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Our Authority

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:6, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” In this verse he is telling the church of Corinth that he and Apollos have made a standard for themselves not to exceed what is written. He is now telling the church of Corinth to follow their example. What was written? The scriptures. Clearly the Word of God is our authority that we are not to exceed or go beyond.

Paul also wrote in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” When one looks at this text in its original language they will see that the literal meaning of “inspired by God” means “God breathed.” God used many men to write down His word but all Scripture comes directly from the breath of God. It is God’s word not mans. II Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” For anyone to go beyond what is written is arrogant, boastful, and blasphemous. God has given to us His word “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (I Peter 1:19).

Paul said that Scripture is profitable. He then listed several things it was profitable for. Since it is profitable we will gain and increase through the study of the Word of God which is God breathed. The end result we gain from Scripture is “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Through God’s word we have everything we will ever need to be thoroughly equipped for service unto Him.

Paul first mentions that Scripture is profitable for teaching. When we are taught, the teaching must be centered in Scripture. When we teach, our teaching must be centered in Scripture. He then says that scripture is profitable for reproof. To reproof someone is to call them out for an error or a wrong. When calling one out for being wrong or for an error in their lives or teaching we must use Scripture. Our opinions are always susceptible to being wrong. However, Scripture is always right. Paul then said Scripture is profitable for correction. Correction is restoration to an upright position. We don’t want to be reproved and not know how to correct the error of our way. Scripture brings us back into the right path, out of the error. It corrects us.

Paul then tells us that Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness. Romans 3:10 tells us that, “there is no one righteous, not even one.” Most everyone will admit that they are a sinner. However, not everyone knows the guilt of their unrighteousness. Scripture makes it clear. Romans 3:22 then tells us that we receive righteousness by placing our faith in Christ and Romans 3:26 tells us that faith in Christ justifies us-makes us right with God. Yet, how will we or anyone else know these truths apart from the authority of God’s word? We won’t. And, apart from Scripture, how will we grow in righteousness? We won’t.

Whether it is for our personal growth, or teaching others, we trust in the authority of God’s breathed word. Paul said not to go beyond what it written. If we were to go beyond what is written it will profit us nothing and more than likely will cause great harm. However, when we trust in the authority of the written word that was breathed from God with our lives and our ministry we will be adequately equipped for every good work. In other words, we will be lacking in nothing.

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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Know the Word

             The number one excuse I hear people use for not sharing their faith and serve God is fear. We will discuss that in a moment. The second greatest reason people give is that they do not know God’s word. My question is, why not? Why do you not know the Word of God? Do you not own a bible? The majority of churches in this world will gladly give you a bible for free. The Gideon’s give millions of bibles away yearly; therefore, not owning a bible is not a valid excuse. Even those who cannot read are without excuse since the bible is readily available in audio.

Not only is the bible readily available in our modern world we are blessed to have unlimited accesses to some of the greatest bible scholars along with an abundance of wonderful study materials. Therefore, not knowing the bible is a poor excuse. It represents laziness and callousness on your part. I Timothy 4:7 tells us to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” If you don’t know God’s word you have only yourself to blame.

The excuse of fear is invalid as well. Fear is a lack of faith. Romans 10:17 tells us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” When we study the Word of God, God builds up our faith. I have seen Christians who have sat in church pews for decades that are still babes in Christ. I have also seen brand new believers rapidly grow and mature in their faith. What makes the difference? One is indulging in the word and the other is not.

As already discussed, Satan is a liar. He is not only a liar; he is a very good liar with thousands of years of experience. When he came as a serpent to deceive Eve in the garden the bible describes him as, “more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” However, Satan’s only power over us is his lies. Therefore, if we know the Word of God, and stand firm on the Word of God, we have no reason to fear the lies of the devil.

Colossians 2:8 warns us to, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Satan’s false prophets are in abundance. They look Christian; they might even speak some Christian truths from time to time. But, the consistency of their message will drastically conflict with that of God’s. The root of their message is deadly and destructive. But, how will we know unless we know the word of God?

The Greek word translated into “spoil” in Colossians 2:8 literally means to “carry you off” or to “capture you.” In other words, Colossians 2:8 is warning us not to become a “spoil” of war captured and taken away. HBCS translates it this way, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” Satan would love nothing more than to capture you as a spoil of war. However, if you know the word you will not be tricked by philosophy or empty deceit of the traditions of man. You will stand firm in victory through your faith in God’s truth-His word.

Not only do we stand firm in the truth of God’s word, we also fight the good fight with it. It is our greatest tool to defeat the lies of Satan and win over those who have been taken captive. II Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” What better way do we have to make a defense of our faith in Christ than “the word of God (that) is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart?” (Hebrews 4:12).

