From: It Is Time for a Reformation of Christian Thinking

Copyright © 1991 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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God’s rulers were (are) all known to Him from the beginning of the world. Each comes into the world at a specific point in time and through the circumstances of his life is molded into the chosen vessel of service. Some people are born into the world for the purpose of being made rulers in the Kingdom of God. They were chosen to be of first rank in the plan of God before God framed the world.

If God has chosen us from the foundation of the world to walk in good works and authority in the Kingdom, He will carefully oversee our deeds, words, and motives. No area of our personality or behavior will be left untouched by His Virtue and will. The rulers of the Kingdom must be perfected in the earth. It is here we learn patience. It is in the earth that the pearl in us is formed by the continual irritations of life. The pearl in us is a gate of the new Jerusalem, a gate through which people may enter and find God.

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For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

This is one of the verses, like Ephesians 1:55 and 2:10, that speak of foreknowledge and the eternal purpose of God. We gain perspective from such passages—perspective that enables us to keep from becoming distressed and bowed down over the constant dealings of God with us.

If God has chosen us from the creation of the world to walk in good works He will carefully oversee our deeds, words, and motives. No area of our being or behavior will be left untouched by His Virtue and will.

There are additional verses that emphasize the role predestination plays and that present the concept of a “chosen few.”

(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), (Romans 9:11)
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

There have been, in time past, excesses in the doctrine that discusses the role of predestination in the Kingdom of God. But to cast out this scriptural doctrine because of the excesses is to view some concepts of the Scripture as invalid.

This never can be. All Scripture is to be accepted as God’s eternal Word even though there may appear at times to be contradictions or injustices. The contradictions resolve into harmony and justice as we grow in understanding.

Some people are born into the world for the purpose of being made rulers in the Kingdom of God. They were chosen to be of first rank in the plan of God before God framed the world.

As our minds go back through the record of the Scriptures and we think of Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, we soon realize that those who have been preeminent in the Kingdom have been so because of the choice of God. They have not been men who were more able than their brothers necessarily but men who were called out and guided into areas of responsibility.

One of the pointed illustrations of the exercise of God’s sovereignty is the writing of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on the twelve gates in the wall of the new Jerusalem. The sons of Jacob were not exemplary in behavior and went so far as to throw their own brother into a pit. Also, the history of the twelve tribes is one of continual rebellion against the Lord.

But the names of the sons of Jacob, the names of the tribes of Israel, were written on the gates of the new Jerusalem before God created the heavens and the earth. This is what Paul means by predestination, by election, by grace.

God’s rulers were (are) all known to Him from the foundation of the world. Each comes into the world at a specific point in time and through the circumstances of his life is molded into the chosen vessel of service.

The principle of the chosen rulership has become of even greater importance now that Christ has been raised from the dead and the spiritual Kingdom of God is being structured. Rulers of the worlds to come are being trained by means of the tribulations of the present age.

The supreme example of the chosen rulership is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ came into this world according to the eternal purpose of God. Christ was chosen before the creation of the world to govern all the works of God’s hands, in keeping with the mandate given to man (Hebrews 2:8).

Before He was born into the world Christ was the Word of God. He was the Creator of all things, according to the Scripture.

We are not certain that Christ was the ruler of the creation before He was born of Mary. All things were made by Him from the beginning, it is true, but now He is ruler over all.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18)

The prophecy concerning the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus came through the Hebrew Prophets:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. (Psalms 45:6)

We learn further that the authority of rulership will be given to man, through the Lord Jesus.

You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— (Revelation 2:26)

Although it is inconceivable to us, the Lord Jesus was changed in this world. He learned obedience to God; He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities; He became qualified to be the Captain of our salvation.

Perhaps Paradise does not contain the elements of pain and pressure required for the formation of God’s rulers.

Christ was destined to be Lord of all, but He had to be made perfect in order to be capable of serving as Lord of all.

We are destined to be coheirs with Him, His very brothers. We must be transformed so we too will be capable of serving in the specific destiny prepared for us. We must lay hold on that for which we have been grasped (Philippians 3:12).

The Lord Jesus Christ had to overcome the pains, pressures, doubts, dreads, temptations, confusions, of this world. In so doing His Spirit and soul were formed into that which God deemed necessary—a spiritual Nature capable of governing the entire creation of God.

