Many people who have avoided religion and the Bible their entire lives wondering if near the end of their lives, or even on their deathbed, or at the last minute – is it possible to turn to God for salvation? What the Bible says.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Can someone go their whole life without reading the Bible, going to church, thinking about God whatsoever, but then be saved, receiving salvation at the very end of their life or even at the last minute?
Let’s first look at several different views.
One mistake people make with the Bible is to take everything literal. Some things in the Bible are symbolic. Some things in the Bible have more than one answer. Some things in the Bible were understood by the people living at the time it was written, according to their experiences and worldview and that of the writers themselves. With that said, let’s look at a few verses.
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Some denominations look to this verse as an indicator that baptism is a necessity to be a believer and, therefore, for salvation. There is a belief that this is required by the Catholic Church, for example.
However, according to Catholic.com, it is a contradiction, one that is explained in paragraph 1257 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“God has bound salvation to the sacrament of baptism, but his sacraments do not bind him himself.”
In other words, baptism is the only means the church knows of for which a person is to be saved. And those who can be baptized are bound to use it.” Also, according to church doctrine:
“Although in ways known to himself, God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him (CCC 848; cf. 1260).”
The Catholic Church teaches that those ignorant of the Gospels must “seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience (CCC 847).”
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Can someone who has ignored God, the Bible, and religion their entire life seek God on their deathbed and be saved?
The answer is “YES,” and the Bible gives us an example.
At the crucifixion of Jesus, two thieves are being crucified alongside him as they await their deaths. One of the thieves says:
“And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong. And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'”
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.'”
– Luke 23:41-43
Because of the faith of this thief, Jesus tells the man that he has been saved and will be with Jesus after death.
This man was not baptized and lived a life of sin, yet with a true desire for salvation and faith in God, it is possible to be saved – even at the last minute.