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If I had to give you a short answer to your first question it would be, “There are many Christian doctrines (or “teachings”) because God has so many truths that He wants to teach us, and every truth He desires us to learn is for our blessing and for His glory.” There is invaluable truth on every page of the Bible and thus the Apostle Paul was inspired, in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, to write, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” All scripture, from Genesis through Revelation, is “God-breathed” and is first of all “profitable for doctrine.”  Again, God has much to teach us, and after we learn the truth God has for us, it can lead us into living a righteous life filled with good works that will be used to bless others and glorify God.

Before we can really learn the doctrines of the Bible we need to be saved. The Bible teaches us the way of salvation in many scriptures but let’s consider the verse before the ones just quoted. We read in 1 Timothy 3:15, “And that from a child thou hast known the scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Timothy grew up reading the Old Testament and through those Holy Scriptures he learned that salvation was through faith in Christ Jesus.  Jesus Himself said, in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” Even before Christ was born, the Old Testament taught that men needed salvation and that salvation would be made possible by God sending His Son into the world to take man’s place in death and judgment on the cross of Calvary. These truths were taught through direct prophecies, such as Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ as the Sin-bearer in Isaiah chapter 53, or through types, such as Abraham offering up his son Isaac in Genesis 22:1-14. In time, Christ was born and, in obedience to the Father, He allowed men to put Him on the cross in order to fulfill Isaiah 53:4-10 and many other scriptures. In doing so He has indeed provided salvation and eternal life for all who will believe. If you have never trusted the Lord Jesus as Savior we would encourage you to act on the words of Acts 16:31, which say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” As the Lord Jesus made His way to the cross He said, in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” He loves you and wants to save you, but you must BELIEVE on Him as the One Who died to save you.

What is the basic mark of a true Christian?  If you have indeed put your faith in Christ as your Savior, you will give evidence of this by CONFESSING THE LORD AS YOUR SAVIOR! Romans 10:9-10 reads, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  If you have truly believed on Christ in your heart of hearts, it will be expressed by your mouth. You won’t be forced to confess Christ; you will want to tell others what Christ has done for you and what He can do for them! This is, first and foremost, the “basic mark of a true Christian.”

There are other “marks” of a true Christian, for besides confessing Christ as savior before men, you will want to learn as much as you can about the One Who died for you. To use the language of the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:18, you will want to “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” There are many doctrines to learn about the Lord Jesus, such as the truth about His Deity, His Incarnation, His perfect and sinless humanity, His atoning work on the cross, His resurrection, His exaltation to heaven, His present work in heaven as our Advocate and Great High Priest, and His second coming. As we learn these wonderful teachings, we will, by God’s grace, become more like the Lord Jesus. And as we become conformed to His image, we will show two more essential “marks” that show to everyone one around us that we are a Christian; we will display God’s LOVE and we will display God’s HOLINESS.  A servant of God who is now in the glory called these the “birth marks” of everyone that is “born of God.” Let’s close by looking at two verses that he used to prove this. The first one is 1 John 4:7 which reads, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” The second one is 1 John 2:29 which says, “If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” Do you have these “marks,” dear friend?  (131.4)  (DO)