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, (Hebrews 5:8,9)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ was made perfect through suffering.
  • He is able to help us in the hour of temptation because He Himself was tempted.
  • Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered.
  • Christ was made perfect and thereby entered His predestined inheritance.

Notice carefully the following concept:

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)

The Lord Jesus overcame and is in the throne of the Father as a consequence of His overcoming.

We also, the predestined brothers of Jesus, must overcome. If we do we will sit with Jesus in His throne.

We were chosen to rule, but first we must be transformed in personality and filled with Christ.

Paul was seeking to attain his predestined inheritance:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Philippians 3:12)

“that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me”!

Paul had been chosen to be a ruler in the Kingdom of God, to be an integral part of the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul was seeking to attain that for which he had been chosen.

As we stated previously, it appears as though the elements of pain and pressure necessary for the forming of rulers, teachers, and other officers of the Kingdom are not present in Paradise.

Often the question is asked, “What about those who were saved and then died a short while later? Will they receive the rewards of the overcomer?”

It is our present point of view that the promises to the overcomer, as set forth in the second and third chapter of the Book of Revelation, are not, in a sense, merely “rewards.” The term rewards suggests an external “prize.” The various aspects and stages of glory of the Kingdom of God indeed are rewards, or prizes for running the race successfully, but not in the sense of external prizes that will be handed to us one day in Heaven as we stand in line for our rewards.

Rather, the promises to the overcomer are increments of personality. They are eternal transformations of our personality and actions which make it possible for us to fulfill our calling as kings and priests of God, to function in the infinitely varied positions of service and responsibility of the eternal Kingdom of God. As we wait patiently in God’s prison the ability to rule is formed in us, the courage, faithfulness, and willingness to wait before making a decision until we are certain what the Lord is saying.

Perhaps those who have not been given time on the earth to be changed have not been called to the roles that require the kind of personality that can be formed only by the tribulations of life on the earth. This is nothing more than speculation on our part.

However, it appears that if it were possible to form in Paradise the stern obedience to God, the patience, the humility of mind, the ability to rule in the Kingdom, it would not have been necessary for the Lord Jesus to be tempted as He was; to have had to overcome as He did.

We are not ignoring the fact Christ had to come and fulfill the Law of Moses so that the righteousness of the Law could be imputed (ascribed) to us. Neither are we unmindful of the fact that by being tempted in this manner He is better able to help us when we are tempted. We are speaking only of the Lord’s acquiring of His predestined inheritance (Revelation 3:21).

It is not that we cannot be tempted in Paradise. No doubt there will be times after we die and are in the spirit realm when we will have to exercise patience. We will have to be obedient to God whether we enjoy or do not enjoy that which we are called upon to do.

There will be no Satan to overcome. There will be no world nor the lusts of the flesh to resist. But we still will have to obey God in all matters even though we may have conflicting desires.

We understand that some kinds of temptations are possible in Paradise because Adam and Eve were in Paradise when they fell. Also, Satan and his followers fell from God’s Presence and blessing while they yet were in Paradise. But it does not seem likely that the setting that can produce trustworthy rulers can be found in the spirit Paradise, in Heaven.

We can we be tested concerning our willingness to hope in God for our security, our pleasure, and our ambitions when we are dwelling in the spirit Paradise. But there are not the series of lessons accompanying the test that press the desired virtue into our character.

Let us consider for a moment the garden in Eden.

The temptation of Eden was (and is) that man cease trusting God for his betterment (in this instance to become wise, to know good and evil) and proceed to act on his own behalf apart from the Presence of the will of the Lord.

What temptation is it that God’s rulers must overcome? It is the temptation to take matters into our own hands; to act for our seeming betterment apart from the Presence and will of God.

What goes on throughout the world today? Men are taking matters into their own hands because they do not trust God for their betterment.

Dying and going to Paradise will not change the tendency in us to seek our own betterment, to solve our own problems apart from the Presence, will, and way of God. If there is a lack of obedience and trust, if we still cannot be trusted to rest in God’s will, then, in the resurrection, there always is the danger we will take matters into our own hands in order to “better” our condition just as Satan did!

Therefore God is perfecting rulers who will serve forever as guides and teachers, making sure that no creature of God ever at any time acts for his seeming betterment outside the will of God.

