Grace Changes Everything | Respond

Brooke Lovingood |
May 23, 2023

Believers, we are saved by grace. We’ve done nothing to earn our salvation but Jesus has already made us his own. So how do we live out Christ’s workmanship in us? In this session Brooke Lovingood walks through Ephesians 2 and lists 6 things we should do daily to be found faithful.

Thinking rightly in the moment leads to right action. Genuine salvation bears fruit. Let’s renew our minds daily and care about the things of the kingdom.


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Respond Women’s Conference

April 2024

Read the transcript here!

If you have your Bibles, you can open to Ephesians 2.

God, thank you. We echo that song right now that we are here for you, we want nothing else but you. You change us, you help us to know you, you help us to trust you. And this time is literally pointless without your power, without your Majesty, without your glory, God, so I pray over the next few moments that our eyes and our hearts will be turned to you. God, we love you. And we pray all this in your name. Amen.

Alright, I echo what Tiffany said, I hope your backs feel good this morning. Nobody had a wild encounter with an animal on a midnight bathroom run. Had a few of those here before. This is a women’s retreat unlike any other, and it’s awesome. Hey, we’re gonna be in Ephesians 2, we’re gonna finish out the section we were in last night, looking at verses 8 through 10, and then tonight, Bethany is gonna continue to walk through the Book of Ephesians. Tomorrow, Brody will pick up somewhere, not sure where, and just… It’ll be awesome, and we’re just really excited to get to continue to spend the weekend together.

So something about me is I’m not a morning person. Thank you. Any non-morning people? Night people. Yeah. Yeah, alright, I’m sorry that you’re at this session right now, and I wanna be like all the books, like is so productive in the morning, so da, da, da, da, da. My husband is like the ultimate morning person, like 5:15, alarms up, he’s up, he’s moving, coffee is made, life is good. But I think he lives a sad life, ’cause he wants to go to bed at 8:30 each night so I judge him for that, but he has motivated me. Okay, and so about two mornings a week, this is gonna sound like a flex, but it’s not a flex. Okay. This is a struggle for me. I pick a place, I work out, I pick a workout class at 5:30 AM, I know, and you sign up for the class and essentially pay for it prior to going, so if you cancel, you lose money. So this incentive is high. But every single time I sign up for one of these classes, I go through this war in bed, I flip over, alarm goes off, I grab my phone, and every morning my husband catches me trying to cancel this class, who cares about the money? I want sleep.

And so he always says something like, Brooke, remember at 6:30, you will feel so good, and it’s true, like if you worked out and you are done working out by 6:30 AM, you can conquer the universe. I mean, it’s an unbelievable feeling. So what keeps me going, I’ve only cancelled once and I snuck it by my husband and then we had to work through that later, but I… When I think rightly in the moment, it leads to right action. When I remember what’s true, if I go do this and I get through this and I get through the pain of getting up and driving there and working out at this ridiculous time in the morning, I will feel better, right? There is goodness on the other end of this, and so last night we looked at a lot of right thinking, we looked at a lot of truth, and that in turn should change us, it should lead to a different life, it should lead to us being different when we behold what’s been done for us and we remember and we reflect what’s happened. So the main idea today, super simple, I have three simple points and a few sub-points underneath it, but still three simple points.

“God’s Grace Changes us.”

God’s grace changes us. God’s grace changes us. When we really experience, when we really see God in all of his grace, in all of his glory, it leads to a life that’s changed, and I kinda set some of this up last night, but Paul draws a lot of attention to grace in this book. Even if you flip back to Ephesians 1, look at Verse five and six with me, his talk through what Christ has done for us. So he says, He predestined us, verse 5, Chapter 1, “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” To what, the praise of His glorious grace with which He blessed us in the beloved. Then we looked last night in Chapter 2, Verse 7, all that Jesus has done for us, He saved us, He’s brought us out of wrath, brought us out of being dead, made us alive, shown us mercy, so that in the coming ages, He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace and kindness towards us. We talked about this last night, but it’s like getting a little glimpse behind the scenes and seeing the motivation of God to come and save us and redeem us and rescue us is so that we can know His grace.

