Posts Tagged ‘Body of Christ’

They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love

by Brian Brodersen on 2 October 2012-Calvary Chapel

I was speaking to a group of men recently and looking at Paul’s word to the church in Rome where he tells them to “owe no one anything except to love one another, for love is the fulfillment of the law … And do this, knowing the time that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Roman 13:8-11).

As I shared with them, I felt compelled to exhort them in the area of love among themselves, for other Christians and churches, and for those outside the body of Christ, reminding them that Jesus said the great distinguishing mark of His disciples would be their love for one another. This is what I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to today. The single greatest failure of the church throughout its long history is the failure to love.

I’ve been reminded of that again in looking at the past, and I still see it all too often in the present. Reading once again some of the church’s history, it’s unbelievable what Christians have done to one another over the centuries. We’ve not only failed to love one another, we’ve even killed each other in the name of Christ and the gospel.

The English Civil War (1642-1646) and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) are both examples of this colossal failure of Christians to love one another. According to Alister McGrath, theologian and church historian, “Whatever else it may have been, the English Civil War was fundamentally a battle for the soul of English Protestantism. Both sides (Anglican and Puritan) regarded themselves as embodying the true ideals of Protestantism. Their soldiers found passages in the Bible that seemed to support their cause … The Thirty Years’ War was both an international religious conflict and a German civil war, involving Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic regions and nations. The populations of many regions were decimated by this war of attrition, and their economies brought to the brink of total collapse.”

We look back on those and similar tragic events in the church’s history and assure ourselves that we would never have behaved like that. Yet we dislike fellow Christians sitting right next to us in church, criticize other ministries for not doing things to our liking, get mad because some other church had the audacity to move into our territory, and refuse to fellowship with those who don’t hold to our exact theological view.

These attitudes are killing the witness of the church and it’s time that we stop all this childishness and take seriously the command of Jesus to love one another, regardless of denomination or affiliation.

I have to say that I’m encouraged by some of what I see happening today. There are several Evangelical leaders who are “reaching across the aisle,” so to speak, in an effort to build relationships and establish fellowship with those who hold different views on non-essential doctrinal issues; and this is one of the healthiest things that I’ve seen happen in a long time. But sadly, there are still those who insist on majoring in the minors and refuse to recognize that the body of Christ extends beyond the walls of their own churches or the boundaries of their own denomination or movement.

I firmly believe that the Spirit is moving to bring a greater unity to the body of Christ. But those who insist on isolating themselves in the belief that they are “unique” in the body of Christ, or in other words, a notch above other believers, churches, or movements, will be left out in the cold while the rest enjoy the warmth of the love, joy, and peace that is found when brothers dwell together in unity.



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When one disagrees with the newest book, a message spoken from a pulpit or television progam, someone often will come back with…”Did you contact the person first before making your opposing view known, so that you will be in accordance with Matthew 18?

The Berean Call answers this quite well.

(The following is TBC’s very first Q&A published in February, 1986)

Question: Does TBC follow “Matthew 18″ and first go to the authors and/or leaders it critiques in newsletters and books?

by Dave Hunt

Response: Matthew 18:15-17 has to do with private (not public) sin committed by one brother or sister in the Body against another. “Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee…” (KJV). All translations agree that the subject is sin or trespass, not false teaching. Although a few do not specifically state in verse 15 that this is a trespass by one Christian against another, the context makes this clear in all translations. Look for example at verse 21, where Peter, in response to what the Lord has said, asks Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?” (KJV); “how often shall my brother sin against me” (RSV); “how many times can my brother wrong me” (Phillips); “how often shall my brother sin against me” (NAS), etc.

The entire context has to do strictly with a personal problem between two Christians, where one has wronged the other, and is therefore to be kept private unless it can’t be resolved in that manner. In contrast, many other scriptures make it very clear that sin which is known publicly is an offense to the entire Body and must be dealt with publicly: “Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear” (1 Tm 5:20, KJV). This is both for the benefit of the body of Christ and also to let the world know that the church doesn’t tolerate sin. False doctrine is not the subject of Matthew 18, but something else entirely, and does not come under the instructions Christ gives in that passage. It is impossible for erroneous teaching that is presented publicly ever to be considered a private trespass of one person against another, which must therefore be dealt with privately between the two.

