"A dispensation is the dispensing of blessings or afflictions by Deity, as appropriate," said Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Speaking in April 1991 general conference, he explained, "A dispensation is also defined as a period when God has revealed His mind and will to man. It 'means the opening of the heavens to men; the . . . dispensing to them the word of God; the revealing to men . . . the principles and ordinances of the Gospel; the conferring of divine authority upon . . . chosen ones, by which they are empowered to act in the name . . . [and] authority of God. . . . The dispensation of the fulness of times is the dispensation which includes all others,' both in heaven and on earth. It is the dispensation which will fulfill all of the decrees of a loving Heavenly Father for the salvation of [all] men and the redemption of the earth itself.' (History of the Church, vol. 1, xxiii.) An inspired Prophet Joseph Smith wrote, 'It is necessary . . . that a . . . welding together of dispensations . . . should take place . . . from the days of Adam even to the present time.' " (D&C 128:18.)
Elder Haight continued: "The gospel, of course, is of great antiquity. In the heavenly kingdom it was formed before the foundation of the earth. From the very first, the plan of man's progression and salvation was known.
"This period of time in which we live, the dispensation of the fulness of times, will see the culmination of all of God's work on the earth. For this reason, we are anxiously engaged in the Lord's work, which includes the performance of certain ordinances for all who have lived and will live upon the earth.
" 'Why does the Church commit millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours to this immense but unusual project? Why have such great concern for those who have died?' Our answer is simple yet profound: Because we love them. Because they are entitled to the same blessings that we enjoy. Because this is a major part of the heavenly plan for this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the blessing of all people."