The Extension of the Light
Tim Temple

Introduction

In our world today, there is a lot of confusion about what a Christian really is. There is not any confusion among those of us who know the Scripture; but in our society at large, there is a lot of confusion about what it means to be a Christian, so much so that most of us realize by now that it is really not very helpful to ask somebody if they are a Christian if we are trying to decide whether to witness to them or where to begin witnessing to them. There are a lot of people who think that they are a Christian because they live in this Christian nation of ours.

Of course, if they think that, they are mistaken on two counts. First, it is not a Christian nation and has not been for a long time. Second, that's not what it means to be a Christian anyway. There are a lot of other ideas about what it means to be a Christian, but believe it or not, there was a time in history when there was even more confusion about that than there is now. That was the time, ironically, when Jesus Himself was on the earth.

In John, chapter 8, Jesus shined the light of His countenance into the hearts of men and women who did not know what it was to know God and who did not know what it was to be what we today would call Christians . John, chapter 8, is one of the places where He most clearly shines that light. In fact, I have used the symbolism of light in this chapter as a basis for outlining this chapter, Since it is such a long chapter and such a long outline those of you who have been with us thus far in the study are probably pretty familiar with that outline.

First, we have, in verses 1-11, Jesus exposing the Light of His omniscience and of His love and forgiveness to a group of Pharisees who brought a trumped-up situation before Him. They brought a woman caught in the very act of adultery before Jesus and asked Him what to do with her. Jesus spoiled their plan by showing them Who He was and what forgiveness is, so, in verses 1-11, we saw the exposure to the Light. Then, in verses 12-20, Jesus gave an explanation of Himself as the Light of the world. In verses 21-30, at which we looked in our last lesson, the Pharisees began to examine that Light. They put Jesus to the test and asked Him a lot of difficult questions and gave Him an examination.

In verses 31-47, which we want to look at in this study, Jesus turns around and offers the Light to them. He makes an extension of the Light to those very people who are so negatively questioning Him about who He is, what He has done, and what He means by all of this. In this lesson, we want to look at the extension of the Light Jesus gives, in verses 31-47. The extension of the Light is given by Jesus, in verses 21-30. In verse 31, we have the declaration that Jesus made. Notice verse 31:

John 8

31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Here is one of the greatest declarations in all the Word of God. It is something that is vital for Christians to know, and yet it is something that a lot of Christians, though they may know these words, have not really stopped to think about the implications: “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed.” Then He continues:

The Principle of Abiding

John 8

32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

First, there is a principle that underlies all of this, and that principle is in the first part of verse 31: “If you abide in My Word…” Most of the promises of God come with an if at the beginning. Here is a wonderful promise of God that we are going to look at in some detail, but I want you to notice that it begins with this condition: “If you abide in My Word.” The word abide , in verse 31, is a word that in the Greek word used here means “to be at home,” or “to dwell comfortably.”

If you think about the word abiding in English, it has that same idea—being at home in a certain place whether it is your home or somewhere else. Being at ease, being at rest, implies knowing our way around. Think about your own home and the way that you feel in your own home. You know your way around. You know where things are. You may wish that there was more room for those things, but you know where they are or at least where they are supposed to be. You know where the various rooms are located. You could make your way around the house in the dark in most cases. You are comfortable there. Now take that concept about your home and look at what Jesus says about that concept:

John 8

31…If ye abide in my word…

That is the subject that we want to think about here, and that is the condition of a wonderful promise that Jesus is making to these disciples who had believed on Him. What does it mean to abide in the Word of God? It implies knowing our way around in the Word of God. It implies being comfortable. It implies being at home in the Word of God. How does that take place? It doesn't take place by just having a Bible in the home. It doesn't take place by just knowing what the Bible is. It doesn't take place by being able to defend the doctrine of inerrancy or the doctrine of inspiration.

How do you get familiar with your home? How do you abide in your own house? You spend time there, don't you? You move around, and you see how things are arranged; you know all the little nooks and crannies, and you know the places that need more attention. That is exactly what Jesus has in mind when He says, “If you abide in My Word.”

