Launch Out Into the Deep
Dr. Joe Temple


One of the things that folk felt should be done during this anniversary year, this “Year of Jubilee,” is for me to share with you some of the verses that you find in the narthex that have been used of God in my life and in the lives of others as they have been led to claim those verses, or to rest upon them.

Today we want to think about one that the Lord gave us back in 1935. I don't know that we can call this a message. It's merely visiting with you, sharing with you the blessings that God has given us. The verse that we are considering together is Luke 5:4.

Luke 5

4…Christ said unto Simon, [ let the shore lines go ]. Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught [ draft ].

If you are looking at the Word as I read that to you, you will notice that I injected a phrase that is not in the Scripture. That is perfectly proper if you indicate that you are doing that. That phrase is “let the shore lines go.” Christ said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep.” “Let the shore lines go,” he said unto me, “and let down your nets for a draught” (draft).

The Salvation Experience

Back in 1935 my life had become barren and dry. I had been saved not too long before. There was never any question about my salvation, and I have shared that with you at other times. I do know that that experience of salvation was accompanied with a joy that was unbelievable. Truly when the Word of God says that you rejoice “with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” it speaks the truth. And when I would attempt to describe to anyone else the joy that was mine when I first found the Lord, I often referred to the latter part of Isaiah, chapter 55, where Isaiah mentions that during the millennial reign of Christ, the presence of the Lord will mean so much that the very trees will begin to sing, and the mountains will break forth into music. That was the way I was impressed when I was saved.

Let me be careful to inject here that when we talk about experiences of salvation, we don't all have the same experience; and it is a very grave mistake for you to want to have an experience that I had or for me to want to have an experience that you've had. I'm telling you about mine. My heart was filled with overflowing joy. I walked on air. I reminded myself of someone that would take a step and make out of it a great leap. Everything was wonderful! Oh, how thankful I was!

It wasn't too long–how long I don't know–until that joy ebbed away. My life was barren; my heart was empty. The only reason that I continued on at all was that I knew I had met the Lord. I knew that Christ was my Savior. If someone had said, “Are you a happy Christian?” I probably would have lied, because Christians are not supposed to be unhappy, and I probably would have said yes. But I wasn't. I was a miserable Christian, but I realized it was not what God wanted and not what God intended, so I began to pray. Like Job, so low was I, that I cried “Oh that I knew where I might find Him. I would come even to his seat.” That is, I would come even to His throne. I would do anything, if only I could be assured of the presence of God because that's what I lacked. If only I could see some indication of blessing in my life, which I did not see at the moment, though I had.

God Speaks Through His Word

God never turns a deaf ear to any sincere cry. I have said this before: Though I have never heard an audible voice of God, I learned then what I know for sure now, that God does speak to us. What I learned then, or had to learn then, and I know now is that He speaks through His Word. It doesn't do any good to go around with a broken heart and an empty heart, an empty spirit, a depressed spirit, saying, “Oh, God, if you'd only come and make yourself known to me!” It doesn't do any good to do that. What I learned I had to do, and what I did, was go to the Word of God.

Back in 1935 I had just come to know the Lord, and I knew absolutely nothing about God's Word, so I opened my Bible at what some folk might call random. I didn't so what some people do. I didn't say, “Oh, God, give me something from your Word,” and open by Bible and let it fall on the floor, and then whatever verse my finger rested on was God's message to me. I wouldn't make light of anybody doing that. I know some sincere people who have done it. I would say you need to be careful. Really, that's not always God speaking. I went through my Bible, and I said, “God direct me to something in the Word that will help me. I've got to have your help. Direct me to something in the Word.” And then, though some folk may call it random, I call it the direction of the Holy Spirit. God directed me to turn to this passage here in Luke, chapter 5. I'd like for us to read the paragraph in which the verse is found, and then I want to share with you some of the things that I had to learn about it.