False doctrine is never a private matter and is always to be dealt with publicly. Much of the New Testament was written to publicly correct false teaching. Even the beloved Apostle John named Diotrephes in 3 John and promised that when he came to that church he would publicly correct the Offender in person. Paul withstood Peter to the face publicly for his false interpretation of the law that caused Him not to associate with Gentile believers (Gal 2:11-14). In a day of mass media, particularly when denied access to Christian TV networks, the only method of public correction of false teaching is to write books [and blogs] to call the attention of the Body to errors that affect the whole Body.

In keeping with many other scriptures that could be cited, 1 Corinthians 14:29 clearly states, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” Clearly the issue is not whether an individual listener is offended by what one of the preachers has said, even if one could stretch that to be a “sin” against his brother. It would be entirely inappropriate for a listener to take aside the prophet he felt had spoken falsely and have a private discussion with him, and only if he refused to hear, then tell it to the church. The issue is the doctrinal purity of the Body, which must be guarded at all cost. And what has been publicly stated must be discussed publicly. It may well be that the prophet spoke truly and the offended listener was wrong. So when he speaks out against what the prophet has said, he himself will be corrected by others. It is this kind of open discussion among believers that the Bible teaches, and that is the only protection against error being introduced and allowed to corrupt the church. Never is it suggested that no one must disagree with what is being taught because to do so would cause “division.” On the contrary, we are told that we must correct error in teaching and do so publicly.

Furthermore, what has been said in books and on TV etc. is part of the public domain, subject to review, analysis, critique of any kind. Anyone who makes public declarations intended to influence large audiences through books, radio, TV etc. ought to know that he is responsible for what he says, and will be held accountable. No one has ever asked me for permission or even discussed with me critiquing any of my many books, and some reviews have been very unfavorable. That is expected.

It is not necessary to talk with a writer or speaker in order to be accurate and fair. It is a rather weak excuse to say that some writer/leader really didn’t mean what he said. Then he should have said what he meant. Unfortunately, there are thousands and, in the case of some, millions who have read and/or heard and taken it at face value, as any reasonable person would. Words have meaning and it is assumed that the normal meaning applies. Even if one of these teachers has changed his beliefs, we must still deal with what has been published for the sake of those who have been affected by it. If a person has changed his beliefs, then he ought to publish just as widely in tape and book form a renunciation of any false or misleading teaching he has given in the past rather than make a private explanation to me.

July 1, 2012

REPOSTED FROM :http://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/understanding-matthew-1815-17/

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Dr. Ray Sleiman “The Conversion of Matthew” 03/26/2012

Published on Apr 15, 2012 by Ray Sleiman

About Ray Sleiman

So-Cal Christian Medical (S.C.C.M.) is a Christian Organization/Non-Denominational with a Single purpose of proclaiming Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior and to build the Body of Christ.

S.C.C.M. holds at least two dinner meetings a year in March and October

S.C.C.M. is an extension of Grace & Truth Gospel Church and Lebanon Prayer Group

Matthew 9:9
As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him



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The Headship of Christ

Submitted by William MacDonaldon Mon, 02/07/2005 – 06:00


 A second truth to which the local church should be a witness is that Christ is the Head of the body. How can believers testify to this fact today? Obviously they must accept no human leader as head of the Church. The most glaring violation of this is the head of a large religious system who claims to be the temporal head of the body of Christ. Most Christians today have seen the folly of such a pretension, yet in somewhat subtler forms the evil has infiltrated into almost all segments of Christendom.

