WHAT I BELIEVE

The following statement was first written for a Baptist fellowship.  I had a part in the writing of it.  Later, the statement was adopted with a few changes to be the doctrinal statement of the First Baptist Church of LaSalle, Illinois.  This statement is exactly what I believes.

STATEMENT OF FAITH

A. SCRIPTURES

1. Statement on Inspiration and Inerrancy   We believe in the plenary, verbal, inspiration by God of the entire Bible as originally written and in the lineage and texts of the King James Version.  We believe in the authority and sufficiency of the Holy Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments (Genesis through Revelation).  We believe the Holy Bible is a completed revelation, and that its divine inspiration has never been, nor will it ever be, duplicated. We believe, therefore, in the Bible’s infallibility and unlimited inerrancy in all areas, including creation, science, geography, chronology, history, and in all other matters of which it speaks. The books known as the Apocrypha, however, are not the inspired Word of God in any sense whatever. As the Bible uses it, the term “inspiration” (or quality of being God-breathed) refers to the original writings, not to the writers; the writers are spoken of as being “holy men of God” who were “moved” (or “carried” or “borne” along) by the Holy Spirit in such a definite way that their writings were supernaturally, plenarily, and verbally inspired, free from any error, infallible, and inerrant, as no other writings have ever been or ever will be. We believe the King James Version of the Bible to be the true center of Christian unity and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions shall be tried: It is our final authority. 

2. Statement on Bible Preservation  We believe God has promised, in both the Old and New Testaments, to preserve His words as given to us in the original Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek texts.  By His providential care, we believe God has kept His Word pure down through the ages as He promised, and we reaffirm our belief in what our Baptist forefathers wrote in their London Baptist Confession of 1677 and 1689.  It states in part: The Old Testament in Hebrew, (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was generally known to the nations) being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; (Psalms 12:6-7; 78:1-8; 119:89; 111, 152, 160; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Isaiah 8:20, 30:8; 40:6-8; Matthew 4:4, 5:17-18, 24:35, 28:20; John 10:35, 17:17; Colossians 1:17; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Timothy 3:16-17; I Peter 1:23-25; II Peter 1:19-21; 2 John 2; Revelation 20:12). 

B. THE TRIUNE GOD 

We believe in the deity, unity, equality and eternality of the Triune God:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; that these three persons are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes and perfections; that they are worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence and obedience; that this Triune God is the one and only living and true God; that God is sovereign in creation, in the church, in salvation, and in all of life and death; that He is everlasting, immutable, of infinite power, wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness and truth; and that He is the Maker and Preserver of all things, both visible and invisible; subsisting in three persons, of one substance (essence), power and eternity.

1.  God the Father:  We believe in God the Father; that He is the first Person of the Trinity; that He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who proceeds from Him eternally; that He is the Father of all who are saved by His grace; that He hears and answers prayer; and that His Home is in Heaven.

2. The Son: His Virgin Birth:  We believe that, as provided and proposed by God and as pre-announced in the prophecies of the Scriptures, the eternal Son of God came into this world that He might manifest God to men, fulfill prophecy and become the Redeemer-substitute; that He was begotten of the Holy Spirit in a miraculous manner, born of Mary, a virgin, as no other man was ever born or can be born of woman; that He received a human body and a sinless human nature; and that He is both the eternal Son of God and God the Son–perfect God and perfect Man. 

3. The Son: His Blood:  We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to shed His blood and die to save sinners.  He shed the blood of God to purchase the Church.  The shed blood of Jesus Christ is the only basis for the forgiveness of sin and peace with God. 

4. The Son: His Person:  We believe in the essential, absolute, eternal deity and the real and proper, but perfect and sinless, humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ; that Christ is the eternal Son of God, and God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, being co-equal, co-eternal, and of the same essence as God the Father; that He united in one person undiminished deity and perfect, sinless humanity.

5. The Son: His Bodily Resurrection:  We believe that, our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day in the same body, though glorified, and that His resurrection body is the pattern of that body which ultimately will be given to all believers. 

6. The Son: His High Priestly Work: We believe that, in Heaven,  He now sits at the right hand of God the Father as our Great High Priest, interceding for His own; that He became Head over all things to the Church which is His Body; and that, in this ministry He ceases not to intercede and advocate for the saved.(Genesis 1:1, 3:15; Genesis 15:6 cf. with Romans 4:3; Exodus 20:2-3; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25, 28:18-19; Mark 12:29, 16:19; Luke 1:35, 24:51; John 1:3, 14, 18, 20:17; Acts 1:9-10; Romans 4:5-8; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:15-16; I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 1:1-3, 2:17, 4:15, 5:9-10, 7:25, 11:7, 12:2; I John 2:1, 5:7-8; Revelation 1:4-6, 4:11). 

