Cosmic Renewal: The Resurrection Of All Things

Cosmic Renewal: The Resurrection Of All Things May 9, 2024

A renewed cosmos will be the result of Jesus Resurrction.
A renewed cosmos will be the result of Jesus Resurrction. Pixabay

The resurrection of Jesus is not just about changing individual lives. The whole universe is going to experience a resurrection. Everything will be made new. There will be no more pain, no more sickness, no more death. We will live together in a glorious renewed creation with our Creator.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her
husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the
former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”REVELATION 21:1–5

Jesus’ resurrection does not only change us by saving our souls, making us holy, and filling us with power to live. The fact that it changes our bodies to be immortal is still not the most glorious aspect of the story of salvation. Often the gospel is spoken of as being a great arc leading from the creation to the Fall to the Incarnation to the death of Jesus and then his resurrection and ascension. But that arc is not yet complete. Jesus will return, and when he does, the resurrection really will change everything. The Bible tells us, “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything” (Acts 3:21, niv).

Paul tells us that God has “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9–10). There will be no more rebellion. Only then will this tiny rebellious corner of the universe we call earth resound with the praise of Jesus’ glory.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:17–20)


If this regeneration or resurrection of all things means anything, it means the reversal of the effects of death. Death entered the world through mankind: “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). As a result of one man’s sin, the whole of creation was delivered up to bondage and decay. But all is not lost. This process has begun to be reversed as a result of the actions of one man, Jesus:

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:21–22, kjv)

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19–23)

Astonishingly, in that second passage we see that it is the actual revealing of the resurrected children of God that will be associated with the end of death. It is the unveiling of the glory of God’s church that creation waits for. What an incredible privilege for us. This must be because we will reflect God’s glory. As in God’s original plan for Adam and Eve, we will rule over the new creation. And everything will change as a direct result. Even animals will cease from killing.

The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them . . . They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6, 9; see Isaiah 65:25)


The return of the Lord will lead to the renewal of all things. We are told repeatedly that the heavens and the earth will pass away. They will be renewed or re-created by fire, and we will live eternally in a new heaven and a new earth.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. (Isaiah 51:6)

The heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10–13)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:1–5)

If heaven is where God dwells, then in that sense in the new creation heaven will be a place on earth as the heavenly Jerusalem descends. We will live on earth with renewed bodies, but it seems likely that we will be free to explore both the rest of the universe and the whole of heaven at will. As the whole creation exists for God’s glory and reflects his majesty, if we are to know God fully, then that must include understanding the universe he created. The hunger within us to explore the stars, evidenced by the perennial appeal of science fiction and astronomy, may perhaps one day be fulfilled. But if we do explore the stars, they will induce wonder in us not merely in their own beauty but rather in the way in which their beauty causes us to worship the One who flung them into space and designed all their beautiful patterns.


At the return of Christ, Jesus will judge the whole world and bring restitution. The terrible wrath and vengeance of the spurned Savior will be unleashed. Every wrong that has been committed that has not been placed on his Son will be put right. No evil will go unpunished:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

This is not something anyone can escape, since “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The Christian’s experience of the judgment of Christ will be very different since, as Daniel saw prophetically, “the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:10). We will be confident in the knowledge that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Those before Christ’s judgment will have bodies: “There will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). Jesus confirms this in John 5:28–29, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

Many passages in the Bible demonstrate that this day is coming. We do not like to think of it. It even makes many Christians feel uncomfortable. Some of us may worry that we will not make it into heaven, others that we may only make it in “by the skin of our teeth.” However, it is vital that we do think about judgment day. This is not only to motivate ourselves to live worthily, but also to remember that, for those around us who are not Christians, this is a day that will begin an eternity of terror for them. We must remember that it is only through Christ and his righteousness that we can stand guiltless before God. Paul warns us, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). God wants us to be so confident in the righteousness of Christ and his work for us that we can come with boldness, knowing that we are forgiven only because of what he has done.