The Headship of Christ is truly acknowledged when He is allowed to control the church’s activities, to make its decisions, to superintend in every department. To many this will sound vague and impractical. How can the Lord in heaven guide a local church on earth? The answer is that He will never fail to make His will known to those who patiently wait on Him for it. True, this requires a great deal of spiritual exercise on the part of the believers. It would be much easier to take matters in their own hands, and make their own plans. But it should be remembered that New Testament principles can only be carried out with New Testament power, and those who are unwilling to tread the path of dependence, prayer, and patient waiting will never have the privilege of seeing the Great Head of the Church guiding the local church or assembly here on earth.

At this point it might be appropriate to emphasize that it is one thing to give lip-service to the Headship of Christ and quite another thing to acknowledge it practically. There are some who apparently would shed their blood for the truth of the Headship of Christ, and yet who deny it practically by being virtual dictators in the assembly. A man or a group of men may not have any official title or designation in a church and yet rule it ruthlessly. Diotrephes was such a man (3 John 9, 10). He loved to have the preeminence; he spoke against godly men like John with malicious words; he would not receive such men, and forbade those who would, casting them out of the church. This was a positive denial of Christ as Head.

Perhaps a word should be added concerning the headquarters of the church. The word headquarters speaks of the center of operations and of authority. The headquarters of the church are where the Head is; namely, in heaven. A local church cannot consistently recognize any controlling organization such as a synod, presbytery, or council where control is exercised over a single church or a group of churches. Each assembly stands directly responsible to the Head of the Church, and should be nothing and do nothing that would deny that truth.


As pointed out previously, a third important truth in connection with the Church is that all believers are members of the body. It is the duty of the assembly to set forth this truth with accuracy and faithfulness. Nothing that it teaches or practices should deny the oneness of all Christians. If we inquire how the local church can witness to this, we shall find ourselves concerned with the policies it follows in receiving others into its fellowship. This subject is commonly known as reception policy, and the principles are clear.


The general principle is that the local church or assembly should receive all those whom Christ has received. “Wherefore receive ye one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). The basis of true fellowship is the fact that a person has already been received into the body of Christ. The local church merely gives visible expression to that fact by welcoming him into its midst.


However, this is not a rule without exception. There are three additional requirements which are implicit in the teachings of the New Testament. The person received must be holy in life (1 Corinthians 5:11; 10:21). It would obviously give a very inaccurate representation of the holy character of the church to receive a fornicator, a covetous man, an idolater, a railer, a drunkard or an extortioner.

Closely associated with this is the fact it would be quite improper to receive a person who was at the time under discipline by another local church (1 Corinthians 5:13). This would be a denial of the unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4). Until an excommunicated person has been restored to fellowship with the Lord and with His people, he is counted as a heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:17).

Finally, the person must be sound as to the doctrine of Christ (2 John 10). “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed”, The question arises here as to what is included in the doctrine of Christ. The expression is not explained in this passage, but we would suggest that the doctrine of Christ includes the great truths concerning His Person and Work: namely, His deity, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His substitutionary death, His burial, resurrection and ascension, and His coming again.

To summarize then, we would conclude that a local church should receive into its fellowship all born-again believers who are holy in life, not under discipline by some other local church or assembly, and sound in doctrine.


But the Scriptures give us some other instructions as to the matter of reception. The local assembly should:

