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Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician and philosopher. In his writings, which were entitled Pensees, he traces the logical progression of his thought on many subjects. But something happened to Pascal which was beyond logic and rational thought. After his death, his servant found a piece of paper sewn into the lining of his coat. Here, in part, is what he wrote:

The year of grace 1654.

Monday, 23 November, . . .

From about half-past ten in the evening

until about half past midnight.

FIRE.

The God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob.

Not of the philosophers and intellectuals.

Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace . . .

joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. . .

Renunciation, total and sweet.

Complete submission to Jesus Christ. . .

The God whom Pascal encountered was not the God of the theologians and scholars, he was the personal God of the Bible. Pascal did not gain a new theology, he gained a new experience. He gained confidence and joy. And when the true Pascal met the true God there was true surrender — sweet renunciation and complete submission — not as a slavish thing, but as one gives oneself to a lover. There was passion in Pascal’s experience that he described as “FIRE.” This is the fire of Pentecost. The fire of Pentecost is the presence of God, whom the Bible tells us sits on a burning throne (Daniel 7:9), lives in everlasting burnings (Isaiah 33:14), is surrounded by seraphim — flaming angels (Isaiah 6:2) and is himself a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24). Pentecost is when the apostles and other followers of Christ came into contact with the fire of God — so much so that it could be seen hovering over them.

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