For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 1 Cor. 15:9-11 (ESV)
Paul was the last of the Apostles to see the resurrected Christ. His story is well known. He says he is least of the apostles. Paul was not one that followed Christ around for three years of ministry. He wasn’t as well acquainted with Christ as the other apostles. Nevertheless, Christ chose him to be and Apostle, even as he was persecuting the church, locking its members in jail and stoning them. It is by the grace of God he became what he did, and not only God’s grace to Paul, but God’s grace to us the church. Paul’s letters have such clear expositions of justification by grace, through faith that neo evangelicals are almost as afraid to read him, as is the Roman Catholic Church. James is easier to misread, and both camps would rather read that book by and obscure author, then read Paul. We are thankful for Paul’s ministry in which if he didn‘t work harder than the other apostles, he certainly wrote more, and was clearer. We are proud his hard headed stubbornness when it came to the gospel, the preaching of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Paul continues though, saying “Whether then it was I or they so we preach and so you believed.” You might miss it. It isn’t a matter that the apostles would preach anything and the Corinthians believed. No, they preached the Gospel, Christ dying for our sins according to scripture, and rising on the third day. This is the Gospel Paul preached, in which everyone believed. Contrary to Joel Olsteen, Creflo Dollar, and a myriad of other so called Televangelists, This is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central message of Christianity. It is not about how we can become better people. It is not about self improvement. It is about the forgiveness of sins we have in Christ’s death, and the life we have in his resurrection.