I don’t think we can overstate his grace, I don’t think we can ever think His grace, I think God wants us to be so overcome by His grace that it literally changes us. So it’s all about God’s grace. This book, what God has done for us. And we’re gonna look at that a little more today. We’re in Ephesians 8 versus… Ephesians 2:8-10. I’m gonna read these.

“For by grace, you’ve been saved through your faith. This is not your own doing. It’s the gift of God, not a result of work so that no one may boast, for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

1. Grace through faith saves.

Alright, so three thoughts: One, grace through faith saves. Three ways that Grace should change us. Number one, grace through faith saves. This text is clear about this in Verse 8, for by grace, you have been saved. Now, listen, any sort of personality tests I have ever taken, I am some sort of type A achiever, striver, go-getter, all about doing the deed and making sure it’s done well, and so this concept of grace actually is really hard for someone like me who has to comprehend, Oh, there is nothing, nothing I did to earn my salvation, literally nothing. I brought sin to the equation, and God brought everything else.

And so even in a room of faithful people like you, and even writing to a church of faithful people like Ephesus, Paul still reminds them of this core doctrine. That grace is the only thing that saves. Romans 3:28 says it like this, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Romans 10:9, “Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 3:22, Righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.So Paul tells us this grace, it’s received by faith, and the reality is, someone who could have been around the Gospel their whole life, miss this point, because everything in us wants to strive, everything in us wants to clean ourselves up. And the good news of the gospel is all we bring is our sinful self and God makes us clean. So I encourage you with this point, just like Paul’s encouraging the church at Ephesus, do you utterly believe the only way out of your sin is faith-filled belief that the work, life, death and resurrection of Jesus is our only hope?

Is that not just what you believed one time, but what you day after day after day, and your failing, and your striving, and your hoping, and your hurting and your suffering cling to this grace. This good news. It’s just a crazy deal, it’s hard to even explain, right. Why would, Paul says it like this in Romans, somebody would rarely even die for a good person, much less a sinful person, and yet in God’s utter kindness, He shows grace to the worst of sinners, which is you and I. So grace changes, that’s because grace is the only thing that saves us. God’s grace changes us.

2. Grace through faith demolishes boasting.

Secondly, grace through faith demolishes our boasting. Paul’s really clear about this. In Verses 8 through 9, he says this,

For by grace, you’ve been saved through faith. This is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”- Ephesians 2:8-9

It’s not your own doing. It’s the gift of God, not a result of work so that no one may boast. I think it’s fascinating. Out of all the things that Paul highlights about grace, he talks about how it should not lead to us boasting. Grace through faith demolishes our boasting. I’ve heard it said like this, this is a quote from a commentary I read this week, “Salvation, salvation is a gift from God, His abundant kindness and His lavish grace, there is nothing at all within us that has inclined God to choose us.”

There is absolutely nothing we have done to catch God’s attention and earn his favor, it is entirely a gift from God, entirely a gift from God. These are a few theology terms, I think it’s helpful to know these just when you think about grace, the term common grace, and the term special grace. So common grace theologians break it down like this, where they say, anyone who is existing is experiencing common grace. So the fact that they have air in their lungs, the fact that every one of us can feel the sunlight on our skin. Every one of us can experience having a child, being married, enjoying friendship, enjoying community, enjoying a house, enjoying good food, a good steak, all of those things are accessible to anyone on earth. That’s God’s common grace, so even to those who haven’t put their faith in him, God gives love, God gives gifts to. But then there’s a special grace, theologians call this, and it’s a grace for those who have put their faith in Jesus, and it’s what we experience from Jesus, and it actually makes the common grace gifts much richer, ’cause I know when I eat good food, this food is not just good food, it’s a gift from a really good God, and so I’m able as a believer to see grace in a whole new way, I don’t just experience common grace, but I experience God’s special grace to the believer.