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Posted by on November 20, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Dealing with False Prophets

In Revelation Jesus told John to write to the seven churches in Asia. The first of those churches was the church of Ephesus. (Revelation 2:1-7).  Jesus praised this church for putting to the test those who called themselves apostles and were not. By proving that they were not apostles and indeed false prophets they protected the integrity and true teaching of the church. We also find Paul in II Timothy 6:20 instructing Timothy to “guard what has been entrusted to you.”  What was Timothy entrusted to? What did he need to guard? The church. Timothy was the pastor of the church of Ephesus. Guarding and protecting the church from false teachers was planted in Ephesus DNA from its very beginning. For this reason, Jesus praised the church.

We test those who claim that they are of God with the authority of God’s word. If they fail to line up with God’s word they are false prophets. Let’s be clear though. We can have doctrinal differences with other Christians who are truly Christians. We simply disagree on certain subjects. One can believe in a pre-tribulation rapture while the other believes in a mid or post-tribulation rapture and another doesn’t believe there will even be rapture at all. I am a very solid pre-tribulationist. I personally believe that the pre-tribulation rapture is abundantly clear in scripture. Does this mean that I should view anyone who believes otherwise as a false prophet? Of course not. Christians can and will disagree on a variety of issues. However, a false prophet is one who denies the fundamentals of the faith such as the person and the work of Christ, along with the means and method of salvation. Once we have determined who is a false prophet we must then ask the question, “How do we deal with those who are sheep in wolves clothing; those who claim to be of God and are not?

First, don’t get distracted. Paul told Timothy to, “avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” II Timothy 6:20-21. If Satan can’t trick us into his lies he will try to distract us from sharing truth. He is perfectly happy with us stomping out embers as long as we are ignoring the forest that is ablaze. If this happens he still wins. If we get caught up into debating “worldly and empty chatter” rather than proclaiming the truth of God’s word we are losing that battle. We must stay focused on the task at hand. When dealing with false prophets, stick to the simplicity of the gospel.

One of Satan’s greatest distractions is to try and bring guilt upon the proclaimer of truth. When the proclaimer of truth calls a false prophet out for being false the devil will say, “You are being judgmental and Jesus said we shouldn’t judge.” However, within the context of scripture that Jesus said “Judge not least you be judged” (Matthew 7:1) He also said, “Beware of false prophets.” (Matthew 7:15). Don’t bother acknowledging the lies, stick with the truth, for the truth will set you free.

Secondly, although we do not need to be distracted by their deceit we need to pay attention to their deceit. Paul said in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned.” How is their deceit impacting our witness? How is their deceit impacting non believers? How is their deceit impacting the church? When we understand their deceit we are better equipped to counter act it with truth. In the mid 90’s I spent some time in Salt Lake City. Prior to going I studied what Mormons teach and believe. As a result I was better equipped to share the truth of God’s word. Because of this I saw many place their faith and trust in the Jesus of the bible-the true Jesus. Does this mean that we need to become intimately familiar with every lie Satan ever told? Of course not. He is such a great liar I doubt that is even possible. It does mean that we should be intimately familiar with the Word of God. God’s word is truth. The greatest way to counteract a lie is with the truth.

Lastly, we need to turn away from false prophets. Paul continued in Romans 16:17-18 in saying, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites.” Paul said to turn away from them. We should have nothing to do with them. When the true church disassociates itself from those who are false we make a clear and distinct statement, stating, “We are not of you and you are not of us.” Some would say that this is unloving. However, when we do not make a clear and bold statement of disassociation we are in danger of making others think we are in acceptance of the lies which makes them much more susceptible to receiving it which sets them up for destruction. Which is more unloving? If they choose to repent from the lie and turn to the truth, we will receive them.

Our heart should be as God’s heart, not wishing that any should parish and that all would come to repentance. However, when our clear testimony of truth has been presented and they refuse to come to the truth and are set on following the lust of their flesh rather than the truth of God’s word we sever ties, especially if they are in our churches. The time must come when we wipe the dust off our feet and move on. We continue to pray that the seeds of truth that was planted continue to work in their lives bringing them to the truth.

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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Satan is a Liar

As an active witness for the Lord we must remember two great truths, first God’s word is always true, second Satan is always a liar. From the beginning of time Satan the liar has tried to disprove God’s word. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden giving them the freedom to eat of every tree in the garden with one exception. God said to Adam in Genesis 2:17, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Eve knew the command and the warning of God. However, Satan came with his lies to convince her that God was holding out on her. Satan the liar tried to convince Eve that God was the liar. He said to her in Genesis 3:4, “You surly will not die.” He directly contradicted God. We know the rest of the story; therefore, we know who tells the truth and who the liar is. Jesus Himself said of Satan in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Satan’s tactics have not changed. He will first try to convince people through his lies that God’s word is not true. If he cannot succeed in this tactic he will then try to twist and warp God’s word removing the truths of God with lies that Paul calls, “doctrines of demons.” (I Timothy 4:1). God’s word time and again warns us of those who proclaim these lies of Satan. The bible calls them false prophets.

