let us look in Numbers 25 where that sin is briefly described.
Numbers 25:1-5 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay you every one his men that were joined unto Baal-peor.
The fornication named here includes both the actual physical act of intercourse with Moabite women, and also the national spiritual fornication of forsaking God and His way in order to worship Baal—the god of the Moabites.
There is a second example we find from history of the early church. It is a vivid example of how the pattern of apostasy works. The religion in the culture surrounding the true church was heavily sprinkled with true Christian terminology. Word definition, terminology, and practices, though, were either Jewish and/or Gnostic. We are talking about the first century here, and about three religious groups. There is the true church, there is Judaism, and there is Gnosticism.
Gnosticism's roots were in Babylon, and it was a pagan occult religion at its very foundation. However, many Jews were attracted to Gnosticism. The Jews' contact with Gnosticism began during their captivity in Babylon many centuries before, and out of this association was born the Jewish mysticism called "Kabbalah." You can read of that. It still exists to this day. Thus Gnosticism became mixed with Judaism, and a twisted biblical connection was made because the Jews in Kabbalah also believed certain aspects of the Old Testament. We are finding that this mixture existed in the first century along with the true Church.
When Christianity was born under Jesus of Nazareth and the apostles, the Gnostics stole His name when they began to find out how popular it was. They applied much Christian terminology to their religion. They twisted those term's meanings while blending them together with their occult pagan beliefs. Therefore, we have Gnosticism (which is really demonism), occultism, and Christian terminology mixed right within it.
Here is an example of how it works. This is very simple. When you—a Christian—hear the term "Messiah," of what or whom did you think? Do you not think of Jesus Christ returning in His glory to establish the Kingdom of God? Now, what if a Jew hears the same word? What does he associate with Messiah? He most certainly does not associate Jesus of Nazareth. He associates a human being anointed of God to deliver the Jewish people. That is all there is. Same term, different concepts entirely.
Now, what if you have dozens and dozens of terms like this that would naturally attract a person, let us say, who was interested in Christianity, and he would hear this coming from Gnostics or Jews? There is the terminology. The Outcome-Based religions are doing much the same thing. They use terminology that you and I would relate to different concepts. It means different things to them from what it does to you and me. This is a well-established propaganda form.
I will give you another example. In the days that Communism was growing within Russia, and they were trying to spread the concept of Marxism all over the world in order to attract unsuspecting people—many of them Westerners, Israelitish-type people—they would use terminology that we are quite familiar with. One of their favorite ones was that they were a democracy. "Democracy" to them meant a communist dictatorship in which the government owned property, whereas to the Western mind, democracy meant a Republic with an elected representative government, property held privately by the individual, and included great numbers of private rights and privileges as a citizen. It is part of the dialectic process, which we may get to in the next sermon.
Of the most prominent of religions that were part of the scene in which the early New Testament church was involved, the one that became most notable of all was the one that became the Roman Catholic Church. It began as one of the many pagan religions derived from Babylonian Mithraism, but it picked up a few things from Gnosticism, except for the outright Occultism.
The Roman Catholic Church rapidly became a sophisticated pagan philosophy using Christ's name and Christian terminology. It also twisted word meanings as well, and employed some teachings derived from and about the true transcendent all-powerful God and His Savior Son. However, the church members exposed their false spirituality because the conduct of their membership did not match the purity of God's spirit. They have the name. Do you know, that to this day, the Catholic Church calls itself the Church of God? That is their official name, and then they attached "Universal" to it. They became the largest church in the Roman Empire, and eventually became the one appointed by Constantine as the official state religion.
You see, they called themselves "Christian" to the public, and they dominated the empire for centuries. When their dominance began, the Dark Ages began. That is the fruit of their rule—their rule through the emperors.
I want to give a summary of what we have accomplished in this sermon.
1: The foundational sin of the Purpose-Driven churches is idolatry as is seen in their easy rejection of any God-given doctrine that stands in the way of the goals they pursue, because those doctrines would destroy their conception of unity, which they frequently call "comm-unity."
2: This seems right to them, but we must remember that Satan's modus operandi is deception. He subtly twists in order to make evil appear good, and good to appear evil.
3: Much of the thrust of their approach is to touch people's feelings, urging them in mostly theatrical and psychological ways to experience God.
4: Satan's pattern of destruction is to infiltrate from within, while at the same time enticing and distracting externally through the surrounding culture he and his fellow demons also devised.
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