My intention here is not to be insulting, but you are cherry-picking. Jesus established the minimum requirement when he said in Mark 16:16 that you must believe and be baptized. So what gives with your explanation? Belief is to be active; you must apply some action for faith without works is dead! I’m glad you mention John 3:16 because it flows from what Jesus said in 3:5 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. This “water” birth Jesus speaks of is baptism. None other!
By saying I’m cherry picking, I assume you’re referring to my use of John 6:28-29 to support my view that belief is the only requirement for salvation. Do you realize that you’re also implying that Jesus was less than honest with the people who had asked the question “What is the work that God requires?” If ever He had an opportunity to lay out clearly everything that God needs from us, that was it. All He said was, “The work of God is this. Believe in the One He has sent.” If you’re right about the necessity for baptism to assure salvation, then Jesus didn’t tell them the full story, the thief on the cross didn’t go to paradise, and Paul was also wrong in Romans 10:9-10, 13 and in 1 Cor. 1:13-17 when he said the Lord didn’t call him to baptize people but to preach the Gospel.
You’ve misinterpreted James on the issue of faith without works being dead. He was saying that true faith will manifest itself in works, not that works must be added to faith to make it real.
I also think you’ve interpreted John 3:5 incorrectly. Remember the context is being born again. Being born of water is our first birth, the physical birth from our mother’s womb and the birth water that surrounded us. Being born again is when we’re born of the Spirit. It’s our second birth. Baptism is not in view in this passage.
Don’t get me wrong. I support baptism as the public confirmation of a private decision, but I don’t believe the Lord intended it to be essential for salvation.