If we are sure of our salvation, far from inducing fear and dread, judgment day should produce a joyful expectation. We will then be eager to press on and enter heaven as victors having lived our lives for the glory of God. Paul puts it this way: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Elsewhere he says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

We are called to persevere in our faith. This becomes especially true when difficulty arises. “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). Hebrews 3:14 tells us that those with true faith will persist in following Christ, “for we have come to share in Christ.” This is in the past tense, indicating something that has already happened, but the verse continues to say that we will know for sure this has occurred only “if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” The true Christian does not place his confidence in his ability to persevere, but rather in “him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). If we are confident that we have evidence of genuine faith in our lives, we can also be confident that the one in whom we have trusted will continue to prove faithful and keep us to that final day. No one can be snatched out of his hand. We cannot be unborn again. If we have been renewed, we cannot ever truly die! Before the judgment seat of Christ three possible verdicts could be declared.

“Away from Me, I Never Knew You”

The most terrifying words in the whole Bible come from the mouth of our Lord Jesus: “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:22–23).

There will be unbelievers who have been members of churches, even ministers. It is possible for the goats to deceive even sheep (Matthew 25:32–33). It is essential to our spiritual future that we appreciate the full horror of the wrath of God and flee to Jesus. Being cast out from the presence of God is the most horrific thing that could ever happen to us.

Spurgeon explains that the punishment experienced by those who are not Christians will be experienced in physical bodies.

There is a real fire in hell, as truly as you have now a real body—a fire exactly like that which we have on earth in everything except this—that it will not consume, though it will torture you . . .

I tell thee, sinner, that those eyes that now look on lust shall look on miseries that shall vex and torment thee. Those ears which now thou lendest to hear the song of blasphemy, shall hear moans, and groans, and horrid sounds, such as only the damned know. That very throat down which thou pourest drink shall be filled with fire. Those very lips and arms of thine will be tortured all at once. . . .

O my hearers! the wrath to come! the wrath to come! the wrath to come. Who among you can dwell with devouring fire? Who among you can dwell with everlasting burnings? Can you, sir? Can you? Can you abide the flame forever? “Oh, no,” sayest thou, “what can I do to be saved?” Hear thou what Christ hath to say: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”[1]

“Saved . . . as through Fire”

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:11–15).

As these are people in whom the foundation of Christ has been laid, Paul is speaking about Christians. We are warned that we must be careful how we build and that there are consequences to carelessness. People whose works are burned up at Christ’s judgment seat will still experience the joy of heaven but also the shame of knowing they failed their Master. By the time we reach our eternal state, that disappointment will have passed as there will be no sorrow in eternity; somehow our sense of failure will be swallowed up. But as there will be degrees of punishment, there will also be degrees of reward. As Jonathan Edwards suggested, “The saints are like so many vessels of different sizes cast into a sea of happiness, where every vessel is full.”[2]

It is hard for us to identify exactly who the “as through fire” people are. Can someone be a Christian without any outward change at all? This would seem unlikely as Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16), and Paul tells us that certain sins indicate that people will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (see Galatians 5:19–21). We might not always be able to tell which people will escape “as through fire” and which people were never Christians at all, but we can be certain that God will have no problem making that determination.

Whenever we meet people who no longer live as Christians but are adamant that they are safe and are not concerned about rewards, we should urge them to consider carefully if they have indeed been born again. No one must simply settle for being one of those who will, as it were, “scrape” into heaven. The Bible deliberately gives us no way of being certain that someone is a Christian at all if he is not living in a way that follows Jesus. There is a temptation toward pride here, or at other times to hopelessness. But no Christian ever earns their way into heaven, nor by one’s own effort does a person become worthy of a greater reward. Conversely, the believer saved “through fire” is no less saved than the one who receives a rich welcome as a faithful child of God.

“Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”

The Scriptures clearly offer rewards to those who persevere and serve their God:

If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward (1 Corinthians 3:14).

