JUST FINISHED Cheer Up! The Life and Ministry of Jack Miller. Miller was an amazing gift of grace to the church. Born in 1928 in tiny Gold Beach, OR, he died in 1996 in Malagua, Spain. Although he only lived to age 68, he made a remarkable impact on the Twentieth Century Protestant church.
I first heard of Miller and his “Sonship Program” in the late 1980s. The report cast Miller’s “Sonship Program” in a negative light. This is a good example of James teaching that the tongue is like a ship’s rudder controlling. It guides and directs. However, the report was wrong.
Miller was a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He also planted an Orthodox Presbyterian (OPC ) church. The OPC is know for being staid, conservative, and ingrown. Miller was anything but that. He was an evangelist alive with the power of the Holy Spirit. Eventually, they moved their church to the PCA, a presbyterian denomination more fluid and responsive to general culture.
The church plant occurred in 1971, the year I was converted. The period 1968-75 was a time alive with the power of the Holy Spirit. Miller’s life and influence demonstrated that reality. His church grew, and within a few years was the largest OPC congregation in the Philadelphia presbytery.
Jack and his wife, Rose Marie, left an amazing legacy. First were their five children. His only son, Paul, has become a best-selling author in his own right. The other children, after some spiritual ups and downs, embraced the faith, married believers, and have served the church admirably for decades.
Miller also influenced many of today’s leaders. A few of the more notable are David Powlison, Stephen Smallman, Tim Keller, Scotty Smith, and Jerry Bridges. There are others.
Miller founded a missionary organization, SERGE, that is still operating powerfully today. He was also a forerunner of the New Calvinism. He was the first person to encourage people to preach the gospel to themselves and to use the expression “gospel centered.” He put a large emphasis on the gospel of grace. Some of his favorite expressions were—”Cheer Up! God’s Spirit works in your weakness,” and “Cheer up! God’s graces greater than you’ve ever dared to hope.” When you hear Tim Keller saying that “our sin in much worse than we ever thought, but God’s love is also much greater than we have ever hoped,” he is channeling Jack Miller.
All in all, it was an excellent book. It reminded Judy and I of a time we lived through, a time of unique spiritual power and revival, a time we fervently hope will return to the church. I highly recommend this book.