Why Did Jesus say you Need To Be "Born Again"

By Hiram E. Sutton

The Proclamation To Be Born Again

Can I earn my Salvation Through Works

The Source of the New Birth

How Do I become "Born Again"

The Method of the New Birth

Will I see a Change in my Life

Why Do I need to be "Born Again"

Now What

Effects of Sin

This bible phrase of "Born Again" has been maligned and trivialized by the world and for the most part  forgotten by the institutional church but it is one of the most important scriptural teachings in the Bible if not the most important, for it pertains to the state of ones eternal existence. Jesus said its requirement "must be met" in order to see the kingdom of God (John 3:5).

Let me encourage you to listen to the following video in its entirety(9 mins) before reading article


The Proclamation of Jesus to Be Born Again

According to the Bible Jesus said, "you must be born again" if one is to see the kingdom of God.

John 3:1-3
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The Source of the "New Birth"

Notice the following encounter of Jesus with a Pharisees name Nicodemus:

John 3:4-6
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time  into his mother’s womb and be born", can he
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom God
6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit

First of all notice that Jesus tells Nicodemus, a ruler, a religious man, a Pharisee whose credentials consisted of being a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, one steeped in religious tradition and practice. Despite all of Nicodemus credentials it was necessary that he be transformed from the inside by being born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:5).

His religious background was of no value as it pertained to the new birth. The same is true today, ones religious background is not what God is after. God is interested in a relationship which the new birth initiates.

Another point to notice:

In verse 5 Jesus responds to Nicodemus inquiry by telling him,"...unless one is born of water up and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

To a Jewish teacher such as Nicodemus so familiar with the symbolical application of water, in every variety of way and form of expression, this language was fitted to show that what Christ was in referenced to was no other than a thorough spiritual cleansing by the operation of the Holy Spirit who is, "the source of the New Birth" and in the context of the book of John's Gospel “water” is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37–39). In addition the element of water and the operation of the Spirit are brought together in the prediction given in (Ezk 36:25–27)...[1]

Ez 36:25–27
25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all  your filthiness and from all  your idols. 26  “Moreover, I will give you a new  heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove  the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27  “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.  

The following things are evident in these verses from Ezekiel:

It is God who is the author and source of all that entails salvation. Notice God's five time repetition of the word "I" in Ezk 36:25-27
It is God who will cleanse us from our sin Ezk 36:25
God's work of salvation starts internally from the heart Ezk 36:26.
Because of God's indwelling Spirit the internal workings of salvation can be seen by our external works of obedience to God Ezk 36:27

Nicodemus being a master teacher in Israel should have recognize and understood what Christ was saying to him (John 3:9-10) from what Ezekiel wrote centuries before, but this vital truth given by the Holy Spirit had been obscured and lost in the the reigning formalism and tradition of the Pharisees. Much like today Church tradition and the precepts of man have obscured the plain truth of scripture.

It is the triune God who is the source of the "New Birth". This is clearly stated by the Apostle Paul in Titus 3:5:

Titus 3:5
5  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
6  whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7  so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

God the Father saves us according to his mercy and grace Titus 3:5,7

We are renewed by God the Holy Spirit Titus 3:5

We received the Holy Spirit through our relationship with Jesus Christ our savior; the Son of God. Titus 3:6 

It is clear from scripture that the origin and source of salvation originates from God himself and not man (John 1:12-13). Salvation is available through faith in the person of Jesus Christ.(John 1:12, John 3:16). It is the Holy Spirit of God that regenerates and renews us making the born again experience effective and real in the life of the believer. (Titus 3:5)

The Method of the New Birth

1. Through the word of God

1 Pet 1:23
23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the living and enduring word of God.

James 1:18
18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

Rom 10:8-11,13
8 But what does it say? “THE word is near you in your mouth and in your heart"—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;
13 for “WHOEVER WILL call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

2. By the will of God

John 1:12-13
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Why Do I need to be "Born Again"

Condition of the Heart(nature)

In Jeremiah 17:9 the Bible says the following concerning the condition of the human heart (Hebrew  labe =- inner man, mind, will, understanding, inclination, resolution, determination, seat of his emotions and passions)

Jer 17:7
The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Notice the words Jeremiah uses to describe the human heart:

deceitful - sly, insidious, slippery

desperately sick -incurable as to its condition from the stand point of man but not of God

Our depraved heart condition is present from birth, notice what David said in. Ps 51:5

Psalms 51:5
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

He was born in sin, that is with a nature prone to do evil. The verse does not plead the sinfulness of his nature as an excuse for his conduct. Rather he is confessing that sin has infected his very nature.[2]

In Mark 7:21-22 Jesus gives a picture of the condition of the human heart by vividly depicting it's dreadful behavior traits.

