The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

May 31, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Justice, Justification, Repentance, Rescue, Scott

Comments Off on The Opportunity to Overcome the Consequences of Mistakes

Without the Atonement, Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness could not have been placed fully into effect. The Atonement gives all the opportunity to overcome the consequences of mistakes made in life. When we obey a law, we receive a blessing. When we break a law, there is nothing left over from prior obedience to satisfy the demands of justice for that broken law. The Savior’s Atonement permits us to repent of any disobedience and thereby avoid the penalties that justice would have imposed.

My reverence and gratitude for the Atonement of the Holy One of Israel, the Prince of Peace and our Redeemer, continually expand as I strive to understand more about it. I realize that no mortal mind can adequately conceive, nor can human tongue appropriately express, the full significance of all that Jesus Christ has done for our Heavenly Father’s children through His Atonement. Yet it is vital that we each learn what we can about it. The Atonement is that essential ingredient of our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness without which that plan could not have been activated. Your understanding of the Atonement and the insight it provides for your life will greatly enhance your productive use of all of the knowledge, experience, and skills you acquire in mortal life.

I believe that it is instructive to try to imagine what the Atonement required of both the Father and His willing Son. Three of the challenges the Savior faced were:

First, an enormous sense of responsibility, for He realized that except it be done perfectly, not one of His Father’s children could return to Him. They would be forever banished from His presence since there would be no way to repent for broken laws and no unclean thing can exist in the presence of God. His Father’s plan would have failed, and each spirit child would have been under the eternal control and torment of Satan.

Second, in His absolutely pure mind and heart, He had to personally feel the consequences of all that mankind would ever encounter, even the most depraved, despicable sins.

Third, He had to endure the vicious attack of Satan’s hordes while physically and emotionally pressed to the limit. Then, for reasons we do not fully know, while at the extremity of His capacity, at the time the Savior most needed succor, His Father allowed Him to shoulder the onerous responsibility with only His own strength and capacity.

Elder Richard G. Scott
He Lives! All Glory to His Name!,” Ensign, May 2010, 75–78

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March 24, 2017

Brown, General Authorities, General Conference, Justice, Mercy

Comments Off on Why Did Christ Volunteer to Atone for Our Sins?

Why should Christ have volunteered to make this sacrifice? What was the motive that inspired and sustained him from the time of that council in heaven until the moment of his agonized cry “It is finished”? (John 19:30.)

The answer to this question is twofold: first, his undeviating devotion to his Father’s will. He said: “. . . My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34.)

Second was his supernal and all-embracing love for mankind, who, without his mediation, would have remained in the total gloom of desiring without hope throughout eternity.

As the late President Taylor very beautifully and very truthfully said, speaking of the atonement: “Is justice dishonored? No; it is satisfied, the debt is paid. Is righteousness departed from? No; this is a righteous act. All requirements are met. Is judgment violated? No, its demands are fulfilled. Is mercy triumphant? No; she simply claims her own. Justice, judgment, mercy and truth all harmonize as the attributes of Deity. ‘Justice and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ Justice and judgment triumph as well as mercy and peace;” (The Mediation and Atonement, 1950 edition, p. 167.)

President Hugh B. Brown
General Conference, April, 1962, Third Day – Morning Meeting

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March 12, 2017

Hymns, Justice

Comments Off on The Law was Broken, Jesus Died

For us the blood of Christ was shed;
For us on Calvary’s cross he bled,
And thus dispelled the awful gloom
That else were this creation’s doom.

The law was broken; Jesus died
That justice might be satisfied,
That man might not remain a slave
Of death, of hell, or of the grave

While of These Emblems We Partake

Hymn 173

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February 20, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Justice, Mercy, Scott

Comments Off on The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness

Peace and happiness are the precious fruits of a righteous life. They are only possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I will explain.

Each of us makes mistakes in life. They result in broken eternal laws. Justice is that part of Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness that maintains order. It is like gravity to a rock climber, ever present. It is a friend if eternal laws are observed. It responds to your detriment if they are ignored. Justice guarantees that you will receive the blessings you earn for obeying the laws of God. Justice also requires that every broken law be satisfied. When you obey the laws of God, you are blessed, but there is no additional credit earned that can be saved to satisfy the laws that you break. If not resolved, broken laws can cause your life to be miserable and would keep you from returning to God. Only the life, teachings, and particularly the Atonement of Jesus Christ can release you from this otherwise impossible predicament.

The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God. Such repentance and obedience are absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life. The Redeemer can settle your individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful path of your repentance. Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience. Through His mercy you can resolve the consequences of broken laws.

The Atonement was a selfless act of infinite, eternal consequence, arduously earned alone, by the Son of God.  Through it the Savior broke the bonds of death. It justifies our finally being judged by the Redeemer. It can prevent an eternity under the dominion of Satan. It opens the gates to exaltation for all who qualify for forgiveness through repentance and obedience.

