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Friday: Further Thought ~ Seeing the Goldsmith’s Face — 22 Comments

  1. In the beginning, God created man in his image.

    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen 1:27 KJV

    As a result of the fall, man lost that image, and the battle between good and evil has always been about the restoration of the image of God in us.

    Paul describes this process eloquently:

    But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 1 Cor 3:18 KJV

    Significantly, the restoration of the image of God in us is not something we can do for ourselves, but rather something that God accomplishes in use when we allow him by faith.

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  2. Never was any previous #generation# called to meet issues so momentous; never before were young men and young women confronted by perils so great as confront them today.” — Ellen G. White, Education, p. 225.

    Sister Ellen White quoted that in around 1890s, I wonder what she would say today in 2022 ?
    4 generations later ! ?

    Or has it always been the issue for judgement ?

    Hebrews 9:27
    ----
    Study asks:
    As a class, talk about the question of why character building is important, even if we are saved by faith alone in Jesus. If His righteousness and His perfect character are what saves us, then why do we need to develop character?

    Reply:
    God in his powerful and wonderful wisdom aka His WORD/Jesus, designed all things, and every creature
    # fit for a purpose #.
    The created thing blesses and supports other things.
    An apple tree does not feed itself, it gives to others freely.

    Same with God's perfected son's and daughter's, he makes them fit for purpose, to bless and support the body of Christ and support God's works as a loving family.

    Hebrews 2:6
    Psalms 8:4-6

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  3. Today's lesson raises "the question of why character building is important, even if we are saved by faith alone in Jesus. If His righteousness and His perfect character are what saves us, then why do we need to develop character?"

    This is a very valid question because it reflects a widespread misunderstanding of what salvation actually is and therefore what salvation involves. Because salvation has been presented as a substitution, there is a common misperception that it is predominantly about Jesus giving us His merits (ie, His righteousness and His perfect character) like someone might give their ticket to a movie or sporting event to you that then merely show at the door or gate and gain entrance. This is similar to common misperception of what "by faith alone" means - that we merely need to trust that Jesus has a valid ticket and will give it to us so that we can merely display it.

    If that is the misperception, what is the reality? I will summarise as follows:

    1) There is only one way, or basis upon which, abundant life is able to be viably lived.

    2) That basis is living in accordance with a heart-desire (your deepest, core motivating principle) that is committed to genuinely loving/benefiting others (Philippians 2:3-4; . This basis is so foundational that Ellen White has described it as "the law (the foundational principle) of life for earth and in heaven" that (even) "has it's source in the heart of God". Note that Ellen states that it is the law, not merely a law and that it is also the law within God's heart (1 John 4:7-8).

    3) Adam and Eve were living in accordance with this law/principle prior to entrance of sin. However, when they embraced sin (lawlessness) - which is the contrasting motivation of self-seeking (Genesis 3:6) - their character was 'terminally corrupted'.

    4) The only way this 'terminal corruption', or 'death state' (Ephesians 2:1-3) can be fixed is to have it restored back to it's former living state once again. This cannot happen by merely 'winding the clock back' but instead involves 'renovation' that is so extensive that it is referred to as rebirth (John 3:3-6).

    5) This ground up renovation of us, otherwise known as the re-formation of our character (which is the essence of who you are), is something that in and of ourselves we are powerless to and therefore incapable of undertaking. But at the same time it is something we must necessarily be involved in - because it is the rebuilding of us (you, me).

    6) While we are incapable of undertaking this, God is able to provide all that we lack in order to enable this rebuilding. Thus the rebuilding is a collaborative partnership where God is leading, guiding and empowering us to retrain ourselves in how we live. And it is in the course of this retraining process that 'crucible' experiences occur and provide us with the necessity of choosing how we will respond - beneficently (lovingly) or self-seekingly.

    Yes, salvation is by faith in God because only God can provide all the resourcing needed for the renovation of us/our character back to Christlikeness - the original state of humanity at creation. And yes, it is His (Christ's) righteousness and His 'perfect' character that saves us - but only to the extent that our character reflects Christlikeness*.

    This is how and why character development is not just important but vitally essential even though salvation is by faith in Jesus capacity to facilitate salvation within us via assisting us to develop a character that, once again, reflects His (ie, is authentically Christlike).