To abide in the Word of God, we need to learn our way around in the Word of God. We need to become comfortable with the various things it has to say. We need to be able to know where we need to spend more time. The Scripture doesn't need correction, but our understanding of some things in the Scripture needs improving. All of those concepts that involve being at home in your home—take those and apply them to the Word of God. How well do you know your way around in the Word of God? How well do you understand the various aspects of it and how they relate to each other?

A number of years ago, Janice and I moved to Wichita Falls, Texas, and that was the first place that I had actually lived on my own. I had gone to college in a town in South Carolina, and I didn't have much time or freedom to move around in that town very well. Wichita Falls was the first place that we lived as a couple and as a family. I can well remember that when we first moved to Wichita Falls, I knew how to get from our apartment to our church, and I knew how to get from our apartment to Underwood's Barbecue. Eventually, I learned how to get from the church to Underwood's Barbecue, and therefore I knew how to get from the church to the restaurant to home and from home to the restaurant back to the church.

The first week or so, that is all that we knew. Then we learned where some of our friends lived and how to get from our house to their house. We learned how to get down town, and we began to put things together, little by little.

You have done the same things. Anywhere that you have ever lived, you have learned your way around the city just a little bit at a time, haven't you? You start out with a very limited knowledge, and you add to that, and you add to that, and you begin to see how this fits with that and how this ties in with the other. That is exactly the way it is with the Word of God. If you are going to learn the Word of God, start where you are and learn whatever little bit the Lord gives you to learn; and if you will continue to work your way around the Word of God like you do in a new town, things will begin to fit together. Little by little, you will learn where the shortcuts are, and you will learn where this section fits with that section. You will be able to get from here to there without going up here. It is the same thing as learning your way around in a town. You become at home in that town, and the same thing as you become at home in your own home on a smaller scale.

The thing that underlies all of this is spending time in the Word of God. You never learn your way around in a new city if you stay in your house or your apartment. You never learn your way around the Word of God if you don't open it up and spend some time in it. There are all kinds of study aids that we have now, and all kinds of study help so it is not nearly the task that it used to be. Above all, we have the Holy Spirit to give us understanding of the Word of God, and so it is virtually true that you can open the Bible anywhere you want to and ask God to show you what it means and begin reading and you will learn your way around the Word of God.

What It Means to Be a Disciple

That is what Jesus is talking about: “If you abide in My Word, if you become at home in My Word.” That is the principle. In the last part of verses 31 and 32, He tells us two products of that. What happens if we become at home and abide in the Word of God? Notice what He says:

John 8

31…then are ye my disciples indeed;

That is the first product of applying this principle: “If you get to the place that you can abide in My Word, you will be My disciples indeed.” The term disciples is another word that can have a lot of different meanings. When we hear the word disciples , most of us think of the twelve disciples of Jesus. That is a valid meaning, but here in chapter 8, verse 31, it says that Jesus said this to those Jews who believed in Him: “If you abide in My Word, you will become My disciples.” We find other references to disciples besides the twelve.

Today we want to talk about someone being a disciple or a follower of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be a disciple indeed? To be a disciple indeed means to be a disciple in fact. For a number of years I have been a member of the Rotary Club, and I have done that simply so I would have an opportunity to meet people outside of my circle of church friends, other people in town who are involved in other activities in life. It has been worthwhile from that standpoint. I hope that it has contributed to people knowing a little bit more about us. Last year a new president took office, as a new president does every year. He went to a convention that they have for the new presidents of Rotary clubs, as they always do, and he came back all charged up, as they always do. He came back with a slogan for this year: Are you a rino? Of course, we all wondered what he meant by that, and we all knew that we would find out. Sure enough, at his inaugural address, he explained that a rino is a Rotarian in name only. There are a whole bunch of those, I can tell you. In fact, you are looking at one—a Rotarian in name only.

