“It is the order of heavenly things that God should always send a new dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood, but when men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 375-376)
A term that refers to a beginning and ending of a gospel epoch or order.1 Dispensations have their bounds. Beforehand, the prophets give, through prophecy, a limit on the things that are to come. When the prophesied events have unfolded and the measure has been met, then one Dispensation comes to an end while another opens.2It is in the order of Heavenly things that God should always send a new Dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood….3Every Dispensation of the Gospel is the “last Dispensation,” until it fails. Then another is sent, and it is the “last,” until it fails. This will continue for so long as man continues to fail.4 When a Dispensation of the Gospel is conferred on mankind through a Dispensation head (like Enoch, Moses, Joseph Smith), then those who live in that Dispensation are obligated to honor the ordinances laid down through the Dispensation head by the Lord. For so long as the ordinances remain unchanged, the ordinances are effective. When, however, the ordinances are changed without the Lord’s approval (the critical question), they are broken. At that point, the cure is for the Lord to bestow a new Dispensation in which a new covenant is made available.5 The Lord sends ministers with a commission to transition from one Dispensation of the Gospel to another.6 A Dispensation is when some lost (or never completed) components of the work need to be dispensed to us, either anew or for the first time.7 When God gives a man a Dispensation from Heaven, there is a labor to be done in His vineyard. The authority to complete the labor is implicit with the assignment given by God. When someone receives a Dispensation and discharges the assignment with honor, he holds the keys, owns the rights, enjoys the honors, and possesses the Dispensation of that assignment to all eternity. A new Dispensation is founded on knowledge from those who went before who “all [declare] 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” to the new Dispensation.8
3 TPJS, 375.
8 “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 2, paper.
“When God gives a man a dispensation from heaven, there is a labor to be done in His vineyard. The authority to complete the labor is implicit with the assignment given by God. When someone receives a dispensation and discharges the assignment with honor, he holds the keys, owns the rights, enjoys the honors, and possesses the dispensation of that assignment to all eternity. A new dispensation is founded on knowledge from those who went before who ‘all [declare] 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’to the new dispensation. An unchanging God bestows an unchanging gospel. Therefore, there is conformity and understanding shared along the path. These servants obtained rights and honors and are expected to come to the great future meeting when Adam-ondi-Ahman occursin the last days. At that meeting an accounting will be given in the presence of Christ to Father Adam, preliminary to Christ’s return as the One whose right it is to preside over all things. If a dispensation was given and the recipient failed to complete the work God assigned, then he acquires no key, no honor, no right, no authority from the Lord and therefore has nothing to account for to Adam.
“All who are invited to the future meeting when Adam-ondi-Ahman occurs again will give an account of their labor. This means it is necessary for servants to perform what God assigns to them in strict conformity to the assignment to honor and serve God. The notion that someone can obtain ‘keys’ without receiving a dispensation from the Lord and successfully completing the work of God, is an idea that should be rejected.
“To be clear, for the foregoing reasons, and because many Mormons misunderstand and misapply the word ‘keys’ to mean authority to control and direct, I avoid using the term. Many people believe that one dispensation must resemble another. There are those who are critical or ignorant of what God is doing now because it is different from what Joseph Smith did. There have been only two successful models since the fall of man. The scriptures disclose little about Enoch and Melchizedek’s dispensations, but there is enough to know they did not establish an hierarchical institution with inequality between people. The work of God today will be done as He alone directs. It is apparent from what has already taken place, that God intends to complete many things that Joseph Smith only hinted at and never had the opportunity to accomplish.
See D&C 128:21—the reason these ministers return to visit Joseph was because they acquired the “keys” after successfully completing the assignment God gave them. Joseph needed this endowment to lay the foundation for a new dispensation.”
The phrase means “Adam in the presence of Son Ahman.” The first time this happened was near Spring Hill in Missouri. Since it was an event, and the location acquired significance because of what happened there, I use the term to describe a future event rather than a fixed location. Latter-day Saints think the future event will take place at the same location as the first event, but—like the location of the New Jerusalem—may happen elsewhere.