Luke 5

1And it came to pass, that as the people pressed upon Christ to hear the word of God, [ that means they got closer and closer to him, because they hung on every word ], he stood by the lake Gennaraset, [ this lake Gennaraset has been called Tiberius, and it's been called Galilee. It's all the same lake ].
2And [ Christ ] saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him [ requested him ] that he would thrust out a little from the land [ just far enough out where he could see the people, and the people could hear him ]. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
4Now when he had left speaking, [ when he was through with his message ] he said unto Simon, launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught [ now fasten on that verse. Mark it if you will, because in those very depressing days in 1935, and in those very hungry days, God used this verse to speak to my heart. And I'll tell you how in a moment or two. Look at the words again, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught ] for a catch of fish.
5And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net.
6And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net brake.
7And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
8When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O, Lord.
9For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
10And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not, from henceforth, thou shalt catch men [ and you might want to circle those words, ”And henceforth thou shalt catch men” ].
11And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him [ and you might want to circle those words, ”And they forsook all, and followed him ].

To properly understand this passage of Scripture, particularly as it relates to the individual life, and since this is somewhat of a personal testimony as it related to my life, it is important for us to keep in mind that this is not the first time that these individuals came in contact with Jesus. When Jesus said unto them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” this was not the first time that they had come in contact with Him. You remember one day John the Baptist was out walking with two of his disciples, and he said to them, “Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Two of those disciples followed Jesus, and those two disciples were Peter and John. They said to Him, “Where do you live?” They were not interested in the address. They wanted to become better acquainted with Him, and they did. They went home with Him, and their souls became so fired with what they heard and saw in that house that their joy was as great as mine, if I may make the comparison; and they went out of that house to tell everyone what they had seen and what they had heard. So it was with me. I couldn't wait to tell everybody about the Lord and how wonderful it was.

When Disappointment Comes

Well, there's nothing in Scripture that says how long their zeal lasted. We don't know how long it lasted. There is nothing in the Scripture that points out how long it was, but it evidently didn't last very long, because the next time that Christ found them they were fishing.

Now, there's nothing wrong with fishing. It's good recreation, and many helpful sermons, I understand, by preachers who are familiar with fishing, have been prepared while their line was in the water, a piece of straw was in their mouth, and they were lying back on the rock. I don't know about that. But there's nothing wrong with fishing. The reason that I bring it to our attention today is that if you study the lives of the apostles, you will find that fishing was a barometer in their lives. Now notice what I'm saying: Fishing was a barometer in their lives. When things were going well, they didn't fish. But when things were going bad, they got out the nets and the boats and away they went. The Holy Spirit, I think, has emphasized that for us because in the Gospels you find three different times when things were not going well, spiritually speaking, and they went fishing. I think this is an indication that when things don't go well, you tend to revert to the old manner of life.

The Return to Old Ways

Both Matthew and Mark tell of two incidents when these men went back to fishing after they first met the Lord. One of them is found in Matthew, chapter 4, verses 18-22.

Matthew 4

18Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee saw two brethren. simon called, Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting their net into the sea, for they were fishers.
19And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. [ Now this is the second time that he had met them. The first time he said, ”I will make you fishers of men” ].
20And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
21And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and john his brother in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
22And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Did you notice as we read this brief passage of Scripture that some of the disciples were casting their nets, some of them were mending their nets, and some of them were washing their nets? The thing that is true of all of them is that they were busy, but they were not busy about the right thing. They were not busy about the thing that would really bring into their hearts and lives the joy that they needed.

What could be wrong with what they were doing? Well, do you remember when the Lord Jesus Christ met Peter that first time, after the visit with John the Baptist? Jesus looked at him and said, “Peter, thou art the rock;” and subsequent passages of Scripture indicate, “I've got something great for you. You are going to be one of the leaders in the church.” Now if God has called you to be a leader in the church, you ought not to be wasting your time fishing. I think that only eternity will reveal how many people have lost time in the thing that God has called them to do because instead of remaining steady when the going got rough, they went back to fishing. They went back to their old manner of life.