He went on to give one of the greatest discipleship messages I have ever heard, except he wasn't talking about spiritual things; he was talking about that club. He talked about how important it is to be committed to all that that club stands for and all of the good that it is doing in the world and all those kinds of things. Some of you are members of those kinds of clubs, and you have heard that message in other terms.

I tried my best to think up some way to come up with a word for Christians in name only, but no one knows what a cino is. So, you will just have to use the illustration without having a word to go with it unless you can come up with one.

What is a disciple? A disciple is one who is not just a Christian in name only. He is not a person who just knows the terminology or just knows a few phrases about Christianity or a few practices of Christianity. He is not a person who just knows how to go through the motions. A disciple indeed, as Jesus refers to it here, is a person who abides in the Word of God. We see that by looking at the flip side of what He says, in verse 31:

John 8

31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

So a disciple is not only one of those twelve original followers of Jesus. A disciple is not a person who has reached a certain level of attainment within his denomination. A disciple is any Christian who abides in the Word of God. That is what it means to be a disciple in more than name only—knowing and doing the Word of God.

A verse that means a lot to me in my Christian life, and I have mentioned it many times before, is Ezra, chapter 7, verse 10. It means a lot to me, because Ezra, in the Old Testament, was a scribe. He was, in a general sense, what we today would call a preacher . Ezra was very successful in motivating the people of God to rebuild the city of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity.

You remember the story of how the prophets preached to the Israelites over and over again that if they did not come back to God, God was going to take their nation away from them. All through the years, these prophets preached that message, and finally, in Jeremiah's lifetime, that prophecy came true because the people didn't come back to the Lord. In Daniel's day, they went into captivity in Babylon, and then just as Daniel discovered in the prophecy of Jeremiah, after seventy years, they were allowed to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Ezra was very instrumental in motivating the people to do that. He had a very successful ministry.

Ezra is being introduced in Ezra, chapter 7, verse 10:

Ezra 7

10For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

The reason that Ezra had such an effective ministry was that He had made up his mind to seek the law of the LORD. The law of the LORD wasn't lost. It meant to learn the law of the LORD, the Word of God. He made up his mind to learn the Word of God so that he could be a great teacher. But that is not what the verse says. It says, “He made up his mind to learn the Word of God and to do it and then to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” That is the secret of being a disciple, to learn the Word of God, not just so we can be known as knowledgeable about the Word of God, to learn the Word of God not just so we can even do something as honorable as being a teacher of the Word of God, but to learn the Word of God and to do it.

The Principle of Overflow

If you and I will learn the Word of God with the purpose of doing it, with the purpose of obeying it, and if we abide in His Word learning and doing it, then the ministry will take care of itself. I refer to it as the principle of overflow . If we make up our minds, by God's grace, to learn His Word and practice His Word in our lives, our ministry will just be an overflow of that which God is putting into our lives through His Word. If you are desirous of having a ministry, the first thing to do is to seek the law of the Lord and to do it. If we will do that, God will take care of giving us opportunities. It will just overflow from us. That is what it means to be a disciple indeed.

Truth Brings True Freedom

There is a second product that Jesus mentioned in verse 32. This is the famous verse that we hear so often. Notice what it say:

John 8

32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

That is a famous biblical statement. It has become famous even outside the confines of the Word of God. At the University of Texas, as I understand it, those words are chiseled into the arch over the doorway of the entrance to the library. Other libraries have that somewhere in their cornerstone or in their archway over the door. It is a famous statement. In fact, many people don't even realize that Jesus is the One Who said it. It has become famous on its own, apart from the Bible.

It is important for us to notice the context in which it is said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Let me tell you that Jesus did not have in mind the Carnegie Library when He made that statement. He did not have in mind any library at any university anywhere. He did not have in mind any news magazine or any newspaper when He said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” What is the context in which we find that statement? Well, look back at verse 31:

John 8

31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

First, “You will be My disciples indeed, not just in name.” Second, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” If you want to have the power of knowledge and the freedom that knowledge brings, this is the context in which to seek that kind of knowledge.

