Dispensation of the Fulness of Times

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A dispensation may be defined as “a system of order, government, or organization of a nation, community, etc., especially as existing at a particular time.” A dispensation may also be defined as “a general state or ordering of things; specifically: a system of revealed commands and promises regulating human affairs.” In Christianity, the dispensation (or administration) of the fulness of times is thought to be a world order or administration in which the heavens and the earth are under the political and/or spiritual government of Jesus. [1].

Defining the Term “Dispensation of the Fulness of Times”

Second Coming

The phrase “dispensation of the fulness of times” is derived from a passage of scripture found in the New Testament in Ephesians 1:10,

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one call things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.

The term “dispensation of the fulness of times” was designated as a specific period by a variety of theologians and pastors in the 19th and early 20th century. Jonathan Edwards, noted as America's most important and original philosophical theologian, and for his classic sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” used the term in referring to the eternal state. Charles Taze Russell, a prominent early 20th century Christian Restoration minister from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, taught that the “dispensation of the fulness of times” consisted of both the millennial age as well as the “ages to come.” And, George Soltau, a dispensationalist, taught that the "dispensation of the fulness of times" was a period of time to occur after the millennial age. John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish evangelist, produced a translation of the Bible based on the Hebrew and Greek texts called “The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation from the Original Languages by J. N. Darby.” His literal translation of Ephesians 1:10 reads,

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself for the administration of the fulness of times, [namely] to head up all things in Christ, the things in heaven and the things on earth, in Him in whom also we have an inheritance.

Latter-day Saint Theology and the “Dispensation of the Fulness of Times”

The theology and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon “Church by the media and others) teaches:

The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times is the final dispensation for this earth. Dispensations are periods of time in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is administered by holy prophets called and ordained by God to deliver his message to the inhabitants of the world. The central work of the "dispensation of the fulness of times" consists of bringing together all gospel ordinances and truths of past dispensations and some items unique to the last days. [2]

The current dispensation began with the first vision of Joseph Smith, the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ, and “all revelations and divine gifts of former dispensations continually flow into it.” [3] Modern day scripture, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 128:18, reveals that on 6 September 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in an epistle the following concerning the “dispensation of the fullness of times”:

For it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.

Revelation and restoration characterize the fulness of times. Priesthood, keys (authorization to act), ordinances, covenants, and teachings of past dispensations have been, or will yet be, restored, and this can occur only by revelation. [4] Part of the restoration includes the Book of Mormon (a comparable volume of scripture to the Holy Bible, and thus Another Testament of Jesus Christ) being translated from ancient records by divine power by Joseph Smith. These events constitute and culminate into the gathering “together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (See Ephesians 1:10). Modern day revelation as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 27:7-13 also speaks to this:

7 And also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias;
8 Which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto the first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron;
9 And also Elijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse;
10 And also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, your fathers, by whom the promises remain;
11 And also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days;
12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;
13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.

In addition, the power of the priesthood has been given “for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times, and those who are blessed to hold this power, do so “in connection with all those who have received a dispensation at any time from the beginning of the creation (See Doctrine and Covenants 112:30-31). Although the Plan of Salvation is the same in every dispensation, the fulness of times will see the accomplishment of specific and unique events, including the rebuilding of the old Jerusalem; building the New Jerusalem; preaching the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; the gathering of Israel; and the second coming of Jesus Christ. [5]

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