Relief Society Lesson 44: The Restoration of All Things: The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times

by EmilyCC

From the Life of Joseph Smith

The first few paragraphs demonstrate that Joseph Smith believed that the completion of the Nauvoo Temple was critical to the Restoration. These are lovely stories.  I might add that the women understood how important this work was, also.  In Women of Covenant on pgs 50-51, one can read the sacrifices women made from one woman giving all of her jewelry to another who had nothing to give but would mend any clothing of the bretheren who were working on the temple.

The Prophet Joseph Smith was called of God to restore these great blessings to earth and to stand at the head of the dispensation of the fulness of times. During the Prophet’s ministry, all things were restored that were necessary to lay the foundation of the greatest dispensation of all time. The priesthood, with its essential keys, was restored; the Book of Mormon was translated; the Church was organized; and doctrines, ordinances, and covenants were revealed, including the ordinances and covenants of the endowment and the marriage sealing. The Lord declared that He had committed unto Joseph Smith “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” (D&C 27:13).

Read the quote above and have the class list what is necessary for this final dispensation.  How is this dispensation different from ones past?

Teachings of Joseph Smith

“Truly this is a day long to be remembered by the Saints of the last days,—a day in which the God of heaven has begun to restore the ancient order of His kingdom unto His servants and His people,—a day in which all things are concurring to bring about the completion of the fullness of the Gospel, a fullness of the dispensation of dispensations, even the fullness of times; a day in which God has begun to make manifest and set in order in His Church those things which have been, and those things which the ancient prophets and wise men desired to see but died without beholding them; a day in which those things begin to be made manifest, which have been hid from before the foundation of the world, and which Jehovah has promised should be made known in His own due time unto His servants, to prepare the earth for the return of His glory, even a celestial glory, and a kingdom of Priests and kings to God and the Lamb, forever, on Mount Zion.”5

What a beautiful and exciting statement!  I would ask my class the following:

How do you think the Saints felt when they heard this?
Do we, as modern-day Saints, feel such enthusiasm?  How can we?

 “… All the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets.”7

What are these ordinances and duties?  Are we fulfilling them?  How can we do better?

Joseph Smith holds the keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times.

Lucy Mack Smith was present when Joseph Smith preached in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1832. She recalled these words of the Prophet: “I myself hold the keys of this last dispensation, and I forever will hold them in time and in eternity. So set your hearts at rest, for all is well.”11

The statements throughout this section are very emphatic about Joseph Smith’s power and holding of the keys.  What do you think it meant to the Saints when he died? 

What comfort did they have?  (What comfort do we have that “all is well?”)

This final dispensation is of such vast importance that it requires the complete, unselfish dedication of the Saints.

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. …

The quotes in this final section are rather male-centric.  I think this would be a great time to have someone perform “As Sisters in Zion” or to have the Relief Society sing it together.

Then, I’d ask what role women have in this dispensation?  Is it different from men?  Does it matter?

 “The heavenly Priesthood will unite with the earthly, to bring about those great purposes; and whilst we are thus united in the 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.”13

I think this last quote is particularly lovely.  I’d ask the class what they think of it and again, ask what we should be doing today as latter-day Saints to bring this work about.

End with testimony.

EmilyCC

EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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5 Responses

  1. Jerry Young says:

    I am using this in my hand-out supplement:

    Joseph Smith—Prophet of the Restoration
    Elder Tad R. Callister of the Seventy, Saturday Afternoon Conference Session October 2009, excerpts:

    “In many ways the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. When Joseph Smith came on the scene, perhaps 100 pieces were in place. Then Joseph Smith came along and put many of the other 900 pieces in place so that people could say, “Oh, now I understand where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going.” As for Joseph Smith’s role in the Restoration, the Lord defined it clearly: “This generation shall have my word through you” (D&C 5:10).”

    “Through Joseph Smith have been restored all the powers, keys, teachings, and ordinances necessary for salvation and exaltation. You cannot go anywhere else in the world and get that. It is not to be found in any other church. It is not to be found in any philosophy of man or scientific digest or individual pilgrimage, however intellectual it may seem. Salvation is to be found in one place alone, as so designated by the Lord Himself when He said that this is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30)”.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Sections of Elder L Tom Perry’s talk: From a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on October 30, 2007.
    The Dispensation of Adam: Become Like Our Father in Heaven

    The Dispensations of Enoch and Noah: Choose Righteousness over Wickedness

    The Dispensation of Abraham: Make and Keep Covenants

    The Dispensation of Moses: Follow the Lord’s Prophets

    The Meridian of Time: Let Your Light Shine

    The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times: Rejoice in the Fulness of the Gospel
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff
    Chapter 3: The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times
    As Latter-day Saints, we have a sacred duty to help build up the kingdom of God in this last dispensation.

    The Lord and His prophets have looked to this dispensation from before the creation of the world.

    Nothing can stop the Church from fulfilling its destiny.

    We were reserved in the spirit world to build up God’s kingdom in this dispensation.

    As Latter-day Saints, we have a great work to do.

  2. Kelly says:

    Thanks for all your ideas! I was asked to sub late Friday for this Sunday and I was a little panicky! Your ideas really got my brain rolling!

  3. EmilyCC says:

    Some great quotes here–thanks, Jerry!

    Kelly, glad you found this helpful. Hope your lesson went well!

  4. Julie says:

    I need some ideas for the lesson on the Martydom. Any help?

  5. camille says:

    thanks jerry i luv that l. tom perry talk! appreciate the thoughts everyone!
    *camille

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