Restoration of All Things
From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Maxwell, Cory H.
The concept of a restoration of all things is biblical and is frequently spoken of in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Peter spoke of the anticipated "times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). Latter-day Saints understand this as a prophetic anticipation of a full and final restoration of the gospel in the development and fulfillment of the purposes of God in the last days. The current era is therefore called the dispensation of the fulness of times in which all things will be gathered together in Christ (Eph. 1:10; D&C 27:13). The Church teaches that every gospel truth and blessing, and all priesthood authority, keys, ordinances, and covenants necessary for mankind's eternal salvation have been, or will be, restored in this dispensation. In this manner, the blessings of dispensations past will "flow into the most glorious and greatest of dispensations, like clear streams flowing into a mighty river" (DS 1:168).
The restoration spoken of in the scriptures involves more than a reestablishment of the Church and the function of saving ordinances. Scattered Israel will be gathered, the second coming of Christ will occur, the Millennium will begin, the kingdom of God will be established worldwide, and "the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory" (A of F 10).
The Prophet Joseph Smith testified that he was visited by divine messengers from former dispensations who conferred upon him priesthood powers and restored ordinances, doctrines, and blessings that existed in their dispensations. A brief outline follows:
1. God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ initiated the restoration when they appeared to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. He was told to join none of the churches of the day, and he was also taught important truths about the nature of the Godhead (see First Vision).
2. The angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith, revealing the plates of the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith translated, restoring gospel knowledge that had been lost to the earth in the centuries since biblical times. Latter-day Saints believe that the canon of scripture is not closed and that God "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (A of F 9), including additional volumes of holy scripture.
3. On May 15, 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist (D&C 13:1).
4. In 1829 or 1830, three New Testament apostles-Peter, James, and John-conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood, including the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, upon Joseph and Oliver and ordained them "apostles and special witnesses" of Jesus Christ. This ordination restored to earth the same authority that existed in the Church during the Savior's ministry.
5. The restoration includes reestablishment of an organization to teach the gospel and administer its ordinances. The sixth Article of Faith states, "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, Evangelists, and so forth." Formal organization of the Church occurred on April 6, 1830, in Fayette, New York.
6. On April 3, 1836, the prophet Moses came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple in Ohio and conferred the "keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth" (D&C 110:11).
7. The prophet Elias conferred the keys of the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham (D&C 110:12), restoring the patriarchal order of marriage and the gifts and blessings given to Abraham and his posterity (DS 3:127; MD, p. 203).
8. Elijah restored authority to bind and seal on earth and in heaven, including the power to seal husbands and wives to each other, and children to their parents (Smith, p. 252). This fulfilled Malachi's prophecy that Elijah should be sent to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse" (Mal. 4:5-6; D&C 110:15). The genealogical research of the LDS Church and the temple ordinances performed on behalf of the dead are integral parts of this process (see Genealogy, Family History).
The restoration will result in the culmination of all of God's purposes on the earth. The scriptures even speak of a reshaping of the land surfaces, with a coming together of the continents (D&C 133:23-24; cf. Gen. 10:25).
The fundamental purpose of the restoration is to prepare the Church and the world to receive their King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints view the restoration of all things as the work of God preparatory to the time when all old things shall become new, with a new heaven and a new earth. The restoration will include resurrection, regeneration, and renewal to all life upon the earth and the glorification of the earth itself, when it becomes a celestial sphere (Isa. 65:17; Matt. 19:28; Rev. 21:1; D&C 29:22-25;88:17-20, 25-26). As explained by Alma, referring in particular to the resurrection, "the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; that all things should be restored to their proper order" (Alma 41:2).
Hinckley, Gordon B. Truth Restored. Salt Lake City, 1947.
Matthews, Robert J. "The Fulness of Times." Ensign 19 (Dec. 1989):46-51.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. The Restoration of All Things. Salt Lake City, 1945.
CORY H. MAXWELL