A Matter of the Heart

The Internet has been flooded lately with articles and posts regarding the conversion of Kanye West. Last week the rapper’s new album “Jesus Is King” debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Two days ago, Kanye performed at men's and women's jails in Houston. He stated, “This is a mission, not a show.”

Still, many believers are questioning the legitimacy of Kanye’s faith. One Facebook friend commented that if Kanye becomes part of a particular megachurch, he’ll dismiss him as a false Christian. Who is he to judge where God wants His people to plug into the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 12:18) We are to work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12).

A question I’m occasionally asked is if someone who prays with me to get saved means it. That issue was brought up one time by my former pastor after we attended a prayer meeting at the YMCA. There I saw a woman smoking outside and felt led to witness to her. Chelonda wasn’t sure of her eternal destiny but believed the gospel. I invited her to pray with me and she received salvation.

Minutes later as I got a ride home, the pastor commented that sinners must feel convicted of their need for salvation. He had seen me lead other people to the Lord and questioned if there was genuine repentance. I replied by pointing out that when people don’t want to get born again, they will let me know (some get defensive even if they claim to believe the gospel). It’s also worth mentioning my salvation prayer begins with, “God in heaven, I know I’m a sinner and I need your help.” Doesn’t that sound that repentance?

There have been rare incidents when I led people in the “sinner’s prayer” and then discovered they didn’t mean it. That prompted me to start using a tactic learned from my friend Clint. Whenever suspecting someone might be praying half-heartedly, I close the prayer by having that person confess, “I pray this prayer with all sincerity in the name of Jesus.” My mentor Nick Kinn offers this response to Christians critical of him leading others to the Lord, “Didn’t you mean the prayer when you said it?”

While God certainly wants to see all newborn believers go on to fulfill His plan for their lives, the fact is some will drift away. Jesus talked about this in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:14-20). On the other hand, some babes in Christ won’t bear much fruit until years later. Once while visiting Canada, I led a friend’s mother to the Lord. Because her mother continued living with her boyfriend and wasn’t attending a church, my friend questioned the legitimacy of her mother’s salvation. Eventually, her mother got married and became part of a fellowship.  

I believe the majority of people who are willing to pray with me publicly and confess Jesus openly are sincere. Whether their prayers are genuine or not, that’s not for me to judge. Only God knows the status of a man’s heart.

“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7

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