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August 12, 2020 8:00 am
Are you hello service oriented person. There are two types those who lived to serve and the others who lived to be served.
The world is filled with both and so our churches so what about you. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James voice preparing you to think and act. Today were going to look at the very first deacon will learn what God intended by setting up deacons in the church and be able to discuss how closely our own churches model this teaching from the book of acts.
Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce worth studying together the six chapter of the book of acts, a chapter that begins with another problem in the church.
I guess the good days are over. We started out in the book of acts with what seems to be a description of the absolutely model chart fabulous church after Pentecostal churches describe the end of chapter 2 in glowing terms church devoted the apostles teaching as to the truth and of the fellowship that is to one another and to the breaking of bread that is the sacraments that God is given in the prayer that is devotional life describes in those early days how God blessed richly that church had the favor of all the people, and God added to a daily the numbers of those who should be saved. We found at the end of chapter 4 that the same thing is true. All the believers were in one mind. They shared everything they had. They spent their time praising God and testifying to the people, and God was adding to their number that we come. Chapter 5 we have that sad scene of the dissimulation of Ananias and Sapphire and now in chapter 6 we find another problem is probably quite different. The first one was a matter of deception in my essence of our having sold a piece of land then bringing part of the amount of the sale in presenting and pretending it was a whole they were saying. I don't know if they had song back then but they were certainly singing their equivalent of our little song I surrender all, I surrender all to Jesus I surrender, I surrender all they were doing they were keeping back part and to be careful especially when we sing that song fortunately is not our him but we never sing it here, but when were tempted to say all I have laid on the altar. I have given up everything for Jesus to be very careful because probably the case we haven't any right Ananias and Sapphire have much more.
They knew they hadn't, which made the situation seriously, so you can think that you're going all in the Lord's test teacher that is a lot more to give it in their case, they knew they were doing that was a serious serious problem. But now in chapter 6 it kind of problems. I said no problem of anybody being particularly evil, lying to the Holy Spirit. Just a question of the administration situation was this, there were people in Jerusalem as we know the spoken variety of languages.
We know that because of Pentecost. All those people that were there at the time of the feast heard the early preaching each one in his or her own language and then it lists all those nations of the many different kinds of people described in chapter 6 is a division in the church. How long linguistic lines were Aramaic speaking people.
Once it spoke what we call Hebrew, though it was the version of spoken in that day Aramaic language that Jesus undoubtedly spoke. And then there were the congregations of those who spoke Greek. Greek was the lingua franca of the diet was the language everybody spoke, it's how you did your commerce and Greek, but a new Hebrew and other parts of the world. The Latin wasn't that well-known. Although it was the Roman Empire but Greek was a language they spoke so all these other nationalities were present in Jerusalem. They didn't know Hebrew or Aramaic could get along by speaking Greek and so division in the church. || Due to personality or anything like that but I just a natural division along language line slows and spoke Aramaic would gather together in the house churches and there were others who spoke Greek. It doesn't say this exactly but presumably they would gather together a new one another. They were part of the same church.
I'm sure the apostles minister to one congregation as well as the other.
Who knows, they might have spoken Greek very well. Some of the apostles and probably they did so it was a terrible thing but it was an Asian and out of this division of natural division, not sinful in itself. There was serious misunderstanding. I was in the Greek and community also spoke Greek began to complain against those in the Aramaic congregations that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of the food is interesting that you come in here.
We have been told anything about it. And presumably it's introduced the way it is because of that everybody read this and understand the background of know what was involved. One of the great duties that was imposed upon Jewish people under the Old Testament law was the care of the widows and orphans just couldn't pretend to be a pious Israelite. If you didn't take care of the widows and orphans. Now there were times I were neglected.
