"A Reformation Abbreviation" - The Pastor's Windshield for Sunday, October 30, 2022
Churches abound with abbreviations for their ministries. For example, our church body, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, is usually referred to by its abbreviation: LCMS. I wonder if you’ve heard of this abbreviation: VDMA. Any guesses about this one? VDMA is tricky because it’s an abbreviation of a Latin phrase: Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum, which means, “The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.”
“VDMA” is a motto that dates back around 500 years to the Lutheran Reformation, but it originally comes from the Lord’s Word in Isaiah 40:8. It is referenced again in 1 Peter 1:23-25: “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
Can you see why Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum became such a rallying cry for the Reformers? “VDMA” was printed in the preface to the original Book of Concord, the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. Here is a little more background from the most recent edition of the Book of Concord: “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum is the motto of the Lutheran Reformation, a confident expression of the enduring power and authority of God’s Word … It first appeared in the court of Frederick the Wise in 1522. He had it sewn onto the right sleeve of the court’s official clothing, which was worn by prince and servant alike. It was used by Frederick’s successors … It became the official motto of the Smalcaldic League and 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.” (Concordia p. 2)
Lutheran laypeople in the 16th and 17th centuries literally had to fight to protect their families and communities from the armies of the Holy Roman Empire which violently opposed the Reformation. Their motto reminded them that they were ultimately not bound to the human words of the Pope or Emperor but to the Lord’s Word, which Luther and other reformers had begun to restore to its proper place in the life of the church.
“The Word of the Lord Endures Forever” is just as fitting of a motto for Christian laypeople and pastors today as it was centuries ago. Though much has changed in 500 years, and certainly in the past several thousand years since the Lord’s Word was recorded for us, God’s scriptural promises have not changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Your Lord Jesus is just as faithful to you today as He was to His people in ages past and you can count on Him and His Word, even when everything else fails you!
The enduring Word from the Lord is especially the Gospel – His Good News for you. We hear this in the passage from 1 Peter referenced earlier: “You have been born again … through the living and abiding word of God … and this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
God’s Good News of forgiveness and life overcomes even sin and death. God’s Word declares that you are His baptized child, born again and born “from above” by Christ’s saving work on your behalf. God’s Gospel Word has also powerfully worked in your heart to create and sustain saving faith in Christ within you. The Lord and His Gospel Word rightly deserve all the credit and glory for doing everything for us and our salvation!
In our ever-changing world, we stand together on God’s unchanging foundation, a message handed down from biblical times, to the time of the Reformation, to our time today: The Word of the Lord Endures Forever!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Kory Janneke
Posted on October 27, 2022 3:48 PM