The wall of the new Jerusalem is of jasper. The twelve foundations of the wall are set with precious stones. The precious stones are the personalities of the victorious saints, the chosen rulers who have been formed under the heat and pressure of the tribulations of the world. They will serve forever to support the wall of resistance to rebellion that will surround the Throne of God and of the Lamb for eternity.

The rulers of the Kingdom must be perfected in the earth. It is here we learn patience. It is here the “pearl” in us is formed by the continual irritations of life. The pearl in us is a gate of the new Jerusalem, a gate through which people may enter and find God.

The “pearl,” the gate, the entrance to the holy city, cannot be formed in Paradise because there are no irritations there. On earth we remain bound in ourselves, in our own interests, until the irritations of life in the material world form the pearl in us. Once the pearl has been formed in us we can serve as a door to God for other people.

To be a “gate” of the city is even more demanding than to be a “wall.” It is one matter to have the hard, tough resistance to sin that the wall symbolizes formed in us. It is another matter to have, in addition to hardness against sin, the “humanity” in our personality that can serve to admit or deny people access to the Kingdom of God, to eternal life.

The victorious saints are the judges of the Kingdom. They will be given the most awesome responsibility of all—the authority to forgive sins or retain them, to admit a man or angel to Paradise or to deny entrance to the Kingdom of God. In order to exercise such tremendous authority the saint must be so prepared in the Divine crucible that there is an iron hardness against sin in his personality, and yet the ability to judge in an understanding and compassionate manner—to judge with the judgment of God Himself.

There is an actual city, we believe. But in addition, the new Jerusalem, as described in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the Book of Revelation, reflects the personalities of the members of the Wife of the Lamb, whatever material fulfillment it may have.

The new Jerusalem is the ruling city and the precious stones are the nature of the rulers who make up the city. The victorious saints are the wall against sin, having been created so by the things they have suffered. It is those who have suffered who will reign with Christ (Romans 8:17; II Timothy 2:12).

It is the “barren,” the believers who have borne their cross throughout years of self-denial, patiently exchanging their life for the Life of Christ, who will serve throughout eternity in all places where they are as the Glory of God.

“Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1)


“O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11)

Thus it is with Israel—especially the rulers, prophets, and priests of Israel.

The promises to the overcomer, of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, are not prizes that will be handed out to us as we wait in line in Heaven. While there may be an element of this in the rewards the Lord will bring with Him, the crucial aspect of the promises is the development of Divine Life in our personality including the formation of grace, power, compassion, understanding, wisdom, and authority, coupled with opportunities for responsibility and service.

The heavenly rewards are stages of glory and nearness to the Lord in His Kingdom that we attain by our willingness to enter the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Some of the rewards are expressed in us now while the fullness of all of them is reserved for the coming of the Lord, as we understand it.

It is only as we are willing to be changed into the death of Jesus that God is able to create in us the new man, the life-giving spirit who is “the Lord from heaven.” The first man is of the earth—earthy. The second man is the Lord from Heaven (I Corinthians 15:47).

It is the second man who inherits the glory of the Kingdom and is the Kingdom.

The promises to the overcomer are not rewards that will be given to the saved “first man” but are the natural endowments of the “second man.” To neglect, or to be unwilling to participate in, the discipline of the victorious Christian life is to forfeit one’s birthright, one’s appointed place in the Kingdom.

To not overcome, to not participate in the required personality changes, is to prevent the individual from entering his prepared place. The Lord Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us in the house of God, in Himself, in the Body of Christ. It is not possible we can remain unchanged and then rule with God. God’s love and mercy are not the issue. It is our capability and eligibility that are in question.

Christ would not be Lord of all if He had not obeyed God, if He had not overcome the enemies and forces that came against Him. His being denied the rulership would have had nothing to do with God’s love for Him. It would have been an issue of His ability to rule over all the works of God’s hands without failing to do the Father’s perfect will in every instance.

The promises to the overcomer are not directed toward entering Heaven when we die. None of the promises to the overcomer have to do with mansions in Paradise. Rather, the promises are transformations of what we are in personality coupled with our ability to function in our designated position as a king, priest, prophet, teacher, witness, and servant of God.