The reason we know that is because her warning, especially the minor prophets to do. It was a simple thing to neglected so they obviously had neglected ties with generally that was done and this early church was doing that with its own widows were provisions say being Jews for those needs to be met by the Jewish synagogue through ministration of the temple money was collected for that purpose. They were entitled to that, but things were not all that good between the temple authorities of the early Christian community. We've already seen that. So rather than depends upon the temple authorities to take care the widows which they might have had, we would say legal rights to do these early communities were taking care of the widows by himself which was entirely right lesson. There is a lot of spill over in our relationship, the government, the churches are all too ready to have the civil government take care of all our social problems and to be much better if we took our own social problems, but at any rate, these early Christians were doing that the window so the Greek speaking communities were part of that except that these great congregations felt that their widows were never quite getting enough or getting fair treatment, or perhaps were being overlooked or disqualified.
Along the way to deal with this. Interesting that in this occasion they didn't have divine intervention, which is what happened in the case of Ananias and Sophia probably don't find that they had a prayer meeting, though I'm sure the apostles prayed about it when we have here is an administrative decision. I looked at the situation and no doubt guided by God said to those who were members of the church.
The apostle speaking is right for us now to get involved in this in order to take care of this problem and carry out this ministry ourselves to make sure it's done right. We have other things to do our calling is to prayer and of the proclamation of the word teaching but you have capable people among you all elect people that can carry on this responsibility and that's what the church did this tells us about those who were elected. I think it's interesting to compare what they did, which was a very wise solution of the problem with what they might have done based on the kind of knowledge we have of the church since there were people in the church were complaining and of the church as well as I know you know what happens sometimes when you have people that are complaining some branches of the Christian church solve that by throwing the complainers out. I can name institutions that do that.
Not always church sometimes schools do that to those the dissent from the prevailing theology or use of the administration here people causing trouble.
Let's just get rid of them. Well, if there had been anything like a division before and because of the language which wasn't serious. It will become serious at that point it would have had the first apostolic Church of Jerusalem and across the street on the other glory would have the second apostolic Church of Jerusalem, the first with the spoken Aramaic second with a spoken Greek near when spoken to the other. That's what would've happened that another solution that is sometimes followed in the churches is that you just shun the difficult people and throw them out, but after all there to make problems. We do start to talk to them. Just let them sit there by themselves while in Seattle I like and that'll teach them not to make any trouble anymore.
Sometimes that is done, one of the things we do is to outvote the dissenters you call meeting you get everybody to speak, and you make your motion on your very careful to follow Roberts rules of order because the dissenters are the ones always appeal most vigorously to Roberts rules of order and you follow that. And then when you had your motion in your second and your vote and you've had your motion to cut off debate and you voted on that motivating allow that kind of emotion than a mere majority prevails shut off debate when you have your voted well.
It's all been done democratically and so after that they have to keep quiet because the decision has been made, sometimes in the church we say 51% of the vote is the work of the Holy Spirit. That is how God speaks I have heard that set seriously in some churches. Sometimes people separate from the dissenters and all their problematic creating trouble go up ourselves and will start your church and that's why course until somebody dissents in my church and then you start another church.
Other pure one and then another pure one, and the pure church gets smaller and smaller and smaller eventually is gone. Seems to me that's not the ideal solution.
I guess I could afford a committee that is another approach you think about this you you get carried away by I was talking to Roger Nicole in the way to the airport this afternoon is fly back to Boston and he was certainly going to text tonight and we got talk about this easily. As I preached on that once and he said I made a list of all the solutions they didn't use were 10 of on his list so you can identify think of five or 10 more a 20 more aldermen things are done in the church they didn't do that. They went to the congregation itself, and I suspected, chiefly appealing to those who were complaining of the difficulty and they said not just choose people who in your judgment are well able to carry out the solution able to handle this was ever protecting the rights and writing protecting airport of you know they set up. This is a problem which is where the church of Jesus Christ. We are to be widely enough love one another when a fellowship together. What we want to be as effective in the proclamation of the gospel, we want want anything to besmirch our reputation before the world working out however you care to work it out and I got together and you know what they did that whole group that is the whole church got together and they chose these first deacons.
Some of them in the significant thing about their choice, is that every one of these men to judge from his name, was a Greek speaking Christian say the Greeks were saying that it was their widows were neglected of the church as a whole, and I would imagine there were more Aramaic speaking Christians in the church think the majority here. We would say Robert elect seven.