    --------
    * Earlier this week, Shirley de Beer correctly noted that the parable of the 10 virgins is also unpacked in final chapter of Christ's Object Lessons entitled To Meet the Bridegroom. I would invite those who are interested to prayerfully read relevant parts of that chapter in light of what I have proposed and see for yourself whether what I am saying has merit or not.

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    • Thank you for sharing your viewpoint, Phil.

      You wrote that, "Because salvation has been presented as a substitution, there is a common misperception that it is predominantly about Jesus giving us His merits... " thereby implying that that is what the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches. That is not correct, because our teaching includes both substitution and character development - referenced as "justification" and "sanctification."

      Part of the Seventh-day Adventist teaching on salvation, according to the official church website goes like this:

      He demonstrated just how much He loves us by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die in humanity’s place, to bear the ultimate punishment sin brings (Romans 6:23, John 3:16).

      The very next paragraph suggests there is more to salvation:

      The option is ours. We can succumb to sin and choose to live for ourselves, or we can choose to accept Jesus’ sacrifice, follow Him, and get to know Him. And if we choose Him, He promises to guide us with His Holy Spirit and will never forsake us.

      The above is commentary, and the official teaching regarding justification/substitution goes like this:
      [Please note the text references given.]

      9. The Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ
      In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator.

      This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness.

      The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The bodily resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement, assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow.

      (Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22:1; Isa. 53; John 3:16; 14:30; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.)

      Even in Fundamental Belief #9 we have the suggestion that "The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. Thus the difference between Adventist teachings and what you propose is that you propose that the transformation of life (i.e. sanctification) is all there is to salvation, and church teaching, based on Scripture, is that salvation is composed of both substitution (of Christ's death instead of ours) aka justification and transformation of character through the Holy Spirit, aka sanctification.

      Fundamental Beliefs #10 and 11 are more explicit:

      10. The Experience of Salvation
      In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God.

      Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, Substitute and Example. This saving faith comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace.

      Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life.

      Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment.

      (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 45:22; 53; Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 33:11; 36:25-27; Hab. 2:4; Mark 9:23, 24; John 3:3-8, 16; 16:8; Rom. 3:21-26; 8:1-4, 14-17; 5:6-10; 10:17; 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Gal. 1:4; 3:13, 14, 26; 4:4-7; Eph. 2:4-10; Col. 1:13, 14; Titus 3:3-7; Heb. 8:7-12; 1 Peter 1:23; 2:21, 22; 2 Peter 1:3, 4; Rev. 13:8.)

      11. Growing in Christ
      By His death on the cross, Jesus triumphed over the forces of evil. He who subjugated the demonic spirits during His earthly ministry has broken their power and made certain their ultimate doom.

      Jesus’ victory gives us victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us, as we walk with Him in peace, joy, and assurance of His love. Now the Holy Spirit dwells within us and empowers us. Continually committed to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, we are set free from the burden of our past deeds.

      No longer do we live in the darkness, fear of evil powers, ignorance, and meaninglessness of our former way of life. In this new freedom in Jesus, we are called to grow into the likeness of His character, communing with Him daily in prayer, feeding on His Word, meditating on it and on His providence, singing His praises, gathering together for worship, and participating in the mission of the Church.

      We are also called to follow Christ’s example by compassionately ministering to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of humanity. As we give ourselves in loving service to those around us and in witnessing to His salvation, His constant presence with us through the Spirit transforms every moment and every task into a spiritual experience.

      (1 Chron. 29:11; Ps. 1:1, 2; 23:4; 77:11, 12; Matt. 20:25-28; 25:31-46; Luke 10:17-20; John 20:21; Rom. 8:38, 39; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18; Gal. 5:22-25; Eph. 5:19, 20; 6:12-18; Phil. 3:7-14; Col. 1:13, 14; 2:6, 14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:16-18, 23; Heb. 10:25; James 1:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:18; 1 John 4:4.)

      We generally call the substitutionary aspect of the ministry of Christ "justification." We teach that it is our "title to heaven." (See, for instance Signs of the Times, May 2, 1892. When we are "in Christ," His righteousness stands in place of ours (substitution) since He died the death that should have been ours. We stand in a new relation to God that enables us to be victorious over sin. (Rom. 6:3, Rom. 6:23, Rom. 8:1. 2 Cor. 5:17, 2 Cor. 5:19, Gal. 2:16, Eph. 2:6, Eph. 3:10-12, Phil. 3:9, 2 Tim. 1:9)

      Sanctification is how we speak of what beliefs #10 and 11 describe. It is seen as our "fitness for heaven." And that is what you appear to propose as the totality of salvation. (No need to go into detail how sanctification happens, because you describe it.) However, this leaves out the vital aspect of substitution that puts us in a right relation with God which, in turn, enables us to cooperate with Him. Without this substitutionary aspect of salvation (justification), there will never be sanctification - and thus no salvation at all.

