On July 2, 1893, the celebrated Restoration leader J. W. McGarvey delivered an address in Louisville, Kentucky. It was simply titled “Repentance.”
If God were giving special miraculous gifts, McGarvey said he would not ask for the gift of healing, prophecy, or tongues. Rather, he would ask for the power, above everything else, to cause men to repent.
He continued this marvelous discourse by saying, “The greatest obstacle to the salvation of men is the obstinacy of the human will.” He pointed out that, comparatively speaking, it is not all that difficult to persuade multitudes of the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth. An honest consideration of the evidence is tremendously compelling.
Nor is it a rigorous task to lead folks to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins, once they are convinced they are lost and without the hope of eternal life apart from obedience to Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8–9; Hebrews 5:9; 1 Peter 4:17).
McGarvey forcefully emphasized that the most difficult obstacle in the path to genuine conversion “is to induce them to repent.” People do not change their minds or lives very easily. Since repentance involves both, it is challenging. Further, repentance implies a person is on the wrong path (Luke 13:3), and none of us wants to admit we are wrong.
Men want Christianity without conversion and forgiveness without forsaking. When there is authentic penitence, salvation is possible. —Wayne Jackson