1. Receive him who is weak in the faith (Romans 14:1). This refers to a Christian who is unduly scrupulous with regard to matters of moral indifference. The fact that he is a vegetarian, for instance, should not exclude him. 2. Receive without respect of persons (James 2 1-5). The Bible warns against showing special consideration to the rich, and despising the poor. This would apply too in the matter of race, social level, or culture. Discrimination is unchristian. 3. Receive on the basis of life, not light (Acts 9:26-38). Fellowship is not dependent on how much one knows, but rather on the Person whom he knows. Thus, Apollos was received in Ephesus, even though his knowledge was quite defective (Acts 18:24-28). 4. Receive on the basis of life, not of ordinance. Baptism is nowhere said to be the door into the local church. Though it is true that all believers should be baptized (Matthew 28:19), yet the moment we say that a person must be baptized in order to be received into fellowship, we have gone beyond the Word. 5. Receive on the basis of life, not service. Just because we might not agree with a Christian’s sphere of service is no reason for denying him the fellowship of the local church. In Luke 9:53, we read that the Samaritans would not receive the Lord Jesus because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. They were motivated by sectarianism rather than by divine principles. 6. Receive a person in spite of what he may have been before he was saved. Paul had been a persecutor, but he was received without regard to his past history (Acts 9:27, 28). Onesimus had been a thief, but Paul exhorts Philemon to receive him (Philemon 12,15,17). When an assembly’s doors are closed to converted drunkards, gamblers, or outcasts, it has lost its true character as an available center of worship for God’s people. 7. Receive believers in the Lord with gladness (Philippians 2:29). In a very real sense, the way we treat the weakest member of His body, is the way we treat the Lord Himself. ’’inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren. ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).


Now the question invariably arises, “How is an assembly to know whether a person is really saved and eligible for fellowship? At least five possible approaches may be suggested. First, there is the use of letters of recommendation (Romans 16:1). A Christian travelling from one assembly to another can avoid considerable difficulty and embarrassment by carrying a letter from his home assembly, testifying to his faith and walk.

Then the testimony of two or three witnesses is acceptable (Matthew 18:16). If a person is known to two or more Christians in a local church, that church may receive him on their recommendation.

The testimony of only one person, but one who has the confidence of the assembly, can be taken. Paul commended Phebe to the saints at Rome (Romans 16:1), and Epaphroditus to the church at Philippi (Philippians 2:28-30).

A man’s own reputation as a servant of Christ is sufficient (2 Corinthians 3:1-2). Paul disclaimed the necessity of a letter of commendation to the church at Corinth because he was well-known to them as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

There can be a careful inquiry and investigation by the assembly itself. By this is meant that an assembly, perhaps through the elders, may question a person as to his faith in Christ, etc., asking him to give a reason of the hope that is in him (1 Peter 3:15). They may then receive him after reasonable assurance that he belongs to Christ.


Before closing this section on reception, we should also consider three other questions which commonly arise in connection with this subject.

Does the church have any right to judge whether a man is saved or not? The answer is that this is not only a right but a sacred obligation. Since Christians are forbidden to have fellowship with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17), it is obvious that they are required to use every reasonable means to discern the spiritual status of those who seek a place among the people of God.

Suppose an assembly receives a man and he subsequently teaches error in the church? Then his teaching should be publicly refuted from the Word of God (1 Timothy 5:20). A New Testament church can only function in the environment of an open Bible. It should have godly elders who can expose error and defend the faith (Titus 1:9).

Suppose a local church receives a person, and he either attends irregularly thereafter, or never comes back? In the first place it should be emphasized that fellowship means sharing or holding things in common. Those in fellowship should enter into the life of the assembly, bear their load of responsibility, and share the work involved. Generally speaking, if a person attends only one service a week, he is limited in fellowship. Reception into a local church is in reality a reception into the hearts and homes of the Christians making up the fellowship of that church. With regard to a person who is received but who never returns, the man himself is accountable. The assembly is responsible to present to him a faithful and spiritual representation of the Church. He is thereafter obligated to be obedient to the truth.

Obviously the subject of reception is a complicated one, and we have only been able to touch on some of its more important aspects. Recognizing the incompleteness of our coverage, we move on to the next major point.


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The Local Church Defined

Submitted by William MacDonaldon Mon, 02/07/2005 – 06:00


Down through the years, there has been considerable disagreement as to what constitutes a New Testament church. The usual approach is to list a certain number of requirements or marks; if a group of Christians answers to these qualifications, then it is considered to be a true local church.

Henry Barrow has given what might be considered a rather typical definition of a church. He defined it as follows: “A true-planted and rightly-established church of Christ is a company of faithful people, separated from unbelievers, gathered in the Name of Christ, whom they truly worship and readily obey. They are a brotherhood, a communion of saints, each one of them standing in and for their Christian liberty to practice whatsoever God ha commanded and revealed unto them in His Holy Word.”