7. The Holy Spirit: His Person and Presence: We believe that the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, is of one substance (essence), majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God; that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, equal with God the Father and God the Son and of the same nature; that He was active in creation; that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the blessed Trinity, though omnipresent from all eternity, took up His abode in the world in a special sense on the day of Pentecost according to the divine promise; that He dwells in every believer; that, as the Indwelling One, He is the source of all power and all acceptable worship and service; that He never takes His departure from the Church, nor from the feeblest of the saints; that He is ever present to testify of Christ, seeking to occupy believers with Him and not with themselves nor with their experiences; that His abode in the world in this special sense will cease when Christ comes to receive His own at the completion of the Church in the Rapture.

8. The Holy Spirit: His Ministries: We believe that, in this age, certain well-defined ministries are committed to the Holy Spirit, and that it is the duty of every Christian to understand them and to be adjusted to them in his own life and experience; that He restrains evil in the world to the measure of the divine will; that He convicts the world respecting sin, righteousness, and judgment; that He regenerates all believers; that He indwells and anoints all who are saved; that He seals believers unto the day of redemption; that Christ baptized in the Spirit into one body all who are saved; that He intercedes for the believers and that He fills for power, leading, bearing witness, teaching and service those among the saved who are subject to His will.(Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41, 42, 8:36, 37, 15:13-18; I Corinthians 11:23-27, 12:12, 13; Ephesians 1:22, 23, 3:1-6, 4:11, 5:23; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 19:7, 8, 22:17).

9. The Holy Spirit: His Temporary Gifts: The charismatic gifts, such as tongues, healing, and prophecy are not for our day.  (Genesis 1:1-3; Matthew 28:20; Mark 1:8; Luke 24:49; John 1:33, 3:6, 14:16-17, 16:7-14; Acts 1:8, 4:8, 31, 5:32, 11:16; Romans 8:9, 14-16, 23, 26-27; I Corinthians 6:19, 12:4-13; 13:8-13; Ephesians 1:13-14, 2:22, 4:30, 5:18; II Thessalonians 2:7; I John 2:20-27).

C. SALVATION

We believe that the salvation of sinners is divinely initiated and wholly of grace through the mediatorial offices of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who, by the appointment of the Father, voluntarily took upon Himself our nature, yet without sin, and honored the divine law by His personal obedience, thus qualifying Himself to be our Savior; that by the shedding of His blood in His death He fully satisfied the just demand of a holy and righteous God regarding sin; that His sacrifice consisted not in setting us an example by His death as a martyr, but was a voluntary substitution of Himself in the sinner’s place, the Just dying for the unjust, Christ the Lord bearing our sins in His own body on the tree; that, having risen from the dead, He is now enthroned in Heaven, and uniting in His wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfection, He is in every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate and an all-sufficient Savior.(Acts 15:11, 16:30-31; Romans 3:24, 25; John 3:16; Philippians 2:7,8; Hebrews 2:14-18; Isaiah 53:4-7; I John 4:10; I Corinthians 15:3-4; II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:24).

1. Appropriation  We believe that salvation is wholly a work of God, performed from beginning to end by Him and that unsaved man can not do anything to save himself, or make himself more acceptable to God in order to merit God’s saving him. God therefore commands man to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the means of appropriating salvation. Repentance is a change of mind toward God prompted by the Holy Spirit and is an integral part of saving faith.(Ecclesiastes 3:14; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:15-16, 18; Acts 15:11, 16:30-31; Romans 3:24-25; I Corinthians 15:1-4; I John 5:13).

2. Grace and the New Birth  We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be born again; that the new birth is a new creation in Christ Jesus; that it is instantaneous and not a process; that in the new birth, the one dead in trespasses and in sins is made a partaker of the divine nature and receives eternal life, the free gift of God; that the new creation is brought about solely by God by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in the truth of the Gospel. (I John 3:3,8; 5:1; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 6:23; I Corinthians 15:1-4; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1-9; Colossians 2:13; II Peter 1:4; I John 5:1-13).

3. Justification  We believe that justification is that judicial act of God whereby He declares the believer righteous upon the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ; that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any work of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s shed blood. We do not, therefore, believe that the blood of Christ is symbolic of death in the Bible; rather, we believe the shedding of Christ’s blood was essential to the atonement.(Romans 3:24, 4:5, 5:1,9; Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9).

