John Gray: Lakewood Church
An associate pastor at Lakewood Church, Gray has served under Joel Osteen's leadership for more than five years. However, Gray recently announced that he will be relocating this year to take over as senior pastor of Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
Gray’s personality is charming and unassuming. His preaching style is lively, often incorporating comedy, singing, dancing, and random references to popular secular music. He's so relevant and entertaining that, if you're not careful, you won't even notice he's uttering all manner of doctrinal errors and theological confusion. Gray, who tends to preach around the truth, will make mention of Jesus by name, and he may even speak of our need for the Gospel, but he never quite gets around to actually teaching it. He also offers up a wealth of spiritual platitudes and often inserts misapplied scriptures that his teaching actually sounds meaty to the undiscerning. But, ultimately, his speech is filled with empty words and his disturbingly odd (if not outright demonic) take on God's Word.
In his sermon "Breakthrough Worship" Gray explains that worship is the key to break free of the "guilt and condemnation of bad decisions". "For there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," he exclaims, seamlessly mixing his error with the truth of Romans 8:1.
Indeed, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. But in order for this to apply, the person has to actually BE in Christ Jesus - and that can't occur before repentance of sin. Someone in bondage to feelings of "guilt and condemnation" for their "bad decisions" must also desire to turn away from those "bad decisions" which I assume is Osteenglish for "SINS". They must repent of their SINS. They must also confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead to be saved (Romans 10:9).
Of course, Gray doesn't make any effort to clear up the confusion. Instead, he heaps on even more as he proceeds to make his case for "breakthrough worship" through a twisted application of Mark 5:1-20. In this passage, Jesus heals a man possessed by a legion of demons. After a brief exchange with the demons, Jesus casts them out of the man into a nearby herd of pigs, which rush off into the sea and drown. The key takeaway from this passage is the POWER and AUTHORITY of Jesus Christ. Not only did He have the power and authority to command the demons out of the man, the demons trembled, knowing exactly Who He was and that He could destroy them.
But according to Gray's interpretation, this passage is about the power of the demon-possessed man! First, taking gross liberties with the passage, Gray says, "This man was stuck in a cemetery of his own bad decisions. And every time he would try to break free, the Law would remind him that he couldn't get it right." Gray then claims the man began cutting himself because he was overcome by the burden of the Law.
*Of course we know the man was cutting himself because he was overcome by demons. But let's follow Gray down this rabbit hole for a moment.*
"But something about that man was so powerful that it took 2000 demons to hold him down, and they still couldn't stop him," Gray says. "Why would 2000 demons attack one man unless his worship was a threat to their kingdom?"
*Again, it is Jesus who is a threat to satan's kingdom. But, let's indulge Gray a little bit longer.*
"And here's the trick. The man didn't know who Jesus was...The man didn't even know who he was worshipping. But guess who told him who it was?"
From this Gray suggests that because the demons inside the man knew who Jesus was, they confessed Christ for him, granting him the opportunity to be healed. "[The man] didn't even know who [Jesus] was... It was the devil that gave him the breakthrough," Gray exclaims. "The devil is going to have to free you and give you the answer to your miracle!"
Sadly this claim seemed to go over well with his audience. They even thanked him with a rousing applause! Gray seemed pretty satisfied with his "revelation" as well.
Gray vain babbled his way through another sermon he delivered in 2016. The topic was also about worship, and it also included an interesting twist that took liberties with the truth of Scripture. In it Gray makes the bold claim that God created mankind from the dust and "all of this good stuff" that "fell off of Lucifer" after God cast him out of Heaven. According to Gray, since Lucifer failed to worship God in Heaven, He needed to create mankind to worship Him on earth. As stated by Grey: “So God says, ‘I’ve created all of these things. I spoke them. Now I need somebody to acknowledge me in the middle of it. So I need them to be able to have a worship relationship to me. But Lucifer was in charge of worship. His soul got tainted. But the thing I created on the inside can still be redeemed.’”
Gray continues, “So God picks up dust and whatever else fell off of Lucifer, breathes into it, and then man was created. And now we get to give God a sound that once belonged to angels exclusively. Which is why the enemy hates you so much. Because every time you open your mouth you remind him of what he used to be able to do.”
Joel Osteen trained him SOOOOOO well. And that's sad.