Mark 7:21-22
21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.
23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”[1]

Jesus "also spoke of sins of neglect, good left undone, the barren tree, the unused talent, the priest ignoring the injured, and the love never shown (Matt 25:41–46). He especially condemns sins against love—unbrotherliness, implacable hostility, selfishness, insensitivity (Luke 12:16–21; 16:19–31). And he condemned self- righteousness and spiritual blindness (Matt 23:16–26; Mk 3:22–30). Jesus spoke of sin as sickness (Mark 2:17) and sometimes as folly (Luke 12:20). Nevertheless, Jesus declared that fallen humans can be cured with God’s help (Luke 7:36–50)."[5]

Not only does Jesus address the external acts of the human heart but even the sinful thoughts (Mark 7:21) which originate from the heart. Notice what Christ says in Matt 5:27-28 concerning lust and in Matt 5:21-22 concerning anger, it is in these verses God shows us our very thought life is under his observation and has been .affected by sin.

Matt 5:27-28
27 You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery
28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart

Matt 5:21-22
21 You have heard that the ancients were told, "You shall not commit murder and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’
22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

In addressing the Galatians Paul says that those that are under the control of their fallen nature practices (Greek -prasso )the deeds of the flesh. To practice the deeds of the flesh speaks of a continual practice of sinning. It is sinning that is durative in action, thus speaking of the habitual practice of the deeds of the flesh, which indicates the character of the individual. The Word of God bases its estimation of a person’s character, not upon his infrequent, out-of-the-ordinary actions, but upon his habitual ones, which latter form a true indication of character. Such people, the apostle says, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.[8]

Gal 5:19-21
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned You, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Blindness of the Heart

Another symptom of ones sinful state is that they cannot accept or receive the things of God. This is due to the condition of their heart; they count the spiritual things of God as foolishness and they are not capable of understanding them nor are they willing to accept them

Note Paul's comment in 1 Corinthians 2:14

1 Cor 2:14
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised

The love of the heart

In Jesus conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus stated that "...men loved darkness rather than the light.'. (John 3:19). This is the desire of a person not born of the Spirit of God. There is a high regard even appreciation of the darkness that is lived in and practiced as a way of life.

The love of evil stems from evil in the heart of man (Matt 9:4, Mark 7:21-23). Mans deeds reflects and affirms his affection for darkness.

In practical terms a person who is not born again is fond of and pleased with the practice of his sinful deeds. They include deeds of sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, sorcery, enmities, strife (Gal 5:19-21). The one who practice such deeds shrinks from the light and hates it because it exposes their sin (John 3:20). While the one born again willingly comes to the light i.e. God's Word-so that their real motives may be revealed. (John 3:21)

The Consequences of a Sinful Heart

This sinful state of man which manifest itself through sinful thoughts and deeds has created a separation between man and God.(Is 59:1-2) God is holy and just, he will and must judge sin. Therefore those who "are not" trusting Christ and practices the sinful acts mentioned by Christ as a way of life will not inherit the kingdom God. To think otherwise would be "self deception". Note what Paul says in the following verses:

1 Cor 6:9-10
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, or homosexuals,
10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

The Effects of Sin

1. Sins brings Shame - Sin carries with it shame which can be clearly seen in the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, who had their innocent and pure perspective changed. They felt shame in their nakedness and hid themselves from God after committing their act of disobedience (Gen 3:7-8).

2. Sin brings with it a sense of Guiltiness' -  When Adam and Eve was confronted with their sin rather than repent of their disobedience they responded with the evasive language of blame by justifying their sinful actions, pointing the blame elsewhere (Gen 3:12-13). Adam tries to blame God (Gen 3:12), who put the woman there, and Eve, who gave him the fruit tries to blame the serpent (Gen 10:13). Adam and Eve like us today found it hard to take responsibility for what they had done.

There is another sense in which we are guilty before God and that is in a legal sense because we have all violated the law (ten commandments) of God (James 2:10). Because of this violation the law of God condemns us (Rom 3:19). For the law was created because of transgressions (Gal 3:19).

3. Sin brings Fear - Sin also brings with it the fear of the divine presence (Gen 3:10). Adam and Eve runs from God and tries to hide. Their reaction helps us understand our own sense of alienation from God when we sin. But God’s search for Adam and Eve reminds us that, even when we sin, God does not abandon us. He continues to care.

Today many are running from God rather than running to God. This same fear will be displayed by those living during the great tribulation who through their disobedience have aligned themselves against God (Rev 6:15-17). All those living apart from a relationship with Christ not only live in fear of God there is also no peace (Is 48:22).