T&C 154 (An extract from Section 3 of the 1835 DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, received by Joseph Smith Jr. at Hyrum, Portage Co. 11 November 1831, with additional explanatory material written by Michael Hamill on 4 February 2017, in consultation with Denver Snuffer.)
T&C 140 (An investigation of the Priesthood from the scriptures, 5 October 1840. This discourse was dictated by Joseph Smith to his scribe, Robert B. Thompson, the day after announcing plans for the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.)
T&C 156:17 (PRAYER FOR COVENANT, given to Denver Snuffer Jr. by revelation during the week of 9 July, 2017.)
[Iniquity] is working at cross-purposes to God’s work underway in a Dispensation. Iniquity may not involve a direct commandment to violate. Abraham didn’t issue any commandments we have record of, but he was called of God and blessed, and therefore, anyone who worked at cross-purposes (i.e., took his wife from him as happened on two occasions) was committing iniquity. Because God’s work varies between Dispensations, the actions which constitute iniquity also vary between Dispensations. In this Dispensation God is working to bring about a people of one heart and one mind, with no poor among them — Zion. Those who oppose equality and favor inequity today commit iniquity — inequity is iniquity (two spellings of the same English word). They — sin and iniquity — do overlap. However, I can envision when a sin is not iniquity: like when Christ’s disciples plucked and ate wheat on the Sabbath, or when David’s warriors ate the shewbread that only the priests were to eat. But neither were iniquity. Then there are occasions when iniquity is not sin. Like when the people who heard Joseph preach failed to respond and accept his role as a messenger sent by God. There was no sin in that, but there was iniquity.
Christ was denounced as a “sinner” because He violated the commandments — repeatedly and openly. His explanation was not that He wasn’t a sinner, but that the law was based on a higher set of principles that were more important than the law itself. And if the observant soul could see the higher principles, then they were to be preferred and followed. His Sermon on the Mount was an extensive exposition on the higher principles underlying the commandments — they were more important, so much so, that if you followed the commandments all your life but failed to notice the underlying principles, then you were truly ungodly and failed to understand the reason God provided the Law to Moses. When confronted about His sins, Christ did not really deny sinning. He instead posed questions about the rigorous focus on the Law to the exclusion of the underlying principle. In the case of His disciples plucking wheat and eating on the Sabbath, He did not reject the idea that it violated the Law but instead took an example from history to show that the life of man is more important. The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.
Paul wanted everyone to know that the Lamb was without blemish because He was sin-free. But the only reason Christ was sin-free was not because He kept the Law — He did not. It was because Christ saw something higher to be followed, and He followed and taught that higher set of principles — principles which bring about godliness, even holiness. Because He practiced holiness as a matter of principle, He was not merely ceremonially clean (which, by the way, He failed to accomplish), but He was instead actually clean. He was holy indeed. Without the need of seeking holiness through the ceremonies of the Law of Moses.
To the extent that it did not involve a violation of higher principles, Christ also kept the Law and observed the Mosaic ordinances. More importantly (and much more importantly) He fulfilled the Law of Moses. He was the Pascal Lamb. He was the sacrifice for sin. The only way He qualified was because His life reflected consistently the higher principles upon which the Law was based. Had He failed to live consistent with those higher principles, He could not have qualified to fulfill the Law. He did not deny He sinned — Paul did that — but His sins were meaningless because His path followed everything commanded by the Father. What the Father said (to Him in His Dispensation) was what He did. Therefore, He was entirely justified and sanctified, albeit an offender of the Law of Moses. Therefore, He was without iniquity.
1 There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, who was in darkness and came to visit with Jesus. He sought wisdom from Jesus and said, Enlightened heavenly guide, some of us know you have descended from the High Council of Heaven because signs confirm you have authority from God. Jesus answered and said to him, In the name of Father Ahman I testify there is a new dispensation begun. You must accept the ordinances of this new Light or you cannot hope to progress to know God.