4. The Security of the Believers  We believe that all who are truly born again are kept by God the Father for Jesus Christ. This security of the believer is dependent on the work of Christ alone and not the work of the believer. (Philippians 1:6; John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39; Jude 1).

D. SANCTIFICATION

We believe that the sanctifying work of God in relation to the believer is a setting apart of the believer unto God and from sin. Sanctification encompasses the following: first, judicial sanctification; second, experiential sanctification; and third, complete sanctification.

1. Judicial Sanctification  Judicial sanctification is the work of God the Father wherein the believer has been positionally declared holy and without blame. This declaration was based on the merits of the redemptive work of Christ through the shedding of His blood. As an eternal act of God, judicial sanctification was fully accomplished by Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection, and nothing in the experiential life of the believer can change this standing. Every believer is thus a saint; and there will never be any past, present, or future condemnation brought against him.

2. Experiential Sanctification  Experiential sanctification is the work of God the Holy Spirit wherein the believer is being practically made to conform to the image of Christ. This is an ongoing process in which the believer is personally responsible to obey the Word of God in his daily walk. While experiential sanctification is progressive in nature, its progress may be hindered by disobedience, since the believer retains his sin nature, which cannot be eradicated in this life. The sin nature is still operative in the believer’s present state, even though he has been judicially declared to be dead indeed unto sin. Though he is admonished to strive to be holy as God is holy, it is impossible for him to reach a state of sinless perfection until he is present with the Lord. Holiness in the life of the believer is effected through the Word of God by faith, obedience, prayer, chastisement, godly fellowship, and the Blessed Hope. 

3. Complete Sanctification  Complete sanctification is the work of the Son of God wherein the believer is perfectly transformed to the image of Jesus Christ.  Though complete sanctification does not occur until the believer is home with the Lord, either in death, or in the rapture for those who remain until His coming, it will be an instantaneous trans-formation to be like Christ when he sees Him as He is.  The eradication of the believer’s sin nature will take place at death and will not await the resurrection of the believer’s body.  At the resurrection, the believer will have a body like the glorious body of Christ, free from all sin.  A proper understanding of complete sanctification precludes any notion of purgatory, since Christ already accomplished the purging of the believer’s sin by His work of sanctification. (John 17:1-3; Romans 6:2, 5-11, 14:7-9; I Corinthians 1:30, 6:9-11; Ephesians 1:4, 14, 18, 2:11-14, 5:26-27; I Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 2:9-13, 10:9-14; I Peter 1:2; I John 1:9; Jude 1). 

E. THE CHURCH 

We believe in the unity of all true believers in the Church, which is the Body of Christ.  It was established on the Day of Pentecost, will be completed at the Rapture, and includes both Jews and Gentiles. All who are part of this Church have been added through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the local church is a congregation of immersed believers, associated by covenant of faith and fellowship of the Gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ (baptism and the Lord’s Table); governed by His laws, and exercising the ministries, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word; that its two officers are pastors (also known as bishops and elders) and deacons, whose qualifications and duties are defined in the Scriptures.  We believe that the true mission of the church is the fulfillment of the Great Commission, as stated in Matthew 28:18-20.  We believe that the local church has the absolute right of self-government, free from the interferences of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations, that the one and only superintendent is Christ, through the Holy Spirit; that it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other in contending for the faith and for the furtherance of the Gospel; that each local church is the sole judge of the measure of its cooperation; that on all matters of membership, of polity, of benevolence, the will of the local church is final. We believe that the local church is God’s plan for accomplishing His commission in this age. We believe, therefore, that all other Christian institutions and agencies should have as their objective to aid and strengthen the local church. 

1. The Ordinances of the Local Church  There are two scriptural ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  We believe that baptism is the ordinance whereby the believer publicly identifies with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, following salvation. It is a single immersion in water, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It is not the means of salvation, but rather an obedient act of identification. It is an ordinance of the local church and should, therefore, be done under the authority of a local church. We further believe that the Lord’s Table is a precious reminder of the broken body and shed blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is also a joyous reminder that one day we will drink it new with Him in the Father’s kingdom.  This ordinance is also fulfilled by a local church and is preceded by salvation and believer’s baptism. Great care should be exercised in self-examination so that no one eats the broken bread or drinks the fruit of the vine unworthily. 

