Southern Evangelical Seminary Alumnus Derwin Gray Introduces New Book and Study on ‘The Good Life’

Southern Evangelical Seminary Alumnus Derwin Gray Introduces New Book and Study on ‘The Good Life’

Everyone Wants to be Happy—What Is True Happiness, and How Can We Find it? Pastor and Former NFL Player Says the Beatitudes Hold the Key

May 26, 2020

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—For over a quarter of a century, the mission of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, has been to train men and women, based on the inerrant and infallible written Word of God, for the evangelization of the world and defense of the historic Christian faith.

That training translates into SES graduates living out the Gospel in innumerable areas of life: as teachers, preachers, missionaries, parents, community members, elected officials, church members and leaders, and authors.

One SES alumnus, pastor and author Dr. Derwin L. Gray, has written a new book and study titled “The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness.” Gray believes there is a path to true happiness—a life lived with Jesus by embracing the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12. Through this famous sermon, Gray says, Jesus invites all into a new life-giving rhythm that cultivates a flourishing, happy, transformative life.

“It is extremely inspiring and gratifying  when Southern Evangelical Seminary alumni use their SES training and their God-given talents to shine the light of Christ in a dark and decaying world,” said SES President Dr. Richard Land. “We are excited about Dr. Derwin Gray’s new book, ‘The Good Life,’ where he reminds us of Jesus’s incredible life lessons given simply through the Beatitudes.”

For the book released on June 2 by LifeWay (pre-order paperback and Bible study book) Gray writes that through the Beatitudes, Jesus invites us to experience His kind of happiness, as citizens in His kingdom. It’s a picture of how God’s people, under His rule and reign of grace, should live on earth. As he encourages readers to explore the words of Jesus, Gray delves deeper into each Beatitude and reveals the shocking, countercultural path to thriving—a path that often comes not through wealth, fame or laughter but poverty, obscurity and mourning.

With a chapter dedicated to each Beatitude, he discusses:

  • Happy are the beggars
  • Happy are the sad
  • Happy are the humble
  • Happy are the hungry and thirsty
  • Happy are the merciful
  • Happy are the pure
  • Happy are the peacemakers
  • Happy are the persecuted

“The Good Life” is about experiencing happiness that goes beyond the surface of life’s circumstances to the depths of a person’s soul.

“The deeper we immerse ourselves in Jesus and His kingdom the more we are supernaturally sculpted into His image, and the happier we will become,” said Gray. “The pursuit of the good life will let you down, but the pursuit of the God life will lead to joy.”

Gray is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped community in Indian Land, South Carolina, just south of Charlotte, the home of SES. He met his wife, Vicki, at Brigham Young University (BYU). They have been married since 1992 and have two adult children.

After graduating from BYU, Gray played professional football in the NFL for five years with the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers. In 2008, Gray graduated from Southern Evangelical Seminary magna cum laude with a Master of Divinity, concentration in Apologetics. While there, he was mentored by renowned theologian and philosopher the late Dr. Norman Geisler, SES’s co-founder. In 2018, Gray received his Doctor of Ministry in the New Testament in Context at Northern Seminary. In 2015, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from SES. Gray is also the author of “Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart (2009),” “Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future (2013),” “Crazy Grace for Crazy Times Bible Study (2015)” and “The High-Definition Leader (2015).”

Especially during COVID-19, “The Good Life” is extremely relevant. In fact, Gray is offering a free chapter of the book that is particularly timely.

“When I finished writing ‘The Good Life’ in October 2019, I had no idea how prophetic and timely chapter 5, ‘Happy are the Hungry and Thirsty,’ would be,” Gray said. “In chapter 5, I share how the early church responded to plagues and pandemics in the ancient Roman world. I want to give chapter 5 for free because I want (readers) to be encouraged, inspired, and moved to experience the good life by being peace in a time of chaos, courage in a time of fear, and love in a time of hoarding.”

Throughout the pandemic, Transformation Church has reached out to the community through a mobile food pantry as well as a backpack ministry to feed children healthy meals on weekends when school meals are not available.

“We’re finding people incredibly hungry and thirsty, like ‘I want to know this Jesus,’” Gray said. “God has strategically placed us in a position for such a time as this to be His hands and feet in a world that is really desperate to find something of incredible lasting value and purpose.”

Gray cites James 2, a passage on faith and deeds, where James essentially asks, what good is your faith if you let your brother go without the food and shelter he needs?

“Jesus didn’t just sit up in the Jerusalem Starbucks of His day and debate philosophy,” he said. “He was out touching the leper. There’s a place and necessity for the intellectual side of Christianity, but Jesus also wants to see ‘hearts set ablaze for God.’”

Several nationally known names have provided endorsements for “The Good Life,” including author and minister Max Lucado, who said, “From the great sermon in history comes the greatest words on happiness. Jesus’ famous beatitudes have blessed millions upon millions of people who have searched for true and lasting joy. My friend Derwin Gray masterfully unpacks the words of Christ with the skill of a scholar and the heart of a pastor. The result is a book that will bless a generation that is hungry for the happiness of heaven.”

SES has announced its 2020 National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA), set for Oct. 16-17 in Charlotte. The seminary will focus on the theme of “Hold Fast” for the 27th annual conference by welcoming some of the nation’s top apologetics speakers. The early bird deadline for tickets is Aug. 1, and SES is offering a free apologetics Bible to early ticketholders.

For more information on SES, visit its web site at or its Facebook page, follow the SES Twitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH.


To interview a Southern Evangelical Seminary representative, contact,  Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.