For those of us who are trusting Christ we have peace with God through Christ (Rom 5:1-2)

4. Separation from God - Sin has placed a separation between man and God, it has caused God to hide his presence and turn a deaf ear to our cries Unless it's the cry for salvation from a repentant heart.

Is 59:1-2
1   Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.
2   But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear

5. Sin enslaves - Every one that practices sin as a way of life demonstrate that they are a slave to sin (John 8:34 cf 1 John 3:4-8)
A sinful unrepentant life that has been exposed to the gospel and continually reject it's message will result in a hardening of one's heart so that they are no longer sensitive to the merciful voice of God, as a result a person will bring themself the judgment of God. 

6. Penalty of Sin - Sin places us under the judgment of God (Rom 2:5-8, Eph 5:5-6, John 3:36) . Judgment arose from the one(Adam) transgression resulting in condemnation to all men (Rom 5:16-17). Sin pays the wages of death (Rom 6:23), in this case eternal death. Sin will never cut its pay but delivers full wages. 

Not only does sin bring eternal consequences but also immediate consequences. Adam and Eve not only died spiritually but eventually died physically. When murder is committed a life is immediately taken, when a lie is told a reputation is damaged, when immorality is committed families are split, emotions destroyed and in some cases life's are ruin due to sexual transmitted diseases, etc. 

Sin is pleasurable for a season but at the end of that season, with out fail, it will pay it's wage earner and none will be satisfied with their earnings.

One's sin carries with it consequences which is eternal death i.e. eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire where there will be conscious torment (Rev 21:8), away from the presence of God.

Can I earn my salvation through works?

No! The Bible states that all of our works are as filthy rags before God and salvation can only come about by the grace of God. (Is 64:6)

Salvation is a gift

Eph 4:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Salvation is not obtained by works of righteousness but by God's Mercy

Titus 3:5
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Salvation's Requirement

John 6:28:29
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do , so that we may work the works of God ?”
29  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.”

How Do I become "Born Again"

Repent of your Sins

Acts 3:19
19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

To repent means to change one's mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised.[4]The repentant heart is conscious of the quilt of sin(Ps. 51:4, 9), it's pollution, (Ps. 51:5, 7, 10) and of the helplessness to remedy one's condition to "God's satisfaction(Ps 51:11; 109:21,22)."

Repentance comprehends a need for mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Ps. 51:1; 130:4).[6]

Believe and Trust in Christ Alone

John 3: 16
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Rom 10:8-11
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you in your mouth and in your heart" that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Will I see a Change in my Life


Yes, all who have had an encounter with the living God will not remain the same. (2 Cor 5:17) Like those before us the life changing power of God is still in operation today and is consistent with the Biblical teaching and examples found in scripture. Our character and nature will be continually transformed to the image of Christ, though not all at once but in an ongoing maturing process. Consider some of the following as found in Scripture:

There are at least 7 areas where change should and will occur . They are:

1. Initial change - involves an awakening of the following:

a deep conviction about our sinful nature and standing before a Holy God.

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, and let us reason together, ”Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.

"Here in Isaiah "God invited the sinful people to come to their senses (Isa. 1:18) and admit they had been wrong in their attitudes and practices. The invitation Come now, let us reason together was more than a call for negotiations between the people and God. The word “reason” (Heb (yākah) is a law term used of arguing, convincing, or deciding a case in court. The people were to be convinced by God that He was right and they were wrong about their condition. (Other court terms in this chapter are justice … defend, and plead, Jer 1:17.) If they acknowledged the depth of their sins-that their iniquities were like blood-colored stains on their souls (scarlet, a red dye made from a worm, and crimson, red-colored cloth)-then God in His grace would cleanse them, making them spiritually white like snow or wool . Acknowledgment of sin was to precede God’s cleansing."[4] The same is true today.

In the New Testament Christ said the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and righteousness  and judgment because they didn't believe on him. John 16:8-9)

"Sin is rebellion against God and this rebellion reached its climax in the crucifixion of Jesus. Today the greatest sin is the failure to believe in Jesus (cf. John 3:18; 15:22, 24). Most people do not readily admit to being guilty of sin. They will admit to failures or vices or even crimes. However, sin is against God, and people have suppressed the truth of God (cf. Rom. 1:18, 21, 25, 28). The mighty working of the Holy Spirit is necessary to convince and convict people of their desperate plight."

a conviction of judgment to come

 John 16:8
8 “And He, when He comes, will convict  the world concerning sin and righteousness  and judgment;

Therefore it is God who brings about a mental awakening of ones sinful condition and judgment we are under.

