The Last Dispensation of Time
A dispensation of the gospel is a time period, of no particular length, during which the Lord has at least one authorized servant on the earth who holds the keys of the holy priesthood, and who has a divinely appointed commission to “dispense” the gospel to mankind. When a new dispensation is organized, the Lord reveals the gospel anew, so that mankind is blessed with current revelation and does not have to depend upon previous dispensations for their knowledge of the gospel and the plan of salvation.
A dispensation is often associated with the servant who stands at the head of it. In Old Testament times, Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses are all considered heads of new dispensations. When Jesus Christ came to earth He ushered in another dispensation. In the last days, the Lord called the Prophet Joseph Smith to usher in what is known as the “dispensation of the fulness of times.”
The “Last Dispensation” is the final period before the Second Coming of Christ. This dispensation is charactarized by several distinct qualities.
- It is a restoration period during which all gospel principles will be taught and practiced in their fulness. The first prophet of the restoration was Joseph Smith.
- All ordinances of the true gospel have been restored, plus the knowledge of temple practices.
- It is the dispensation to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ by building up his kingdom on earth.
- It is a time of gathering and regathering—the pure of heart to the gospel of Christ, the Jews to the land of their inheritance, the 10 lost tribes who are due to return, and the Latter-day Saints to Missouri to build up Zion.
- It is a time to turn over the keys of the priesthood of all dispensations to Christ to usher in the millennium.
“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. And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18, 21).
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:20-21).
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10).
“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” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:13).
In September 1840, Joseph Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency made the following declaration to the members of the Church: “The work of the Lord in these last days, is one of vast magnitude and almost beyond the comprehension of mortals. Its glories are past description, and its grandeur unsurpassable. It is the theme which has animated the bosom of prophets and righteous men from the creation of the world down through every succeeding generation to the present time; and it is truly the dispensation of the fullness of times, when all things which are in Christ Jesus, whether in heaven or on the earth, shall be gathered together in Him, and when all things shall be restored, as spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began; for in it will take place the glorious fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers, while the manifestations of the power of the Most High will be great, glorious, and sublime.
“… We feel disposed to go forward and unite our energies for the upbuilding of the Kingdom, and establishing the Priesthood in their fullness and glory. The work which has to be accomplished in the last days is one of vast importance, and will call into action the energy, skill, talent, and ability of the Saints, so that it may roll forth with that glory and majesty described by the prophet [see Daniel 2:34–35, 44–45]; and will consequently require the concentration of the Saints, to accomplish works of such magnitude and grandeur.
“The work of the gathering spoken of in the Scriptures will be necessary to bring about the glories of the last dispensation. 
In each gospel dispensation, men have rejected the gospel and as a consequence have sunk into apostasy, debauchery, and darkness. In each dispensation, the true nature of the Godhead—the Father, Son and Holy Ghost—has been revealed anew. The fundamental principles and ordinances have also been revealed anew and emphasized. The importance of complying with gospel teachings has been stressed.
We live in the dispensation of the fulness of times, the last dispensation of the gospel before the Millennium.
This dispensation will not end as former dispensations have ended, in apostasy and loss of the gospel; it will be terminated by the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ and the ushering in of His 1,000-year peaceful reign, as has been prophesied in all dispensations since the world began.
Christ will reveal Himself, “from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:11.)