How are we going to apportion them out of a couple Greeks on there to represent the Greek point of view, but we are the majority of the church. We Aramaic speaking Christians at least four of the seven maybe five of the seven a speaker Aramaic but didn't operate that way. I said let's just pick out seven good man and when they the boats hadn't added it all up. The ones I have chosen with the Greeks, Stephen, whom Luke says the man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit and Philip.
We learn later in the book is the first person called an evangelist very effective. One block Taurus Cameron team and and bar menace and Nicholas from Antioch. It was a convert to Judaism everyone Greek names.
I must say be perfectly honest. That doesn't necessarily mean that they were foreigners, non-Jews.
Nicodemus has a great name to. He was a Jew. He was a member of the Sanhedrin that may be the case. But if they want Greek speakers. If I worked Greek by nationality. They were at least what were called Hellenists. That is, Jews who had such a disposition to Greek literature and knowledge that they have renamed themselves with Greek names is what Nicodemus wants. He was a Hellenist and they were at least back so if they were greeted by nationality or foreigners. Non-Jews release people who were thoroughly inclined to be supporting and appreciative of the Greek point of view and these men and became the first official body officers in the church other than the apostles themselves were appointed by Jesus Christ to say something about these men and how they function, but if I do it's really worth noticing what this tells us about leadership of the church because although this is the first time they established a separate set of body officers to do it.
Certain job they did it.
According to principles that we find not only here but throughout the New Testament, and particularly in Paul's letters as he gives instructions to the church is there to carry out their affairs.
One of the things we notice, we shouldn't over look at is that what you have in this election of deacons is what we would call the division of responsibilities, sometimes in churches you got a couple people in charge of everything and they want to do everything I was talking somebody was here this morning. Soon as I saw him was here with his family. I knew I was here examines a much trouble in his own church that when it gets absolutely horrible.
I come from quite a distance when it gets actually horribly comes here to get just a breath of fresh air, and then he goes home and fights the battle some more and when I saw him I knew what was going on. I talked to him afterwards again to explain some of the problems the chief problem. I have other churches that the minister thinks he has to do everything preaching make the decisions to the evangelism and what he says goes is not ready to listen anybody else. I'll act doesn't good the things wrong with that and it happens more often than we would think nothing is wrong with that is that it denies the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ as a whole. Paul writes about that. It is letters that he does several points talking about the gifts that are given to the church. It was less a variety of gifts that he says the Holy Spirit gives gifts to each one.
Everyone everyone was a Christian, was given the gift. So if in the church, you have people who are not exercising their gifts.
What you have is an impoverished church preacher, no matter how multi-gifted he may be doesn't have all the gifts and so those gifts that he doesn't have her being excluded or neglected in the church is impoverished by just that about ideal church after they set the ideal church is a church where every single believer is engaged in some work for Jesus Christ using the gift that is given. We pay some attention here these days. Still, the church growth people because church grows running problems which lets you live through it before you really don't always understand after, find your way as you go purchase changes the numbers increase and we sometimes go to church growth people. People studied churches from sociological point of view to see what kind of insight they given a say no to have a healthy church is a grows 60% of the people to be engaged in some kind of work in a way that comes from those of your sociologist know how you come up with figures like that 60% rather than 70% or something but that's a figure they come up with and I guess is wonderful to have a church where 60% of the people really engaged in something in there with the ministrations of majority of the people of the others who work on the fringes tend to get drawn in the church become stronger, but important and valuable, and blasters that would be that still is in the ideally ideal is 100% and you say the apostles for the list given to them by God were recognizing this is beginning to implement it in structural ways as they set out this order of deacons. That's the first thing second thing I want you to notice about principles of church government.
Here is a plurality of leadership that is not only a division of responsibility.
We will be responsible for this you will be responsible for that but a plurality of leadership even in the areas of particular responsibility. They like the deacons you see they didn't elect just one. I didn't say, well, here we have a problem. Somebody has to take care of this distribution I pick out the best man you've got of the best woman you've gotten let that one take care of it and do that.