If we may anticipate ourselves a little bit, in John, chapter 21, after the Resurrection, after Christ had appeared to his disciples, even though they knew He was risen from the dead, still He had not set up his kingdom as they had thought. What do you read there in John, chapter 22? Peter had said unto the others, “I don't know what you fellows are going to do, but I am going fishing.” Think about it. He went back to the old way, even after that glorious Resurrection experience.

Of course, we must not pass from that reference without indicating to you once again how very gracious our God is. You remember the story in John, Chapter 21, he called out to them, “Children, have you caught any fish?” They said, “No.” And He said, “Cast on the right side.” And they did, and their net broke, so many were the fish. They came into shore, and He had a fire built, and you would think He would have said, “Well, give me some of those fish,” but He didn't. You see, He always anticipates our needs, and He had a fire built, and He had fish on that fire, and they had breakfast that morning. The Lord Jesus Christ, using Peter as the prime example, because he had always been the spokesman for everybody, talked to him about feeding sheep. The net result of the story is that he was restored.

Now, this is the atmosphere; this is the background of this verse that I call to your attention today that God gave to me. I would like to summarize what God said to me about it, and I trust what will be meaningful to you in relation to it, in four words. One of them is the word “disappointment;” another is the word “dependence;” another is the word “draught [draft];” and another is the word “dedication.” Those words sum up everything that is here.

Cause of Disappointment

Did you notice in verses 2 and 5 of chapter 5, that the Lord Jesus Christ looked upon these individuals and saw that they had not caught anything at all? That's the reason why, in verse 2, the ships were at land. Nothing was there. Then in verse 5, after the Lord Jesus Christ had said, “Launch out into the deep,” Peter answered in a very normal way, “Lord, there is no point in doing that. We have [and I think that these are some of the saddest words, if we put spiritual interpretation on them, that any of us might have] toiled all night and have nothing.”

Now pause with me for a moment. Have you ever had that experience? Something that was very near and dear to your heart, some project for which you needed success, some loved one for whom you needed deliverance, some prayer that you just had to have the answer to and you toiled all night and with no results? If I were to ask you how many of you could lift your hands today and say, “I know what you're talking about. I know what it means to pray and feel like nothing is ever going to happen.”, I think most of us could say that.

Way back yonder in 1935, after my initial experience of salvation when the joy of the Lord was so dominant, as I mentioned to you earlier, I was in that place. Everything that I prayed about seemed useless; and, figuratively speaking, I toiled all night long and got nothing. And I was disappointed in my Christian experience. “This is not all that they told me it would be,” I said. “Oh,” they said, “If you come to Christ, all your troubles will be over. If you come to Christ, you'll never know what is means to be sad again.” I said, “This isn't the way it is with me.” I was disappointed, bitterly disappointed; and I would say to you today that if you are disappointed for whatever reason you are disappointed, don't stop! Whatever reason you are disappointed, hang on! Whatever reason you are disappointed, for whatever reason you are disappointed, don't stop! Whatever reason you are disappointed, hang on! The disappointments are there, yes; and they will be there, and they will recur, but there is a way out of disappointment.

Dependence Upon the Word of God

I can understand Peter's saying to the Lord, “Lord, there's no point in it. After all, I am a fisherman, and I know all the fishing shoals in this lake, and you don't. You're a carpenter.” And again, “Lord, you're asking us to go out into the daytime and fish, and everybody who fishes in Galilee knows that you don't do this kind of fishing except at night.” You see, everything that was related to what was normal was expected. No wonder he was helpless. And, I repeat, that's the way I was back in 1935, crying out to God for deliverance. He brought this verse of Scripture to my mind with special emphasis at first on the phrase found in the middle of verse 5, of Luke, chapter 5: “Nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net.” Did you get that? Peter said, “Lord, I don't think it'll do a bit of good. I don't see any point in it. I feel silly doing it, but you said it; I will do it.”