Of course, the truth of Scripture does bring freedom. There is true freedom in knowing the Word of God because, first, it tells us who we are. It tells us in many ways, in many places, that we are God's creation. We are created in the image of God. There are so many implications of that. That is why murder is wrong. That is why abortion is wrong. It is because we are created in the image of God.

One of the major questions that philosophers have asked all down through the years—they haven't asked it as simply as I am about to ask—who am I? Teenagers and adults alike have asked this question. What is my life all about? Why am I here? What is it all about anyway? Who am I?

The Bible answers that question. It tells us who we are. Not only that, but it also tells us Who God is. Another big question people ask all the time is, “What should I do with my life? What is the purpose of my life?” The Bible tells us the answer to that. It tells us that our purpose on earth is to glorify God. It tells us that we are created for His pleasure, in Revelation, chapter 4.

It gives us what the politicians use a lot. I believe it was George Bush who used the term a moral compass . That is a huge question today and a huge problem today. We have lost our moral compass because we have thrown the Word of God out. The truth makes us free because it tells us the difference between right and wrong, and it gives us a basis on which to decide what is right and wrong. One of the major problems in our nation and world today is that the standard of right and wrong is up for grabs. Many people say that we cannot know what it is. Many people say that there is not a standard.

Where would we be if we took that kind of philosophy into the practical sciences? What kind of trouble would we be in if architects said, “It really doesn't matter how many inches are in a foot. All truth is relative. If you want a foot to be 14 inches and another guy wants it to be 10 inches, that is all right.” Would you want to step onto the second floor of a building that was built by architects like that? Where would we be if pilots decided, “Well, 25 degrees slope approaching the airport is all right, or 50 degrees slope. It doesn't really matter. Whatever you think.”

But, you know that is what the world tells us about morals. “Ah, whatever you think is all right. It doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter if you disagree. Truth is truth for you.” God's Word tells us what the truth is. God's Word sets the standards, even moral standards. God's Word brings us truth because it tells us how to reconcile who we are with Who God is.

Do you know why people do not want to know what the standards are? Because God is the One who sets them, not us. We don't want to know Who God is because we know who we are, and if you know who you are, and if you know Who God is, you know that there is a vast difference between the two. But the Bible tells us who we are, and the Bible tells us Who God is, and it tells us that that is a hopeless situation. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Acts 16:31). But the wonderful truth of the Bible is also that it tells us how to reconcile Who God is with who we are.

In fact, it tells us that we don't have to reconcile it. God has reconciled it by bringing Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for that sin which has separated us and God. The Word of God literally sets us free from bondage—the bondage of self-image. I have gotten to where I detest that term. People talk about it so much these days in the wrong context, but the Bible establishes a self-image. It tells us who we are. It tells us that we are either sinners lost in sin or we are the beloved children of God who can come boldly before His throne of grace. It gives us a proper self-image.

It gives us a moral compass. It sets us free from the fear that we may be doing something wrong and from the frustration of trying to justify what we are doing that we know is wrong. It tells us Who God is. It tells us what God's standards are. There is tremendous freedom in knowing that you are obeying God.

It makes us free because it tells us what our eternal destiny is, and we don't have to wonder if we are doing enough to get there. We don't have to worry about what we are going to say to St. Peter when he meets us at the gate. All of that stuff about meeting St. Peter at the gate is entirely in the realm of jokes. You realize that, don't you? The Bible doesn't say that at all. We have freedom when we understand what the Word of God says because it tells us about every area of life.

The psychologists tell us that the only teenagers who are successfully able to withstand the power of peer-group pressure are those who are confident about themselves, who have security about who they are. That is what the Word of God gives us. It gives us confidence about who we are and Who God is and where we stand with Him. It gives us security. It makes us secure in our position. Therefore we can have victory over sin. We can have victory over peer-group pressure and all of those things.

Do you see how relevant the Word of God is right down to the issues that are important to people in this day, 2,000 years after the time that Jesus made this statement? There is the principle. If we abide in the Word of God, we will have two wonderful products. We will be disciples indeed, and we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free.