And all of that, all of that just shows his merciful and kind heart towards us, that even those who have not turned to love him, to choose him, to experience Him, to surrender to Him, He still shows grace to. The fact that we’re even alive is grace in and of itself? So this type of grace, right, both to the believer and the unbeliever should demolish our boasting. We deserve none of it. We deserve none of it. And it’s just so peculiar to me that Paul takes time to say the result of grace should be that you boast in God, not yourself, which means he probably predicts that you and I would be tempted to make much of ourself. You and I would be tempted to boast in ourself.

“So that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” – 1 Corinthians 1:31

It’s all about Jesus. Colossians 1, it’s through him, it’s to him, it’s for him. Our boasting is eradicated by grace. So what does this look like? There’s a little book I read a while ago. It’s called the freedom of self-forgetfulness. It’s a great book. I encourage you to read it, and an analogy used in that book has been so helpful for me on fighting the urge to make much of myself, fighting the urge to think of myself even at all, and I think this is… It has to be a change of mindset, it’s not just pull your boot straps up and don’t boast, but it’s actually changing how you think about yourself, changing how you think about God. Anybody watch any of the like high profile trials, Amber Heard, Johnny Depp, anybody. Okay, are you judging me? These things are entertaining and not edifying, but they are entertaining. So any trial, right, the performance comes before the verdict. So you in a courtroom and you’re getting judged based off of what you’ve done, and the verdict is gonna match your performance, hopefully that’s a just system, and that’s actually true of any other religion, other than Christianity, how you perform determines your verdict in that religion. Right, do I get to go to heaven? Will I have done enough good works. It’s exhausting to think about. Christianity is different, the verdict comes before the performance for the Christian, it’s unbelievable, God calls you and I his child, when we have done nothing to deserve that, and out of that verdict is where our performance is driven, right. So we’re not working for something, we’re working from something, we’re working from an understanding that we have brought nothing. We have nothing to boast in, but Jesus has already made us his own, and so from that point our boasting is eradicated and it’s put towards the cross.

This helps us know when we fail, we don’t have to be overcome by our failure because our verdict is already determined. We actually cannot compete with others, but we can celebrate them because the verdict has already been stated for us. We can give God glory, we can stop thinking about ourselves and boast in God, because the verdict has already been said. This is the difference between Christianity and any other religion, that the verdict comes before our performance and out of what’s been true of us, we make that boast, because of God. So Grace through faith eradicates boasting. And lastly, grace through faith fuels are good works. Verse 10. Verse 10, listen to this, for we, it’s so interesting. So our boasting is eradicated, then Paul draws our attention, but we do work. We do put forth effort, for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. I think it’s really strategic, the order Paul tells us, he’s just walked us through the gospel, he’s just told us the verdict, and now he’s saying, out of this verdict, go make much of me, go live a life that is hands to the plow, moving the Gospel forward, moving the Gospel forward.

3. Grace through faith fuels our good works.

One of my favorite ways to frame this is that you and I are saved from earning, but we’re not saved from effort, right. You and I, we are saved from earning anything from God, but we are not saved from effort, we’re saved from works to works. We’re saved from having to perform, to getting the privilege to work for the Lord. This distinction is huge. Galatians says it like this,

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith and not by works of the law, because by works of the law, no one will be justified.” -Galatians 2:16

But then Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “but we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Genuine salvation bears fruit. Those that are made alive do things for the kingdom of God, dead people lay still, alive people move the kingdom forward. So God’s grace changes us. We’re saved by grace through faith. God’s grace eradicates our boasting, and God’s grace through faith fuels our good works. Fuels our good works.’but we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works. Genuine salvation bears fruit. Those that are made alive do things for the kingdom of God, dead people lay still, alive people move the kingdom forward. So God’s grace changes us. We’re saved by grace through faith. God’s grace eradicates our boasting, and God’s grace through faith fuels our good works. Fuels our good works.

How do we live out being God’s workmanship?

