[Regarding 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."]
The passage is often read at funerals, with the intent to encourage. However, Paul forbids universal application, since he contrasts the way that Christians should grieve against the way that all others grieve, since the rest of humankind have "no hope." He is writing to Christians about Christians. If the audience includes non-Christians, or if non-Christians are among the dead, then the doctrine is not nearly as comforting. The doctrine should not comfort the non-Christians who mourn, since they will not share in the glory of the return of Christ, or in the resurrection of Christians. And the doctrine should not encourage anyone about the deceased non-Christians, since death spells the commencement of a kind of suffering for them that strains our ability to fathom, although we applaud the justice of it.
Even as Paul addresses those who might be in mourning, and even as he writes to the Christian living about the Christian dead, he makes an attack on the unbelievers. Unless a minister has warrant to assume that he is speaking to Christians about Christians, he is a liar if he applies the doctrine of the glorious resurrection of the saints as if it applies to all in the audience, and at a funeral, as if it applies to the one in the coffin. If the minister is aware that his audience includes non-Christians, and if he is aware that the deceased was an unbeliever, then what excuse does he have to say anything other than, "Look! God is punishing this man your father, your husband, your son, your friend, this relative of yours even now...God is punishing him, torturing him, burning him up even now! Your wife, your mother, your sister, your daughter...she is now screaming out in pain and agony! She is crying for help, but there is only endless suffering before her, forever. And if you do not repent, you will likewise perish! Repent, for soon it will be your time to face the Lord!"