First Corinthians 1:2 gives a simple, yet accurate description of a local church. “To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”

Other definitions have been far more restricted with the result that only the churches of a certain denomination or group actually qualify.


This raises a very real question. Does the New Testament list a certain number of requisites or essentials of a local church? Are the marks of an assembly stated so clearly that any believer could separate the fellowships in any area into those which ate true New Testament churches and those which are not?

We would suggest that this is not the case. If becoming a true church were merely a matter of conforming to a certain pattern or going through a specified routine of meetings, then this could be done quite mechanically without spiritual exercise. Lethargy and complacency would result. Though the position of a church might be ever so correct, yet the condition of the believers might be far otherwise.

Instead of that, we believe that the New Testament approach is this. All believers are instructed that, by the grace of God, they are members of the Church. They are exhorted to gather together in such a way as to give expression to the great truths of the Church. Some assemblies of Christians give a very poor representation of the body of Christ. Other groups present a more faithful likeness. None does so perfectly.

Thus, instead of following the legalistic method which says, ‘lf you meet certain requirements, you will become a church,’ the language of Scripture is the language of grace; namely, “You as believers are the Church; now meet in such a manner as to give an accurate expression of this fact to the world.” The motive power under grace is love for the Savior, and this love should make us want to present a faithful image of the body of Christ to those around us.


To summarize then, the local church should be a miniature of the Church universal. It should be nothing and do nothing that would contradict the great truths of the Church which is the body of Christ.

As Ridout has said: “Its nature and unity must be manifested. It must be seen that it is the body of Christ, formed by and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that all believers are members of it, united to Christ glorified and to one another; that the Lord’s coming is the hope before it; and that the Name of Christ is the only one by which it is called. Furthermore, it must exhibit the unity of the body of Christ.”

If then, the local church must be a replica of the complete Church, what are the great truths of the body of Christ to which it must provide a living testimony? We have already referred to seven of these fundamental truths; namely:

A. There is one body.

B. Christ is Head of the body.

C. All believers are members of the body.

D. The Holy Spirit is the representative of Christ in the Church.

E. The Church of God is holy.

E. Gifts are given for the edification of the Church.

G. All believers are priests of God.

Our present objective, therefore, is to take these truths one by one, and seek to determine how the local church can portray them to the world.


The first truth to which the local church is responsible to witness is that there is one body. How can believers testify to this fact today?


Perhaps the most obvious way is by adopting no names that would separate them from other Christians. In the church of Corinth, some were saying, “I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Christ.” Paul indignantly condemns such a spirit by asking, “Is Christ divided?’ (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

Today Christians divide themselves into denominations named after countries, religious leaders, ordinances, or forms of church government. All such are a practical denial of the unity of the body of Christ.

Clearly, the scriptural approach is for God’s children to be known only by such names as are given in the Bible – names such as “believers’’ (Acts 5:14); “disciples” (Acts 9:1); “Christians” (Acts 11:26); “saints” (Ephesians 1:1); and “brethren,” (James 2:1). It is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in the Christian life to carry no name but that of a simple believer. The vast majority today feels that one must belong to some organized church and carry some other name than those given in the Word. Anyone who refuses to be known as anything but a child of God will suffer reproach at the hands even of other Christians and will always be a conundrum in the community. Yet how can believers consistently do otherwise?

But obviously it is not enough just to have a scripturally accurate name. It is all too possible to adhere strictly to the language of the Bible and yet be extremely sectarian in spirit. Some in Corinth were saying, “I am of Christ,” for instance. Perhaps they prided themselves on the correctness of their name, but they actually meant that they were of Christ to the exclusion of other true believers. Paul found fault with them equally as much as with those who claimed loyalty to himself or Apollos.


