When I finally started studying God's Word, and the Holy Spirit began to lead me into a study of Bible prophecy, I started making discoveries about the future that ministered great hope to my spirit. I had just discovered God's marvelous promises for the future that are designed to give us hope in the present.
My first discovery was that there is no such thing as "soul sleep." We remain conscious after death. My second discovery was that we are not destined to be disembodied spirits. We continue to have a body — first, an intermediate spirit body, and then a glorified body. My third discovery was that we are not going to be bored stiff playing harps for eternity. We are going to be engaged in some meaningful activities.
If you are a believer and you die before the Lord returns, you will go to Heaven where you will be involved in worship (Revelation 7:9-14) and service (Revelation 7:15). Admittedly, the Bible does not get specific about our worship and service, but we can be assured that we will find both to be fulfilling and edifying. It could also be that this will be a time of rest, preparing us for the time of vigorous service that will follow, when the Lord returns to earth.
Judgment and Rewards
At the time of the Rapture (most likely before the Tribulation), both the living and dead in Christ will receive their glorified bodies. We will be in Heaven with the Lord during the Tribulation. This will be the time of our judgment, not to determine our eternal destiny, but to determine our degrees of reward. Each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus and be judged as to how we used our spiritual gifts to advance His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:10). Our works will be judged as to quantity, quality, and motive (1 Corinthians 3:13-15 and 4:5). Some will experience embarrassment as all their works are burned up as worthless (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Others will receive great rewards.
Some of the rewards will relate to the degree of ruling authority we will be granted during the Lord's millennial reign (Luke 19:11-27). Others will consist of crowns and special robes. There will be a "crown of righteousness" for those who lived yearning for the return of Jesus (2 Timothy 4:7-8). A "crown of life" will be given to those who persevere under trial (Revelation 2:10 and James 1:12). Faithful elders and pastors will receive a "crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:4). Soul winners will be given a "crown of rejoicing" (Philippians 4:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:19). An "imperishable wreath" will be given to those who exercise self-control (1 Corinthians 9:25). Even the clothing we receive will indicate our degrees of reward. It will in some way reflect "the righteous acts of the saints" (Revelation 19:8).
At the end of this time of judgment, we, the Bride of Christ, will sit down at a banquet table in Heaven to celebrate our union with our Bridegroom, Jesus. The Bible calls it the "marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9). It will be a time of unparalleled celebration. The heavens will ring with "Hallelujahs!" (Revelation 19:1-6).
Witnesses of Glory
When the meal is completed, we will return to earth with Jesus (Revelation 19: 11-14). We will be there in our glorified bodies when His foot touches the Mount of Olives and that mountain is split in half (Zechariah 14:1-9). We will be there to shout "Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna to the King of kings!" as He rides down the Kidron Valley on His white horse and approaches the Eastern Gate. We will be there to witness the supernatural opening of that gate as it welcomes Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem (Psalm 24:7-8):
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
We will be there to shout, "Hallelujah!"
when Jesus is crowned King of kings and
Lord of lords and begins His glorious millennial reign.
The Millennial Reign
During the Lord's reign, the Redeemed are going to be doing anything but floating around on clouds playing harps. We are going to reign with Jesus over those who are allowed to enter the Millennium in the flesh (which will be those believers who are alive at the end of the Tribulation). Jesus will reign over all the earth from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4) as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). David, in his glorified body, will reign as king of Israel (Ezekiel 37:24). Those of us who will be glorified saints will be scattered all over the earth to assist with Jesus' reign (2 Timothy 2:12).
Think of it — every person on earth who is in a position of governing authority will be a glorified saint. Some of us will be in administrative positions, sharing in Jesus' reign as presidents, governors, or mayors (Luke 19:11-27). Others will serve as judges (1 Corinthians 6:3). Most of us will serve as "shepherds," or teachers, trying to bring those who are born during the Millennium to faith in Jesus (Isaiah 66:18-21 and Jeremiah 3:15).
None of us will serve as legislators because the law will be given by Jesus Himself, and it will be perfect (Isaiah 2:1-4). There will be no abomination known as the Texas Legislature or the United States Congress. Nor will there be any lobbyists or political parties.
The Lord will rule with "a rod of iron" (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:27). The government of the world will be a theocracy, with Jesus serving as both the spiritual and political leader. "He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices" (Zechariah 6:13).
We will be given the blessing of seeing this old sin-sick world flooded with peace, righteousness and justice, "as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). There will be no homeless people or hungry people (Isaiah 65:21-22 and Micah 4:4). Peace will envelope the earth (Isaiah 2:4). The Lord's reign will be characterized by righteousness, fairness, and faithfulness (Isaiah 11:4-5). "The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to Him. People from every nation will bow down before Him" (Psalm 22:27).
The Eternal State
When the Millennium ends and we move into the Eternal State, the Bible does not go into detail as to what our activities will be. It tells us only three things: we will see the face of God (Revelation 22:4); we will serve the Lord (Revelation 22:3); and we will reign with Him forever (Revelation 22:5).
Seeing the face of God is an exciting prospect, for the Bible says that no one has ever seen His face (Exodus 33:20 and 1 Timothy 6:16). I believe the promise of seeing God's face means we are going to enjoy intimacy with Him forever. Much of that, undoubtedly will be in the form of worship. I think it also means we will grow in our knowledge of the Lord forever. He is infinite, and no matter how much we come to know Him, there will be just that much more for us to experience. I feel certain that one aspect of this will be the eternal study of His Word. I get excited over all this as I think of singing the Psalms with David and studying the book of Romans with Paul.
As for service, I would imagine, for one thing, our gifts and talents will be magnified and that we will use them to glorify the Lord. Thus, a singer will be able to sing with a perfection and range never before achieved, and a painter will be able to paint with a glory never imagined.
Reigning with the Lord forever implies that we will be reigning over someone. Who that will be, I do not know. Perhaps it will be the mysterious "nations" referred to in Revelation that seem to inhabit the new earth (Revelation 21:24-27 and 22:2).