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master (Matthew 25:21).

Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

We often feel embarrassed about using the prospect of reward and recognition from God as motivation for us to behave as God wants us to. The Bible knows no such reticence. We are urged to understand that as a just judge, God will reward us for how we live. Why do we think that God would be so unjust as to not honor us for what we do?

There will be degrees of reward. We will be surprised at some who will be rewarded most by God. Perhaps the older lady who sits quietly in church in the back row but unknown to anyone intercedes daily with great passion will receive a greater reward than the preacher she listens to every week.

God has given us everything we require to be able to enter heaven with our heads held high. God doesn’t want us to be “skin of the teeth” Christians but rather to escape the corruption of the world and bring honor to our Savior’s name:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. . . . For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. . . . For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3–11)


In God’s eternal kingdom, we will be prize exhibits, demonstrating something that cannot be seen without us:

But God . . . raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7)

. . . so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:10)

Through the people of God the grace and wisdom of God is revealed. This revelation has already begun but will be consummated after Jesus returns. Without a world of foolishness how could anyone have truly appreciated God’s wisdom? Without sinful wretches who did not deserve his love, how could God have demonstrated his grace? It is not that grace did not exist before the Fall, since God’s love was always unconditional. But when the only creatures who existed were without sin, how would God have then demonstrated the true extent of his grace? When a parent looks at their young teenage child and says, “I will always love you, no matter what you do,” the full, gracious nature of that love will not be revealed unless that child later rebels and sins in such a way that they do not deserve their parent’s love. It is not that the parent’s love has therefore changed; it is just that the love is revealed as unconditional for all to see. The well-behaved child deserves the love that the parents give freely and without expecting anything in return and so that love may not be experienced as grace.

The memories of our lives before knowing Christ must survive to the extent of being able to appreciate the fullness of God’s mercy in redeeming us. In eternity we will once more become glorious, lovable creatures. Perhaps we will take turns to tell our testimonies of grace. We do know that God will have removed the sting of those memories because he promises that in those days there will be no more sorrow (see Revelation 21:4).

What a contrast there will be between Christians in their glorified state and the people in hell who will be demonstrating throughout all eternity to the universe the meaning of God’s holiness and justice. The knowledge of the stark alternatives before every human being should affect the way we see every person. As C. S. Lewis says:

Remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.[3]

When we fully appreciate what the people around us will one day become, we will treat everyone we meet with greater honor and importance and will be more aware of our influence. How can you and I help people on their journey to heaven rather than hell?


This kingdom of God will be an eternal one, and there will be no rivals:

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:25–28)


God is not building a democracy but a kingdom.
When we struggle against authority structures in the world today, we are actually struggling with a fundamental principle that goes to the heart of the Trinity. Jesus will always submit to the Father. So why do we struggle so much with submitting to those in authority over us in our homes, churches, workplaces, and nations?


We tend to think of the kingdom of Jesus as a future event. Jesus rarely spoke of the kingdom that was to come; instead he said far more often that it is already here. He repeatedly proclaimed, “The kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).

The Christian already tastes the future kingdom. By virtue of our spiritual resurrection and our awareness of the Spirit’s work in our hearts, we have already entered the age to come and are now representatives of the King. The kingdom is in us, and we are experiencing it in ever-increasing measure:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28–29, niv)

God himself is living inside us! We experience the power and presence of a Jesus who is living, active, and doing things today. In every circumstance of our life the resurrection can make the difference, bringing hope when things are hard and joyful deliverances when the power of the age to come breaks through. The kingdom really is now and not yet! We can be absolutely confident that all the blessings of the risen Jesus will be ours in the future.

