Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. We are saved "by grace through faith, it is not of works..." Do not try to confuse people by saying that faith could be viewed as a work. Paul says it is something different from works. Grace is the gift of God. Faith is believing, trusting in God. Grace is received through faith. This is supported by Romans 10:9-10, Jesus' words which are found in multiple chapters of John, etc. wherein He tells people that they must "believe" or "have faith" to receive. The double-minded person whose beliefs waver and shift can expect to receive nothing (James 1). Faith may be likened to a pipe that carries water or to an electrical conduit that transports electrons; without the pipe or the conduit there is no transmission and no reception at the other end! Suppose Sam is living as a pauper, and someone comes and tells Sam that he has a bank account with a billion pounds in it. If Sam don't believe them and don't access the account, and if Same furthermore insists that he is not a billionaire nor does he want to have anything to do with a billion pounds, is he a billionaire? Sam could be (has the opportunity to become) a billionaire, but by his own admission and lifestyle he is not a billionaire. He is not one because he never received it unto himself. Sam would have to have an internal change before he could be a billionaire. Similarly, unless a person has an internal change.... unless he comes to believe that Christ is real, Christ was crucified to death and raised from the tomb for the remission of his (the person's) sins, that person does not have the means to receive God's saving grace. The transmission line (faith) does not exist! Now, am I saying that an individual can force himself to believe in Christ? Can he 'work up' enough faith? No, I'm not saying that. What I am saying is, scriptural basis does not exist for the view that God will supply saving grace in spite of (even against the will of) a person who never had faith to receive grace in this lifetime. So many places in scripture emphasize the need for faith in this life, in the 'here and now,' to avoid the peril of eternal damnation that we may not legitimately interpret God's intentions on this matter in any other way. And btw, your reliance on the story of the prodigal son is misplaced; the prodical son repented and returned home, and the other son never left to begin with. Neither one stayed away from father's house until death. Unbelievers are not in the father's house, never have been, and won't be unless they come to believe!