      Sanctification is summarized succinctly in this paragraph in the Review and Herald, June 4, 1895:

      He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory. The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.

      We need the justification/imputed righteousness of Christ daily as long as we still commit sin. And even if we grow to the point where we no longer sin consciously, we still need the justification Christ bought at the cross to cover our past sins, so that we may stand before a holy God as though we had never sinned. (See Our High Calling, p. 48 0) Others may choose to forego the substitutionary/justifying aspect of Christ's Atonement, but I should not like to stand before a holy God without that substitution which Christ offers to me after dying in my place.

      Justification and sanctification go hand in hand. One is not found without the other, but they are two aspects of the Atonement. Whom Christ justifies, He also sanctifies by His Spirit. (Col. 3:1-4)

      You explain how sanctification works - the process that happens as a result of the justification that puts us right with God so that we will consent for Him to do his sanctifying work in us with our collaboration. You rightly say that this is a "collaborative partnership," in contrast to justification which is wholly God's doing and something we can only accept by faith. (See Eph. 2:8-9 Note that Paul explicitly says that "works" have no part in this new standing with God.) This justification puts us in a relationship with God which enables us to cooperate with Him in our character transformation.

      Perhaps this analogy will help, or maybe not: I can not drive a car without a key or a car, even if I have driver training.
      In this analogy, justification is not just the key, but it supplies the car (power) for me to drive. Once I have the car and the key, I must agree for the Holy Spirit to train me to navigate the roads of life. The training and ongoing driving experience is analogous to sanctification.

      (6)
      • Thanks Inge

        I can appreciate, and therefore wanted to acknowledge, the effort you went to in formulating your reply. However, I was intentionally not implying restriction of my comment to what the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches - I was referring far more broadly to "widespread" (mis)perception across Christianity. If I were implying what you suggested, I would have used words along the line of "misperception taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church". But that is not the focus of what I was raising and therefore risks clouding the issue.

        From my perspective, although you see it differently, I am referring to both justification and sanctification. However, I see justification differently to how it is typically seen because while I do find biblical support for the notion of substitution*, I do not find biblical evidence in support of a penal-based substitution - even though 2 Corinthians 5:21 is typically used as a or the key supporting text. I appreciate that people believe the bible supports a penal-based view, however that is derived from inference which is shaped by presupposition. The exact same bible passages can also be seen from alternative presuppositions with the result that differing views of the nature of justification arise.

        Who is credited as being the originator of the penal-substitution theory of atonement? And what are the most foundational presuppositions underpinning this view?

        ---------
        * This does not imply that I instead believe in one of the other existing substitutionary atonement theories, as they currently stand, due to their interpretation of substitution as vicarious substitution.

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      • In the interest of those who are not affiliated with the SDA denomination (like myself), please confirm your rules and regulations as who may contribute on your discussion forum.
        Some forum moderators seem rather legalistic and condescending sometimes.

        Thanks in advance

        (2)
        • Larry, please know that, even though this is a Seventh-day Adventist blog, all who value Bible truth and want to become more like Jesus are welcome to contribute.
          In the current instance I thought it reasonable to assume that when a Seventh-day Adventist contributor writes about what is commonly taught, that would include Seventh-day Adventist teachings, even if not referencing them exclusively.
          Therefore I thought a clarifying comment would be useful - especially for people like you, who may not be totally familiar with Seventh-day Adventist teachings.
          Does that answer your question?
          (We value your contributions!)

          (2)
      • Based on EGW’s use of these expressions in an article in ST January 20, 1890, someone described justification and sanctification as follows:

        Justification = to set right
        Sanctification = to keep right

        Christ is our justification and sanctification. 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 5:1.
        “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” Col. 2:6. We are set right and kept right by trusting in God.

        “True sanctification comes through the working out of the principle of love.” AA 560.1.

        (4)
        • Thank you for your supplementary insight. Yes, we need to be "set right" before we can "keep right." There is so much more to this subject, as sanctification is also a process by which we become more and more like Jesus. But it is also very simple - it is "the working out of the principle of love."