The first lesson I learned as a very young man, barely eighteen years old starting out to live for the Lord, that has stood me in good stead all these years is, “If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” It doesn't matter how many coincidences speak to the contrary. It doesn't matter how many things happen that make you think it's not true … “nevertheless, at thy word.” I put that phrase in my vocabulary and have never removed it, because all through these years, times have occurred and things have arisen again and again when I could not see what to do, and what came to my mind seemed absolutely ludicrous, but I knew that God was speaking, and I said, “nevertheless, at Thy Word …”

The Cure for Disappointment

I must insert something here; it's in the story, but sometimes you find folk passing over it if you're not careful. The cure for disappointment is dependence unreservedly on the Word of God; and I re–emphasize, unreservedly. Did you notice that the Lord Jesus Christ said to Peter, “Peter, launch out into the deep, and let down your nets” (plural, n–e–t–s), “Let down you nets for a draught?” And did you notice in the text, Peter did go out, because he believed God's Word, but he had reservations. He let down a net [not nets]. And did you notice that that net broke and a lot of fish were lost and they had to get help from others to get the fish in? Now, what God said to me about that was simply this: “If you do not follow My Word unreservedly, what you could have done won't be done, and others will get the reward that could be yours.” And it's not selfish to want the reward that God has for you. As a matter of fact, God has said in His Word, “Be careful; be on your guard all the time that somebody else does not take the crown that belongs to you.” What's the cure for disappointment? Unreserved dependence upon the Word of God.

The third word that tells the story here is the word draught (draft). For the children, I've always had a problem with that word. I always want to call it draught, as in drawt, because that's the way it ought to be, at least that's the way it's spelled. But as you know it's draught (draft). Perhaps more important to keep in mind is that this particular Greek word speaks of a catch of fish. So what the Lord Jesus Christ was saying is, “Let down your nets for the biggest catch of fish that you ever had.” Keep in mind that these disciples were disappointed in the area of fishing, because that was the thing that they did. Your disappointment may be entirely in another area; but God is saying to you this morning, as He said to me so many years age, “You let down your net for the biggest catch that you will ever hear about, the biggest catch that you'll ever know about.”

Let the Shore Lines Go

I said to you when we began reading this verse that I took the liberty of inserting some words, which is all right so long as I tell you I inserted them, because it had a special message for me. God said to me, “Launch out into the deep”, and He added, “let the shore lines go, and let down your nets for a draught.” Now why was that a message? You may not need that, but I needed it. You know, it's one thing to launch out into the deep and still be tied to the shore. Some of you, perhaps, have had experience with little children who wanted to go out in a boat “all by themselves.” You put the life jacket on them, and you tied a rope to the end of the boat, and you played the rope out. There they were out there in the middle all by themselves, and oh, how important they felt. What big sailors they were. But you had the rope, and all you needed to do, if there was a need, was to reel in the boat. Do you get my point? God said, “Joe Temple, I want you to launch out into the deep, and I want you to let the shore lines go. I want you to cut all the old ties. I want you to be unreservedly for me.” I'm sharing my testimony today. I'm not telling you what you have to do, but that's what I had to do. and that brings me to the fourth word in the story, “dedication.”

In each of these stories in which the disciples were called away from their occupation of fishing it is stated they they immediately, or they straightway, or they at once followed the Lord. Because of my family background, because of opposition to my faith in Christ, because of opposition to my call to teach the Word of God, I had to cut the shore lines. And for something like forty years, I had just a nodding acquaintance with my family. Thank God, in His time, He has restored that to a degree. But I couldn't look back; I had to go.

The first message of our Jubilee year is the first passage of Scripture that God gave me as one of our year verses; and I want to encourage you, if you have never faced reality as I have been talking about today, that you face it? Will you bow your heads together with me, please.


Our father, we thank Thee today for the privilege of teaching Thy Word. We thank You that Thou hast seen decisions that have been made today, whether through physical standing, or simple standing in the heart, saying, “Yes, God. Yes, this day I will launch out into the deep.” We do pray Thy blessing upon every person today who desires God's very best, willing, no matter the cost to cut the shore lines and launch out at Thy Word solely on Thy Word. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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