Baptism is part of the faith (Romans 6:17-18; Acts 6:7; Romans 1:5; 16:26) . The Bible presents both obedience (including baptism) and knowledge (knowing who Jesus is etc.) as parts of the faith. Paul praised the Thessalonians for their “work of faith” (1 Thess. 1:3). Faith demands action (James 2:24).
This is manifested in the way the word “faithful” is used. 1 Timothy 3:11, for example, says the wives of elders must be “faithful in all things.” In other words, their lives must correspond to their beliefs. They are faithful because of their faith. They would not be counted faithful without believing and obeying the truth. Faithfulness requires appropriate knowledge and appropriate actions.
So what is the relationship between faith and baptism in salvation? Are we saved immediately when we know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Or, are we saved when we are baptized? In Acts 2:37, the people believed that Jesus is the Son of God. However, they had not been forgiven or received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Their knowledge had to be yielded to in obedience. Baptism was moment in which Paul called upon the name of Lord and his sins were washed away (Acts 22:16).
Union with Christ is also pictured at baptism. We are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3). We put on Christ when we are baptized (Galatians 3:26-27). We are baptized into his body–the church (1 Corinthians 12:13). Baptism is pictured in this way because the faith must be obeyed as well as believed.
The supposed conflict between salvation by faith and salvation when one is baptized is removed when the false dichotomy is removed. Baptism is a part of faith. We are saved by faith which includes baptism.
Hebrews 11 helps us to see the relationship between obedience and belief that makes faith. Those heroes of faith believed and they acted on their belief. They are praised because their faith moved them to obey. Will we be praised? Does this mean we must be perfectly obedient at all times? That is absolutely impossible (Romans 7:13-15). But we trust in God’s grace because of our faith while we are trying to live faithfully (Romans 1:17).