I Want More of You God?

We sing this song by Jesus Culture in church called “Set a Fire” that in part says:

Set a fire down in my soul
That I can’t contain
That I can’t control
I want more of you God
I want more of you God

Now let’s lay aside intent1 for a moment and focus on content (I’m sometimes accused of being nitpicky about what people say instead of focusing on what they mean). God is a Trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Let’s assume that when the song says “I want more of you God” that God means Trinity, the Christian God. In what way can we get “more” of God?

I know that divine simplicity has fallen on hard times, so it’s quite possible that the composers of the song don’t believe that God is simple (i.e., not being composed of parts). Perhaps they believe that we’ve only got part of God and that there are other parts that we’ve yet to get. Perhaps they even believe that we’ve only gotten some of the divine persons of the Trinity and not all of them. I don’t know.

But I’m hung up on this “I want more of you God.” I can’t seem to shake it. When we sing it at church I actually start speaking in tongues (yes people, they’re still around, and I really speak in them) because I can’t quite bring myself to say it. I think it’s bad theology regardless of how the songwriters intended it. Sorry if I’m being nitpicky, but it’s my nature. Now let’s get back to this God being a Trinity of persons thing.

Jesus said that no one comes to him unless the Father draws them. He also said that he’s the only way to the Father. He again says that eternal life is predicated on knowing both Father and Son. In another Gospel he says that no one knows the Father except the Son and those whom the Son has chosen to reveal the Father to. What’s my point? Well, basically that we can’t have one without the other. Salvation is all about Father and Son.

But what about the Spirit? Well, he’s there to. In the same sentence Paul tells the Romans that he’s the Spirit of God and of Christ. He’s the promised gift. The one who baptizes believers into the body of Christ. The one who fills, enables, and empowers us for service. He the other Comforter that Jesus said was coming after him. He’s the one who convicts us of sin and draws us to repentance. In other words, there’s no salvation without the Spirit, or the Father, or the Son.

The writer to the Hebrews spoke of the Son offering himself to God (the Father) through the eternal Spirit in order to purify us from dead works so that we may serve the living God. Paul said that it’s through the Son and in the Spirit that we have access to the Father. My point is pretty much that in the New Testament, when you got one, you got all three. So how exactly do we get “more” of God? Why would we want “more” of him?

I can’t help but hear the phrase and think that perhaps somehow God hasn’t given all of himself to us. Like he’s held something back and if we’re really eager, or really reverent, or really whatever then he’ll reward us with a bit more. But that sounds like some ancient heresy or something. I also hear a subtle blaming of God for a deficiency in us. Look at the lyrics again:

Set a fire down in my soul
That I can’t contain
That I can’t control
I want more of you God
I want more of you God

So it seems that God has to both set the fire and give more of himself. Or read another way, he has to set the fire so that we desire more of him. In other words, God has to make us want more of him. But then that would just confirm that he hasn’t given all of himself in the first place, no? Any way you slice it, it’s bad theology, and I don’t think bad theology gets a pass just because we’re singing it.

B”H

1 For the record, I think the intent of the song is to say that we’d like to get to know God better and grow deeper in our relationship with him. On this reading God has given all of himself, but there’s always more we can learn about him, like with any relationship. But I’m not convinced that saying we want more of God is the most effective way to communicate this idea.

9 thoughts on “I Want More of You God?

  1. Bad theology is rampant in contemporary choruses : ( Of course, some of the traditional hymns can be just as bad…but time has destroyed most of them so that it is mostly the good ones that survived. After all, Charles Wesley wrote some 7,000 songs; how many do we currently sing? Less than 50.

    So hopefully time will destroy the choruses with bad theology. Of course, that doesn’t help us right now. : (

  2. Yeah, it would seem that the doctrine of divine simplicity has eroded over time. This is a sad state of affairs. I think not realizing that it is true gives us ideas like open theism and even certain forms of Calvinism (because God must do this or that to become more glorious).

    I think that the Psalms give us ample evidence that praise and worship need not be theologically precise, but on the other hand many worship songs seem to imply the opposite of what the Bible itself declares when it is being intentionally clear.

    For instance, “I need no other argument, I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me.” Yet that is explicitly opposed to Paul saying that Jesus’ death for us is only known and appreciated through the revelatory act of his being raised.

  3. We sing this song as well. I think God the Spirit is the primary referent throughout the song. You can have more or less influence of the Holy Spirit on your life based on how faithfully you follow His commands. Sanctification is a process. We’re not zapped with automatic 100% practical holiness (sorry Wesylians/Methodists/Holiness Christians, I’m not buying it). I think this is what the song means, and I don’t think that is heretical at all. It falls very much in line with Martyn Llyod-Jones’ and Wayne Grudem’s teachings on the operation of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.

    You said yourself that the Holy Spirit “fills us.” Do you think of that as a one time event, or something that can be experienced numerous times throughout your Christian life?

  4. All of what you are saying is true as regards bad theology. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest that the real cry of this song is not “I want more of you God” but “I want less of me.” I have never heard this song so all I have to go by are the lyrics you posted. But have there not been times when you see your own sinfulness for what it is and a hunger for holiness is awakened in you? A cry arises within that you are weary of the struggle against sin and just want the Lord to overpower your flesh so you can live holy.

    I don’t see as a theological statement of needing more of God but rather a plea for more of his control and power in one’s life, more expression of the fullness that, theologically, he has already given us. Perhaps it could be stated with more theological correctness but, as is, it still stands as a strong spiritual and emotional plea to the Almighty.

  5. James: Very true. There’s plenty of old hymns with bad theology as well. Plenty of old preachers that are loved and revered were full of bad theology as well. Sadly, it’ll always be with us.

    Jeff: To my mind that would make it worse!

    Geoff: Agreed. And my point in this post wasn’t really as much about the bad theology of the song so much as the bad theology itself. The song was just in my head and served as the impetus of the post.

    Seth: I don’t disagree with you. Like I said, I was looking at the content and not the intent. The song was a catalyst for talking about the kind of theology that thinks we somehow haven’t received all of God. And I do think that there are multiple fillings of the Spirit in the lives of believers. The same disciples filled in Acts 2 were filled again in Acts 4. But I don’t think they received any “more” of the Spirit. I think they were endowed with power for service; with the tools necessary to live a life pleasing to Christ.

    Greg: Amen! One thing that the Lord has been speaking to me recently is about decreasing so that he may increase. I’m with you! And as I noted at the end of the post, I do think the song likely intends something like you’ve stated. As I said to a couple of the folks above, the content of the song, which I think is in error theologically, is what I was addressing. The intent is something totally different. And I do actually know saints who hold to a bad theology like the one communicated by the song’s content and not like it’s intent. I think that’s a bad place to be because it doesn’t appreciate that God has given all of himself to us. It’s unappreciative.

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