Instead, they picked a group I have in my office somewhere little side. Somebody gave me some years ago that says God so loved the world that he didn't send the committee and I read that I can well understand what that means. Committees are inefficient committees are slow and sometimes you think all it will a lot better just to do away with the committee and make the decision to get the job done. That works quite well, but we sometimes call a benevolent dictator.
Sometimes that's all right to get by on that for a while, but the problem is that no one, no one is without sin and problems and are in and that way you don't have any way to correct this significant is that when you study the New Testament as a whole examine the churches and the structures they have that the Holy Spirit through Paul and the others that were responsible for doing this never merely appointed one elder in any place to take care of the church is always elders in the Presbyterian churches were elders are basic in the form of government, you know you can have a particular church is a church is not a mission church getting underway with an established church a particular church. Unless you have two or more owners say the principal is out of plurality and is very important here had the seven deacons welcome to give you another principles evident from this text and they suggested that they choose people they said verse three brothers drew seven men from among you, are known to be full of the spirit of wisdom to what they're doing there is choosing people on the basis of their spiritual qualifications. Now I know when you choose pastors you're supposed to choose on the basis of their spiritual qualifications.
Lisette, what everybody says except that when you talk to people afterwards. In some churches, you find that the real reason is that they like the way from the pastor's hair if he had any.
I like your smile in the pulpit or they think he certainly tells funny jokes or something like that will easily know when you choose pastors, ministers are supposed to choose them according to spiritual qualifications but monocular choosing deacons in the job of the deacons is to distribute the food to those that are hungry either way we do that today often I might say we do it here, but the way we do it often than the churches of your site your mouth. I might run short and what we really need is men who have private resources so food run short supply the need out of their own pockets or at least failing that many people have experience in stock markets and can invest the bigger resources we have so we can live off the income from the stocks as they go up or down or whatever it may be, and certainly many people who can manage this well. People had experience in business and so on.
I don't want to be misunderstood here. One of the good things in the churches that you have people with a variety of experiences about all sorts of things that's often a great asset to say when choosing leaders responsible people to deal with these things.
What the apostles were concerned about wasn't how rich they were. How much management experience they had spiritual are not because it's hard to say this was the problem of money or lack of litter, food, or lack of it was a spiritual problem. They chose man were known to be full of the spirit of wisdom. I sometimes said I think from the school, but that as I grow older. One of the things I'm most conscious of meetings, wisdom.
I think when you're younger those of you were younger.
Forgive me for saying this but when you're younger, at least when you're very young and I will say where that is when you're very young, basically you think you know almost everything. I maybe do absolutely everything but everything essential. Those of you have children know how wise children are their own lives. They hardly need to learn anything and they certainly are much wiser than their parents. Thing was Mark Twain who said that when he was 15 he thought his father was absolutely ignorant man, but I got to be 20, he was surprised to discover how much he had learned in the intervening five years. That's where we come from, and you get older, things change and you begin to realize that the problems we face aren't always susceptible to simple solution. You wish they were. Sometimes they are some of the problems might be that we just don't see the simple solution that might be a simple solution. We don't see it but often the problems are greater than that more complex when that greatest problem of all problem of sin was solved by what kind of a solution. Was that a simple solution across well, yes. In one sense it was God's son died so simple and tell it in a few words, but it's complex to try to describe what was accomplished on the cross. The Bible is filled with terms like redemption, substitution, atonement, reconciliation, justification, all those words is very hard to exhaust what happened there. Simple yes complex to them. When we talk about our problems.
We really do need wisdom. These men had it. They dealt with things well we never hear this problem again church in Jerusalem was poor. Certainly were many people were impoverished black food and yet we never hear this again. I assume it means that these men and their successors really dealt with this.
