It is not only acceptable; it is fitting to attend a funeral and burial, especially if the departed loved one was a fellow believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The first mention of a “Christian burial” is in Acts 8:2, “And devout men carried Stephen to HIS BURIAL, and made great lamentation over him.” Stephen had just been stoned to death by enemies of the gospel (see Acts 7:54-59) for his faithful testimony to his fellow-Jews (verses 1-53). He was no doubt deeply respected and loved for his faithfulness to Christ and his martyrdom caused other “devout men” to give him a proper Christian funeral and burial. We read there was “great lamentation over him” for they would surely miss their dear brother in Christ, yet we can be sure they did not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (see 1st Thessalonians 4:13). They were probably present when he breathed his last breath and heard him utter those last encouraging words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). They knew, as did Stephen, that for the believer death is but a gateway to glory and that the moment a Christian dies he/she is “absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2nd Corinthians 5:8). This gives the believer great comfort as they lay the body of their fellow-believer in the ground and it assures them that one day they will be reunited with him/her. If they were present when he died, they also heard him say, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:60), which would remind them of the words of the Lord Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This would have given them the opportunity to present the gospel of the GRACE OF GOD to those who attended Stephen’s funeral unsaved, for they could proclaim that Christ uttered those words based on the fact that He died for sinners (1st Timothy 1:15 and Romans 5:6-8) in order to offer them eternal forgiveness (Acts 10:43 and 13:38-39). Thus, a Christian’s funeral is not only a time of lamentation (because he/she will be missed) and rejoicing (because they are in glory “with the Lord”), but it a golden opportunity to proclaim to lost sinners that they too can be saved by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Acts 16:31).

Another prime example of a funeral and burial is recorded in John chapter 11. Jesus had allowed His friend Lazarus to die (see verses 1-15) and after the funeral, while Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus) were in mourning, He appeared to them to COMFORT THEM (see verses 17-33). His compassion for them was great and is expressed beautifully in two words, “Jesus WEPT” (verse 35). He was NOT weeping for Lazarus, whom He would soon raise from the dead, but He wept along with those who were in deep sorrow for the loved one who had departed. This teaches us another valuable lesson of attending a funeral and a burial; we should “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Perhaps the Lord would also have us offer them “words of comfort” (Romans 15:4) but if not, we can still give them a “shoulder to cry on” and we too can “weep with them” in their loss.

In closing, the hardest funeral we will attend is when one dies “without Christ” (having never received Christ as their Savior…see John 8:21-24) for then there is no comfort that can be given to the loved ones who are grieving. Yet even there we may have an opportunity to present the gospel to the unsaved in attendance as their thoughts are centered on the solemnity of death, eternity and their own immortal soul. We should always have a real love and concern for them and be praying, at those times, for the Lord to give us just the right words in presenting the gospel to them (1st Peter 3:15).  (461.5)  (DO)