Delivered at the Kentucky Indiana Fellowship on Tuesday, July 19, 2022


Primary Text: Jude 17


The theme chosen for this year is “A Time to Remember.”

Remembering, Memories, There is a hymn that was written in 1925 by J.B. Wright called “Precious Memories.” It begins like this.

Precious memories, unseen angels

Sent from somewhere to my soul

How they linger, ever near me

And the sacred past unfolds

     To remember is a normal part of the activity of the human mind. Often unpredictable and surprising. A sight, sound, or smell may stir a memory you haven’t thought of since childhood. At other times we may rack our brains to recall the name of someone we ran into at the grocery store. You were at the store to get something.

Where did I put my keys?

     We remember to reminisce old times with friends and family. We remember long-lost acquaintances and wonder what has become of them.  We use birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries to honor people and events. 

We also remember important facts, thoughts, ideas, and concepts because they may help us avoid problems or allow us to make better decisions now or in the future.

We also remember when we remind others, so they don’t forget. We want to refresh and bring to their attention something they should remember.

Don’t forget to take the trash out.

Don’t forget you have a doctor’s appointment.

Don’t forget to pick up some bread at the store.

In a letter to some early Christians, Jude reminded them to remember something he thought was crucial for their benefit, the churches, and generations yet to come.

We will read Jude’s reminder if you turn in your Bibles to Jude 17. The NIV reads

                   But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.   That was my assigned topic.  We will focus on what exactly Jude wanted us to remember and why?


The apostles spoke to many people about many different things. To interpret Jude’s message correctly, we need to understand the context of his letter.

Scholars estimate Jude wrote this letter between 55 and 90 A.D.

Greeting: Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.  Jude 1-2.   He introduces himself in a traditional fashion for the time. Jude identifies as a servant of Jesus and a brother to James. Jude doesn’t address any individuals or churches; therefore, we cannot be sure to whom he wrote it. He says the letter is for the “called,” and those who are loved in God and kept for Christ.”  So it’s possible he was writing to us as well.

     The opening concludes with a statement of hopes for the recipients in distinctly Christian terms, peace, mercy, and love in abundance.

Reasons for writing   In verse 3, Jude begins to explain his reasons for writing.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share,

He says his original intent had been to share some thoughts on the subject of the common salvation Jews and Gentiles shared. A community bound together in faith. Quickly his tone changes. He didn’t write to check how  things were going. Something was weighing heavy on his mind. He felt God had put something in his heart that needed to be said.

     I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

Faith didn’t come about through chance or by accident. It is not something that you stumble across. Our faith is a divine deposit of truth of immeasurable value paid for by the blood of Jesus, delivered in the Gospel, and placed in our guardianship and custody by the apostles and our forefather saints to bestow unpolluted to future generations of saints

     For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.  Jude knew that some false teachers might catch the church off guard, so he reminds us of Old Testament warnings against false prophets and teachers and warnings from Jesus and the apostles.

Jude had become aware of nefarious men who had quietly slipped in, infiltrated the church, and began circulating a counterfeit gospel.

     Whenever there is something of excellence and value, unscrupulous people will manufacture a counterfeit or an inferior substitute to pass it off as genuine.

They are not interested in true faith; their only interest is in the appearance of genuine faith. A sincere faith only interferes with their corrupt agendas.

By lowering the truth, standards, and expectations of God’s word in man’s eyes, they can disguise and elevate and celebrate their sinfulness in man’s eyes and their own.

They are ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign, and Lord.

They enter churches to attempt to change the doctrine of grace into the foulness of immorality. They claim to know God and praise His grace while denying him through their actions   Peter warned they would claim to be saved by grace so they could continue to live however they choose. They would argue they have the right to sin to increase the grace of God. They promised false freedom through Jesus. A false freedom that leads to a dreadful bondage that advocates and promotes immorality and every other manner of sin. 

     Jude’s message is as appropriate today as when he put pen to paper. Today’s multi-cultural, multi-faith,  tolerance and Woke infiltration’s and new age teachings are not only flooding our entertainment, schools, and media; they quietly found their way into our small groups, Sunday Schools, and pulpits.

The false teaching threats did not end with Jude. The resolve to contend for the faith must not end either.

I emphasize with Jude. You don’t have to look far to find the intellectual and moral deterioration in churches across America today.  The church is one generation from complete extinction if our generation fails to guard the truth entrusted to us. Where will the next generation turn? 

     Jude launches into verse 5 by saying Though you already know all this, I want to remind you

If we know something, why does Jude feel compelled to remind us of it.?

Paul gives us an excellent answer in Phillipians 3:1.  Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.

     I am blessed to have five grandchildren under ten years of age living with me. I spend a substantial portion of my day…… every day…. Giving these children instructions and directions. Pick up your clothes, close the door, and don’t punch your sister.  I also spend a good deal of time giving them warnings. Don’t talk to strangers. Look both ways before you run into the street, wipe up the juice you spilled, so you don’t slip and fall. Don’t hit your sister. They will stop… look at me….. and say…. You ALWAYS say that. I know, I know, you’ve told me a million times. 

     But I have to tell them again. I know they get tired of me reminding them of things, but their safety and well-being are important to me. I don’t care if they don’t want to hear it. It is essential the message sinks in so someday they remember. 

     In verses 5 through 7, Jude resurrects and breathes life into three examples of God’s sovereignty and victory over those that turn from His truth and authority.

God destroyed unbelieving Israelites after saving them from Egypt in verse 5.