2 Nicodemus said to him, If I believe this, can I ascend in this life, or will it be accomplished only in the afterlife? Jesus answered, In the name of Father Ahman I say to you, Except you receive the ordinance of baptism to join the new dispensation, and thereby forsake your sins and receive forgiveness and an outpouring of the Spirit, you will not ascend to God’s presence in this life or the life to come. All who are devoted to the ambitions of the flesh remain imprisoned by the flesh, and those who are born anew through the ordinances, receive the Spirit of Truth, and are able to know the record of Heaven by the Spirit of Truth. Do not question if what I say is true because the Spirit of Truth confers light, knowledge, and understanding of the mysteries of Heaven within every soul who receives it.
3 Nicodemus replied to him, Why is this not widely known? Jesus answered, Why does a member of the Sanhedrin not recognize that a new dispensation has begun? In the name of Father Ahman I confirm what was told by John the Baptist and I have begun a work that comes from Heaven. But you who lead Israel fight against it and you refuse to humble yourselves. If I offered you a position of respect and authority, as you now hold, you would believe. But because I testify only of heavenly things that require faith and sacrifice, you refuse to believe? I tell you, if you want to ascend to the Heavenly Council, you must first acknowledge and give heed to the messengers sent by them. You can refuse to believe, but you will see in me a sign and remember this saying: When Moses nailed a brass serpent upon a pole in the wilderness, he prophesied of me. And I shall also be nailed upon a tree, and those who believe on me will receive deliverance through my sacrifice, even as Israel was delivered by looking with faith at Moses’ serpent.
4 Father Ahman loves the world, and like father Abraham, Father Ahman will allow His Son to become an offering for sin. Whoever believes and follows His Son will not be lost, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. Those who believe and follow His Son will escape the limitations of sin. The faithless are condemned already because they refuse to believe and obey the Only Begotten Son of God. Everything about my assignment, which I am now performing, was foretold by the prophets sent earlier to teach Israel, for they all testified of me. They told you I would come, and I am now here doing what was prophesied, but you refuse to see it happening. Enough is underway that rejecting it means you prefer darkness to light. Humble yourself and admit the prophets foretold the very things now underway; repent and be baptized and the Spirit of Truth will open your eyes. If you want greater light, you will obey this instruction. If you refuse, then you never meant it when you greeted me as an enlightened heavenly guide.
2 There was a man sent from God and his name was John. This man was sent as a witness so that he might testify and identify the Light to give everyone a reason to believe through the Messiah. He, John, was not the Light, but he was sent by Heaven as a witness to testify of the Light, and to end the dispensation of Moses, and baptize to begin a new dispensation. The Light enlightens every man who is progressing upward in the cosmos.
We call our time the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time because our time is leading to that return to fullness. However, in one sense Joseph Smith was much like the Protestant Fathers who laid groundwork for a greater, further return of light. They did not see the full return. We might.1
17 For all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood under the direction and commandments of the Almighty, in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensations. 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, then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. See Malachi 3rd chapter, verses 3 & 4 [Mal. 1:6]: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
7 It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of a Power which records or binds on Earth and binds in Heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the Priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this Power has always been given. Hence, whatever those men did in authority in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on Earth and in Heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decree of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?
“Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled. Old things are done away, and all things have become new.” (NC 3 Nephi 5:13; LE 3 Nephi 12:46-47)
Christ will elaborate on this later as the audience puzzles over what is removed and what remains. But here Christ introduces the concept that the Law of Moses is now “fulfilled.” Importantly, He says: “in me are all fulfilled.”
