Yes, and to think Christ doesn’t win all to His benevolent kingdom makes shallow the depth of His love, in which He descended to save the very lost of the lost. Read below the anointed words of Salvator Mundi and know how far the Shepherd will go to seek the poor lost souls and gather them to the verdant pastures of the Father’s fold.
In the first Epistle of St. Peter chapter 3: 18-20 we are distinctly told that, when Jesus was put to death in the flesh, and descended in the spirit to that dim Hadean world in which, as the Jews held, the spirits of men await the Resurrection, and preached his Gospel “to the spirits in prison,” to those who had been"disobedient" to the word of God, to that ungodly generation to which Noah had preached righteousness in vain, --a generation so disobedient and ungodly that it repented God He had made them, and compelled Him to sweep them off the face of the earth with a flood.
Do you ask. “For what purpose, and to what effect, did He preach to them?”
St. Peter replies in the same Epistle chapter 4:6:
For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. *
Now we know how this strange revelation made to St. Peter was interpreted hy the primitive Church–and this is the point which those should mark who object to the late and modern date of the doctrine of Universal Redemption; for within a hundred years of the death of St. John there appeared a work of fiction, called the Gospel of Nicodemus, which professed to set forth all the details of Christ’s descent into Hades. Of course this Fiction speaks to us with an authority no greater than that of the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” although, when it appeared, it was very widely received as an authoritative description of our Lord’s ministry in Hades. But just as from Bunyan’s great Allegory we might very safely infer what the Puritan conception of the Christian life was in the seventeenth century, so from this “Gospel of Nicodemus” we may very safely infer what conceptions the Christians of the second century formed of Christ’s descent into Hades. And in this Gospel it is expressly affirmed, that, when He arrived, the gates of the Hadean prison burst open before Him, and the King of Glory, taking our forefather Adam by the hand, and turning to the vast multitude of imprisoned spirits, said…
Come all with me, as many as have died through the tree which he touched; for, behold, I raise you all up through the tree of the cross.
…words which, after all, are but a paraphrase of St. Paul’s great saying, “As by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so the the obedience of One shall the many be made righteous.”
This then was the faith of the early Church, before it became corrupted by heathen philosophies and heathen superstitions–
viz., that the good news brought to earth by Christ was also preached by Him in Hades, preached even in Gehenna; that on the bridge of his Cross even the worst of the spirits in torment were able to pass over the “great gulf” and enter into the joys of Paradise; that even the disobedient generation of Noah, though still dead in the judgment and censures of men, live unto God.
Why should it not be our faith too?
St. Paul held it as well as St. Peter; for in all those passages (Phil. 2:9-11), in which he speaks of the redemption of Christ extending to all who are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, by those who are “under the earth,” he signified the inhabitants of that vast subterranean kingdom in which, as he held, the spirits of the dead were reserved for the day of judgement. And St. John held it as well as St. Paul; for, in his Apocalyptic vision (Rev. 5:13) he too beheld “every creature in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth,” i.e, in Hades, giving glory and power unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
And if St. Peter held the faith that even the most disobedient spirits in prison were quickened into life by the preaching of Christ; if St. Paul held that every knee in the Hadean kingdom should bow to Christ, as well as every knee confess Him Lord, which yet no man can do but by the Holy Ghost: if St. John heard “every creature” in Hades as well as in heaven and on earth, singing the high praises of God and the Lamb,–why should not we also hold this faith?
Dr. Samuel Cox: Salvator Mundi