Angels who did not keep the place God assigned for them are now bound and awaiting the day of judgment in verse 6.

Sodom, Gomorrah, and the nearby cities are examples of judgment by fire for those who pursue sexual immorality in verse 7,

In verse 8, Jude tells us In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams, these ungodly people pollute their bodies, reject authority, and heap abuse on celestial beings.

On the strength of their dreams….. perhaps imaginations, they cast off all restraint, despise God’s authority, and do whatever they wish. Pollute their bodies by turning to their natural instincts, as done in Sodom and Gomorrah. Apostates and animals live by natural instinct. When man reverts to those instincts and rebels against God, he sinks to the level of animals.

     They heap abuse on celestial beings.  Arrogant speech is dangerous, and so is despising the authority that God has established. Those who malign and slander everything decent and righteous strives to bring down everything opposing authority.

Jude draws the distinctive contrast of the actions and attitudes of the ungodly compared to the restraint, soft speech, and understanding of the Archangel Michael in verses 9-10.

 Michael didn’t dare rebuke Satan; he respected the authority and boundaries given to him by God.

Jude says Woe to them in verse 11. Jude reminds us again of the condemnation and consequences of three men that rebelled against God’s authority and suffered for it.

The way of Cain. Disobedience to God, jealousy, and murder.

Balaam’s Error. Greed and leading others into sexual immorality.

Korah’s Rebellion – Rebellion against authority.

Verses 12 – 13 offer different metaphors or vivid word pictures of false teachers to help describe and explain why they are dangerous to a church and the importance of keeping them out of the church.

  1. A Blemish –Greek refers to hidden rocks that could quickly wreck an unsuspecting mariner’s ship.
  2. A Selfish Shepherd – Seeks to care for their needs instead of their flock.
  3. Empty Clouds – Clouds that promise rain but fail to produce any.
  4. Dead Trees – They produce no fruit in their ministries or personal lives.
  5. Raging Waves – Powerful waves of pride and arrogance which produce only discord and destruction. Churning up sand, mud, and debris.
  6. Wandering Stars – Meteors that suddenly appear and vanish, never to be seen again.

Verses 14 -16 Jude supports his case against false teachers by citing Enoch’s prophecy, which can be found in 1 Enoch verse 14.

Jude paints a picture of a conquering Jesus leading an army of hundreds of thousands against the ungodly and those who speak maliciously against Him.

This brings us to verse 17. The verse on which I was to focus.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.

And he tells us what we need to remember in the following two verses.

They said to you, “In the last times, there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

     Jude revealed all of this to encourage and equip the church to mount a defense against attacks of apostates. The focus of his letter centers on remembering so we may contend for the faith.

He wanted to impart wisdom to the church so we could readily identify those living contrary to the faith. Only by knowing and understanding the enemy’s nature, motivation and tactics can we mount a defense.

     Times may have changed, but the problem of the commitment and desires that live in the heart of men have not. The heart of man is committed to God or the world. The evil with Jude in his day remains today. Jude recognizes that to be successful, we must prepare adequately. The first step is to remember. 


Memory serves as an essential part of the Israelites’ faithfulness to God. Israel was often encouraged to remember God, meaning they would live faithfully as God’s people. 

     The first thing to remember is the legacy of provision that Jesus supplied on the cross of Calvary. Only through His sacrifice do you, I, and mankind have hope of life beyond our existence on this side of the grave.

This incredible gift of salvation is only available through grace by faith. The debt of our sin has been paid, and we are viewed as righteous through Christ and Christ alone.

     Our purpose is to glorify and serve God and reach the lost. We are called out from the world to live separated lives. We do this by leading exemplary lives following God’s laws, decrees, instructions, and the leadings of the Holy Spirit.

     Because the church is no longer seen as different from the world, it should be no surprise for the faithful to find themselves strangers in a strange land. Jude warns of mockery, ridicule, and rejection.

We must remember that we are not the first to travel in stormy uncharted waters. Jude reminds us that this battle can be won if we rise to the occasion and remember the words of the apostles and the Lord God’s word, the words of the apostles, and Jesus are the benchmark for our faith and teachings.

     We do not always fully understand God’s word at times, and when this happens, we often refer to studies or commentaries someone else has done. We extract a doctrine and reflect and analyze it. We will take some philosophy, human thought, and reasoning and piece together a theology that is often useful. However, the moment you bring philosophy, speculation, your ideas, and logic, or someone else’s, you may begin doing something dangerous. Maybe not intentionally. But maybe.

     We can speculate and reason, but that is not biblical doctrine. To avoid a doctrinal error, it is necessary that teaching must conform and confine themselves to what we know to be the truth: God’s word, the words of the apostles, and the words of Jesus. 

     It’s important to remember our obligations. We are obliged to keep biblical truths from being diluted and polluted. And to stand on those truths and contend for the faith. I have heard that Christians should contend for the faith without being contentious.  I don’t think they understand that the word contentious comes from the word contend. It’s possible to contend and not be pretentious or combative. But I’m sure if you contend, that makes you contentious.

     If we don’t take a stand, who will? This isn’t something we can pass off to someone else to do for us.

We should be vested in the church’s survival, protection, and prosperity. We would not be here today if someone didn’t stand up and fill the gap in a previous generation.

Remembering does not mean simply recalling past information but also implies an ethical requirement for an appropriate response to that knowledge in the present.

     In closing I would like to leave you with a final thought from 2 Peter 1:12-15

 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.


           Gary Butts is minister of the Portland Avenue Church of Christ in Louisville, KY.