Since the time of Adam, there have been periods on the earth when the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ has been among a righteous people. These periods of time are called dispensations. There have also been times when Christ's gospel has not been upon the earth because of the wickedness of the people. These periods of time are called an apostasy.
In His own due time after each apostasy God has called a prophet to start a new dispensation and to restore His truth, priesthood, and church upon the earth. There have been seven dispensations as follows.
Seven Church Dispensations1
- Jesus Christ
- Joseph Smith
The seventh dispensation, in which we live, is the last dispensation which will not fall into an apostasy but will eventually be completed with the coming of Christ. After restoring His priesthood authority to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said:
"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" (D&C 27:13).President Brigham Young, second prophet of this dispensation, said:
"This kingdom they [the wicked] cannot destroy, because it is the last dispensation--because it is the fulness of times. It is the dispensation of all dispensations, and will excel in magnificence and glory every dispensation that has ever been committed to the children of men upon the earth. The Lord will bring again Zion, redeem his Israel, plant his standard upon the earth, and establish the laws of his Kingdom, and those laws will prevail (DBY, 442)"3.I know "that there is an established, revealed order or system for the gospel. Both the earth and the heavens are governed by law—divine law."4 I know that we live in the last church dispensation, that God restored His gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith, and that we have living prophets with us now.
1. See Gospel Dispensations (PDF), Maps and Charts of the Old Testament Student Manual Genesis - 2 Samuel.
2. L. Tom Perry, "Accept the Challenge," Ensign, Aug 2002, 8.
3. "Chapter 14: Dispensations of the Gospel," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 93; original citation: Young, Brigham. Discourses of Brigham Young. Selected by John A. Widtsoe. 1941.
4. Robert J. Matthews, "The Fulness of Times," Ensign, Dec 1989, 46