For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
Water baptism is not required for the process of salvation. The thief on the cross, who was promised paradise, was not in a position to be baptized by immersion. Of course, the Anointed One would have known what that candidate would have done, given the opportunity for water baptism. Water baptism is a response of the saved, a response of obedience, a response of discipleship under the leadership of Christ, whose example true believers follow, and a symbolic and public testimony of a believer's choice to be in oneness with God and with other believers, in Christ.
Why do we complicate it so much? It is clear throughout scripture that the examples of people coming to faith in the Lord involve water baptism. It is not separate from, but a part of, the salvation process. Acknowledging Christ as Lord is just the beginning step; then action is required to back up our acknowledgment. Not works, but simply a response and continuation, or 2nd step, of the process. Then continuing to live it out would be the 3rd step. Again, simply part of the whole process. Why do we struggle so much to accept it at face value and simple obey the example and words we have been given by our Lord?