          (2)
        • To
          Pramod Hansdak

          Justification and santification is stated as the process for followers of Christ in all the apostles letters between around 30AD to 70AD not in 1884 AD or any other later date ! That's absurd and ridiculous and a false gospel ?

          Or maybe I misunderstand you ?

          2 Corinthians 11:4
          Galatians 1:7-9

          (0)
        • I agree with the description of justification as "to set right". And I agree with Inge's reference to the core involvement of "the principle of love" in action. So what is being 'set right' and why and how? I find and believe the following:

          1) Adam and Eve were created "set right" in that their heart's were in harmony with and therefore motivated by "the principle of love" which, in turn, shaped all their thoughts, intentions, attitudes and behaviours. This is "set right" because this is the foundational necessity for participation in abundant life and living.

          2) Knowing this, Satan subsequently deceived them into instead embracing self-seeking as their heart's core motivation. Now they were 'set wrong' in that self-seeking is antagonistic to what it fundamentally needed for participation in life and living (Galatians 5:17) which, as a consequence, put Adam and Eve in a state that precludes participation in life and living (as per what was warned about in Genesis 2:16-17 and 1 John 2:15-17). This terminal state also became the default state of every subsequent human (except Jesus) as per Romans 5:12-14.

          3) Because living in harmony with the principle of love is the only basis upon which true life* is actually possible, unless a person's heart motivation is "set right" (ie, back from self-seeking to being motivated by the principle of love once again, eg: Psalm 51:10), that person will retain their terminal state and consequently perish temporally and eternally (hence 2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16).

          4) The only way that point (3) above can validly take place is because Jesus became the successful second Adam (via Romans 5:19) and, as such, became the only human who held to being "set right" (ie, did not get 'set wrong' like the first Adam). Thus, point (3) occurs via Jesus offering each person to share in His (Jesus) rightful inheritance of abundant life (as per John 10:10) via rebirth into a new heart and right Spirit (as per John 3:3-6; Psalm 51:10). This is how "by His stripes, we are (actually) healed" (ie, actually 'set right') (Isaiah 53:5).

          What then of the notion of Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)? It was through holding on to "the principle of love" even to the point of death that Jesus fulfilled all that the OT sacrificial system was portraying and therefore made atonement (as per Leviticus 17:11 mainfest in John 15:13; Isaiah 53:12 and Philippians 2:5-8). All facets of atonement are reflections of this core reality.

          Although I have outlined the above in reference to the term 'justification', in actuality there is inseparable overlap between what we discuss as 'justification' and 'sanctification' because they are both reflective of the same core phenomenon - being actually set right in order to grow and develop in living right.

          -------
          * I use the term 'true life' to distinguish from what mistakenly appears to be 'life' under our temporarily probationary existence on this fallen planet. Although most people consider they are truely alive and living, as Paul correctly notes in, for example, Ephesians 2:1-3 that the reality is they are merely 'dead man walking'.

          (1)
  4. The last 15 years before my retirement I worked for corporations involving Mergers and Acquisitions. Last was Pfizer taking over Hospira worldwide, another huge Pharma Corporation. I was responsible for finalizing financial statements of the acquisition for Germany and Austria. Why I mention that, is because reading the excerpt from Ellen White‘s „The Youth‘s Instructor“ , as she mentions character is not transferable- it cannot be bought or sold, reminds me in this context about those business transactions I was involved with. The wise and the foolish virgins could not ultimately merge because a purchase deal of oil was out of the question. Here, there is no possibility of consolidating 2 businesses, no joining together for best corporate interest.
    So the acquisition of the Holy Spirit long before the close of time will build a righteous character, which means a „complete takeover“ by the new owner- who is now God and me dying daily to my own agenda and my own conveniences, being renewed daily by the power of our creator.

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  5. Do the redeemed bear the image of God as it was in Adam (old creation) or as it is/was in Christ (new creation)? The popular concept is “restored to the image of God at creation or in Eden”. Adam was a “type of the One coming” (Rom 5:14) “made in the image/likeness of God”. But types only foreshadow/prefigure antitypes, stick figures of the true.