2. Increasing spiritual maturity - Upon accepting God's of salvation through Christ, there should be an ever increasing spiritual maturity. This should manifest itself in the character of the believer according to the  following 

Gal 5:22-23

22     But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23     gentleness, self-control ; against such things there is no law.

The the Holy Spirit creates the very nature of Christ in each and every believer who is trusting Christ.

3. New aspirations and actions Strong desire for God's word

1 Pet 2:2
2     like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation...

This new nature will have a strong longing for the word of God just as a new born babe longs for milk from its mother’s breast when hungry. Just as there is physical growth that takes place when a babe partakes of milk there is a spiritual growth when a person studies and applies the word of God to their lives.

The new nature will also have a drive and desire to know and do the will of God. (Eph 2:10)

Desire to tell others about Christ (Acts 1:8) 

Desire to pray for others (John 5:44-45)

A love for other believers (John 13:34)

A love for others in general (Mark 12:31, Luke 6:27,32)

A desire to fellow-ship with other believers (Acts 2:42) . As a new believer you are not a self-contained, self-sufficient entity. You are now a member of Christ's body and just like the physical body no part of it is independent, but interdependent. Fellowship with other believers provides the following:

1. Encourages and Stimulates us in our spiritual growth. (Heb 3:13; Heb 10:24-25)
2. Allows us to pray for one another (James 5:16).
3. Allows us to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2).
4. Allows us to comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11).
5. Allows us to edify one another (Romans 14:19).
6. Allow to teach one another (Colossians 3:16).
7. Allows us to serve one another (Galatians 5:13; John 13:1-17).

4. Obedience to God out of Love for God according to the word of God (Mark 12:30, John 15:10)

5. A desire to pursue good works that please God according to the word of God. These works are the result of salvation provided by God not the means to be saved and are performed through the spiritual gift that the Holy spirit has given all those who have been born again.(1 Cor 12:4-7)

6. Desire to pursue the will of God according to the word of God.(Matt 4:4)

7. Continual repentance as God reveals sin in the life of the believer  

Testimony of Those Whose Life Was Change

Saul of Tarsus  Acts 22:4 - Before accepting Christ, the apostle Paul persecuted both man and women them imprisoned, even killed. After Paul's encountered with Christ he wrote over half of the New Testament and eventually died as a martyr.

Paul's change resulted in a new focus for his life. It was a focus centered on the person of Jesus Christ. It was a change that gradually conformed his character and behavior to that of Christ. The same is true of those one who have encountered the living Christ. This has been evidenced in and by the saints through out the Church age.

Zacchaeus- A wealthy corrupt tax collector in first-century Jericho (Luke 19:1-10), whose sinful actions contradicted the meaning of his name (Zacchaeus =‘pure’) and warranted the label ‘sinner’ (Luke 19:7). Yet after Zacchaeus encountered Christ there is a total transformation rather than being a corrupt tax collector he promises to contribute to the poor and restore fourfold those he wrongfully treated

Now What

If you have understood the following:

1. You are a sinner and stand guilty before God and incapable of saving yourself

2. You have a desire to be delivered from the power and penalty of sin

3. There is a need to repent of your sins, that is a change of mind and agree with God concerning your spiritual state.

4. Believing in Christ is not a license to continue practicing your old way of life for you must die to this way of life that one alienated you from God.

5. Should you die without accepting the free gift of salvation the alternative will be eternal separation you would go to hell

6. You now understand that Christ gave himself as a sacrifice to God the Father by dying on the Cross, shedding his blood for the sins that you committed

7. You should now do the follow: Rom 10:8-11

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

8. If God has indeed open your eyes to his salvation and you have now decided to put your faith in Jesus for your eternal salvation.

1. Find a church home and start fellowshipping with other believers. Remember Christianity is not a one person show it’s about relationships with both God and man. (Click here to read about how to how to identify a Good Church

2. Once you fine a church get Baptized

"Scripture taken from either the KJV or the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

[***] How to identify a good Bible church

[1]  Jamieson, Robert ; Fausset, A. R. ; Fausset, A. R. ; Brown, David ; Brown, David: A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. Jn 3:5
[2]Smith, J. E. (1996). The wisdom literature and Psalms. Joplin, Mo.: College Press Pub. Co.
[3] Strong, James: The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Test of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurence of Each Word in Regular Order. electronic ed. Ontario : Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996, S. G2588
[4]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:1036
[5] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible dictionary. Tyndale reference library (1203). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.
[6] Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. -  provided the base for this statement.
[7] The Gospel of Jesus Christ by Way of Life video http://vimeo.com/7572862
[8] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ga 5:21). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
[9] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Jn 16:9). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.