Pondering the grandeur of the Atonement evokes the most profound feelings of awe, immense gratitude, and deep humility. Those impressions can provide you powerful motivation to keep His commandments and consistently repent of errors for greater peace and happiness.

I believe that no matter how diligently you try, you cannot with your human mind fully comprehend the eternal significance of the Atonement nor fully understand how it was accomplished. We can only appreciate in the smallest measure what it cost the Savior in pain, anguish, and suffering or how difficult it was for our Father in Heaven to see His Son experience the incomparable challenge of His Atonement. Even so, you should conscientiously study the Atonement to understand it as well as you can. You can learn what is needful to live His commandments, to enjoy peace and happiness in mortal life. You can qualify, with obedient family members, to live with Him and your Father in Heaven forever.

Elder Richard G. Scott

The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Liahona, Nov 2006, 40–42

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December 28, 2016

Alma, Doctrine & Covenants, Fundamental Principles, Justice, Lund, Mercy

Comments Off on He Met the Demands of the Law for Himself and He Met the Demands of Justice for All Mankind

The Savior could effect our deliverance for two important reasons. First, he met the demands of the law of justice for himself because he kept the laws of God perfectly. In other words, Christ was justified by his works. He avoided the debt altogether and qualified himself to return to the Father-the only one of all mankind to do so. Second, he met the demands of the law for all of the rest of mankind. He himself owed no debt to the law, but he went before it and in essence said: “I am perfect and therefore owe you no suffering. However, I will pay the debt for all mankind. I will undergo suffering that I might pay the price for every transgression and sin ever committed by any man.”

In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, Christ paid the price by suffering for every sin as though he himself had committed them, satisfying fully the law of justice. Such suffering is beyond the power of any mortal man to endure. We can’t understand how he did it, only that he did and that “through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice.” In terms of Elder Packer’s parable, he generated sufficient payment to satisfy the debt of every other man. He met the demands of the law for himself through obedience and for all others through suffering.

Alma told his son Corianton that mercy could not rob justice, or else “God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:25.) That is the case with the merciful love of the Father and the Son. In fact, mercy paid justice! Their Love said to Justice, by virtue of the price paid in the Garden, “Here is payment for the wrongs committed. You are paid in full. Now let the captives go free.”

In one of the most beautiful images in all of scripture, we find the solution to that awful dilemma we all face as sinners. We are standing before the bar as defendants, facing the great judge, God the Father. Our “Advocate with the Father” steps forward, not to refute the charges or to hold up a record of our good works to counterbalance our guilt, but to plead our case in a different manner:

Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him-saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. (D&C 45:3-5.)

Nothing man could do for himself could bring him past the judgment bar successfully without such an Advocate. That is why eternal life is always a gift, and those who receive it do so by “inheritance.” It is interesting to note that the word inherit and its cognate words are used seventy-eight times in the Doctrine and Covenants, while the word earned and its related words are not used once.

Gerald N. Lund
Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation
Deseret Book Company, 1991
Elder Lund was later sustained as a Seventy

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September 2, 2016

Justice, Mercy, Salvation, Taylor

Comments Off on The Father Accepted the Offer of His Well Beloved Son

“Behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power: and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; and they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels. And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell: and it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves, for if they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet.”-Doc. and Cov., xxix, 36-39, p. 146.

And again. “And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son, whom the Father loved, and who was in the bosom of the Father-was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, and was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him-he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen! even a son of the morning. And while we were yet in the Spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision, for we beheld Satan, that old serpent-even the devil-who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” Doc. and Cov., lxxvi, 25-28, p. 267.

The Father accepted the offer of His well beloved Son, and proceeded to carry out the decision of the Council, and, as we are informed in the Bible (inspired translation), God said to His Only Begotten, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and it was so.”

There are other questions mixed up with this rebellion besides those above referred to, and those questions are directly connected with the atonement. In the event of man having his free will and being subject to the power of temptation, the weakness of the flesh, the allurements of the world, and the powers of darkness, it was known that he must necessarily fall, and being fallen, it would be impossible for him to redeem himself, and that, according to an eternal law of justice, it would require an infinite, expiatory atonement to redeem man, to save him from the effects and ruin of the Fall, and to place him in a condition where he could again be reinstated in the favor of God, according to the eternal laws of justice and mercy; and find his way back to the presence of the Father.

Satan (it is possible) being opposed to the will of his Father, wished to avoid the responsibilities of this position, and rather than assume the consequences of the acceptance of the plan of the Father, he would deprive man of his free agency, and render it impossible for him to obtain that exaltation which God designed. It would further seem probable that he refused to take the position of redeemer, and assume all the consequences associated therewith, but he did propose, as stated before, to take another plan and deprive man of his agency, and he probably intended to make men atone for their own acts by an act of coercion, and the shedding of their own blood as an atonement for their sins; therefore, he says, “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost; and surely I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor.”