    Christ is the very image of God (1 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; Jn 1:18; Phil 2:6). “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Heb 1:3). We see the “glory of God” “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6; 1 Tim 6:14-16). Eternal life was promised before time in or through Christ, the Eternal Life, who was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (Tit 1:2; 1 Jn 1:1,2; 2:25; 5:11,12; 1 Pt 1:20). Christ was the only begotten of the Father. He had life in Himself like the Father. He was God, the God-Man. God brought Adam first, as a type. It is a motif throughout Scripture. The natural or fleshy comes in before the spiritual or heavenly or promised (1 Cor 15:44-48). We have Ishmael before Isaac, Esau before Jacob, Israel of the flesh before Israel of God, Adam before Christ. Believers, His bride, were also foreknown in Christ, not in Adam ( Rom 8:29; Eph 1:4).

    “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy (Adam), we will also bear the image of the heavenly (Christ Our Lord)” 1 Cor 15:49. Praise the Lord! Just as God formed Eve from a “rib” from Adam, put to a deep sleep, He creates Christ’s bride, the believers, through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Isa 53:10,11).

    (2)
    • Kenny, it's not an either/or question. Adam was created in the image of God. Thus, being restored to the perfection of the original creation is the same as having the image of Christ restored in us.

      (3)
      • Adam and Eve were innocent baby images of God in spiritual things in their mindset..

        We are not restored to baby things, we are are perfect in the second Adam seed as perfection in the image of Adult spiritual minds.
        Adult spiritual minds crush Satan under feet.
        1 Corinthians 15:46
        Romans 16:20
        1 Corinthians 3:1

        Shalom

        (2)
      • Now our character is the only thing we will take with us to heaven. I find the words with us meaningful. I do believe therefore then that with our character rides with our physical body. However God transforms us, I do believe we will recognize friends and family and those we have sowen seeds of Christ unending love to. Believing this is evidence to me that someone or ones will come up to us and say, "if it were not for you I would not be here." I have already picked several I am going to walk up to and say, "if it were not for you I would not be here."

        (2)
    • Good thoughts Kenny !
      If we are in the perfected seed, we are of the second Adam aka Christ Jesus.

      1 Corinthians 15:46

      (3)
  6. In summery this weeks lesson is about what we do to allow Christ to be seen in us. If you prefer, what we do to have Gold reflecting the image of Christ. Are we the Gold or do we have Christ in us as the Gold? That is a question for later.

    Picking up with:
    How to be the people of Daniel 12. Matthew 5:16. How to be the people who have the faith of Job, the 5 virgins, Paul and Co-reflectors of the image of Christ:

    We have a righteous understanding, stick with that righteous understanding, and consent to allow God to mold us into His children, who have learned to lean on Him for guidance and wisdom, for comfort and hope, amid the turmoil taking place in this world. We seek 1st the kingdom of God, then guidance, wisdom, comfort, and hope will be given to us. We are counted in, because we prevail by allowing God to work in us to do His own pleasure. Phillipians 2:13. We love God by keeping His commandments. John 14:15. We achieve victory over the evil of this world through faith in God. 1John 5:4. We have eternal life because we have the Son of God. 1John 5:11. We have wisdom because we know and follow these and other principles found in His Word. We are called sons and daughters of God because we are led by the Spirit of God. Romans 8:14.

    Jesus does not release us from the necessity of effort, but He teaches that we are to make Him first and last and best in everything. We are to engage in no business, follow no pursuit, seek no pleasure, that would hinder the outworking of His righteousness in our character and life. Whatever we do is to be done heartily, as unto the Lord. Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing 99.2.

    The nearer we come to Jesus and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the less we shall feel like exalting ourselves. Those whom heaven recognizes as holy ones are the last to parade their own goodness. The apostle Peter became a faithful minister of Christ, and he was greatly honored with divine light and power; he had an active part in the upbuilding of Christ's church; but Peter never forgot the fearful experience of his humiliation; his sin was forgiven; yet well he knew that for the weakness of character which had caused his fall only the grace of Christ could avail. He found in himself nothing in which to glory. Christ Object Lessons 160.1

    Precious advice this week on building characters fit for reflecting The Son(The Gold)(no, we are not The Gold, but as pure as gold). Matthew 5:16. Job 23:10.

    (4)
    • That would have to be the assumption if we are saved by the character we develop.

      However, when we repent of our sins and accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we stand justified before God - as though we had never sinned, because Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of our unrighteousness. I believe that's how the thief on the cross was saved, but he also got a start on character development by professing his faith publicly and rebuking his fellow thief.

      We can be "perfect" at every step of the way, as we seek to follow Christ. A seedling is just as "perfect" as a mature fruit-bearing tree. (cf. Mark 4:28)

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