2. Church Officers  We believe that the Head of the Church has ordained two offices in the local church, pastor and deacon.  First Timothy three defines their character and qualifications and establishes their rank.  Neither a pastor nor a deacon may have been divorced nor married to a divorced woman. The Holy Spirit’s direction in the choice of men is through election by the congregation. There is no valid ordination of women. This franchise is granted to the congregation in the meaning of the word church and by the practice of the churches under the direction of the Apostles. The first office is described by three terms: bishop, elder, and pastor. They are different perspectives on the same office. We believe that every pastor is both ruler and teacher, and that these gifts are not divided amongst “ruling elders” and a “teaching elder.” All elders are bishops and must be “apt to teach.” There may be more than one pastor in a congregation, but one pastor should provide leadership for the whole congregation as in the example of James in the Jerusalem church.The Head has given the purposes and principles for each local church in the New Testament. The pastor has authority from the Head to preach the Word as he is led by the Holy Spirit, to set spiritual objectives for the flock, to oversee that Scripture is followed in the overall activity of the church, to warn of false doctrine and spiritual dangers, and to lead by example. However, he is not a dictator over the church.The local church has authority from the Head to choose its own officers, to discipline and dismiss members, to appoint messengers, to commission missionaries, to choose the time and place of meetings which includes the observance of the two ordinances, to initiate financial policy and accountability, and to judge grievances between members. The areas of authority granted to the pastor and the local church should be exercised in harmonious balance. The deacons assist the pastor in implementing and supervising the policies and programs of the local church.(Mark 10:11,12; Acts 6:3-5, 11:29-30, 14:23, 19:39, 20:28-31; Romans 7:1-3; I Corinthians 5:1-13, 6:1-5, 9:11-14; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 1:22; Philippians 1:1; I Thessalonians 5:12, 13; I Timothy 3:1-6, 10-13, 5:17-18; II Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:5-9; I Peter 5:1-4). 

F. BIBLICAL SEPARATION 

Separation is a clear principle of Scripture, practiced by Baptists who believe the fundamentals of the faith, whereby we do not fellowship with apostates or those who compromisingly fellowship with apostates.

1. Personal Separation, whereby a believer is in the world, but not of it, having no friendship, affiliation, nor identification with it. 

2. Ecclesiastical Separation, whereby we preach against apostasy, and withdraw from brethren who enter into memberships, affiliations and fellowships (including evangelistic crusades, youth movements, mission agencies, and schools) which seek to unite separatist fundamentalists with those who deny biblical doctrines, including those who do not obey the biblical teaching on separation. 

3. Political Separation, whereby the things that belong to Caesar are rendered unto Caesar, and those things which are God’s are duly rendered unto Him.  Political separation prohibits the establishment of a state church or government interference with the doctrines and practices of churches. (Luke 20:25; John 15:18-21, 17:12-16, 18:36; Romans 16:16, 17; II Corinthians 6:4-17; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 5:11; Philippians 3:20; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14; II Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9-16; James 4:4; I Peter 1:16, 18; I John 3:1, 13).

G. CIVIL GOVERNMENT 

We believe that civil government is of divine appointment for the interest and good order of human society; that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed; except in those things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only Lord of the conscience and the coming King of kings..(Exodus 18:21, 22; II Samuel 23:3; Daniel 3:17, 18; Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29, 4:19, 20, 23:5; Romans 13:1-7). 

H. CREATION 

We believe in the biblical account of the creation of the universe in six literal, solar days; that God created by His Word the Heaven and the earth; that man was created by a direct act of God; that all humans were present in Adam when he was created; that new individuals (in all their parts) come into existence today, not by a continuing creation, but through the laws of propagation established by God; that each individual is a living person from the moment of conception; that theories of evolution, both natural and theistic, are serious errors which strike at the very person and glory of God.(Genesis 1:1-31, 2:7, 5:3; Psalm 139:13-16; Luke 1:41, 44; John 1:3; Romans 5:12-14; I Corinthians 15:22; Colossians 1:15-19; Hebrews 11:3). 

I. FALL OF MAN 

We believe that man was created in innocence (in the image and likeness of God) under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression Adam fell from his sinless and happy state, and all men sinned in him, in consequence of which all men are totally depraved, are partakers of Adam’s fallen nature, and are sinners by nature and by conduct, and therefore are under just condemnation without defense or excuse.(Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 1:18, 32, 3:10-19, 5:12, 19). 