When He walked on the Road to Emmaus on the day of His resurrection, He began with the Law of Moses and explained: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (NC Luke 14:3; LE Luke 24:27.) I’ve spoken on this and then published the talk in the Appendix to Eighteen Verses. The talk shows how the rites and temple of the Dispensation of Moses testified to the details of His life. It ought to be noted that the thing “under the law, in [Christ were indeed] all fulfilled.” His life was foreshadowed by the rites of Moses. His healing and His ministry, His history and His sacrifice, all were foreshadowed by the Law of Moses.
Since the Law pointed to Him, and He came to live His mortal life in conformity with that Law, it was now completed. The signpost was no longer necessary. The event had happened.
When He says, “Old things are done away” it is not because they are terminated. It is because they were fulfilled. He completed the circle. He lived and died under the Law, fulfilling every jot and tittle of its requirements.
Now it was time to push the meaning of the earlier Law deeper into the souls of His audience. “All things have become new.” It is a new beginning, a new Dispensation, a new message. This message was delivered by the author of the Law of Moses not through an intermediary. This message comes from the Author in person.
Dispensations have their bounds. Beforehand, the prophets give, through prophecy, a limit on the things which are to come. When the prophesied events have unfolded and the measure has been met, then one Dispensation comes to an end while another opens. John the Baptist closed the Dispensation of Moses. Christ opened the Dispensation of the Meridian of Time. He recognizes the transition in this statement.
Whenever things are “become new” again, it is important to recognize the signs of the time. (NC Matthew 8:15; LE Matt. 16:2-3.)
“And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.”
In the preceding verse I asked why Christ was looking at the group. Now we see the answer. He looked about at those who listened to Him because He was taking in their presence. He was listening to them. Not with the ears, but with His eyes and His heart. He “perceived” what concerned them.
These people derived their security from the Law of Moses. It was the tradition they were raised with; it was what they understood. The Lord’s declaration that it had “passed away” was disorienting.
It is troubling to find your religious tradition has run its course, and will be replaced. People crave certainty and order. This desire is so strong in people that they will endure almost anything in order to keep what is familiar to them.
The Lord recognized these people did not understand what the old things passing away meant. He realized there was fear and confusion because of the statement. They needed more teaching. They needed further explanation.
Moments of transition in religious epochs are troubling. Most people simply do not want to accept the new acts performed by the Lord, and those He sends. They want to wait. They want to see if the new change prospers; let others decide first, and then join after there is proof of success. They want the security of following along with others. When there are 20 million followers of a new movement, then they can accept the new movement. Not before. The problem is that by the time a movement has acquired 20 million followers, the world has required such compromises to have been made that the original movement has been diluted, altered, compromised and weakened. It may be moving forward claiming to have authority, but it will likely have lost much of its power along the way.
The Lord is patient. He will instruct those who follow Him sufficiently that they can go forward with His new dispensation. However, He will expect them to perform exactly as He has taught before they can receive exactly what He has promised.
It is perfect. It is ever the way of the Lord. When He makes an offer, anyone can accept it. But it must be accepted on the terms He established. If you cannot understand, it is not because He did not make it clear enough. Rather, it is because you will not obey in order to gain the light necessary to comprehend what He is teaching. It is your choice to draw away rather than toward Him. As a result, you cannot understand.
…when a Dispensation of the Gospel is conferred on mankind through a Dispensation head (like Enoch, Moses, Joseph Smith) then those who live in that Dispensation are obligated to honor the ordinances laid down through the Dispensation head by the Lord. For so long as the ordinances remain unchanged, the ordinances are effective. When, however, the ordinances are changed without the Lord’s approval [THE critical question], they are broken. At that point, the cure is for the Lord to bestow a new Dispensation in which a new covenant is made available.
IF…you decide the ordinances are now broken by the many changes, then you should look for the Lord to deliver them again.
…the words of a dispensation head, in any dispensation, are binding upon all who follow. I do not think any prophet subsequent to Moses had the right to change Moses’ teachings, for they were binding upon them. Until the Lord makes a change and opens a New Dispensation (which I expect Him to do personally), what Joseph Smith brought us is binding upon everyone, including all following prophets. We are told to be obedient to what we have received from him. (T&C 10:1; D&C 28:2-3.) I believe that is still true. Meaning that no one, regardless of position or rank, can ignore what came through Joseph Smith except to their peril. Until a New Dispensation arrives, what Joseph Smith launched is supposed to remain intact.