His plan, however, was rejected as contrary to the counsel of God, his Father. The well beloved Son then addressed the Father, and instead of proposing to carry out any plan of his own, knowing what His Father’s will was, said, “Thy will be done;” ‘I will carry out thy plans and thy designs, and, as man will fall, I will offer myself as an atonement according to thy will, O God. Neither do I wish the honor, but thine be the glory;”‘ and a covenant was entered into between Him and His Father, in which He agreed to atone for the sins of the world; and He thus, as stated, became the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. In this connection it is related by Abraham:

“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him, We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; and they who keep their first estate, shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate, shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate, shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”

And hence, as Jesus Himself said, “Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

President John Taylor

Mediation and Atonement,  Chapter XI (paragraph breaks added to enhance readability)

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April 23, 2016

Fall, Fundamental Principles, Grace, Justice, Mediator, Mercy, Repentance

Comments Off on Justice, Mercy and the Atonement

Not just any person may invoke mercy on behalf of another: “Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another…therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite Atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world” (Alma 34:11-12). Jesus Christ alone can achieve such an infinite Atonement “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10) because of his nature as the actual son of God in the flesh and because he was himself without sin (see Atonement of Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ: Only Begotten in the Flesh).

Mercy is not extended arbitrarily. To protect individuals from the undeserved effects of sins for which they are not responsible, the Atonement unconditionally paid the penalty for the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It pays similarly for sins committed in ignorance (Mosiah 3:11; see also Moses 6:54). However, the Atonement removes the penalty for personal sins for which one is accountable only on the condition of individual repentance.

In this way, the concepts of justice, mercy, and the Atonement retain both a specific integrity and a logically consistent relationship: “The plan of mercy could not be brought about except an Atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and merciful God also…. But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature…. For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:13, 15, 22, 24).

Mercy is thus rehabilitative, not retributive or arbitrary. The Lord asks repentance from a transgressor, not to compensate the Savior for paying the debt of justice, but to induce the transgressor to undertake a meaningful process of personal development toward a Christlike nature.

At the same time, mercy depends ultimately on the Lord’s extension of unmerited grace. Even though conditioned on repentance for personal sins, mercy is never fully “earned” by its recipients. Repentance is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition of salvation and exaltation. “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). The unearned nature of mercy is demonstrated by the Atonement’s having unconditionally compensated for the disabilities imposed on mankind by the Fall of Adam. Adam and Eve and their posterity were utterly powerless to overcome the physical and spiritual deaths that were introduced by the Fall. Moreover, transgressors do not “pay” fully for their sins through the process of repentance. Even though repentance requires restitution to the extent of one’s ability, most forms of restitution are beyond any person’s ability to achieve. No matter how complete our repentance, it would all be to no avail without a mediator willing and able to pay our debt to justice, on condition of our repentance. Thus, even with sincere and complete repentance, all are utterly dependent on Jesus Christ.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, justice and mercy are interdependent and interactive, demonstrating that God cannot be just without being merciful, nor merciful without being just.

Topic: Justice and Mercy
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Edited by Daniel H. Ludlow
The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Macmillan Publishing Company (1992)

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March 21, 2016

Alma, Amulek, Condie, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, Justice, Mercy

Comments Off on Good for That Which is Good, Righteous for That Which is Righteous

To his struggling son Corianton, Alma clearly explained that “it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works” (Alma 41:3). Thus, after the Resurrection and Judgment some will be “raised to happiness according to [their] desires of happiness … ; and the other[s] to evil according to [their] desires of evil” (Alma 41:5). Continuing, Alma explicitly taught that “the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful” (Alma 41:13). Alma cautioned Corianton not to suppose “that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).

Amulek taught Zeezrom that “we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt” (Alma 11:43). Alma explained to his son Corianton that “the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all” (Alma 41:15). That is the hard, wintry side of justice, judgment, and restoration.

But there is also a merciful side of restoration. Alma declared that “mercy cometh because of the atonement,” and though “justice exerciseth all his demands, … mercy claimeth all which is her own” upon conditions of true repentance. Alma then posed the provocative question: “What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God” (Alma 42:23–25).

It is impossible for each of us to overcome the demands of justice solely through our own individual efforts. Nevertheless, we have been promised that “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). Contrary to the distorted doctrine of being saved solely through grace and by predestination, the Book of Mormon teaches us that we must strive to keep the commandments and repent of our sins, and then the Savior makes up the difference.

A necessary part of “all we can do” includes participation in essential ordinances of the gospel. Limited space will permit a discussion of only the first of these essential ordinances, which is baptism. Nephi eloquently explained that it was necessary for the Lamb of God “to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness.” He then posed the soul-searching question, “O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!” (2 Ne. 31:5.)

