Because of Jesus’ resurrection, death has been defeated. The believer has no reason to fear death, nor its sting (1 Cor. 15:55). Death, rather, is something to look forward to in hopeful anticipation as we gladly “work out our salvation” here on earth (Phil. 2:12-13). Those who remain in sin (i.e. unjustified through faith in Christ) have every reason to fear death because for them, the sting remains (1 Cor. 15:56).
Intermediate state & Final Reward
For a follower of Jesus, the assurance of the Gospel is that upon death, we will be with him in paradise, just as he promised the thief who was being crucified with him (Luke 23:43). Here in heaven, God has prepared an eternal home for those who believe. Therefore, this current life, with its sufferings, is not our home, but is rather where we have the opportunity to recognize our internal yearning for the heavenly place. Prior to heaven, all will stand before Jesus and will receive a reward (or lack thereof) for what good things they have done in the context of the church (2 Cor. 5:1-10). Before Christ’s second coming, the wicked will wait tormented in Hades (Matt. 11:23; Matt. 5:23) until the final judgment where they will be cast by Jesus into hell.
The hope of the Gospel is not only that we will be saved through faith in Christ, but the hope of his return (Rev. 19). Jesus’ return will be visible and with the heavenly hosts. He will return to judge the living and the dead, and his church will be proclaimed right before him because of Jesus. Christ will consummate his kingdom, and establish a new heaven and a new earth, where all of creation will be restored (Romans 8:21; 2 Pet. 3:7–13; Rev. 21:1-5).
Upon Christ return, the dead will be raised and the just will receive a new body equal to that of an angel’s (Matt. 22:29-33; Luke 20:36). Upon resurrection, Christians will receive their eternal reward for good deeds done on earth (Luke 14:14) and the wicked, including Satan and his dominions, will be cast into hell (Rev. 20:7-10, 22:12; Rom. 2:5-6)
Millennium and tribulation
Jesus promises to return after the present period of time (referred to as a “millennium” in Revelation 20:1-6) where the church will endure trials, tribulations, and joys as witnesses of the Gospel described throughout Old Testament prophecies and the book of Revelation (Rev. 5:9). These present sufferings and persecutions will end with the completion of history when Jesus returns, judges the living and the dead, battles and defeats Satan (Rev. 19:17-21, 20:9-10) and establishes his new heaven and earth (2 Pet. 3:13).
For the unbeliever, physical death is the beginning of eternal death, only to end up after the final judgment, in a horrific place called hell (Rom. 2:5-6; Rev. 20:14, 22:12). Upon physical death, the believer goes to heaven to be with God in a place of everlasting bliss and joy (Is. 66:1; 1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 22:3-4). Death in this case is a beginning of eternal life (John 3:16; Mark 3:29; Jude 7, 13; Rev. 20:10).