Pride Brings Blindness

That is the declaration that Jesus made, in verses 31-32. In verses 33-47, the Jewish leaders draw Him into a discussion of that. The first part of the discussion is a discussion as to freedom. In verses 33-36, they make an exclamation. Jesus said, “The truth will make you free,” and so in verse 33, we find their exclamation about that:

John 8

33They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

Those Pharisees, in giving that exclamation, were like those teams who have lost seven and won two, but at the pep rally and even at the ball game, they go around saying, “We're number one. We're number one.” Have you ever noticed how many schools do that? Even when they are having a losing season, part of the pep rally is, “We're number one.”

These Jews had been in bondage three major times, and at the time they said this, they were in bondage. They had been in bondage in Egypt at the very beginning of their nationality before they even had a constitution and bylaws. Later, they were in bondage to Babylon, as I mentioned a few minutes ago. At the time all of this happened, they were in bondage to Rome, and yet they were saying, “We're number one. We have never been in bondage to anybody.”

It is like that story that I am sure you have heard about the lost and found poster that was posted on bulletin boards and telephone poles: Lost, spotted dog. Right front leg missing. Blind in one eye. Broken tail. Answers to the name Lucky . That is the mind-set of these guys. What a ridiculous statement. But you know what? That kind of statement came from pride. They were too proud to admit that what Jesus said was true. No wonder God hates pride so much, because pride brings blindness. They were so proud that they were not willing to look at themselves.

I may very well be speaking to someone here today or to someone who will be receiving this lesson in print. I may very well be speaking to a lot of us, and at any given time, this may have been true of any of us. Pride blinds us to the facts. These men were so proud that they were ridiculously blind.

Jesus Defines Slavery

In verses 34-36, Jesus gives His explanation. Look at verse 34:

John 8

34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Sometimes, in studying the Bible, it is important to notice what the Bible does not say as well as what it does say. It is important to notice what Jesus does not say as well as what He does say. Jesus didn't even take the time to correct their silly statement about not being in bondage. He didn't even touch on that.

You know, there is a lesson in that for us. In witnessing for Christ or in working with someone through some spiritual problem that they have, we're liable to come across some kind of a rabbit trail off the main track. Satan loves to get us sidetracked on these kinds of things that are pointless. A lot of times when people are caught up in the false teachings of a cult, their big argument will be something that has nothing to do with truth or reality. Here these people were trying to get Jesus to debate in the area of something that was completely beside the point of His offer of light to them. So, He didn't even dignify their silly comment with a rebuttal, but what He did do was to give us a definition of slavery. The definition of slavery is there, in verse 34:

John 8

34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

These people were in bondage politically and physically, but it is as if Jesus is saying, “I don't care whether you have been in bondage to other nations or not, you are in bondage right now to sin.” Someone has said, “Sin begets sin.” Someone else has said, “The wages of sin is more sin.” Sin feeds on itself, and when we commit sin, we become more and more the slave of sin. Our mind-set becomes a sinful mind-set. Our standard of evaluating what's right and wrong and what's worthwhile and what's not worthwhile becomes a sinful standard by which to evaluate things.

Many times we are like the frog in the boiling water. I have never boiled a frog, but I am told that if you take a live frog and throw it into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out of the water, but if you put a frog in a pan of cold water—I suppose you would have to cover the pan to even get him to stay in the cold water—and slowly heat the water up to boiling, the frog will stay in the water until it is boiled to death. There is a lot of applications of that. That is happening to our American society today, aside from Christians. There are things that are available on prime-time television now that men used to pay to see at a burlesque show or an x-rated movie. Our nation is in a pot of boiling water right now.

Let's just think about it from the standpoint of the Christian development. If a Christian allows himself to use sinful standards in his life, if we go on in our sin, we develop sinful standards. Those sinful standards throw us off base on anything that we evaluate. Even as we may think we are trying to decide how to live the Christian life, if we are allowing sin to go on in our lives, our standard of evaluation is off. All we do is get farther into sin, and we find ourselves justifying things that the Bible says are sinful. We become the slaves of sin, even those who may think that they are trying to do right, if we allow sin to go on unconfessed in our lives.