When any doubt is voiced as to the scripturalness of denominations, the objection is commonly raised that the Lord has richly blessed in some of the great divisions and sects of the Church. Granting that this is true, we should still remember that the blessing of the Lord does not indicate divine approval in every detail. He honors His own Word though often its delivery is accompanied by much failure and imperfection. If God blessed only where there was perfection, there would be no blessing. Therefore the fact that any group has seen His hand does not mean that He approves of all that the group does. The message is always greater than the messenger.

The Lord’s attitude toward divisions in the Church is clearly shown in 1 Corinthians 3:4: ‘For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?’

Divisions in the Church bring great evils. They create artificial barriers to fellowship. They limit the movement of gifted men of God whose ministry should be available to all the Church. They confuse the world, causing men to ask, “Which church is right?”

In his renowned work, The Lord’s Prayer for Believers, Marcus Rainsford wrote: “For my own part, I believe sects and denominations to be the result of the devil’s attempt to mar and hinder as far as possible the visible union of the Church of God; and that they all have their root in our spiritual pride and selfishness, our self-sufficiency and our sin.’

“May God forgive us for, and correct our divisions! Nothing gives greater occasion to the outside world, than the differences between professing Christians. The bickerings and contentions between men and women of different sects and denominations of the visible Church of God has always been one of the world’s greatest hindrances. Instead of looking on, and being constrained to confess, See how these Christians love one another,’ the world has too often reason to say, ‘See how they carp at one another, see how they judge one another, see how they malign one another.’

Sadly, this deplorable state exists all too often within some local churches and dishonor is thereby brought upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Believers who determine to witness to the unity of the body of Christ will find it a great difficulty to separate themselves from all divisions in the Church, and at the same time maintain a loving spirit toward all the people of God.

C. H. Mackintosh, beloved author of the Notes on the Pentateuch, wrote: “The grand difficulty is to combine a spirit of intense separation with a spirit of grace, gentleness and forbearance; or, as another has said, ‘to maintain a narrow circle with a wide heart.’ This is really a difficulty. As the strict and uncompromising maintenance of truth tends to narrow the circle around us, we all shall need the expansive power of grace to keep the heart wide and the affections warm. If we contend for truth otherwise than in grace, we shall only yield a one-sided and most unattractive testimony. And on the other hand, if we try to exhibit grace at the expense of truth, it will prove, in the end, to be only the manifestation of a popular liberty at God’s expenses most worthless thing.”’

W. H. Griffith Thomas expressed the same thought in his book, Ministerial Life and Work: “Let the principles be firmly fixed on the unmistakable rock of Divine truth, but let the sympathies go out as widely as possible to all who are endeavoring to live and labor for Christ. Never shall I forget the words of the saintly and noble Bishop Whipple of Minnesota, the Apostle of the Indians, as I heard them in London on a memorable occasion: ‘For thirty years I have tried to see the face of Christ in those who have differed from me.’

The visible display of the unity of the body of Christ is not to be brought about by the various ecumenical movements about which so much is heard today. Such unions, councils or federations succeed only by compromising the great truths of the Scripture. Christian congregations deny their Lord when they join with those who repudiate the virgin birth of Christ, His sinless humanity, His substitutionary death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension and exaltation, and His coming again.

The true basis of Christian unity is a common devotion to Christ and His Word. When His glory is the great desire of our hearts, then we will be drawn together, and then His prayer will be answered: “That they may be one, even as we are one,” (John 17:22). As Griffith Thomas has said, “It has often been pointed out that when the tide is out, there are little pools of water here and there on the shore, separated from each other by vast stretches of sand, and it is only when the great tide rolls in and submerges them all in its vast embrace that they become one and are united. So must it be, so will it be with our severances of heart, ‘our unhappy divisions’; the great tide of God’s love will flow deeper and fuller into each and all of our lives, and in the ocean of that love we realize the Divine ideal of love, joy, peace for evermore.”’

In the meantime the responsibility of local churches is to seek to maintain a testimony to the unity of the body of Christ in a day when most of Christendom serves only to deny the fact. They can do this by acknowledging in spirit, principle and practice all their fellow-believers.

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