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I'm playing the Heliod, Sun-Crowned & Walking Ballista combo where Heliod is able to give +1/+1 to Walking Ballista when I gain life:

Whenever you gain life, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature or enchantment you control.

If my Walking Ballista only has one +1/+1 counter and I use its ability to target an opponent player, does the lifelink and consequent +1/+1 counter from Heliod save the Ballista from dying?

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No, it won't save Walking Ballista from dying. You have first to pay the cost "Remove a +1/+1 counter from Walking Ballista", and as soon as the ability goes on the stack, you regain priority and State-Based Actions are checked. Walking Ballista dies because of:

[704.5f] If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.

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    I've fixed the priority reference—players always regain priority after activating abilities / casting spells. Apr 1 at 23:54

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