Chapter 23: The Restoration of the Gospel in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times

Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, (2000), 61–63


Introduction

The Restoration of the gospel in the last days was foretold by prophets in ancient times. The restored gospel is the kingdom of God on earth, the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and fill the whole earth, as seen by Daniel (see Daniel 2:34–35, 44–45). It is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was organized 6 April 1830 in preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior.

Doctrinal Outline

Supporting Statements

  • A.

    The Great Apostasy after the meridian dispensation necessitated a Restoration of the gospel in the last days.

    • “In the early days of the Christian Church we understand that there was a good deal of speculation among its members with regard to their belief and practice, and the propagation of these speculative ideas created divisions and schisms. Even in the days of the Apostles there was evidently considerable division, for we read that some were for Paul, some for Apollos, and others for Cephas. The people in those days had their favorites, who taught them peculiar doctrines not generally received and promulgated. …

      “You can read the account given of our first parents. Along came a certain character and said to Eve, you know women are of tender heart, and he could operate on this tender heart, ‘The Lord knows that in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt not surely die, but if thou wilt take of this fruit and eat thereof thine eyes will be opened and thou wilt see as the Gods see’; and he worked upon the tender heart of Mother Eve until she partook of the fruit, and her eyes were opened. He told the truth. And they say now, ‘Do this that your eyes may be opened, that you may see; do this that you may know thus and so.’ In the days of Jesus and his Apostles the same power was operating, and, actuated by that men hunted them until the last one was banished from human society, and until the Christian religion was so perverted that the people received it with open hands, arms, mouth and heart. It was adulterated until it was congenial to the wicked heart, and they received the Gospel as they supposed. But that was the time they commenced little by little to transgress the laws, change the ordinances, and break the everlasting covenant, and the Gospel of the kingdom that Jesus undertook to establish in his day and the Priesthood were taken from the earth” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 107).

  • B.

    Ancient prophets foretold the Restoration of the gospel in the dispensation of the fulness of times.

    • “You may take up Isaiah and all the prophets, and you will find that they refer to this latter-day dispensation, when the kingdom of God should be established on the earth. There never was a prophet, from Adam down, whose records we have, but had his eye upon this great dispensation of the last days” (Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 13:324).

  • C.

    The dispensation of the fulness of times began with the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith.

    • “Thereupon the heavens parted and the veil was rent; the heavens, long brass, poured out showers of blessings; the age of light and truth and revelation and miracles and salvation was born.

      “The place, the hour, the need, the man, and the divine destiny all united to usher in God’s great latter-day work. The heavens did not shake, nor the earth tremble. It was not an event heralded by the thunders and clouds on Sinai but one patterned after the calm serenity and peace present before an open tomb when Mary of Magdala uttered the reverent cry, ‘Rabboni,’ to the risen Lord.

      “This was the occasion when the greatest vision ever vouchsafed to man of which we have record burst the gloom of solemn darkness. The gods of old revealed themselves anew. …

      “Great God in heaven above—what wonders do we now behold! The heavens rend; the veil parts; the Creators of the universe come down; the Father and the Son both speak to mortal man. …

      “Once or twice in a thousand years a new door is opened through which all men must enter if they are to gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal life in the realms ahead.

      “Once or twice in a score of generations a new era dawns: the light from the east begins to drive the darkness of the earth from the hearts of men.

      “Now and then in a peaceful grove, apart from the gaze of men, heaven and earth share a moment of intimacy, and neither are ever thereafter the same. Such a moment occurred on that beautiful, clear morning in the spring of 1820 in a grove of trees near Palmyra, New York.

      The father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith in 1830, ushering in the restoration of the gospel.

      “Man asked and God answered.

      “Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son” (Bruce R. McConkie, in Conference Report, Oct. 1975, 24–25; or Ensign, Nov. 1975, 18).