When God begins work with people, the group becomes “chosen,” and therefore the focus of His continuing efforts to save mankind. Although “chosen people” do not always remain faithful to Him, they do remain the center of His work.
A good illustration of this was during the Second Temple period in ancient Israel. Throughout this time, the people were apostate. Margaret Barker’s work reconstructing the era is perhaps as good a job as any scholar has been able to accomplish to date. Israel was led by corrupt and uninspired priests. The nation descended generation by generation until, by the time the New Testament era opened, the nation’s “king” was appointed by Rome from a well-connected family having only quasi-Jewish lineage and no real devotion to their faith. The High Priest was also a political appointment, based on family patronage and bribery.
Into this corrupt society, the dawn of a new Dispensation conformed to the old patterns of the fallen, idolatrous religion. The angel Gabriel came to Zacharias in the place and time that honored the ceremonies established by Moses.
Zacharias was in the Holy Place, before the veil of the Temple, burning incense and offering the morning prayer. The prayer asked for the light of God’s presence to return to Israel. As the cloud of incense ascended from the altar upward, symbolizing the ascent of prayers to God, Gabriel appeared on the right side of the altar. (LE Luke 1:11.) This is the exact spot a person would stand if they emerged from the Holy of Holies of the Temple, conforming to the then existing religious pattern. The angel announced to Zacharias that “thy prayer is heard” (LE Luke 1:13), meaning that the set prayer for God’s presence to return to Israel was accepted. The religious pattern was vindicated.
Though Israel had endured hundreds of years of apostate decline, when the time to refresh and restore arrived, the work resumed inside the existing pattern. God honored the religion of His chosen people, even though the religion was at the time fallen, worldly and apostate.
Zacharias lived among this apostate people and yet was unhindered by it. His prayer was heard, the angel was sent, and God’s promise to return to Israel was not only vindicated, but Zacharias was told he would have a son who would “go before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elias.” (NC Luke 1:3; LE Luke 1:13,17.)
Similarly, the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna lived among a fallen and apostate people, but honored the traditions, kept the faith, and saw beyond the evil of their day. Each received by revelation a promise they would live to see their Lord come into the flesh. (NC Luke 2:5,7; LE Luke 2:25-38.) These faithful believers, both male and female, were not hindered by the apostasy then underway.
The Lord follows the same pattern throughout, because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (NC Moroni 10:4; LE Moroni 10:19.) Therefore, once the work recommenced through Joseph Smith, and there was a “chosen people,” the work will always continue, or if necessary begin anew among the same “chosen people.” Though the gentiles will fail, as Christ prophesied would eventually occur (NC 3 Nephi 7:5; LE 3 Ne. 16:10), the work will not be abandoned.
General apostasy, therefore, cannot prevent individual participation in the fullness of God’s promises. Though it may be interrupted for three or four generations when there is rebellion (OC Exodus 12:5; LE Ex. 20:5), when it resumes it will begin among the same people where it left off.
This is the pattern of the Lord. And mankind’s failure does nothing to prevent eventual fulfillment of the Lord’s promises. (T&C 54:7; LE D&C 1:38.)
21 And now brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things and exercise fervent prayer and faith in the sight of God, always, he shall give unto you Knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now, which our fathers have waited, with anxious expectation, to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fullness of their glory, a time to come, in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many Gods, they shall be manifest. All Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens, or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars; all the times of their revolutions, all their appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times, according to that which was ordained in the midst of the council of the Eternal God, of all other Gods, before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his Eternal presence and into his immortal rest.
5 And you that were sometime alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy and blameless and unreproveable in his sight, if you continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, 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 lacking 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 fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden 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, whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, for which I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.