Pascal on Living in the Present

Blaise Pascal was a Christian philosopher, scientist, and mathematician that lived in the 1600’s. He had a sharp mind and wrote some helpful stuff. One of his famous works is titled Pensees, which is french for “thoughts.” The book is a compilation of meditations on various topics. The following is a quote from Pensees on living in the present. Pascal’s thoughts here are insightful and challenging.

“We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and were trying to hurry it up, or we recall the past as if to stay its too rapid flight. We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do not think of the only one that does; so vain that we dream of time that are not and blindly flee the only one that is. The fact is that the present usually hurts. We thrust it out of sight because it distresses us, and if we find it enjoyable, we are sorry to see it slip away. We try to give it the support of the future, and think how we are going to arrange things over which we have no control for a time we can never be sure of reaching. Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light it throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.” [1]


[1] Blaise Pascal, Pensees (London: Penguin Books, 1995), 13.

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Justification and the Future

What does justification have to do with the day of judgment? Mark Seifrid answers the question well. “The day of judgment has been brought into the present in Jesus Christ crucified and risen.” It is a piece of the future brought into our present. The cross and resurrection is the courtroom where God condemns and vindicates us in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:31-34 captures this truth best.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be  against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

On the final day no charge will be stand against us according to this text. Why? Because it is God who justifies. Our justification now (Rom 8:1–there is now no condemnation) assures us of our right standing in the future. On that final day who will there be to condemn us? The answer to that is who cares. The one who ultimately can condemn us will absolutely not condemn us. The one who stands to judge is the one who died, rose, and is interceding for us right now. The one who can condemn us has promised us now that he will never do so. Every accusation of the evil one, of other people, of our consciences, of our sinful deeds will fall impotent before the justifying word of God that has been spoken to us now but keeps us forever.