Even though there are thousands of religions and hundreds of nations on our planet, there are only two kinds of funerals. The first are those funerals which are marked by religious ritual, those at which the attendees hope there is a merciful God living in a place called heaven, and they hope that their dearly departed will have done enough good works in his lifetime to earn the right to enter.
The second are those which are based upon the Father/child relationship between the departed and God. The attendees celebrate their loved one's passing because they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is merciful, that He resides in heaven, and that their dearly departed has entered because he is a child of God. That is, he accepted the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ at some point in his life.
There are two exceptions when it comes to celebrating the funeral of one who claimed to be a Christian. The first is obvious, in that not all family and friends understand that a born again child of God immediately enters the presence of God at the moment of his death (2 Cor. 5:8). That is why the Apostle Paul wrote,
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Phil. 1:21-23).
The other exception is when family and friends cannot tell the departed was a child of God. The way he lived his life causes real doubt as to whether or not he was saved. The Word says,
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:15-21).
Today, I attended the funeral of Phelps Parsons, and because of his gentle, quiet, loving, and Lord-praising life, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is in the very presence of God Almighty! Although I do not come close to being the spiritual giant that Phelps was, I sincerely hope I have lived my life in such a way that my friends and family will able to celebrate, knowing I am with the Lord when my time comes!