To not have our lampstand removed from its place; to eat of the tree of life; to receive a crown of life; to not be injured by the second death; to eat of the hidden manna; to be given the white stone of Divine approval and marriage; to be given the new name, the name that describes what we have been chosen to be according to the eternal purpose of God; to rule the nations with a rod of iron; to be given the morning star, which is the dawning of the Day of the Lord in our personality, the emerging of the Person and rule of Christ in us—these have little to do with eternal residence in Paradise. They are the attainment to the kind of personality that will rule with God forever.

The righteous indeed shall live forever in God’s Paradise. But there are roles and opportunities in the Kingdom to consider.

Each saint has the opportunity to experience the personality change necessary for those who have been chosen to rule in the Kingdom of God. Here is the opportunity to suffer, to be denied our most fervent desires for long periods of times, to walk in paths we do not understand, to be denied what normally would be ours to do or possess, to be misunderstood—and sometimes cast out—by our fellow believers, to be pressed, pressed, pressed into Christ.

God has purposed that His entire creation will be filled with Christ and centered in Him. We are the firstfruits of this purpose. Therefore we are being required to die to what we are, to our most fervent loves, and to be raised again as part of Christ’s resurrection.

We have been chosen to be hammered on incessantly by the Holy Spirit, for the Divine gold in us is being fashioned into the Lampstand of God.

To not overcome may not (or may!) result in our being lost, although God will judge each individual according to the opportunities presented to him, according to his unique calling.

If we choose to not live a victorious life, to not exercise the diligence and patience to which we have been called, we will forfeit the change in our personality required for rulership in the Kingdom. To our knowledge there is no way in which this loss can be made up later.

Every act of the Divine redemption and grace is a window of opportunity. Whether or not it finds fulfillment depends on the response of the individual. The person must cooperate with the Spirit of God if redemption is to occur.

In the Kingdom of God there are opportunities that come to us. When they are gone they may be gone forever. We then must be content with our changed status in the Kingdom—if indeed we are permitted to remain in the Kingdom. Consider the changed status of Esau; of Reuben; of Eli the priest.

lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:16,17)
Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; (I Chronicles 5:1)
“Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. (I Samuel 2:30)

The Scriptures are being unsealed today. We have the knowledge of what it means to overcome and the power to confess our sins and be delivered from them. While such knowledge and power always have been available to Christians they are being emphasized in the present hour.

It is entirely possible that our generation of saints has been chosen to be victorious, just as John the Baptist, apart from any works of righteousness on his part, was chosen to be the forerunner of Christ.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the birth of the Son, the Ruler, and the casting of Satan and his angels into the earth.

The birth of the ruling Son portrays Christ being formed in the victorious saints. Also, it appears that Michael’s ability to cast Satan into the earth is related to the fact that “they” (referring to “our brethren”) overcame the accuser.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. (Revelation 12:10)

It may be true that we are the generation of which the Lord Jesus spoke when He stated that many who are last (in time?) will be first (in the Kingdom?—Matthew 19:30).

This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. (Psalms 102:18)

We have been chosen to be alive in this hour so we may respond to God in the fullness of overcoming vigor. Such a response on our part will cause Satan to be cast out of the heavens, and the salvation and power, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of God’s Christ, to be revealed.

How are we to overcome the accuser?

First, we overcome by the blood of the Lamb. We must learn to trust in the righteousness that is in the blood. Satan always is accusing us. We are not to respond to these accusations but to trust that the blood of Jesus is keeping us free from guilt in the sight of the Father. We trust in the blood for our righteousness and we will not submit to the accusations of the enemy. We overcome him by the blood of the Lamb.

Second, we overcome by the word of our testimony. The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring forth the Word of God in our ministry and in our personality. We always are being challenged by the Word of God. We are tempted at times to become discouraged, to believe that God cannot or will not bring to pass in our life all He has written.

We continue to minister to the Body of Christ by the power that the Spirit gives us and we continue to maintain faith in God’s Word. No matter what happens to us we proclaim faith in every promise in God’s Holy Word. We do not quit in discouragement, unbelief, or rebellion. We hold fast to what God has stated. We always justify God with our mouth.

What we are able to minister, what we become, and what we say, are all of the Holy Spirit. These aspects of the Divine testimony overcome the lies and accusations of Satan.

And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 11:10)

The Christian churches of today are not always tormenting those who dwell on the earth with their testimony. They are not always overcoming the accuser. The Spirit of prophecy is not always in them.