Paul even says we have already been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). When, for example, we ask God to heal us, we are not twisting his arm to do something he has not promised to do. Rather, we are asking him to consider doing something for us now that we already know he has promised he will do for us in the future. When he sovereignly chooses to bring healing by whatever means in this world, this does not reverse the process of decline that will eventually lead to our death. When he does not heal, and a loved one is taken home to Christ, our grief is lessened by the knowledge that death for the Christian is actually the ultimate healing. We do not belong in this world. We are aliens and strangers here, just passing through. We grieve, but not in the same way as those who do not share the hope we have (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

We live as an army in occupied territory. We know our Master. We know he rules. We see that his enemy is still ruining this world. So we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In our evangelism, we understand that we bring a kingdom message. We also know that an enemy is at work trying to discourage us and destroy our efforts:

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. (Matthew 13:19)

In a world full of pain and hatred and disappointment, we understand that “the good seed” is growing right next to the bad (Matthew 13:24–25, 38). We shouldn’t try to withdraw but rather recognize that the work of God looks like a tiny mustard seed but will eventually grow into a mighty tree (Matthew 13:31–32).

The kingdom of heaven may seem to us to be hidden at times, but the joy of the believer is in giving our lives to diligently seeking it and cooperating with God in nurturing its growth. Jesus taught a parable about treasure hidden in a field that could be applied to us but also to Jesus himself. Like him, we can know the joy of laying our life down for the sake of digging it up.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20–21). Knowing that we already share in eternal life that will be ours in all its fullness in the future should thrill us and give us great hope.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh . . . knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. . . . Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7–18)

We have already been raised with Christ, and yet we are waiting for the final day when our bodies will be resurrected with Christ. As Richard Gaffin said:

An unbreakable bond or unity exists between Christ and Christians in the experience of resurrection. That bond is such that the latter (the resurrection of Christians) has two components—one that has already taken place, at the inception of Christian life when the sinner is united to Christ by faith; and one that is still future, at Christ’s return.[4]

When Paul described his ministry, he said that he was “proclaiming the kingdom” (Acts 20:25), and he was clear that this declaration has dynamic effects: “for the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

It is sobering that Paul warned us that in the last days there would be people “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). I trust that none of us deny the power of Jesus’ resurrection to work in our lives and change us. But I hope that as we have been studying this subject, we are now more desperate than ever to see his transforming power at work, changing everything in our lives and in those around us. You can sense something of that hunger to see more of God at work in the following words from Spurgeon:

I wish I could venture further to unveil this secret force, and still more fully reveal to you the power of our Lord’s resurrection. It is the power of the Holy Ghost; it is the energy upon which you must depend when teaching or preaching; it must all be “according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” I want you to feel that power to-day. I would have you feel eternal life throbbing in your bosoms, filling you with glory and immortality.[5]


Christians have the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead living inside them. One day that power will complete the work of saving us, but in the meantime the normal Christian life can be one in which we are very aware of the change that the resurrection brings.

We are citizens of the age to come, living in a world that is dead to God. But we are not dead to him. We live to him. May God help us live in the light of that fact more each day. One day we will all see that, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus, everything really has been changed. The whole creation will have been renewed, and we will be like him.

I can think of no better way to end this book than with Paul’s prayer that speaks of the work of the Spirit, of the hope Jesus’ resurrection has given us, the power of his resurrection and of the coming kingdom in which he rules. May God answer this prayer in our lives and so help us to truly believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and live in light of the implications of that event.

The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory . . . give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:17–21)


Afterlife: Disembodied Spirits or Resurrection Bodies?

Born Again Through Jesus: The Power of Resurrection

Hope in Suffering


[1] C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon No. 66, “The Resurrection of the Dead,” delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 17, 1856, at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark;


[2] Jonathan Edwards, Sermons and Discourses: 1723–1729, WJE Online, Vol. 14, 338;


[3]C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 14–15.


[4]Richard B. Gaffin, “Redemption and Resurrection: An Exercise in Biblical-Systematic Theology,”
Themelios, Vol. 27.2, Spring 2002, 16–31;


[5]C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon No. 2080, “The Power of His Resurrection,” delivered on April 21, 1889 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington;


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