Does God have a plan for salvation?
The short answer is, yes, God has a plan of salvation, but often danger lies in brevity, so it is important to resist the allure of formulations that are too handy and too reductive. The heart of the plan lies in God’s desire to have a people and to be their God. Noted repeatedly in the prophets of the Old Testament (Jeremiah 30: 22 among others) and again in the New Testament (Revelation 21: 3), God wants people who have chosen to be his by the nature of their hearts and lives. Those whose hearts are so drawn to God, like Abraham, that they cannot help conforming their lives to His expectations become prospects for His kingdom. These are the people who accept John’s reason for writing his gospel. They "believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing, [they] seek a life in His name (John 20:31).
This combining of believing and living is given formal shape in a covenant relationship with God. From the beginning of His relationship with people, God has worked through covenants that contain parties, terms and promises. God’s plan of salvation, then, can be seen as his intention to make covenants with those parties willing to accept his terms and promises. God’s covenants are initiated by ceremony in the Old Testament, and the New Testament shows by declaration and example that the believer’s covenant today is begun with confession of belief in the nature of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and with immersion in water as a symbolic cleansing from past sin and a rising from the water to walk in "newness of life" (Romans 6: 4). This "walking" or "abiding" or "presenting", all New Testament words for the intentional course of one’s life, becomes the covenant keeping needed to fulfill God’s plan and thereby to receive the blessings of the covenant. Too dismissive a reading of the preceding sentence might suggest an emphasis on doing enough to earn salvation, but the New Testament denies this possibility repeatedly.
God’s plan of salvation rests on grace. God wants a covenant relationship with individuals because it is His desiring not their deserving. Those who recognize both their own undeserving condition and God’s graciously desiring nature can humbly respond by submitting to a covenant relationship with Him who loves people before they are finished. Once initiated by confession and baptism, the covenant persists by believing and living in his name. Never perfectly accomplished, this practicing of covenant loyalty and love by people whose hearts have drawn them to the "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5, 16:26) brings to God’s people the promises and the blessings now and forever.