The other problems given to the deacons well when you see something else about the spiritual qualifications they were to be full of the spirits also. I mean, spiritual men gas. Certainly that, but I pointed out earlier, when were talking about the filling of the Spirit in the book of acts in every case except this one and I'm going to show this one really isn't an exception, every case were told in the book of acts. Someone was still with the Holy Spirit. The immediate result of that is that they begin to testify effectively to Jesus Christ. One of filling of the spirit of the filling of the spiritual be a witness for Jesus Christ because, as Jesus himself said the spirits job is to bear witness to me when he comes, will testify of himself, but he will bring to your memory. All of the things concerning me and he will testify of me. That's what Jesus said in John 15 and 16 in their say. Every time that comes up those were filled with the spirits immediately begin to speak effectively about Jesus Christ.
I say this is one exception. And yet, as I also said it really isn't because number one. It doesn't say they were filled with the Spirit as a result of which we would expect the consequence namely speaking but it says choose men who are filled with the spirit out of the know they were filled with the spirit isn't one way of judging that the fact that they were effective witnesses to Jesus Christ say it's just a case of being inverted here in this text, I point out as well that this flows lawn immediately.
Not the same story, but it flows on immediately to the case of Stephen Archdeacon, a man full of wisdom filled with the Holy Spirit who does not immediately before the Sanhedrin gives not only the greatest with the longest speech of the entire book lacks all of which of the endpoints Jesus Christ for which they are so angry that the killing. The point I'm making. You see, is that these men were chosen not merely wise man is man in the room.
You could go say now we have a problem we really don't know what to do. How should we deal with it and who out of their wisdom and experience them fed with prayer would say. I think what you should do is this not only minute to do that though, that was the qualification.
One of the qualifications but also men were speaking about Jesus is not just private man, but public man not only live the faith to themselves, but limited openly before the world ever known to do so. Stephen of course being the first great example. Well here. These deacons, I pointed out that they were Greeks pointed out that they were chosen on the basis of their spiritual wisdom and character of their ability to speak and that this is one of the great principles of biblical leadership might point out as well that by electing deaconesses as the first administrative office in the church. Other than that of the apostles, the church was selecting people to do what above all other things is most essential to the Christian ministry is not preaching necessarily so much as it is service on the pattern of the Lord Jesus Christ know when you talk about service and remember the word deacon means to serve Jack in Austen's servant. When you talk about service, you have to remember that the Bible's evaluation of that is 180° different from the world's evaluation.
So you say to people in the world where the people in the world who are really important are the people in the world who are really great people in the world who in the world's judgment are important and great the people we would say at the top of the pyramid that the people a lot of people under them talking personally about those who are really up there so much money that even today, when people want to work for anybody. They have servants.
Somebody was servants. My goodness, I have really made it and when you talk about business people were really important ones are over everybody else down the bottom you most of us then you have supervisors in the near, middle management and then you have the people at the top, the vice president of any of the chairman of the board while and then we pay them well. Of course, I'm not complaining about that and people get managed well, that's an important thing that deserves its own kind of reward but see the way we think about importance is this. We think that the people who are really important are those who have the most number of people under them working for them is that is the way Jesus treated Jesus said what the grade of this world is as I evaluate greatness of the ones who serve on the great gods I try serving people want to be greater gods. I try serving more people more people you can serve the greater you will be in God's sight. That includes things of the world would call me Neil member Jesus Christ and he was about to be arrested and crucified what he wanted to give a graphic demonstration about that meant was disciples got them together that upper room and then he took off his robes and he knelt down before each of his disciples, the Lord of the universe Lord of glory, the King of Kings on his knees for these Galilean fisherman peasants, tax collectors, all that and he took the role of a servant we wash their feet. Peter understood how incongruous that was leased from his point of view is an original wash my face and I remedied that you have to get down here.
Much like the Puritans I know Lord let me washing is the motherboard wash. It was minutes take on the Lord's job to set inappropriate of the Lord was an appropriate report certainly inappropriate Peter. He didn't like getting ejected. But Jesus had to point out that that was that he said let me do that you part of me be mine if you want to be my disciple. This is all I do… I finished that you understand what I've gone servant is greater than his Lord of I've taken that role.
In order to serve you that you must take that role in serving one another say we talk about these deacons were talking to that which is absolutely essential to Christianity without dysfunction and in a certain sense of very real sense I mean it in a very real sense these men now become the leaders of the church replace the apostles.