When dealing with these false prophets we must remember our truths, God’s word is always true and Satan is always a liar. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Satan is the author of the lie; the false prophets are simply believers of and proclaimers of the lie. Does this make them innocent? Of course not. This simply reminds us of the essence of our battle. It is a spiritual battle with spiritual implications rather than a physical battle. Our struggle is against Satan and his demons, not his false prophets. God’s heart is to win over those who have believed the lie. Not to destroy them. If they choose not to repent from the lie, the lie will destroy them.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” In other words, just because they look and act Christian doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. We need to listen to what they are proclaiming and ask ourselves, “Does it line up with the consistency of scripture?” In John’s warning of false prophets he tells us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1). How do we try or test these false prophets to see if they are wolves in sheep’s clothing? With the Word of God! Does their message line up with God’s word or does it directly contradict it?

Again, remember our truths, God’s word is always true, and Satan is always a liar. In the fact that God’s word is always true, God’s word never contradicts itself. One extreme of the lies of Satan is that one must do good works and deeds in order to be saved. Satan will lie to them telling them that they have to earn their salvation by the works that they do. This clearly is a contradiction of Satan. Scripture after scripture tells us that we are saved by faith and not of works.(John 3:16, Romans 3:22, 3:24, 3:26, 3:28-30, 4:3, 4:5, 4:11, 4:16, 5:1, 5:9, 9:30, 9:33, 10:4, 10:9-10, 11:6, Galatians 2:16, 2:21, 3:5-6, 3:8, 3:14, 3:22, 3:24, Ephesians 1:13, 2:8, Philippians 3:9, I Timothy 1:16). Titus 3:5 tells us that we are not even saved by acts of righteousness. The clear consistent teaching of God’s word is that we are saved by faith. Faith plus anything equals nothing.

The other extreme in Satan’s deception is that God is okay with sin when the consistency of God’s word says He clearly is not. Satan will lie and tell people that they can live in sin and be in right relationship with God. However, I John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Satan will even go so far as to try and redefine what sin is and is not. However, God’s word is clear as to what sin is and is not.

Paul said in II Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” I have no doubt that this time has come and that this is the day that we are living in. As faithful stewards of God’s word we must stand firm on the truths of God’s word. We are the light bearers of the truth. If we stop bearing that truth and cower down to the masses the world will live hopelessly in the dark.

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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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God’s Word is Powerful

How many times have you heard a sermon or sat in a bible study and never heard the Word of God proclaimed? The preacher or teacher may dance all around the truths of God’s word but if the Word of God is never proclaimed the teaching and preaching is incomplete. God said in Isaiah 55:11, “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” This promise is for the Word of God, and not our own. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God’s word is powerful all by itself. Our opinions, ideas, and illustrations are nothing compared to the power of God’s double edged sword. It must be proclaimed. Powerful preaching is immersed in the Word of God. It is The Word of God that is powerful-not our own.

Paul told Timothy to “preach the word.” (II Timothy 4:2). If I am going to proclaim the truths of God, what other choices do I have? None! God has given to us His word to let us know who He is, who we are, where we have come from, and how we turn to and trust in Him. He has given to us His word to let us know His standards, His statutes, and His requirements for our lives. He has given to us His word so we can know Him. Apart from the Word of God we would know none of these wonderful truths.

Not proclaiming God’s word is as foolish as a food critic describing the meal he ate without telling you what he ate, who the chef was, or the restaurant in which he ate the meal. Whether we are witnessing one on one, leading a small study group, or preaching to the masses, we must proclaim God’s word. Our word cannot penetrate the heart of the hearer and can often be misunderstood leading others astray. When we point others to the author of not only the bible but their very lives we are pointing them to the very one who can rewrite and renew their lives.

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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Follow Me

             Repentance means to turn away from something. It is making a u-turn, going the opposite direction from where you were going. Repenting from sin is turning away from the sin. Biblical repentance not only requires us to turn from sin, it calls us to turn to Jesus. Repeatedly throughout the gospels Jesus says, “Follow Me.”

Biblical faith in Jesus isn’t just believing facts about Jesus it is also following Him. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Although Satan probably won’t admit it, he believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He was there. He saw it. Too many people today have a Christmas and Easter type of faith. They believe the facts of Christ but have never committed their lives to following Him. I am a huge Mustang fan. For this reason I know all kinds of facts about men who influenced Mustangs like, Lee Iacocca, Carroll Shelby, and Steve Saleen. Yet, I have never met any of them. I have never had a personal relationship with them. I do however know Jesus, because I have committed myself to following Him.

Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Clearly we need to believe the facts about Jesus. God did raise Him from the dead and that should be our foundation of faith. However, that alone isn’t good enough. Along with our foundation of faith we are to confess Jesus as Lord. This is our statement of faith. If Jesus is Lord over our lives we follow Him every day in every way.

In the tenth chapter of Mark we find one who obviously had great respect for Jesus. He came to Jesus knelt before Him and called Him “good teacher.”  He inquired of Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him that he needed to keep the law. The young man quickly responded to Jesus that he has kept the law since his youth. Jesus then told him to go sell everything you own, give it to the poor, and follow me. Jesus was showing him that he hasn’t really kept the law. Although he had respect for Jesus, he was unwilling to obey Jesus and unwilling to follow Him. Many people in our world today have great respect for Jesus, yet they too are unwilling to obey Him and follow Him.

Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” Notice that He said “you must.” The requirement for following Jesus is denying yourself and taking up your cross. We need to remember that the cross was an instrument of death. It was the form of execution for the day. In other words Jesus is saying if we are going to follow Him we must die to self and follow Him. We need to have more than just respect for Jesus. We must have total surrender; a surrender that leads to denying ourselves and obedient service of Him. Jesus said we must.

While sharing the gospel with the lost we must make it abundantly clear that if they chose to accept Christ as their savior and Lord they are entering into a lifetime commitment. We need to make it clear that this walk should impact and influence every area of their lives. We have way too many Sunday-go-to-meetin Christians in our society who don’t mind going to church on Sunday morning but won’t allow Jesus to impact their daily lives.

We need to clearly communicate the fact that entering into a relationship with Jesus is a onetime decision. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” At the same time we need to clearly communicate the fact that following Jesus is a commitment that is renewed daily. Paul also said in I Corinthians 15:31, “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”

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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Faith Alone

             The Word of God is extraordinarily clear that we are saved simply by placing our faith in the person and works of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” By faith we believe that the blood Jesus shed cleanses us from all unrighteousness, freeing us from the power of sin and death, and gives us everlasting life. By faith we enter into relationship with God denying ourselves in pursuit of His will and His way as Lord of our lives. We walk by faith and not by site faithfully following Jesus on this earth knowing we are here but a short while awaiting eternal joy and bliss with Him and through Him.

There have been some since the beginning of Christianity that have tried to add works to the grace of God. Paul told both Timothy and Titus to speak out boldly against such false teachers. Paul also told the church of Galatia in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Anyone who adds anything to grace as a requirement for salvation falls under the category of being accrued. God takes tampering with His gospel very seriously.

Even deeds of righteousness are not sufficient to save us. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” If anyone adds any requirement for salvation above and beyond faith in Christ they are a false prophet. Even if it’s righteous deeds such as baptism, using spiritual gifts, church membership, or anything of the like. Yes, these are righteous deeds of God. However, they are intended for those who are saved; not a means to Salvation. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

Salvation by faith alone through grace alone is a fundamental truth for biblical salvation. It is what makes Christianity, Christianity. Every other religion in the world is rooted in works where people have to make their own path to God through their good works. However, the bible says that no one is good, not even one. For this reason Jesus came down to this earth to pay the price for us and lead us to the Father. He and He alone is our salvation. He is our way. Only by faith in Him are we saved.

When sharing our faith we need to make this abundantly clear. If we are not carful we can lead people astray into a works based mindset by telling them that they need to go to church, read their bibles, and pray, but never share the fact that they need to believe in Jesus for salvation. Yes, we tell people of the importance of going to church, of reading their bibles, and of praying. We should even encourage it. However, we let them know that this is not a means to salvation and that only faith in Christ saves us.

I have seen and heard many well meaning Christians lead people astray. They come across people who are hurting and searching for a way out of the mess that their lives have become. The Christian will then says something like, “You need to start going to church,” without ever communicating the gospel. Sure, they need to come to church. However, going to church will not save them. Yes, they can get saved at church. They can also sit in church for years without accepting Christ as their Savior thinking their works of church attendance is sufficient. After all, that’s all they were told they needed to do.  I believe this is the very reason many of our churches are full of unsaved people who are committed to church attendance but are not committed to Jesus.

I have also seen and heard well meaning Christians lead people astray that desire to be delivered from sin. The Christian will give the advice to the sinner that they need to read their bible more or pray harder. I have even heard Christians tell sinners that they need to think positive thought when they are being tempted. The bible is clear, only the blood of Jesus can deliver us from our sin. One needs to simply believe.

We are saved by faith alone. As Christians we do Christian acts, such as going to church, reading our bibles, and praying. We don’t do those things for salvation, but as a result of our salvation. Anything contrary will lead people into a false doctrine that is dangerous and deadly. We are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, period.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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