An interesting thing to remember is that this is true even for people who live in a free nation. You know, we here in the United States could honestly say that we have never been in bondage to any man. No other nation has ever conquered us. We have never been slaves to any other nation. It could still happen, and it could probably happen a lot more easily than we are willing to admit, but it hasn't ever happened yet. But I will tell you that there are as many slaves in the United States today as there were in the United States a hundred and fifty years ago when slavery was legal—slaves to sin.

Jesus didn't care about their slavery to other nations. That is not what He was talking about. He was talking about slavery to sin. The issue is not how many times your nation has been defeated or subjugated by some other nation. The issue is your personal slavery to sin. That is the definition of slavery.

Deliverance From Slavery

In verses 35-36, Jesus talks about deliverance from slavery. Look at verse 35:

John 8

35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

If a person is in slavery, what hope does he have of ever getting out of slavery, if you think about physical slavery like we had in this nation years ago and like was true in Rome at the time Jesus was saying this? The slaves worked in the house. Some of them worked out of doors, but a lot of slaves worked in the house. They cooked the meals; they swept the floors; they did the domestic duties; and those slaves had some of the advantages of being in the house. They were inside out of the weather. They had a roof over their heads. Some of them lived in the house, but they had to continue being slaves even though they were in the house. They rubbed shoulders every day with the family that lived in the house. In some cases, they taught the children of the family that lived in the house. They knew the father and the mother of the family, probably as well as the children did; but they couldn't do anything about their slavery, even though they were in the house, and they were almost a part of the family. Notice what Jesus says: “The Son lives in the house. The slaves are in the house, but the Son lives in the house. He is part of the family. He abides there forever. A slave can be kicked out of the house and put to work in the fields.” But, notice what He says, in verse 36:

John 8

36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

That is the problem with slavery to sin. We can't free ourselves. There is nothing that we can do about it. We can go to the house of God as people who are in slavery to sin. We can go through the rituals of whatever church it is that we may go to. We can be in the house, so to speak, but that doesn't free us from our slavery to sin. There is one means of deliverance from slavery, and that is to accept the freedom that the Son gives.

Of course, Jesus is talking about Himself and the freedom that He gives. How does He give that freedom? Most of us know that He gave that freedom by paying for our sins Himself. Because He paid for the sins and because God the Father was willing to accept His payment, we are free. That is where deliverance from slavery comes from, and that is the only place that deliverance from slavery comes from.

Beginning in verse 37, they continue their discussion. The first part of the discussion was about freedom. The second part is about fatherhood. The Jews just come right back at Jesus. He has done them in about freedom, but they don't stop the debate at that point. They come right back to talk about fatherhood.

To do justice to those verses we need more time, and so I am going to stop our discussion here, and we will pick up with verse 37 in our next lesson. We will talk about the discussion that Jesus had with these Jewish leaders as to fatherhood. It is just as important as what we have talked about thus far.

Conclusion

As we conclude, let's think about the extremely important principle that we have talked about. The bottom line of our discussion is that to be a disciple of Jesus Christ brings freedom. It brings the truth that makes us free, but to be a disciple of Jesus Christ indeed is to be one who abides in His Word.

How much time are you spending in the Word of God? I have said this many times before, but I want to say it again. If all you are getting of the Word of God is what you hear on Sunday morning and Sunday night, chances are you are not getting enough of the Word of God. I suppose eventually you could come to the place that you abide in the Word of God if you come Sunday morning and Sunday night. If that was all the time that you have and that is the only opportunity that God gives you, that's all right, but many of us, if not all of us, have more time than this to give to the Word of God. Make it your goal to spend as much time as you realistically can, not neglecting the work that God has given you to do, not neglecting your children, not neglecting your responsibilities. God gives almost all of us time to take care of our responsibilities and to spend some time every day in His Word. Make it your goal to spend whatever time you can in the Word of God, because that is how we become disciples indeed, and that is where we come to the place that we find the freedom of the truth of the Word of God.


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