- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: October 01 2020 October 01 2020
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.Isaiah 40:6–8
The letters VDMA (often pictured around a Greek cross) is an acronym that stands for the Latin phrase Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum (The Word of the Lord Endures Forever). This important phrase was the first evangelical confession and thus became the motto of the Lutheran Reformation and the logo VDMA its official symbol. Based on the words of Isaiah 40:8 and 1 Peter 1:25, VDMA is a confident expression of the enduring power and authority of God’s living and abiding Word.
While the origin of the VDMA motto and logo is unknown, its first known use occurs in 1522 when Fredrick the Wise, Elector of Saxony (Luther’s prince), ordered the logo be sewn onto the courts official clothing worn by prince and servant alike in support of the evangelical faith. The motto/logo was also used by Fredrick's successors, his brother John the Steadfast and his nephew John Fredrick the Magnanimous.
The motto appears on the title page of Luther's first German Bible translation in 1534 (Gottes wort bleibt ewig). VDMA also became the official motto the of Smalcaldic League (1531–1547), an alliance of Lutheran cities and territories formed as a way of defending Lutheran areas against the Emperor and his armies. The VDMA logo “was used on flags, banners, swords, and uniforms as a symbol of the unity of the Lutheran laity who struggled to defend their beliefs, communities, families, and lives against those who were intent on destroying them” and the Gospel teaching and preaching of the Lutheran Reformation. 1
VDMA was a strong reminder to Luther and all who confessed and defended the faith during the Reformation that even if the Emperor was able to overthrow them, he could not snuff out or destroy God’s Word which remains and abides forever! No pope, prince or emperor can ever silence the eternal gospel (Revelation 14:6).
The enduring motto of the Lutheran Reformation remains a confident reminder of God’s abiding Word of truth for His people whose lives are always lived amidst fleeting and transient days. While the Church remains under attack today from hostile enemies on the outside and false teachers on the inside, God's Word cannot be thwarted, it shall remain forever!
Even as a large part of our culture seeks to silence and eliminate the church’s voice within the public square, within our communities, within our neighborhoods and our circle of relationships, the immutable and eternal power and authority of God's Word gives His people an unshakable confidence and certainty to stand upon in the midst of volatility and futility.
Whether the church is free to believe, teach, and confess what the Holy Scriptures teach and confess or whether it endures suffering, persecution or sword (Romans 8:18, 35) like God's Word it too will endure forever because Jesus promises that even “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Unlike the fleeting faithfulness of humanity and the brevity of fallen creation, God's faithfulness is unchanging, His Word of truth and promise stands, remains, endures forever. What is true of the verbal Word of God is also true of the incarnate Word of God. Jesus Christ was crucified, died and buried, but is now risen from the dead forever never to die again (Romans 6:9) and in Him God's people shall endure, abide, live with Him forever!
The grass withers and flower fades, but the Word of the Lord remains forever and in the Word made flesh Jesus Christ so will His Church, so will you.
Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at nettleton@StJohnsFC.org or at 970-305-2420.