There is, however, a question that each of us should ask in response to Hosea: Who experiences God’s love? The answer to that is given clearly by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:39. We experience God’s love “in Christ Jesus”. In other words, those united to Christ through faith experience the full, rich, saving love of God. Those who are not united to Christ do not (John 3:36).
In his classic book, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, And Roots, the 19th century British pastor, J. C. Ryle, offers helpful counsel to all who would desire to know God’s love. Because of the seriousness of this topic, I will quote him at length.
“I entreat you not to stifle conscience by vague hopes of God’s mercy, while your heart cleaves to the world. I implore you not to drown convictions by childish fancies about God’s love, while your daily ways and habits show plainly that ‘the love of the Father is not in you.’ There is mercy in God, like a river—but it is for the [repentant] believer in Christ Jesus. There is a love in God towards sinners which is unspeakable and unsearchable—but it is for those who ‘hear Christ’s voice and follow Him.’ Seek to have an interest in that love. Break off every known sin; come out boldly from the world; cry mightily to God in prayer; cast yourself wholly and unreservedly on the Lord Jesus for time and eternity; lay aside every weight. Cling to nothing, however dear, which interferes with your soul’s salvation; give up everything, however precious, which comes between you and heaven.
“This old shipwrecked world is fast sinking beneath your feet: the one thing needful is to have a place in the lifeboat and get safe to shore. Give diligence to make your calling and election sure. Whatever happens to your house and property, see that you make sure of heaven. Oh, better a million times be laughed at and thought extreme in this world than go down to hell….”
So, as Pastor Ryle wrote, make it your desire to “seek to have an interest in that love.”