After Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, they were taught the principles of the gospel and the plan of salvation—the plan by which they could return to their Father in heaven. They were also instructed to teach this gospel plan to their children.
His children generally did not accept his teachings—except Abel. Abel was killed; then, among other children, Seth was born, who did accept the teachings of Adam.
The Lord promised Adam that he would have a righteous seed which would last to the end of the earth, which is recorded in the Book of Moses: “And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: … as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.” (Moses 5:9.)
In the next chapter we read: “Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.
“Now this prophecy Adam spake, as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and a genealogy was kept of the children of God. …” (Moses 6:7–8.)
This became the record of the royal seed, which is a record in part, at least, of the fulfillment of this promise. This we have today, at least in part, which is known as the Bible.
Modern revelation gives it to us thus:
“This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:
“From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth.” (D&C 107:41–42. Italics added.)
This promise was repeated again to Abraham, who was Seth’s posterity:
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3.)
“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:18.)
We have a choice record in the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Abraham, describing how this blessing relates to us today. Speaking to Abraham, the Lord said:
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
“And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” (Abr. 2:9–11.)
This blessing was renewed to Isaac, the son of Abraham, and then to Jacob, who became Israel, and then divided among his twelve sons, each becoming a tribe, referred to as the tribes of Israel.
When a person receives a patriarchal blessing, he is entitled to receive a pronouncement of the blessings of Israel, or a declaration of the tribe of Israel through which his blessings shall come. This is the right to the blessings of those recorded in the book of remembrance started in the days of Adam.
This does not mean that all the nations of the earth will become literal descendants of Abraham, though his seed may be scattered in all nations, but as it says, all shall receive the blessings through those who are the seed of Abraham and shall be accounted his seed, and rise up and bless him as their father. (See Abr. 2:10.)
If members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham, they will receive such a blessing. If they are not literal descendants of Abraham and join the Church and receive the gospel, they shall receive the priesthood blessings, even eternal life, through those who are of Israel or which would be referred to as by adoption.
Hence, all nations and families of the earth may receive the blessings of the gospel and eternal life through their faithfulness. To fulfill this promise given to Adam, then, the necessity is apparent of a renewing of priesthood leadership through a prophet of God at various intervals throughout time. These intervals have been called dispensations: from Adam to Seth—to Enoch—to Noah—to Abraham—to Moses—to Elias—to John the Baptist—to Jesus Christ—to the apostles Peter, James, and John.
Each dispensation brings with it a reemphasis of the priesthood; a restrengthening of the opportunity given to man to receive the blessings of the gospel by proving himself in resisting the powers of the adversary.
The last dispensation is to be the dispensation of the fulness of times. Apostle Paul described this in his epistle to the Ephesians:
“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.” (Eph. 1:9–10.)
The Prophet Joseph Smith put it this way: “… that the dispensation of the fulness of times is made up of all the dispensations that ever have been given since the world began, until this time” (Franklin D. Richards, Compendium, 1898, p. 143), this being the time referred to as the end of time to prepare for the coming of the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth.
I testify to you—this is that time. The gospel of Jesus Christ is here now, with all the keys of the priesthood, to open the way for his coming.
Joseph Smith was called by revelation, as were the prophets of old. John the Baptist restored to him and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, followed by Peter, James, and John, who restored the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Elijah returned in the Kirtland Temple and restored the keys of the sealing blessings for the living and the dead.
Joseph Smith bestowed all the keys upon the Quorum of Apostles before his death. These keys of priesthood authority have been thus preserved to this day and shall continue to usher in the millennial reign of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We invite all to hear, accept, and embrace this gospel. This invitation is to all the nations and families the world over, that all may receive the blessings of eternal life and be recorded in the Lamb’s book of remembrance and share the blessings of the royal seed of the righteous, even the blessings of eternal life. I testify that this is his kingdom, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.