Okay, I wanna end with a few application points, how do we live out being Christ’s workmanship, that feels kind of like a foreign word to us, I don’t use the word workmanship often in my English language, but Paul does, so what does that mean? Just three simple thoughts around how we walk out being God’s workmanship, these works that God has prepared for us beforehand, how do we actually live that out? This is so big, and I’m gonna spend some time here for a second. I think one of the greatest enemies to Christianity right now, especially in younger generations, is our minds, our un-renewed minds lead to so much emotional turmoil and defeat and battles in our hearts, in our lives, and so for us to really work in a way that honors God, to really recognize that we have given… Been given so much in him. I think it starts with a renewed mind, a mind that is renewed in God, that is renewed in God’s word.

The word workmanship, Paul uses the Greek word is poiema, which is the word we get poem from. And you can see what he had in mind is a masterful creativity work, you can already tell that this is where we get our English word poem. Paul selected this carefully. What Paul is saying to us is, you and I, we’re the game plan here. By God’s grace, He’s choosing to move the Kingdom of God forward through you, you are the workmanship, you are the creatively designed Art put on display for others to know him. He chose you, he’s gifted you, He’s equipped you. There’s really no plan B here, but you and I, which is scary. But awesome, that we get to be on the field. We get to play the game in the kingdom, we get to move back darkness. And so I think we can never be successful in being God’s workmanship unless we know through the power of the Spirit, you and I have the ability to renew your thoughts by taking them captive and making them obedient to God, because right thinking leads to right living.

Renewal of the mind leads to right action in the moment.

Right thinking leads to right living. I remember understanding that thoughts, my thoughts could get away from me when I was in college, this is first time I remember thinking like, Oh, I sometimes think things that aren’t true, I’m crazy. Because me and my friend group, we would hang out, we kind of had a guy’s house friend group that we would hang out with, and I have memory of us going over hanging out with them, and you know, somebody’s always got a crush on somebody, and we would be driving back to our house and one of my friends would say something like, you know, I think John likes me, and we would be like, Interesting. Tell us how you came up with that. We’re like, did he tell you that he liked you when none of us were watching, or did he like text you something? She’s like, No. We’re like, did he hold your hand? She’s like, No. Did he flirt with you? She’s like, No. And then we’re like, What was it? And she’s like, he looked at me.

1. Think about what you are thinking about.

We’re like, Oh my gosh, and then simultaneously those guys would come and tell me of something they would do like, Hey, we took this… I asked this girl to coffee, and I took her to coffee and I paid for it, and we sat and we talked deeply for two hours, and for some reason she thinks that I like her. And I would just be like, We are all just idiots here, you know, our brains are thinking things that aren’t true, right, like, Dude, you took her on a date, there’s a reason for her to feel that, and then, hey, when a guy looks in your direction, maybe we should reframe that as just being human interaction here. And so I began to see like, Oh my gosh, our minds can just like… And it’s a funny example, but in so many more serious ways our thoughts can literally think on things that are not true, and I think it keeps us from being effective in the kingdom of God, because we’re so inwardly focused on our anxiety, on our sadness, on our battles and those things are real, that’s part of my story, but I think a lot of the issue is that our hearts and our minds are not disciplined in God’s word. One of the things that has helped me with this, helped me renew my mind, is just a simple phrase, think about what you’re thinking about, think about what you’re thinking about, be aware of where your thoughts are going. Is what I’m thinking about true, right, pure, lovely.

2. We take our thoughts captive.

It might just feel like a normal thought to me, but it’s not true. Think about it, get alone with the Lord sometime this week and write out thoughts that you’re thinking, repetitive patterns. Another thing that’s helped me is taking captive and making my thoughts obedient to God. You have the power to do this. I have a few friends that I call them my spiral friends, when I feel myself in a mental spiral, I call them and I say I’m spiraling, I need you to tell me what’s true, right. Because I don’t wanna go there, I wanna take captive my thoughts and I wanna make them obedient, I want to replace them with truth from God’s word, and you have the power to do that. And this has been huge for me, I’ve heard this said multiple different ways, but rehearsing in ease, what I want to come out in pain. When I get in the thick of a battle, like we were talking about last night, Ephesians 6, that we’re in the thick of a battle, that is not the time to suddenly shove God’s word down our heart and expect it to really help us, but in moments of ease, day in and day out, faithfulness in God’s word, day in and day out, prayer, day in and day out, talking with people who lean you to Jesus, filling this arsenal you have in your life that when you’re in the battle, what comes out is what you put in when you were in ease.

