This is why people who do not share in heaven’s concept (that is, in the concept of the Divine Being who makes heaven) cannot be raised even to the first threshold of heaven. The moment any such individuals arrive, they feel a perceptible opposition and forceful resistance. This is because the deeper levels of such people, levels that are intended to accept heaven, are actually closed because they are not in heaven’s form. In fact, the nearer such people come to heaven, the more tightly their deeper levels are closed.
This is the lot of people within the church who deny the Lord and who, like the Socinians, deny his divinity. The lot of people who have been born outside the church and who have not acknowledged him or possessed the Word will be seen below.
We can tell that the ancients had an image of the Divine as human from the way the Divine appeared to Abraham, Lot, Joshua, Gideon, Manoah and his wife, and others. Even though they saw God as a person, they still worshiped him as God of the universe, calling him “God of heaven and earth” and “Jehovah.” In John 8:56, the Lord himself teaches that it was he whom Abraham had seen. We can see that it was the Lord whom others saw from the Lord’s words, “No one has seen the Father or his appearance, or heard his voice” (John 1:18; 5:37).
But people who judge everything on the basis of their outward senses have great difficulty grasping the fact that God is a person. In fact, the only way sense-centered people can think about the Divine Being is on the basis of this world and what it contains, so they can think about a divine and spiritual person only as they do about a physical and natural one. This leads to the conclusion that if God is to be a person, he must be as big as the universe, and if he does rule heaven and earth, it must be through many underlings the way kings on earth rule. If such individuals are told that in heaven there is not the kind of extended space we have in this world, they do not grasp it at all. People who think on the basis of nature and of its light alone cannot help thinking in terms of the kind of extended space that lies before our eyes. However, they are sadly mistaken when they think the same way about heaven. The “extension” that exists there is not like that in our world. In our world, it is fixed and therefore measurable, while in heaven it is not fixed and therefore not measurable. There will, though, be more about extension in heaven below, in the chapters on space and time in the spiritual world.
Further, everyone knows how far our eyesight reaches—all the way to the sun and stars, which are so very far away. Anyone who thinks more deeply also knows that the inner sight that pertains to thought reaches even farther, and that still deeper sight reaches still farther. What must we say, then, of the divine sight, which is the deepest and highest of all?
Since thoughts do have this kind of extension, everything of heaven is communicated to everyone there. This means all of the divine nature that makes heaven and fills it, as I have explained in the preceding chapters.
People in heaven are amazed that people here believe they are intelligent when they think of something invisible in the process of thinking about God, something that cannot be comprehended in any form, and that they call people who think otherwise unintelligent and even simpleminded, when the opposite is in fact the case. They assert that if people who regard themselves as intelligent on this account would examine themselves, they would find nature in the place of God—for some, the nature in front of their eyes, for others, a nature they cannot see with their eyes.
They would find that they are so blind that they do not know what God is, what an angel is, what a spirit is, what the soul is that will live after death, what the life of heaven is for us, or many other things that are matters of intelligence. Yet all the people whom they call simple know these things in their own way. They have an image of God as a Divine Being in human form, an image of an angel as a heavenly person, a concept of their soul that will live after death as being like an angel, and a concept of the life of heaven for us here as living by the divine commandments. Angels refer to these people as intelligent and fit for heaven, but the others they call unintelligent.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 83-86