J. THE DEVIL OR SATAN 

We believe in the reality and personality of Satan, the Devil; that he was created by God as a glorious and powerful being; that he sinned in pride and rebellion, and fell from his position of favor with God; that a great company of angels followed him in his fall, and that some of them became demons, while others are “reserved in chains under darkness unto the judgment;” that he is the archenemy of God; that he is very subtle, and extremely wicked; that he is the adversary of believers; that he blinds men to the Gospel; that he troubles the children of God, and accuses the believer before God; that he brought sin into God’s creation; that he led our first parents into sin and rebellion and, as the god of this age, rules over a kingdom of darkness consisting of fallen angels and unregenerate men; that he counterfeits the true works of God by bringing into existence, and nurturing religious systems and doctrines which cause many men and religious movements to apostatize from the true things of God; that he is destined to the judgment of an eternal justice in the Lake of Fire. (Genesis 3:1-6, 16; Job 1:6-12, 2:4-7; Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-15; Matthew 4:1-11, 12:22-30, 13:39; Luke 10:18, 22:31-32; John 8:44; II Corinthians 4:3, 4, 11:3, 13-15; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 5:8, 6:11-12; Colossians 1:13; II Thessalonians 2:4, 9-10; I Timothy 2:13-14, 3:6; II Timothy 2:5; I Peter 5:8, 9; II Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 12:3-10, 20:1-10).

K. END TIMES

1.   Biblical Dispensations  We believe that the dispensations are stewardships, or rules of life, by which God administers His purpose on the earth through man under varying responsibilities. Each dispensation begins with man being divinely placed in a new position of privilege and responsibility, and each closes with a failure of man resulting in righteous judgment from God.  Three of these dispensations, or rules of life, are the subject of extended revelation in Scripture. They are the dispensation of the Mosaic Law, the present dispensation of Grace, and the future dispensation of the Millennial Kingdom. They are distinct and are not to be intermingled or confused as they are chronologically successive. Covenant Theology, as found in Reformed Theology, is unscriptural.We believe that the dispensations are not ways of salvation, and that according to the “eternal purpose” of God, salvation is always “by grace through faith,” and that it rests upon the basis of the shed blood of Christ. We believe that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” 

2. Israel  We believe that Israel is distinct from the Church, the Body of Christ, just as God’s purpose for each is distinct.  We believe in the sovereign selection of Israel as God’s eternal covenant people, that they are now dispersed because of their disobedience and rejection of Christ, and that they will be regathered in the Holy Land, and after the completion of the Church, will be saved as a nation at the Second Advent of Christ.

3. Rapture  We believe in the pretribulational and premillennial return of Jesus Christ. By this we mean that Christ’s return for His Bride, the Church, (the Rapture) is imminent and can occur at any moment in which all believers shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before the seven years tribulation.

4. Tribulation We believe that the Translation, or Rapture, of the Church will be followed by the Tribulation of seven years, which is the fulfillment of Daniel’s Seventieth Week for Israel, and that the latter half of this period will be the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, which our Lord called the Great Tribulation.

5. Second Coming of Christ We believe the Tribulation Period will come to a close when Christ returns to the earth in person, with power and great glory, to stop the rebellion led by the Antichrist. Satan and the armies of the earth will be defeated by Christ in the Battle of Armageddon. Immediately following this, Christ will establish His Millennial Kingdom. 

6. Millennial Reign of Christ  We believe that, during this thousand years, Christ will reign as King upon the earth from the Throne of David; Satan will be bound in the abyss; the curse will be lifted from the whole creation; Israel will be restored to her own land according to God’s covenant promises; and the whole world shall be full of the knowledge of God. At the end of his thousand year imprisonment, Satan will be released for a short time and will immediately deceive the nations of the earth into following him in one final attempt to overthrow the rule of Christ. Satan will be defeated and thrown into the Lake of Fire to join the beast and the false prophet for eternity. 

7.  Eternal Destiny  The Righteous: We believe that only those who are justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and sanctified by the Spirit of God are truly righteous. At death, their spirits and souls pass immediately into His presence in Heaven, and they remain in conscious bliss until they are reunited with their resurrected bodies. They shall spend eternity with the Lord.The Wicked: We believe that those who continue in unbelief are in His sight wicked and under the curse both in this life and after death. Their spirits and souls remain in misery and condemnation until the final Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium. Then, they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. They will not be annihilated, but punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord  (Genesis 13:14-17; Deuteronomy 30:1-9; Isaiah 9:6-7, 11:9; Jeremiah 30:7, 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 2:44, 9:24-27; Matthew 24:15-21; 29-31; Luke 16:19-26; John 1:7; Romans 11:1-32;  I Corinthians 15:42-44; 51-57; II Corinthians 5:8; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9; Philippians 3:20; 21; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; II Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 1:6; Jude 6-7; Revelation 3:10; 16:16; 19:19-21; 20:1-15).

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