For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
I believe it all depends on the circumstance. For ex. My father-n-law spent most his life not knowing Christ, not willing to even discuss Him. On his death bed, he received Christ, whole heartedly, fully conscious, & willingly. I witnessed someone, who used to speak every other word a swear word, to not swearing at all. When one walked into his room, those last 5 days of his life, you could feel the presence of The Lord there. My migraines would clear walking into that room, & return the instant I left. I have no doubt he definitely went to heaven. He had no time, to receive Christ, & do works for HIM! So he received, & was accepted!
Why is there a controversy as to the answer to this question when the Bible says that the thief who died next to Jesus was saved, not because of any good works he did, but simply because he accepted Jesus as his Savior.
There was nothing special about the thief.
Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works? To me that question can be correctly answered both yes and no depending on whose works. If you are referring to faith plus an individual's willing submission to the works of the Holy Spirit you get one answer, but if you are talking about work resulting from will of man apart or separate from the Spirit you get another answer. To me James is talking about works that are the results of leadership of the Holy Spirit in 2:24.
Romans 4-5 says our faith is counted for righteousness without works.