Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship … in truth" (John 4:24). If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person … is not living in the truth” (1 John 2:4). Accepting God includes accepting guilt for having broken His statutes: “The land … will enjoy its sabbaths without them; … they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes” (Lev. 26:43). “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to … test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Dt. 8:2). “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Dt. 5:29). May we “earnestly obey [His] commandments ... to love … God and serve Him … heart and … soul” (Dt. 11:13). May we pray, “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!” (Ps. 119:10): https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/a-new-covenant-for-transforming-the-heart
On the one hand, "Through the Bible we see the opportunity to repent as [being] a gift from God, [an opportunity made] possible only when God draws us to Him. As … Jesus … stated, 'No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him' (John 6:44).
'It is impossible for anyone, acting alone, to completely surrender his or her will to God. Humanly we cannot comprehend the depth of change that God desires to see in our hearts and minds. We need help even to understand what sin is!
'That’s why God must grant us repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25). In addition, we need the will—both the desire and the choice—to repent. This willingness to repent, too, comes from God: 'For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him' (Philippians 2:13...)”: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-road-to-eternal-life/repentance-your-first-step
"[However, although] God 'desires all men to be saved,' He doesn’t force anyone to repent (1 Timothy 2:4). His kindness and goodness lead us to repentance as mentioned (Romans 2:4), but He doesn’t make the choice for us. The decision is still ours … [to] surrender our will to Him … to bring into our lives His way of thinking and living as revealed in His Holy Scriptures. He wants every one of us to rid ourselves of our former way of thinking and living and become a 'new man' in thought, attitude and character (Ephesians 4:22-24) … [to] “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23).
'These admonitions mean a lifetime of growth and change for us, starting with the initial change—the repentance God expects before baptism. He asks us to reorient our hearts, aiming for a new direction in life.
'To be carnally minded is death,' said Paul, 'but to be spiritually minded is life and peace' (Romans 8:6). We must be willing to let the revealed Word of God, the Bible, change our thinking. That is where real repentance begins": https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-road-to-eternal-life/repentance-your-first-step
We must still "'Choose life'" (Deut. 30:19)!
Scripture speaks of another woman, Rachel, who - at a low point, not having children or an ideal marriage and family life - despaired of life (Genesis 30:1). Yet that was not the end of the story. Two adoptions later, God responded to "Rachel's plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children. 'God has removed my disgrace,' she said" (Genesis 30:22 NLT). Later, Joseph was torn away from his surviving parent - who likewise despaired of life. Yet, though Joseph was faced with a seemingly bleak future, extreme difficulties, and severely limited options, even in a seemingly no-exit situation (prison), "the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor" (Genesis 39:21) to the point that eventually, Joseph was equipped with the ability to help others in need. For instance, he told his brothers: "God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance" (Genesis 45:7). How good it is that Rachel did not act on her despair all those years prior. Her son ended up doing so much good for others. Please don't end things on the 31st or any other day. God cherishes you. Please choose life!
Respectfully, Matthew 12:40 says that Jesus was "in the heart of the earth" for "three days and three nights." "Therefore the dying criminal could not have been with Jesus in heaven that day, because Jesus Himself did not go there then": https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/heaven-and-hell-what-does-the-bible-really-teach/the-thief-on-the-cross
"Three days and three nights later, Christ is right before Mary saying He hadn’t yet ascended to the Father. So, it would’ve been impossible for Luke 23:43 to mean that today, that very day, that the thief would’ve gone to heaven. That would go against the whole meaning of Scripture, the whole plan of God": https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/the-thief-on-the-cross