Where will the family of God reside? What will its members be doing? Is there any biblical basis for the common idea that they will be playing harps somewhere in heaven for eternity?
What did Jesus say about the reward of the righteous?
"In My Father's house are many [rooms]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3).
The crucial question is where will Christ be? Several scriptural passages clearly show that Jesus will return here to earth and rule the nations with His saints (compare Revelation 19:1-21; Revelation 20:1-6).
Where will the righteous rule?
"You [Jesus Christ] are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9-10).
The righteous saints will assist Jesus Christ in reigning over the nations during His millennial rule. As a specific example, the Bible states that the 12 apostles will reign over the descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28-30; compare Matthew 19:28). Scripture even reveals that King David will preside over the reunited tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 37:21-25). Others will oversee the administration of several cities (Luke 19:16-19). This is a sorely neglected biblical truth.
What did the apostle Paul say about the future activities of those who receive everlasting life?
"Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Corinthians 6:2).
What does Jesus Christ, through the apostle John, plainly state in the book of Revelation on this subject?
"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:26).
"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 apostolic writings show that the true role of the resurrected saints ruling in the world of tomorrow was widely taught and understood in the first-century Church. However, over the many centuries since, an apostasy grew and grew until today relatively few comprehend this major biblical teaching. The proclamation of these largely misunderstood Bible truths remains an important goal of the teachings and publishing efforts of the United Church of God.
Simply moving from the earth to heaven is not the promised reward of the saved. Assisting Jesus Christ in ruling over the nations of this earth is! (For further understanding, please request our free booklets What Happens After Death? and The Gospel of the Kingdom).
Will the righteous ever be with God the Father Himself?
"Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:2-3).
God, our heavenly Father, has promised ultimately to make His headquarters on the new, or totally renovated, earth (Revelation 21:1), dwelling forever with those who have been transformed into spirit and glorified to live forever with Him.