“A dispensation of the gospel is a period of time in which the Lord has at least one authorized servant on the earth who bears the holy priesthood and the keys. … The fulness of times is the final dispensation, and began with the revelation of the gospel to Joseph Smith. … It is a glorious time, the time in which we live today” (Bible Dictionary, “Dispensations”). Here are some of Joseph Smith’s teachings on this gospel dispensation.
According to the LDS Church we are currently living in “the dispensation of the fulness of times”, as ushered in through Joseph Smith via the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
But is that what the Bible says about the dispensation of the fullness of times?
Paul speaks of “the dispensation of the fulness of times” in Ephesians 1. And it seems clear to me that Paul is saying that they were, then, living in “the dispensation of the fulness of times”; for he said that it was in “the dispensation of the fulness of times” that God would “gather together in one all things in Christ”. Eph 1:3-12 reads:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 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:”
John also writes about the gathering together of the nations in John 11:45-52, in which Caiaphas prophesied concerning the death of Christ saying:
“Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.”. John said: “And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”
If we continue reading in Ephesians, Paul continues by pointing out that those who were dead in sin “were quickened together with Christ”, even raised up together with Him in His resurrection. He says that “one new man” was created “in Christ” by which reconciliation was made, through which the Gentiles were made partakers of the promises and part of “the commonwealth of Israel”. (Eph 2) In chapter 3 Paul calls it “the dispensation of the grace of God” which was given to him to preach.
It is to this “gathering together” into “one body” that I believe Paul is referring when he speaks of those who would forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” in Heb 10. The word used there is “episunagōgē” and it means “a complete collection”.
I don’t really see how there can be any doubt that these things were accomplished by the cross of Christ through which Christ was made the High Priest over the house of God (mentioned several times throughout the book of Hebrews), making it possible for us to enter into the Holy of Holies, with boldness, by the blood of Christ.
Paul speaks several times about the fact that “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Rom 12:5)
Back to Heb 10:1-5, Paul writes:
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:”
The church is that body; His body being His church – to whom the mystery and the riches of the glory of the mystery were to be made known. We read in Col 1:18-27
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
Can there be any doubt that these things were accomplished in Christ, by the cross of Christ, through the blood of Christ poured out upon the alter of the Lord once for all at the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
This is one example of how and where Mormon doctrine fails.