The wealthy democracies are filled with “Christian” ministries of all kinds. These ministries are accepted by the governments and are part of the national cultures. They sometimes are worthless to the Kingdom of God, and actually destructive because they claim to represent God’s will in the earth.

The Divine testimony is not always clearly borne by the Christian ministries.

In the dark hour that is ahead the Christian denominations will become part of the worldwide Babylon. The true saints, those in whom dwells the Spirit of prophecy, the testimony of Jesus, will be forced out of the cities of the earth.

Third, we overcome the accuser by loving not our life to the point of death. This means we obey God by remaining within the limitations He has placed on us—remaining to the end of our life if need be. To numerous believers of our day, especially in nations under Communist rule, obeying God has meant imprisonment, torture, and death.

When we obey God, not reaching out and taking what we want even though it is dangled before us, the enemy is overcome. It is not easy to love not our life to the death, to trust in God to the point of relinquishing what we covet intensely. But we have been called to rule the works of God’s hands. Therefore our obedience must be tested to the limit—the limit that is death to what we are and desire.

Our true desires will all be given us someday, but only after they have been slain, buried, and raised again by the Father. When our desires are raised they will be an eternally inseparable part of Christ and of us.

Canaan represents resurrection ground while the River Jordan typifies death to our first personality.

The soldier of Christ cannot be killed because he already has been slain and now is alive by the Life of Christ.

They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down. (Joel 2:8)

We have been chosen from the creation of the world to rule. Perhaps those of us who were selected to be alive in the present hour of history have a special opportunity to overcome and to enter the fullness of power and authority.

Other men and women of time past were chosen to work with Christ during specific stages of the development of the Kingdom of God. Peter, Paul, James, and John had opportunities that we do not have to lay the foundation of the Church and to have their names written in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem.

Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, the Protestant Reformers, John Wesley, had specific opportunities to work with God in His eternal purpose. None of them was other than we are—ordinary human beings on whom the call of God abides.

No one is great in the Kingdom of God except as God has chosen him or her for the post. To sit on Jesus’ right hand and on His left will be given to those for whom such exalted glory has been prepared (Matthew 20:23).

God works all things according to His foreknowledge. He has prepared for each of us a specific glory in terms of the personality He has given us. Then He brings us into the world at the correct moment. Our life has been planned from the beginning.

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalms 139:16)

The writings of the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that we must exercise our will and our faith according to our calling. We must grasp that for which we have been grasped. It is only by doing this that we can validate and establish our destiny. If we do not respond correctly a different destiny will be ours. We had been called to the royal priesthood but the subsequent events of our life may have led us to a different end.

There sometimes is a false sense of security in the Christian churches and little fear of God among the people. They are not working out their salvation with fear and trembling. They do not realize that the battle must be pressed to the last moment of life.

‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. (Matthew 25:28)

We must be diligent to make our calling and election certain. If we do not there is a possibility we may not be chosen after all. Many are called but few chosen. Even the righteous are saved with difficulty.

Now “If the righteous one is scarcely [with difficulty] saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (I Peter 4:18)

We do not know what is true of us until we respond. God knew our response from the beginning. God called us and gave us the opportunity to be His son, to inherit all things. Yet it still is up to us to respond appropriately.

Judas apparently was called to be one of the Apostles of the Lamb. A deeper knowledge of God’s plan revealed him to be the “son of perdition [destruction].” God knew what Judas would do but Judas made the decision. Judas had every opportunity to have his name engraved in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem. But Judas chose to allow Satan to enter him.

We have been grafted on the good olive tree; but we can be removed from the tree, from Christ. Every aspect of salvation always is an opportunity!

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22)

“You also will be cut off.” If only these words were preached regularly in every Christian assembling! How different the Christian witness would be! Instead we are assured repeatedly that we could never be cut off from Christ no matter what we do.

The Words of Christ to the members of the seven churches of Asia prevent any fatalism, any spirit of inevitably on our part concerning our eternal destiny.

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5)

God has given us the opportunity and the grace to overcome, to be a member of the royal priesthood. It is up to us to cooperate with the Spirit of God in the fulfilling of our calling. The Day of Christ will reveal openly our secret choices.

(“Chosen to Rule”, 3330-1)

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