“Rehearse in ease, what I want to come out in pain.”

And it will. It’s so beautiful how God does that. Think about what you’re thinking about, take captive and make obedient your thoughts and rehearse in the law what you want to come out in pain, rehearse in ease what you want to come out in pain. So how are we Christ workmanship? We’ve got to renew our minds, we’ve got to renew our minds, we also have to wage war against sin. I think one of the biggest things that hurts our witness is our sin, and none of us wanna end up in a place where we’ve blown up our life with our own sin, but the subtleness, the luring of sin in our lives, in our hearts lead to us really struggling to make much of Jesus because our lives are doused in what’s not holy. Peter says this, he says in 1 Peter 1:15, to call the holiness, but as He who called you is holy. You also be holy in all your conducts. Since it is written, you shall be holy, for I am holy. Eradicate sin. How do we shine as Christ’s workmanship? We fight sin. Lastly, how do we shine as Christ’s workmanship? We care about the things of the Kingdom.

3. Care about the things of a heavenly kingdom.

We, you and I should be the ones pushing back darkness, being in people’s lives, loving the poor and needy, caring for the widow, caring for the orphaned, looking for ways to share the gospel. These are ways that Grace should change us. We should be encouragers, we should be uplifters, we should see the little things in people and call them out, that are good and uplifting and edifying. Care about the things of the Kingdom. God’s grace changes us. Changes us. I was thinking yesterday, what are some examples of this? And immediately, God just brought to mind, the woman at the well, and the bleeding woman in Luke 8. And I thought, What a gift that God gave us those two stories in scripture. John talks about how if we had everything written that Jesus ever did, we wouldn’t have enough paper and books in the world to contain it. So that always makes me think, Man, it’s interesting what they chose to include. If there was all these stories, then they put emphasis on these few stories. That’s beautiful. I wanna listen. What are they trying to tell us? And what I see is these two amazing stories of these women totally wrecked by the grace of God, that God would choose to put in his book, just examples of women experiencing this grace, experiencing this God changing them and re-making them.

And you think of the bleeding woman, this woman who for 12 years had a consistent discharge of blood, so weak, lost all of her money, had gone to every physician, was out-casted because she was considered unclean, like Jewish Ritual, blood is unclean. So she lives on the outskirts, and yet somehow she hears of this king that’s promising to be a healer, promising to be a savior, promising to give grace, and she with utter courage and faith comes into this crowd of people, gets on her hands and knees, my guess is they’re shouting unclean, unclean, they know her, and she’s crawling towards Him, and with bravery just reaches out and touches just a glimpse of his garment, and he stops. It’s crazy ’cause there’s probably 100 people touching him, but he feels this one touch, turns around and says, Who touched me, he knew. She says, Me, and he bends down and he looks at her and he says, Your faith, your faith, different than every other faith in this crowd has healed you. Therefore, go and be clean, go and share what I just did for you. Then we get to the woman at the well, and it’s this woman that has a past, and Jesus calls that past out, he tells her, this is what you’ve done.

And she begins to say, Well, who are you? We’re not of the same ethnicity. You’re a man, I’m a woman. We shouldn’t be talking. And slowly, over the course of this conversation, as Jesus shows her her sin, he equally shows her, but I’m the healer to this sin, I’m the one that gives grace, and what does the story say? She goes and tells the whole town about Jesus, she goes, and is his workmanship? That’s the gift. Grace changes you, it changed the bleeding woman, it changed the woman at the well, and if you turn your eyes to Christ, if you meditate on Him, and if you put your faith in this grace every single day, it will change each and every woman in this room too. It’s the biggest gift.

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