Scripturally speaking, what's off in this statement? (taken from a website):
"I believe...to receive Jesus as Savior is to believe in Christ....repent of personal sin.... confess Christ as Lord....and be immersed in baptism."
Notice the flow of this sentence. The writer says that if you aren't baptized, you haven't received Jesus as Savior. That means you ar eon your way to Hell. If you believe, repent, and confess, but haven't been baptized, God will send you into the flames if you should die.
In fact, the sentence says if you haven't been immersed specifically, then you are not a child of God! So not just undergoing Christian baptism in any sense saves you, but the specific mode of baptism saves. Too bad, I guess, for those who have been baptized/poured upon/sprinkled in Methodist or Presbyterian churches. (By the way, there are no explicit examples in the New Testament of anyone being fully immersed. Ancient Christian paintings of baptism showed people standing upright in a river or a stream, and having water poured down upon their heads from a dish or a cupped hand. The people who followed Moses through the Red Sea were said to have been "baptized" (1 Corinthians 10), but we know they were sprinkled. It was the Egyptian cavalry that really got the full immersion!)
It is a tragedy that so many, like the author of this sentence, do not understand the Gospel.
The Gospel in its essence has never changed, since the day God announced it to Eve in Genesis 3:15. All the Old Testament believers were saved by the gospel (in its simple OT form), and yet none of them were baptized. Abraham was saved by faith, and he is the pattern of salvation for all believers throughout time (Romans 4).
The Old Testament analogy to baptism was circumcision, and we know circumcision did not save. The apostle Paul is clear about that, in Romans 4 and Galatians 3.
Jesus' sole condition for eternal life in John 3:16 is belief.
Jesus saved the thief on the cross without the thief being baptized. Christ saved Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10), and the left-over disciples of John (Acts 19) before they were baptized. Those are three clear examples of salvation-by-faith. They aren't examples of God sometimes working "outside the box." No, they directly contradict the salvation-by-baptism message.
This is eternal salvation and how we obtain it that we're talking about. Nothing could be more important to get right.
This salvation-by-baptism message is so widespread. You can see how it fits so naturally into the "Keep yourself saved by a faithful life of good works" message which we hear so often as well.
When baptism is a response back to God from a spiritually cleansed heart of one's faith in Christ (as in 1 Peter 3:20), then baptism fits into James' teachings about the vindicating works of faith, which you find in James 2. But to say that baptism is a separate, distinct condition for eternal life, in addition to faith in Christ, is to preach salvation by works. It's no different from saying that we're saved by faith in Christ plus keeping the Ten Commandments, and we know that isn't true.