The apostles, the special role. Lord said he was going to give the Scriptures through them he did. I spoke with apostolic authority and all that it will mean that you see these men become the leaders and have you thought about that how that works out in the book of acts that we had the apostles apostles doing their thing. Peter on Pentecost, Peter drawn before the Sanhedrin, all the apostles all then put in jail and delivered beaten calling it a great honor to suffer the cause of Jesus Christ the apostles the apostles the apostles all by what Georgette must've been preacher Peter preacher puppet preacher James preacher phone and and now you have these man and you know from this point on, you don't find those apostles very much all Peter comes up again. He's there in chapter 10 because Peter was Jewish prejudice didn't want to take the gospel to those Gentiles. I mean, converts to Judaism Hellenists for one thing, but the cured Gentiles or something else got a deal with them and God use them to bring the gospel to Cornelius. That's a great story but you know the only place you find these original 11 apostles in the whole book. What happens from this point on, you see getting in verse eight. Now Stephen ran full of God's grace and power have his sermon chapter 7 and his martyrdom very and in chapter H. Those who have been scattered, preach the word wherever they went to Philip. Philip went down to the city and Samaria and proclaim Christ there and then got to Philip and used them to bring the gospel to the Ethiopian and so the gospel spread beyond the bounds of Judaism bathroom. The apostles went through these deacons, and so on. Throughout the book, our way of saying it would be to say that these men really carried the ball.
I don't think it's quite fair to say but one suspects that the apostles themselves at least to some extent dropped. They were the evangelist you say oh that's right, God called Paul and he went and one place Barnabas is called an apostle. Maybe he had a call similar to that of the apostle Paul. These original 11 always find them doing is huddling around their Jerusalem.
So in the struggles in the church they go back and counsel were told about it later on an action 15 chapter their Jerusalem and meanwhile the gospel is going and all the people I Philip and Steven and the other man about whom we don't know very much but were undoubtedly great witnesses.
I guess what I want to challenge you to do is be a deacon is servants like these men want to do it well you have to do it like Stephen did.
This chapter ends with his arrested in the next chapter gives us a servant, and as it tells about Stephen until several things about him tells us he was like Jesus Christ say that in so many words, but if you look at verse eight of the chapter now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people and then look when you have a moment in Luke 2419 verse written about Jesus Christ. By the same author is by Luke you find the same words used of Jesus. Luke sums up Jesus ministry sums it up, saying that he was full of God's grace and power. And he did great wonders and signs among people is what Stephen did is like Jesus Christ you want to be a deacon. Gotta be like Jesus Christ because he's the first deacon is the model for he's the one who counted it, but something to be grasped to hang on to his prerogatives of Godhead, but emptied himself, and became a man, even on the death he might serve us say I don't like that I don't want to serve well know it's true, we don't send ourselves what a survey might be able to serve us.
That's the pattern and if I may say so.
It gets worse, because the services even on the death is what happened in the case of Jesus and that's what happens to Stephen. He is so much like Jesus Christ and he speaks the gospel of Jesus Christ with such wisdom and power that there are overcome by his preaching and resented and say God I get rid of this bad just the way we got rid of Jesus so they do.
Yet, as he dies, he is still like Jesus speaking Jesus words. He says forgive them, forgive them father they don't know what their doing is a bottom line. Are you like that you want to be one of a Jesus one should obey and teach you what it means to be a servant of the sprayer father. We look at our own hearts, we can pretend what's held out before us. Here is a model of the Christian life and it really means to be spiritual is something that appeals to us.
It definitely is not appealed us glad to have servants in the church slicer serving us to serve them serve others, especially to serve the unlovely to do it in menial ways to do it while we are encountered with opposition abuse, harsh language and unjust accusations that we don't want to bother me. The Bible we know what it says. Well, that's what we must do teach us to do it.
Give us grace to do it volleyball bubble. I just wanted to love to do its because that's what it means to serve our Lord. Amen. You are listening to the Bible study hours with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us email@example.com for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1C 2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian.
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