The following is an excerpt taken from Cheer Up! The Life and Ministry of Jack Miller by Michael A. Graham.
Over the course of his life, teaching, and ministry, Jack challenged Christians to address a key question found in Galatians: “What has happened to all your joy?” (Gal. 4:15 NIV). He explained this question by saying that “I relate to it because many times I have lost my joy. . . . I have forgotten the power of grace, the joy of sonship.” In that spirit of gospel joy, Jack memorably declared, “Cheer up! You are far worse than you think” and “Cheer up! God’s grace is greater than you’ve ever dared hope”—connecting pervasive depravity to irresistible grace.*2 “The best news you ever heard,” he said, “is that original sin is true. If original sin (the curse) is true, then the grace is true. The love of God is shallow unless there is depth to which it reaches.”
Several other “cheer up” statements are equally important to an understanding of Jack Miller: “Cheer up! God’s Spirit works in your weakness,” “Cheer up! God’s Kingdom is more wonderful than you have ever imagined,” and “Cheer up! Come on, let’s die together! It’s a great way to come to life.” Together, these statements are a fitting way to understand the whole of Jack’s life, teaching, and ministry.
This book fittingly begins with grace. Chapter 1, “Cheer Up! God’s Grace Is Greater Than You Ever Dared Hope,” introduces readers to Jack Miller’s early life through 1949. During this time, Jack discovered that “faith alone” means “faith all the way,” in the sovereign preeminent Christ, for the glory of God’s omnipotent grace.
Chapter 2, “Cheer Up! You Are Far Worse Than You Think,” covers events that took place in the 1950s and 1960s. During this time, as a teacher, church planter, pastor, and scholar, Jack developed a critical theological and cultural apparatus that uniquely qualified him to serve on the faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS).
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 form the heart of this biography. Chapter 3, “Cheer Up! God’s Spirit Works in Your Weakness,” focuses on the joy that Jack experienced as God’s Spirit worked through his weakness and, as a result of that work, magnified the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ all the more. Chapter 4, “Cheer Up! Justification Is by Faith Alone, Even in the Twentieth Century,” shows the theological development that took place within Jack during the controversy that raged from 1974 to 1981 over Norman Shepherd’s teaching at WTS regarding the role of works within justification. Chapter 5, “Cheer Up! God’s Kingdom Is More Wonderful Than You Ever Imagined,” focuses on Jack’s rapid expansion of his ministry activities and covers several new mission fields that he opened in the 1980s.
Chapter 6, “Cheer Up! Come On, Let’s Die Together; It’s a Great Way to Come to Life,” ends on the highest note as Jack Miller, a dying man, preached God’s amazing grace to dying men.
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*2. Timothy Keller, in turn, often repeats these two most familiar of Jack’s “cheer up” statements—for example, he has written, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (New York: Dutton, 2011), 48.