I believe the way a person receives Christ is by believing in His saving work, repenting from sin, and being baptized. I grew up being taught only saying a prayer as being necessary for salvation. As I examined the Scriptures, however, I couldn't help but notice there are no sinners prayers in the New Testament and that universally baptism is an event that either accompanies salvation or occurs as close to faith as possible. To me the clearest indication that this is for us is Acts 2, where the listeners of Peter's first sermon gain some kind of faith, as they are effected by His message. When they ask him what should they do, he answers, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38-39). It seems to me that Peter had the perfect opportunity to say something like, "You already believe so you are saved!" or "Believe in the Lord Jesus, period."
That being said, I do not believe that water baptism is magic. One can be baptized without faith and repentance and in that case, a person is not saved--they "just get wet." Being baptized, in my way, of receiving and participating in Christ's saving work--it is not a work that earns salvation, it is an act of admitting one's helplessness and consciously transferring faith from self to Christ as Savior.
Also, I don't believe that ONLY baptized people are Christians or the only saved people. I realize that God is infinitely gracious and many people only hear of faith being necessary for salvation and there is a "wideness in God's mercy" to accept and receive Him as they know best how to do. While I believe it to be the biblical command and model through Acts, in no way do I exclude other Christian positions on the issue. God is the judge, we aren't. I just try to live and serve as closely as possible to the Bible's way of doing things, which seems to me to be confession of Christ and believer's immersing baptism.
by Josh Peyton