Elder Spencer J. Condie

The Fall and Infinite Atonement,” Ensign, Jan 1996, 22

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February 26, 2016

Covenants, Fall, Grace, Hafen, Justice, Lehi, Repentance

Comments Off on The Atonement is for All of Life, Each Day of Our Lives

The story of Adam and Eve teaches us that the Atonement is for all of life, each day of our lives. The Savior’s gracious power not only heals and comforts but is also a source of personal growth and development, leading to an understanding of life and a fullness of joy. The Atonement is thus developmental and practical, not static and abstract.

According to Lehi, “If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden.” He and Eve “would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” (2 Nephi 2:22-23.) This passage seems to say what many parents have long suspected-if they had no children, they would have no misery. Yet without children and without misery, they would also have no joy. But, taught Lehi, the Fall-with its misery, its sorrow, and even its sin-was not a mistake or an accident. The Fall was consciously designed, misery and all, to bring us joy and freedom: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time . . . that they . . . become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves.” (2 Nephi 2:25-26.)

The Lord taught Adam this same understanding of life. He said Adam’s children would experience the bitterness of mortality, but “they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.” (Moses 6:55.) Indeed, “If they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet.” (D&C 29:39) And the role of the Atonement in that process is to compensate for-to heal us from-the effects of the bitter, after we do all we can do by ourselves: “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23.)

Thus does the grace of Christ, unlocked by his atoning sacrifice, heal us from the wounds of our sins and all our other infirmities. As we repent of our conscious sins, accept the gospel, and do all else we can do, we enter into a holy relationship with our Savior based on the two-way covenants made possible by his atonement. Through our covenant relationship with him, celebrated each week by the sacrament, he heals us in at least four distinct ways.

First, he satisfies the eternal law of justice, relieving us of the burden of paying for our sins, so long as we repent of them.

Second, his influence interacts with our righteous yearnings and our repentance to change our hearts until we desire goodness continually.

Third, he bridges any chasm that separates and estranges us from God. Many things can create this sense of alienation-unintentional mistakes or undeserved discouragement and confusion, as well as sin. Regardless of whether his sheep run away or lose their way or are stolen away, the Good Shepherd will search for them when they are lost, pick them up, and carry them home, making them “at one” with him and his Father. That is the work of the great “at-one-ment.”

And, fourth, once we have done all we can do to make restitution, the Savior will help to compensate for the harm we may have done or the harms done to us, repairing and restoring our spiritual and psychic losses, whether caused by sin or other factors.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen
“Eve Heard All These Things and Was Glad”: Grace and Learning By Experience
published in Women in the Covenant of Grace, Edited by Dawn Hall Anderson
and Susette Fletcher Green
Talks Selected from the 1993 Women’s Conference Sponsored by
Brigham Young University and the Relief Society
Deseret Book Company, 1994

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November 2, 2015

Alma, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, Grace, Hafen, Justice, Mercy

Comments Off on Justice and Mercy are Interdependent and Interactive

Mercy is not extended arbitrarily. To protect individuals from the undeserved effects of sins for which they are not responsible, the Atonement unconditionally paid the penalty for the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It pays similarly for sins committed in ignorance (Mosiah 3:11; see also Moses 6:54). However, the Atonement removes the penalty for personal sins for which one is accountable only on the condition of individual repentance.

In this way, the concepts of justice, mercy, and the Atonement retain both a specific integrity and a logically consistent relationship: “The plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also . . . . But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature . . . . For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:13, 15, 22, 24).

Mercy is thus rehabilitative, not retributive or arbitrary. The Lord asks repentance from a transgressor, not to compensate the Savior for paying the debt of justice, but to induce the transgressor to undertake a meaningful process of personal development toward a Christlike nature.

At the same time, mercy depends ultimately on the Lord’s extension of unmerited grace. Even though conditioned on repentance for personal sins, mercy is never fully “earned” by its recipients. Repentance is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition of salvation and exaltation. “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). The unearned nature of mercy is demonstrated by the Atonement’s having unconditionally compensated for the disabilities imposed on mankind by the fall of Adam. Adam and Eve and their posterity were utterly powerless to overcome the physical and spiritual deaths that were introduced by the Fall. Moreover, transgressors do not “pay” fully for their sins through the process of repentance. Even though repentance requires restitution to the extent of one’s ability, most forms of restitution are beyond any person’s ability to achieve. No matter how complete our repentance, it would all be to no avail without a mediator willing and able to pay our debt to justice, on condition of our repentance. Thus, even with sincere and complete repentance, all are utterly dependent on Jesus Christ.

Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, justice and mercy are interdependent and interactive, demonstrating that God cannot be just without being merciful, nor merciful without being just.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Justice and Mercy, The Maxwell Institute

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