    • “Yes, God does live. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate personal beings, alike in form, in whose image man is made. In order that these basic fundamental truths, lost to the world through centuries of erroneous teachings, might again be available to people of our day, a new revelation was necessary, and this was given to the fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith in the form of the most glorious vision ever given to mortal man, so far as the records indicate—a vision in which Father and Son appeared simultaneously” (Joseph F. Merrill, in Conference Report, Oct. 1948, 59).

  • D.

    The Restoration of the gospel has commenced in this dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times.

    • “Joseph Smith’s next great service to the race was in opening this gospel dispensation—the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. What does that mean? To dispense is to distribute or deal out in portions, as when the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is dispensed to a religious congregation. In a larger sense, it signifies the opening of the heavens and the sending forth of the gospel and the powers of the Priesthood, as a boon and blessing to mankind. The term ‘dispensation’ also defines the period during which these saving and exalting principles, thus sent forth, continue operative in pristine power and purity. There have been many dispensations of the gospel, though men know little concerning them. The gospel of Christ is more than ‘the power of God unto salvation;’ it is the power of God unto exaltation, and was instituted as such before this earth rolled into existence, before Adam fell, and consequently before man had need of redemption and salvation. It is the way of eternal progress, the path to perfection, and has been upon earth in a series of dispensations reaching like a mighty chain from the days of Adam down to the present time. The great difference between this dispensation and all others is, that this is the last and the greatest, virtually all dispensations rolled into one” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1920, 122).

    • “In this restoration it is necessary that the Church of Jesus Christ in its simplicity and truth be restored. All the keys and powers of priesthood held by the prophets of former dispensations must be conferred upon God’s chosen representatives on the earth. In this manner all the authority and keys of priesthood of the past are to flow into the most glorious and greatest of dispensations, like clear streams flowing into a mighty river. The everlasting covenant once given to the ancients, and which Isaiah says was broken, must be restored” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:167–68).

    • “In the restoration of authority it was necessary that John the Baptist—the messenger who was formerly sent to prepare the way—should first come. Then Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the greater priesthood had to come and give their power that the Church could be organized in the earth. Peter, James and John, the three chief apostles, who constituted the Presidency of the Church in that day, were the logical personages to come with this authority.

      “But others had to come. After the coming of the apostles we do not know just what order was observed. It is natural for us to conclude that the authorities revealed and restored would begin with Adam, ‘who was the first man.’ Then would come Enoch, Noah, and so on down the line of authority to the dispensation of the meridian of time” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:173–74).

    • “It is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory, ‘the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth,’ ‘even in one,’ when the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken of by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwell with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations, and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. The heavenly Priesthood will unite with the earthly, to bring about those great purposes; and whilst we are thus united in one common cause, to roll forth the kingdom of God, the heavenly Priesthood are not idle spectators, the Spirit of God will be showered down from above, and it will dwell in our midst. The blessings of the Most High will rest upon our tabernacles, and our name will be handed down to future ages; our children will rise up and call us blessed; and generations yet unborn will dwell with peculiar delight upon the scenes that we have passed through, the privations that we have endured; the untiring zeal that we have manifested; the all but insurmountable difficulties that we have overcome in laying the foundation of a work that brought about the glory and blessing which they will realize; a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 231–32).

    • “It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation” (Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 108).

    • “This is a dispensation the greatest that was ever ushered in in the history of the world, because it comprehends all that has been before it and all that shall come after it” (Anthony W. Ivins, in Conference Report, Oct. 1932, 5).

    • “This is the last dispensation. [The Lord] has raised up men and women to carry on his work, and as I have often said, many of us have been held in the spirit world from the organization of this world, until the generation in which we live” (Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 21:284; see also “Responsibilities of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Sept. 1971, 20).

    • “The last word has not been spoken on any subject. Streams of living water shall yet flow from the Eternal Spring who is the source of all truth. There are more things we do not know about the doctrines of salvation than there are things we do know” (Bruce R. McConkie, “A New Commandment: Save Thyself and Thy Kindred!” Ensign, Aug. 1976, 11).